So Much Flames News – A Round-Up

A whole lotta Calgary Flames signing news came down today, as the hockey world awaits the July 1 free agency kick-off.

Here’s a rundown.

BILLINS TO KHL

Defenseman Chad BIllins, who played 10 games for the Flames and was an AHL All-Star for the Abbotsford Heat, reportedly signed with CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League. Billins is an older prospect, having spent 4 years in the NCAA and then a year with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL on a minor league deal. Billins’ yo-yoed between the two levels, and I think it was rather obvious given that Tyler Wotherspoon was recalled first (and Patrick Sieloff probably would’ve been, too, had he been healthy) that Billins was a stop-gap measure in the AHL.

The Flames retain his rights if they give him a qualifying offer, as he’s a pending RFA…

FLAMES QUALIFY SIX RFAs

Receiving qualifying offers, and sticking with the Flames organization: goalie Joni Ortio, defensemen Chad Billins and Mark Cundari, forwards Joe Colborne, Ben Hanowski and Lance Bouma.

Ortio was good in his first full North American season. Cundari was fine but bounced around a lot. Colborne was fairly effective when they moved him to the wing. Hanowski showed some nice flashes in the AHL and is big. Bouma was really good in his role. Billins was qualified to retain his rights, in the event he is really good in the KHL and/or decides to come back after a year. (Tampa did this with Karri Ramo when he left for the KHL.)

FLAMES DON’T QUALIFY FIVE RFAs

Cut loose by virtue of not getting offers (and becoming UFAs): ECHLers Olivier Roy, James Martin and David Eddy, as well as T.J. Galiardi and Paul Byron.

Roy, Martin and Eddy didn’t show much, if anything, at the AHL level and were no-doubters to get their walking papers.

Galiardi had strong underlying numbers, as did Byron, though Galiardi really struggled to put up points despite all that and, as a result, bounced around the roster and in-and-out of the line-up. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t Calgary’s most frequent healthy scratch. 

Byron’s a surprise, but two factors probably played in. First, he’s small. Second, where’s he going to play if Calgary kept him? The club likely wants to give a shot to some younger players – including, but not limited to, Johnny Gaudreau and Sven Baertschi. Byron can’t play the fourth line effectively, and the top-nine doesn’t have much open spots for players on two-way deals.

Hopefully Byron can catch on somewhere else. He’s got something, but evidently it’s something the Flames feel they can succeed without. Do note, though, that the Sun’s Wes Gilbertson pointed out on Twitter that Byron would’ve had arbitration rights had he been qualified. He may still get signed.

O’BRIEN BOUGHT OUT

And, to the shock of few, Shane O’Brien is getting bought out. O’Brien’s 30 and was demoted to the farm team mid-way through the year because he wasn’t particularly good at the ice-hockey, nor was he the tough customer the Flames hoped he’d be when they acquired him.

O’Brien was slated to make $2 million in the AHL this year, so his departure frees up a roster spot down there and probably simplifies a lot of roster decisions for new coach Ryan Huska. It’s going to be a young group down there, so look for the big club to grab some minor league veterans to mentor the young defensive crew.

FLAMES TRIED TO MAKE MORE TRADES

And finally, Darren Dreger reported while doing the media rounds that Calgary was active in trade talks on draft weekend, despite only landing Brandon Bollig.

  • They wanted in on James Neal, but apparently Pittsburgh didn’t do a lot of bidding.
  • They tried to get Cam Ward & 7th overall from Carolina as a salary dump.
  • They tried to get Mike Ribeiro & 12th overall from Arizona so the Coyotes wouldn’t have to buy Ribeiro out.

Sure, none of these moves worked, but it’s nice to see new GM Brad Treliving placing the Open for Business sign out in the open.

      • EugeneV

        Use your thinker when you read an article Eugene………don’t just lap it up like a kitten on a bowl of milk……….or was that sarcasm on your part?

        WW

        • EugeneV

          I can’t put it any better than Kevin R, so I’ll just copy and paste what he said.

          You obviously just skimmed the article or don’t retain any of the content. The stats show a 33% success rate of picking goalies in the first 2 rounds & 3% success in the later rounds. The drum beating bashing of our Management regime based on your arguments is complete & utter nonsense. But you’re entitled to your opinion, just don’t expect many to agree. You & Jeff can get a petition going outside the Saddledome to fire BB & BT. I suggest you take a lounger, good book & some suntan lotion.

          Since I was havin trubble usin ma thinkin thing, dont ya no

          Yeah Willie Wonka, THAT was sarcasm.

