1. The Spezza situation
Was fairly glad to see Brad Treliving come out and say the rumored package the Flames allegedly offered to Ottawa for Jason Spezza — Jiri Hudler, Dennis Wideman, Mikael Backlund, and a first-round pick — was a bunch of hogwash. Any reasonable person probably saw that as the case anyway.
While it seems that the Flames being able to unload two huge contracts might have been worth it from their point of view, the fact is that they’re going to have difficulty getting to the cap floor next season unless they go absolutely crazy spending money ($4 million for Joe Colborne!). More to the point, though, the Sens are trading Spezza in large part because they’re trying to strip their roster down to its guts to save money and get younger simultaneously. Taking on two big-money contracts for guys on the wrong side of 30 doesn’t make sense for them either.
Plus, giving up Backlund and the No. 4 pick seemed like a non-starter for Calgary. Absolutely a ludicrous suggestion that they’d do it. Backlund is very good at what he does, and while he’s never going to put up huge points, he’s always going to push play forward. The Flames have a paucity of those guys. They’re needed, especially if they’re 25 years old and signed for another year.
Then there’s that whole thing about “Spezza doesn’t want to play in Canada.” Which, yeah, I don’t have an atlas handy but I feel like that’s where Calgary is. Even if that weren’t the case, I would hope the Flames wouldn’t get sucked into trading for Spezza, or anyone like him.
2. A new goaltending coach
Clint Malarchuk and the Flames have parted ways, which makes a lot of sense for both sides from where I sit. The last few years for the Flames have been just about the absolute worst in NHL history in terms of save percentage, and while you can chalk some of that up to the wheels flying off in spectacular fashion for Miikka Kiprusoff, the fact of the matter is that none of the other goalies did much of anything either.
Malarchuk left the team late in the season for personal reasons, and that is perhaps why he isn’t coming back. There’s also the fact that the Flames’ save percentage over the last two seasons combined is .898, and they’ve allowed more than 380 goals in just 130 games. This seems like it shouldn’t be possible, and yet here we are.
With the team likely to roll Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio, who will be 28 and 23 when next season starts, it seems very likely that there’s a need for a new goaltending coach who’s going to be able to shepherd them to stats that are a little better than, well, this. Maybe they bring in a veteran backup to help with that as well — though there’s not really a lot out there — but this is something the Flames probably needed.
3. Compliance buyouts
I made this point on Puck Daddy yesterday with respect to how teams should approach the coming free agent period, but I think it’s a very good idea for teams like Calgary in particular to keep an eye on the scrap heap of guys who get complianced by their teams in the next week or so.
David Booth is a guy I think can still be a positive contributor overall who probably isn’t going to be seen as much more than damaged goods. There certainly isn’t going to be a huge bidding war for a guy coming off injury and buyout, but he appears as though he can be useful. Maybe Calgary would have to overpay a little bit to get him, but the thing is this: who cares? Again, the team’s not going to be actually competitive next year; the playoffs are a non-starter. Further, there’s that whole “miles from the cap ceiling” thing this team is going through.
So people want leadership? Throw money at veterans who are likely to have something to prove. Apart from being an overly-enthusiastic animal killer, Booth seems to be generally well-liked in the room and all that kind of stuff. Getting a guy or two locked up by checking the bargain bin really can’t hurt, and if it does end up being a bad beat, well, it was only a year or two, and you were going to finish in the lottery anyway.
Just please, no Ville Leino. That probably goes without saying.
4. Ryan O’Reilly
Speaking of guys to keep an eye on, there’s a whole new Ryan O’Reilly saga to monitor, and that’s one that seems particularly likely to grab the attentions of Flames fans. Colorado is taking him to team-requested arbitration, meaning that they’re basically speeding up the process by which he’s going to hit free agency. If everything goes right for him, he could be a UFA by the time he’s 25.
One gets the feeling that because of the whole offer sheet fiasco a few years ago, that O’Reilly is always going to be coveted by Calgary (even beyond the whole “he’s really great” thing), and certainly the progress of how things go with the Avalanche will be something to keep an eye on. If he does make it to UFA status in two seasons, there’s going to be no shortage of teams who want him, so it’s important for Calgary fans to keep in mind that nothing here is promised.
The good news, though, is that arbitration means he can’t be offer sheeted again — probably part of the Avs’ motivation to ask for it, you’d think — and that means the Flames can’t punt it. I still think about how hilarious it would have been if they’d lost the pick and the player if the Avs had accepted.
5. Other offseason needs?
Finally, all this wishlisting and so on got me wondering what else the Flames might fancy this summer, and a few things come to mind. They’d probably like another good, solid defenseman to take a liiiiiiiittle bit of the pressure off Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie, and they’d probably like to re-sign Mike Cammalleri (though I wouldn’t count on that one).
Failing that, they’ll probably take just about any D-man they can get, and something even remotely resembling a top-six forward. Who that is seems impossible to guess right now, but you have to imagine they’ll be pretty far down the destination list for most guys. That’s just the reality; the Flames can’t be that much more attractive than Edmonton was a year or three ago.
The Flames probably also want a new arena. Haha, good luck with that.