Fine things: Feelin’ fine


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.

  • MWflames

    Pretty sure I’ve read that teams can still approach O’Reilly like UFAs before July 1, and O’Reilly can still sign offers from other teams between July 1 and July 5.

    However, I could also have mistaken that situation for something else.

      • seve927

        dunno why Iginla’s name hasn’t come up as a UFA target. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he should be thrown a bone, given what he did to the Flames with the Boston/Pittsburgh wipe out. But I’m a little surprised non of the Faithful have started the call for the return of the captain to lead these youngsters through the wasteland till he hangs ’em up. Maybe he wants a another shot with a winner or maybe the front office still has a bad taste. The sentimental side may have a shot , if none of the big teams show interest and Burke let bygones be. Anyone else asking these questions?

        • Parallex

          Don’t get me wrong I love Iggy as much as the next guy. I’ll cheer for any team that guy plays for from now until he retires. That said, it makes ZERO sense for him or for the organization to have him back in a Calgary uniform.

          That chapter has ended in the life of the flames. Everybody needs to move on…

          • Parallex

            Pretty much. I figure Iginla wants his name on the cup and that is going to be the principle factor deciding where he goes from here on out. Maybe three or four years from now when he’s close to ready to hang up the skates and the Flames are a team on the upswing they’ll sign him on to play a depth role and allow him to retire a Flame. But the Iggy Era is over.

          • Greg

            I hadn’t considered the Iggy option at all previously, but there is a way it could make sense. They could sign him for something like $6M, with a wink-nod agreement they will trade him at the deadline to team of his choosing.

            Iggy gets paid more than a contending team can afford, but gets an even better crack at the cup because he doesn’t have to choose his best chance until the season unfolds a bit.

            Flames get to the cap floor by “wasting” money on a free agent that will definitely sell his share of the tickets to recoup that, plus get another mediocre rebuild asset (say, 2nd rounder).

            A contending team gets him for the playoffs at a cap hit they can afford.

            I doubt that’d be his first choice, but if he gets only low offers from cap-stretched teams, and the flames are still struggling to hit the floor by mid-July, it wouldn’t be a terrible Plan C for anyone involved.

          • PrairieStew

            An above average sized RW who can score. Exactly what the biggest hole is at forward right now. You are right on all counts – popular, still marketable at the deadline – we can overpay.

          • PrairieStew

            Can we just let the Iginla era die already?

            The last thing this team needs is Iginla back in town.

            Not that I’m worried, as it will never happen, but time to turn the page.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            You have good points but this will NEVER happen. The entire culture reset initiated by Hartley is a direct consequence of Iggy being here for too long. I love Iggy and hate to think of him as being anything other than a Calgary Flame but him NOT returning is in same group as death and taxes.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            Not a bad idea in theory…. but Iggy did publicly state last off season that he wanted to sign with a team for a full season and that jumping into the Pens lineup at the deadline didnt give him enough time to mesh, establish chemistry and find the right fot in the lineup.

            I think he wants to go to a contender for a full season.

        • slapshot444

          “to lead these youngsters”
          is the part that probably wouldn’t work here. Jarome played a “my way” game in Calgary that chased his last coach out of here. I’m not sure that style will help out the youngsters. Jarome belongs on a team that can feed him the puck to his sweet spot, hmmm, for that matter so does Cammy.
          Regardless, Jarome couldn’t keep up to the youngsters.

  • Parallex

    On #2: “With the team likely to roll Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio”…

    I think we’re actually unlikely to see that particular tandam barring injuries. Word from the front office is that they want Ortio playing a lot of minutes and that means he’d be Adirondack bound… barring the F.O. being full of manure (which they may well be as front offices accross all professional athletics tend to be) but it does make sense. Good goalies tend to take a long time (or at least a longer time) to become what they are why not send Ortio to Adirondack to work through that period away from the team that matters. Realistically Ortio would be likely to put out the kind of performance that could easily be replicated or exceeded by the Al Montoya, Thomas Greiss, and Curtis McElhinney’s of the world. So we may as well get one of those guys and let Ortio ripen on the vine.

    • Parallex

      Youngsters won’t have any more or less of a chance regardless of whether Booth is in the fold or not.

      The team will need to sign people to make the Cap Floor, this is a fact, the only question is who get’s signed to do that… I’d argue against booth simply because giving him the kind of money that we’d need to give to accomplish that leaves the casual fan (AKA customer) with a distinct difficulty in holding his or her head high. If you give it to a guy like Heatley you can at least say “former multi-time 50 goal scorer” whole lot harder to say something similar for David Booth with a straight face.