    • EugeneV

      Interesting write up……..unfortunately half of the points actually prove the point that you should NOT pick a goalie early………

      Ie: the goalies we currently have in our system/ that we previously drafted are not at all a sure bet……..

      Ie: We picked Kidd early…….and missed our on Marty………..

      Ie: “When we picked a goalie early in the past he was not the top ranked goalie….” Sounds a lot like MacDonald.

      Bad mistake by a rookie GM……….this MacDonald will most likely play less NHL games than our other MacDonald goalie!!!!!

      WW

      • DragonFlame

        Walter, you are about the most miserable Flames’ “fan” I have ever encountered.

        By all means, send your resume out to all the clubs in the NHL. You obviously know more than all of them combined.

          • DragonFlame

            It’s not about kool-aid.

            It’s the second year of making up for a lot of bad drafts in the Sutter era.

            I don’t expect the Flames to be anything other than a 24th to 28th team next year. That’s as of now, but I will reserve judgement based on what happens between now and opening night.

            I can’t speak for everyone, but I enjoyed watching the Flames more last year than the previous five when Iggy, Kipper and JayBo were doing just enough to keep Calgary from a good draft position and not quite enough to get the team into the dance.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            Last year was enjoyable because of Feaster’s personnel moves. Unless Westgarth entertained you.

            The making up for Sutter drafts began when Sven was drafted and finished at the beginning of the second rd Saturday morning. Then we returned to that kind of drafting:

            big, slow, heavy

            Look at the picks and look what was left on the board. Instead of hockey playing ability, they went for BSH.

            Look at what Burke did with the Leafs drafting. We are getting that here now.

            Why did Nonis choose Nylander over Ritchie? No pure skill in TO a bunch of no talent grinders.

            The Flames will have to dust off the hard off the glass breakout and transition game.

            The only saving grace is the kids Feaster brought in but that grace might run out once they start shipping the good players out for more Bolligs. Straight up skill for grit transactions.

            That’s the last of my ranting. There was so much promise …

            Remember the Flames Future Watch? Every installment you could see how the prospects were racking up the points. Klimchuck, Poirier, Johnny. Remember how awesome it was that our prospects were leading scorers. Abby lighting it up early right. High hockey IQ. Remember that?

            Yeah that’s over.

            Now it’ll be crickets after Sam. We’ll see goals from Smith but the others? Struuuuugles. Nice PIMs tho! Nice scraps. Now it’s heavy they look for. Playin’ for keeps.

            I know which I like better.

          • DragonFlame

            I commend Feaster, but his ROR blunder could have set the Flames back a minimum of two years, not to mention his mis-reading the market at the trade deadline where Iggy and JayBo were concerned. We got jack for these guys, in the big picture.

          • DragonFlame

            Cammi never played for the Olympic team.

            Not that some crap exhibition schedule should matter, but some people around here actually think Olympic Hockey is REAL.

          • Derzie

            All Feaster’s work, good & bad. The new regime is looking to go in a polar opposite direction. Hartley is already on the clock I’m sure. Not BBs pick so on borrow time even though he forged an identity for the team in Gio’s image.

      • EugeneV

        You obviously just skimmed the article or don’t retain any of the content. The stats show a 33% success rate of picking goalies in the first 2 rounds & 3% success in the later rounds. The drum beating bashing of our Management regime based on your arguments is complete & utter nonsense. But you’re entitled to your opinion, just don’t expect many to agree. You & Jeff can get a petition going outside the Saddledome to fire BB & BT. I suggest you take a lounger, good book & some suntan lotion.

        • Rockmorton65

          I have a sneaking suspicion that BB will be firing BT fairly soon…….it won’t be in the first year, because that would imply that BB made a mistake hiring him…….but soon there after.

          I hate to say it but over the last few months MacT and KLowe are out performing BB and BT……….yes; those 2 complete clowns are schooling us!!!

          Let’s see if we can beat them tomorrow………fingers crossed.

          WW

      • Rockmorton65

        You may want to consider changing your name to Chicken Little, given how bleak you seem to think the past, present and the future are for this organization. A few days ago you determined that Treliving was the worst Flames GM EVER, even though he had never been through a draft, season or free agency. I hope this draft helped you to see how aggressively he’s trying to better this team. He tried to work it so we had the 4th, 7th and 12th picks in the draft. I don’t know about the Carolina pick, but we were a Ribiero signature away from having the 12th. If BT had pulled those off, we’d be having a parade for him as we speak.

