1. The Glencross news
As of Monday, everyone on the team save for a few guys has received a new contract, thanks to Joe Colborne getting what appears to be a fairly reasonable two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.275 million. That’s all well and good. Bouma shouldn’t be too hard to re-sign either, and something in the same neighborhood as Colborne’s deal doesn’t seem too far off. Maybe an even $1 million. Neither Mark Cundari nor Joni Ortio strike one as being too difficult to lock down for a year or two either. Doesn’t really matter.
But that means the sands are falling down to the bottom of the hourglass for when we get to a sad time known as The Glencross Renegotiation Period. I wrote a little bit about this for Puck Daddy yesterday but I wanted to expand on it here given the general appetite for Flames news ‘n’ views in the wider hockey world is minimal to non-existent.
It’s not so much that the team can’t use a guy like Glencross or that Glencross is bad at hockey. When I read the news last week that he wanted to re-sign, I thought that was all well and good. But the fact that he’s next on the priorities list for management as soon as RFA negotiations are complete is — and should be — more than a little disconcerting.
There are multiple reasons for this:
2. His demands
Glencross will be 32 at the expiration of his current contract next summer, meaning that he wants a multiple-year deal which will take him to probably somewhere between his age-34 and 36 seasons. The fact of the matter is that we’ve seen diminishing returns with Glencross on a points-per-game basis over the last three seasons, and he’s also missed 67 games out of 170 over the last three seasons (almost two out of every five).
Therefore, the idea that you’d commit that kind of term, irrespective of other factors, to a player like Glencross is a little disconcerting, is it not? I’d be reticent to sign just about any 32-year-old to a three- or four-year deal, let alone one who isn’t scoring as much as he used to and can’t stay healthy. I never really fault players for being injured — one’s body is only as healthy as it can be — but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the lack of general fitness when weighing whether to extend him.
So that’s one issue. Perhaps the far larger one is Glencross’s insistence that he also wants to get paid more than his current deal. I think we’d all agree that the Flames got pretty decent value for Glencross’s $2.55 million cap hit over the last four seasons, though one must also acknowledge that like seemingly every contract from the Darryl Sutter days, it came with a no-movement clause.
The thing is, that for a 32-year-old Curtis Glencross type, I’d say that $2.6 million or so is about what he should be paid on the open market (even with the cap likely to go up into the $74-75 million range next season), and so his insistence that he won’t take a hometown discount comes off as a bit silly, especially if you expect him to spend some of the season on the IR. And you should.
If Glencross wants a raise on his current deal — which he seems to and which I don’t blame him for; you gotta make your millions while you can in a profession where you’re likely to be retired by 35, if you’re lucky — but if the Flames are smart (they aren’t) they shouldn’t be the ones to give it to him.
3. What it signals about priorities
This is the thing I talked about the most on Puck Daddy so I’ll keep it brief here.
Both players are very good and young, integral to the team’s success not only in the next few years, but perhaps even for the next 8-10. That’s without exaggeration. By that time, Glencross will be a distant memory, one of the faceless multitudes of relatively anonymous borderline top-six wings that have filtered in and out of the organization throughout these last several dismal years.
Backlund and Brodie are the future, and the Flames want to continue focusing on the near-past. Glencross, for me anyway, symbolizes the worst impulses of the post-Cup run Calgary Flames: Getting hung up on 40-point guys who “tried hard” instead of “were good,” and who has generally served as a bit of a possession and scoring anchor for most quality players he’s gotten to play with more recently. He will be defended in Calgary because he is occasionally fun to watch, and for the whole “Scoreface” thing, but from a hockey standpoint there’s very little that can be said to defend what he’s brought the last three or four years, and what he’s likely to bring in the future.
By trying to re-sign him to a deal he doesn’t deserve as the first and foremost order of business this summer, that shows where the Flames’ attentions continue to be: In the wrong place. They’re willing to back up a dump truck to overpay Glencross, and maybe that’s the case for Backlund and Brodie too. But if you’re running things rationally, you focus on getting those latter two guys locked down well in advance of re-upping a guy like Glencross, who can be replaced for next to nothing — and almost certainly less than this extension is going to be worth — on the open market. Period.
This is the kind of thinking that leads to contracts like Dan Cleary’s in Detroit. While Glencross clearly has more tread left on the tire than Cleary, and was a more far effective player at their respective career peaks, it’s nonetheless blind loyalty, and perhaps a willingness to see something that’s not there any more, that leads to bad deals like the one Glencross is going to get.
4. So what should the focus be?
If you have a choice between getting Glencross for $3 million, or a kid plus an affordable UFA veteran for the same price, the choice for me is pretty obvious: You tell Glencross thanks for the time with the organization, and for the hometown discount, but take it to the open market July 1 and see where that gets him.
One issue I’ve heard brought up a little bit here is that if you don’t give Glencross a raise, it’s that much harder to make it to the salary floor again next season. Calgary only has $42.8 million or so committed for next season (before the remaining RFA contracts are sorted out), and so you gotta pay someone. But the raises for Brodie and Backlund should be significant as far as I’m concerned — as a means of locking them down for the next five to eight years — and there’s also the likelihood that this team drafts an elite NHL-ready prospect next summer (god willing, it’s Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid). The cap floor should be somewhere in the $58-59 million range next year, and with extensions for Brodie and Backlund alone, they should be within striking distance of that. Add a few more UFA veterans who can actually help on shorter-term deals than what Glencross wants, take on a soon-to-expire problem contract from elsewhere, and you’re there.
5. And here’s what’ll happen
Glencross re-signs for three years at $3.75 million AAV. It almost immediately doesn’t go well. I’d bet money on that.