  • PrairieStew

    1. Wouldn’t do Spezza for Backlund straight up at this point, let alone a pick and 2 more guys. Value for dollar, age etc. Ludicrous rumor.

    2. Change is good – but can’t hang poor sv% totally on Clint as you say; Mikka fell off a cliff.

    3. Yes, look for bargains or will Calgary take a guy that needs to be complianced and add assets to do it ?

    4. Is this the first team taking a player to arbitration in this new system ? That’s a big number $6.5 m to qualify him. Give Feaster some credit here in his failure – at least he gave a division rival a big headache.

    5. As much as I like Cammaleri as a player and a citizen the Flames have a number of young players in the same mold in Gaudreau, Byron, Sven that can do the job much cheaper. I would prefer that the free agent signings be for NHLers with size. As for defense I am not optimistic about their ability to sign anyone much better than Chris Butler. Sad, but true.

    • Avalain

      For point 5, why would we want young players that can do the job much cheaper when we’re struggling to reach the cap floor? If we’re going to overpay someone, doesn’t it make sense to pick the “experienced” guy? No one in the locker room is going to be complaining if Cammy makes more money than them.

      • PrairieStew

        Don’t disagree in principle – but given with what we have – a lot of smaller guys – wouldn’t that money be better spent on a big winger ? Milan Michalek ?

    • BurningSensation

      “As much as I like Cammaleri as a player and a citizen the Flames have a number of young players in the same mold in Gaudreau, Byron, Sven that can do the job much cheaper. I would prefer that the free agent signings be for NHLers with size. As for defense I am not optimistic about their ability to sign anyone much better than Chris Butler. Sad, but true.”

      I like Cammalleri both for his production, but also for the kind of guy he is, and what having him around being a pro (and a smaller sized one at that), can do for the young guys coming up the pipe.

      Also, we need to spend the money, and other than not being 6’1, 215 and 19 years old, Cammo fits the Flames needs to a T.

      That said, I’m actually all in favour of building a bigger team. Whenever you have equal talent but a difference in size, go with the bigger guy. I dream of a team stocked with Malkins, Jagrs, and Neely’s. A squad of high skill flying hulks.

      • seve927

        For me, the beauty of resigning Cammy (apart from his obvious skill and character) is simply that he pushes the younger guys down the depth chart for the purpose of sheltering them and letting them develop their games against softer competition.

        To me, it makes perfect sense to resign him we need the cash against the cap, the organization knows him and (presumably) likes him as an athlete and a person. We can sell him at this years deadline and at least get an asset back.

        • BurningSensation

          I have to think the Flames will offer him both top $ and term.

          I honestly think that aside from ‘potential to win a cup right now’, Calgary is at or near the top of Cammalleri’s preferrred destinations. If Boston knocks, he might answer, but if it’s between us and Carolina or Winnipeg, I think he stays put.

          • T&A4Flames

            you think they’ll offer him term?

            I just don’t see it. I can see the flames offering him a 3 year deal at top dollar. Any longer than that and you run the risk of paying top dollar for an over the hill, post apex winger, in the twighlight of his career when contracts for the future core of this team all start coming up.

            I can see why Cammy would want term but I don’t see that appetite with the flames.

          • PrairieStew

            If the Flames had realistic aspirations of contending this year or next then Cammalleri for 5 years makes some sense. As you say 3 might work but not 5. His production ( which is critical to his value) is not that much better than the younger options. Gaudreau will likely play right away and is already a candidate for rookie of the year in my mind. Paul Byron is a young cheap asset that should not be wasted – his points per 60 min ( 41 gp+) was third on the team behind Hudler and Cammy. Failing to resign Byron or sending him back down is a waste of an asset. Sven needs top time in the AHL I think, but Poirier is coming after he recovers from shoulder injurty. All smallish guys. Spend the money on defense and big wingers.

          • RedMan

            The Cammy situation seems like an arranged marriage.

            Both parties want to come to the altar.
            However their respective families (agents) are spending their time out prospecting to see if there is a better arrangement that comes along. If not their fall back position is to go through with their original arrangement and get married, perhaps with minor adjustment of terms depending on what their travels have uncovered.

            Believe the Flames offered Cammy $5M over 2 (or 3?) years. Cammy’s okay with the coin but wants more term in preferred markets. His agent is undoubtedly quietly beating the bushes to drum up a higher market valuation and more team interest to create/drive demand.