        I heard on the radio, he’s in the thick of the Vanek hunt. I think this team is going to be light years ahead of where it was when the season ended.

        Patience, my friend…the sky is not falling. To the contrary, the futures so bright, you may want to grab your Oakleys.

          • Rockmorton65

            Dude, deals fall through. The fact that he’s trying to make bold moves like this is what leads me to believe we’ll be in contention for the Cup in short order. I believe we’ll be a playoff team in the next two years and a contender within 3-5.

            And no, I’m not “drinking the Kool aid”. I simply see a shift in philosophy with this team. The owners authorized BT to bring in over 10 mil on salaries, just to get first round draft picks. Never before would they consider it. Remember when we took a bath to get rid of Kotalik because they didn’t want to bury his 2 mil in the minors?

            We now have an ownership group that is willing to pay (in various ways) to build a contender. A President who has the stones to swing for the fences and not apologize when he misses, and now, a GM who seems to feel the same way.

            Grab your Oakleys CL, it’s going to get bright.

          • Rockmorton65

            Holy crap, dude. The guy hasn’t been on the job for three months. Unclench and give the guy a chance.

            And the bright future I’m talking about is one that Feaster couldn’t have thought of, let alone make happen.

          • EugeneV

            Speaking of Kool Aid, It is 3 weeks since any trades could happen and they were prepping for the draft, and now it is July 1st tomorrow so how fast do you think the rebuild SHOULD take?

            Less than a week according to you.

            You are what I pull out of my engine to check the oil, buddy.

          • TheoForever

            Funny -“…trying to make bold moves…”
            When I hear those words I want to puke just a little, as that’s what MacT was promising.

            So far, Treliving is not impressing.

            A lot of talk, lots of trying…..

            Butler walks for nothing.
            Cammy walks for nothing.
            TJ walks for nothing.
            Byron walks for nothing.

            Overpaid for Bollig.

            The draft philosophy back to big is good.

    • beloch

      MacDonald haters???? Are you sure you got that right?

      Perhaps you meant uneducated FN fans who presume early drafting of goaltenders is not justified! They assume Trevor Kidd and Leland Irving scenarios without any facts and knowledge of highly drafted goalies with high success. The article nicely shows the facts.

      The article nicely shows the facts and I agree it is well written and researched!

  • Rockmorton65

    Speaking of the cap, the Flyers are over the ceiling. How much do we think they’ll cough up to be relieved of the Lecavalier contract? Or Nicklas Grossmann?

  • Franko J

    By the way on the bright side: a classy move by the organization with Tom Webster. Letting him present the last pick in the draft.
    Getting a standing ovation from the teams on the floor Saturday.

    Interesting hearing Todd Button mention that the team went with a goalie at 34 because 19 players on their list were already taken.

    And like last year, with the pick at six the scouting staff and management went with another scout who was very passionate about a player. While the pick may not be what was wished for, I liked the fact the team made the picked based on passion rather than facts.

  • DragonFlame

    The much hated Joey MacDonald: 133 games in the show…….

    The much celebrated Mason McDonald: would be a long shot to play 133 games in the show……..

    WW

  • DragonFlame

    I have a number of questions that I would like answered.
    1.Do all RFA’s become UFA’s if they were not qualified today?

    2. If so does that mean they can be signed without compensation?

    3. Is there a current list somewhere easily accessible to see whom teams have not qualified?

    I just want to be clear it my head when I hear all the trade rumours and so I can wonder why trade for someone who has no cost to our assets.

    • mattyc

      pretty sure any non-qualified RFA is now a UFA, and can be signed w/out compensation. In some cases non qualifying an RFA is beneficial, even if you want to sign them, because some RFAs get arbitration rights that UFAs don’t (similar to the Russell situation last summer). Best bet for lists is twitter, although some teams (leafs among others) haven’t been releasing the info for whatever reason.

  • DragonFlame

    As much as I hate to say it, I will:

    Sven Baertschi is likely gone. Not now, not tomorrow, but at some point. I can’t argue his talent, but he just comes across as way too nice a kid. “Nice,” doesn’t cut it in the NHL.

    Baertschi brings to mind a comment made by Tiger Williams years ago:

    “If nice guys finish last, I’d rather play with a bunch of a-holes.”

    Perhaps the Flames can “teach” truculence. Maybe Huska can get the most out of Sven, and I hope that’s the case.

    I am not as worried about the New Jersey kid, Gaudreau. To me, he is like Frankie Edgar (of the UFC). Like Edgar, Johnny Hockey knows where he came from.

    I cheer for Sven, I hope he finds his place in the league, and I would prefer it’s with Calgary.

    That said, there is no room for soft-spoken “nice” in the NHL.

    Get mad, get mean, drive the corners, get the puck, and be pissed off when you get it.

  • Derzie

    The BB hire is the worst move this organization has made since moving Darryl Sutter from coach to GM……..unfortunately removing BB is going to take a long long time!

    WW

  • Victoria Flames Fan

    Flames are ranked #28 in terms of avg. weight and #28 in terms of avg. height. LA won the Cup as the heaviest and 5th tallest team in the NHL. Yet Montreal had a great playoff run ranked 30th (last) in height and 22nd in weight. I don’t see a problem in the Flames wanting to beef up a little but its not the be all, end all. Speed, skill, hockey IQ and chemistry should not be neglected. I will reserve judgement on the draft, but would say I hope we somehow get Paul Byron into the fold.

    • Rockmorton65

      As much as I like Byron, I don’t think he’s going to be a Flame going forward. If he gives a full effort for 60 mins every night, at best he’s a good third liner. We have plenty of those right now. All of whom are bigger and many with arguably more natural skill. I think it’s a case of odd man out. I also think there’ll be a few surprises in the coming days with signings and trades.

      • loudogYYC

        Well said, man. Can’t believe it took 88 posts for someone to highlight that Byron isn’t a top 6 option and that he’s not much better than what we already have.

        I enjoyed watching the guy play his heart out, and I’m sure he and Galiardi were offered in trade talks but hey, now we’re here and they’re UFA’s. Oh well.

        There’s plenty of reasons to let these fringe players walk, one of them being the likelihood of picking up a bloated contract or 2 for cap reasons, and another being making room for kids that have earned or will earn a spot in the top 9.

        For those of you who are apparently super pissed that Treliving hasn’t built a dream team yet, just relax. It’s only July 1, 2014.

    • Rockmorton65

      As much as I like Byron, I don’t think he’s going to be a Flame going forward. If he gives a full effort for 60 mins every night, at best he’s a good third liner. We have plenty of those right now. All of whom are bigger and many with arguably more natural skill. I think it’s a case of odd man out. I also think there’ll be a few surprises in the coming days with signings and trades.

    • DragonFlame

      The east doesn’t play the same brand of hockey as the west. The Flames might even have had a shot at the playoffs if they played in that conference (16 wins, 12 losses 4 OT/SO losses against eastern opponents last season).

      As for Paul Byron, I’d rather have him than David Jones, but sadly, the Flames have to keep Jones around just because he’s over-paid and they need his cap “help.”

      I am sure Paul Byron will be picked up by an eastern-based team. He’s a good hockey player and he’ll have more room to excel with a Tampa, Florida or one of the teams struggling to get under the cap.

  • Cowtown 1989

    Why Rich Hesketh?
    Players rave about that aspect of the organization. Something behind the scenes is brewing. First Malarchuk and now this. Granted Malarchuk could have been personal issues.
    A previous commenter noted BB’s endorsement of Hartley. See Troy Ward for how that worked out,
    Hopefully today gives us a few gems to hold us over until we see how our round 2 picks start to develop.

  • Burnward

    Free agent day: Here is my wish for the Flames in the next two weeks(yes it could take longer): A back up goalie who can play 25-30 games and could push Ramo if needed, a back up for the AHL team, a top 9 rw with some skill and some size, and a top 4 defenceman with some size. toughness and a preferably a Right handed shot.(all between the ages of 22-30) If BT can do these things then I will be happy.

  • seve927

    With regards to the reference in the previous post about how many first and second round goalies actually become starters…

    That’s actually I think the reason you don’t pick them – at least not when you’re not devoid of prospects. We see today a lot of free agent goalies floating around. A lot of the starters right now were traded for a very reasonable price – Bishop, Bernier to name a couple of the best. And you only need one. When’s the last time somebody traded a good top 4 D cheap? And you need 5 or 6 of them that can play at least occasional top 4 minutes. They are the hardest to come by. That’s why I think it’s a good idea to load up your D prospect pool, even if a lower percentage turn out. I definitely don’t agree with Treliving’s assertion that you can’t have too many goalies. Of course you can. Then you’re forced to unload them below market value.

    I hope MacDonald turns out to be a Vezina winner. I’m a fan. I just don’t think it was the wisest pick.

  • RedMan

    Cammy being interview by TSN right now about why he signed with New Jersey. He said he likes the way NJ does thing, there was no breakdown in talks more of a decision on his part.