            IMO Cammy will get $5.0-$5.5M over 4 years on the open market, likely with less desirable locations.

            If the Flames want him they will need to offer $4.5 over 5 years and front load a signing bonus to reduce the back-end payout (which will reduce actual salary in Years 3-5 of the contract.

            A limited NTC with an annual list naming 6 non-trade destinations plus 2 specific trading period windows would also be included.

          • RedMan

            If the Flames want him they will need to offer $4.5 over 5 years and front load a signing bonus to reduce the back-end payout (which will reduce actual salary in Years 3-5 of the contract.

            Why not go the other way? More money less term. 6million two years.

          • RedMan

            I’m in agreement but I’m pretty sure the Flames have tried that.

            At his age Cammy wants term…doing the UFA dance again when he’s 2 years older and a far smaller market for his services, after being traded in March next year or the year after, isn’t real enticing for him.

            Plus he probably net out the same or less cash with massively higher risk…$6m x 2 yrs plus $3M x 3 yrs is pretty well the same as $4.5 x 5 yrs ($21M vs $22.5M).

            RISK is the word Cammy’s agent is chanting over & over.

  • Purple Hazze

    “I still think about how hilarious it would have been if they’d lost the pick and the player if the Avs had accepted.”

    Don’t think it would have ever happened. The situation would have been unprecedented territory but the NHL is not in the business of screwing over its teams, especially for a technicality that know one around the league saw until after the fact. I could easily see the situation playing out where the league simply would have said whoever grabs him off waivers gives up the picks and not the Flames.

    But the whole thing is a moot point now anyways, but still makes for a good academic exercise.

    On a side note, I agree with Booth making a good edition to the team, we need to add salary and his underlying numbers were good.

    • seve927

      I also find it hard to believe that’s not what would happen. The picks are compensation. If you don’t receive anything it makes no sense you would be paying compensation. I still think (as I hypothesized at the time) Feaster’s intention all along was to be trying to get O’Reilly right now, not last winter. Hence the short two (1 and a half) year term, and high resigning cost as a deterrent to Colorado. Part of the accelerated rebuild plan.

  • mk

    Any thoughts on Brian Campbell? He could be another defense-man to hold the line for 2 years before we (hopefully) have some prospects to take up the spot.

    Sounds like he wants out of Florida and that contract won’t be easy for them to ditch. He could be available for less than a play of his caliber is worth. I don’t know what the Flames would be willing to send though.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I wouldn’t want to see them give up much for him, simply because he’s too old to fit the team’s rebuild plans. You don’t want to overpay for a stopgap, even if that stopgap is quite good at hockey.

      • mk

        Right. It all depends on what they want for him. Seems like if Florida retains salary, they could get a decent package. If not (i.e. they want the money off the books), then he might be had for less.

        I mean, he was traded straight up for Olesz and his value is probably less now than it was then.

  • CDB


    Jason Spezza “transcends post-apex”.

    While I think people give Feaster too hard a time in terms of his tenure with the Flames, his pursuit of Richards and Lecalvalier was beyond scary. Can you imagine if they had picked up one or both?

    If Jay was still running the Flames he would have been all over Spezza.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Spezza isn’t coming here, but a lot of teams are inquiring about Backlund. Booth? Are you on drugs? Who cares if the Flames aren’t going to be competitive next season, that doesn’t mean you surround your kids with loser players in decline. O’Reilly should be a Flames, the Avs seems desperate to get rid of him.

  • Rockmorton65

    Andy Strickland just reported that Chris Butler is not coming back to the Calgary Flames, thank goodness he and Jay-Bo had to be one of the softest d pairings I’ve ever seen on the Flames. I would watch guys skate around him and his answer was to swat his stick and miss wildly. Did he miss the memo he that he was allowed to exert some physicality on opposing forwards? Good riddance!

  • mk

    So I can’t believe no one has mentioned this yet (so maybe that means I’m mistaken), but I’m pretty sure the Spezza package was never rumoured to include a 1st round pick. Everything I saw said either a 2nd or 3rd, or a 2nd and a 3rd. Nothing so much as mentioned the #4 overall.

    Regarding point #2, I think you could chalk a lot of that cratered sv% up to how many starts went to Joey “goal horn” MacDonald and Reto “rebound” Berra. Bad goalies lead to bad save rates.

  • T&A4Flames

    Not a fan of Booth. I would rather spend that on Heatley….yea, that’s how much I dislike Booth.

    Perhaps an unpopular suggestion, but what if we swapped Smid yo TML for Gleason, Franson and Reimer. Maybe we throw in a late pick. Acquiring/signing those players fixes the cap situation in one move that cost very little. We still have a shut down option with Gleason (albeit a worse and older one but for only 1 year). We add a point shot for the PP in Franson allowing us to move and retain salary on Wideman for future assets and Reimer is a back up that could push Ramo to do greater things. Seems like a good idea to me. Perhaps not a perfect scenario but how often do those happen.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I think Calgary needs to get it’s starting D corps sorted early and right.

    How BT/BB go about this will be illuminating.

    Calgary needs 4 NHL depth defencemen as Wideman/Russell are problematic from only a consistency standpoint IMO (I really like Russell’s game but I don’t think he lasts 82 and Wideman will always need someone else to anchor his pairing).

    I really like the King’s D depth:

    For every Regher or Mitchell there’s a Voynov, Martinez etc

    That mix of panache and pugilist just seems so smart. The game isn’t clutch and grab anymore but it’s not river hockey either. However the ability to stretch/transition fast is just inherently necessary given the rules – and they’re going to try and make it faster not slower in the future.

    BT has got to get D who can play the modern game while also appealing to Burke’s wishes of truculence.

    Which leads to Smid. I look at him and like his battle mentality but he should have better skills – he’s a smooth athlete , Euro training by all rights he should be better with the puck. The panic that is the EDM defensive coverage has to be exorcised or he needs to go.

    Where does BT find 4 depth NHL dmen, better than what he’s got?

  • This year’s UFA options are bruuuuuutal.

    RE: Goaltending, I think Burke already stated that he wants Ortio in the AHL to start/play a ton of games this year.

    Signing n a older guy like Hiller or Brodeur, to split time with Ramo helps with our cap floor problem.

    I think it’s unwise to sign Booth (or a similar player) just “because we need to get to the cap floor”. I’m sure the management staff are looking at all the options. But what about approaching teams that are in cap hell and offering to take on a player they are hoping to buy out along with a pick or prospect? That’s essentially what Buffalo did to us in order to take Kotalik off our hands.

    • PrairieStew

      I think the Flames have a list of 5, maybe 6, with Ritchie and Dal Colle being 5 and 6 respectively. They would have to qualify ROR at $6.5 and I’m not sure they really want to do that. Colorado is making the decision of ROR vs resigning Stastny and I think I know which way that will go.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    How about guys a little lower on the UFA depth chart like Kulemin and Nikitin from CBJ

    We would have to overpay but not to the extent we would for a Michalek or an Orpick.

    I think these two would be a great fit and I think for the right money we could lure them both on short term deals… we have to reach the cap floor anyway so…..

  • DragonFlame

    Definite no to Iginla coming back, and when the Flames retire his number 12, it should be a co-retirement along with Hakan Loob, as Loob — when all is said and done — also managed a 50 goal season PLUS he won a Cup. To me, Iginla is an equivalent to Loob but they both sit behind Lanny McDonald, Al MacInnis, Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gimour, Joey Mullen and Jay Bouwmeester (just thought I’d add that last one in to see if you’re paying attention).

    As the Flames do need to reach way up for the cap floor, their best option is STILL Cammy. Suck it up and pay the man his money. Moulson isn’t a fit, neither is Vanek, Phaneuf, Miller, Heatley, Boyle nor Alfredsson.

    So what the Flames have left is Stastny or ROR.

    The problem is, O’Reilly will cost Calgary SOMETHING from their roster or future draft picks, while Stastny will not (other than money, which the Flames have plenty of for the time being).

    Pay Cammy. He’s good with the kids and he likes the city.

  • RedMan

    “…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”

    What do you mean by “overly-enthusiastic animal killer”???????

    do you mean he likes hunting? not sure what your reference points to…

  • RedMan

    I really like Iggy too, but now is way too early if he is to come back. I would like to see him back in a few years if we’re going for a cup cuz it would be cool to see him win one with the Flames, but if he does come back he’s gotta understand it’s not his team anymore and he’s not the captain and he’ll probably play limited 3rd or more likely 4th line minutes. If any.

  • My gut says Cammaleri goes to UFA. Hopefully the Flames can swap his rights for something.

    I’d love to see the Flames acquire another 1st rounder, but losing Cam to FA & potentially another top 6 guy in GlenX or Hudler, we have no forward outside of Backlund & maybe Byron that can drive play.