Sunday Open Thread: A Look Ahead

The Flames kicked off the next section of their schedule yesterday with a win, their 19th of the season. As we recover from that game, let’s take a quick look ahead to the next big gap in the section – the NHL All-Star Game on January 25.

Here’s a quick glance at the 10 games between now and then.

  • December 29: vs. Los Angeles
  • December 31: vs. Edmonton
  • January 2: vs. NY Islanders
  • Four days off.
  • January 7: vs. Detroit
  • January 9: vs. Florida
  • January 10: at Vancouver
  • Four days off.
  • January 15: at Arizona
  • January 17: at San Jose
  • January 19: at Los Angeles
  • January 21: at Anaheim

A couple key things here. First, the schedule is generally pretty favourable. The travel isn’t terrible AND there are two big, big gaps in the schedule when the team is at home (I’d expect them to fly back after the Vancouver game). There’s also a good amount of games in the Pacific, allowing the Flames to basically be masters of their own destiny.

Secondly, after these 10 games, the Flames will have played 47 games this season. That will put a lot of road behind them and just 35 games between them and the end of the season. They will need to have a pretty good handle on if they think they can make the playoffs or not, as well as a good handle on what they’re willing to give up to get there.

Me? I’d rather they continue chugging along and operate under the auspices of a rebuild, because functionally that’s what they’re doing. But what I think they should do and what they will do are two different animals entirely.

How do you see the next 10 games going? And based on that, what do you see the Flames doing to prepare for the stretch drive after the All-Star break?

  • prendrefeu

    An optimist’s hope, but I won’t be misty-optic if it doesn’t turn out. The team is growing and I love the development both on and off the ice.

    W (SO) / Los Angeles
    W / Edmonton
    L (OT) / NY Islanders

    W / Detroit
    L / Florida
    W / at Vancouver

    W / Arizona
    L / San Jose
    W / Los Angeles
    W / at Anaheim

    I hope they finally break that spell at Disneyland.

  • Burnward

    Stay the course..whether or not we are still in the playoff hunt! Trade Enggeland and Bollig for future draft picks and at the deadline and bring up Ferland and Wotherspoon. Any injuries at forward bring up Poirier.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Couple of thoughts. It’s a bit of a stretch but both Bollig and Engelland have looked marginally better the past few games. Still a long way to go but adjusting to a new team and a new coach takes time and (optimistically) I’m hoping both are turning a corner and will make solid contributions the second half of the year. My other thought is the rumor of ROR being shopped by the Avs for a top defenceman. Brodie is non negotiable but I wonder what it would take for the Flames to be competitive in the negotiations for a top end player?

    • Burnward

      Why do you think we need ROR? He’s a centre & the way Monahan has developed I have no doubts he is a fixture in our core as our #1 or #2 Centre. Then we have Bennett chomping at the bit to get back. Word is, he would of been Captain of the WJ team if he had been healthy. He’s a centre. While we eased him in, Backs is more than capable to playing top 6 minutes at Centre. Why would we give up assets for a position we have spent the last 2 years of very high draft picks to fill in for the very near future. We need defence to take the next step & possibly & I emphasize possibly, at the RW position.

      • Burnward

        My point was for discussion. What about Richards? LA needs to shake some salary and Calgary has plenty of room. Could the Flames take on Richards gross contract if the Kings threw in a young prospect?

        • Burnward

          Mike Richards has 5 more years at 5.75mill per. He’s a centre, so where would you slot him? If LA is offering him as a salary dump & will add other assets like a 1st rounder, not sure they would, who would you give up to get him. Im sure LA are going to want assets back. Again, Im all for making some bold moves here but they need to make sense. To me if we are serious about taking a playoff sprint in 2015, we need to target an established 2nd pairing dman, no older than 28. At least if we fall short that player will figure to be in on the future.

          • everton fc

            Not saying this is what I recommend, or what I’d do, but Darryl drafted Backlund.

            Granlund would be the other centre. Unless they’d take Stajan as part of a salary dump.

            But 5.75mil for a 29 year old cente who may crack 50 points, and who has a suspect off-ice liestyle? I’d keep Backlund and Granlund. We don’t need to make a move like this.

        • Burnward

          I don’t think we take on anybody else’s center, formerly great player or not (Lecavalier, Richards, etc), especially if there is a big cap hit, unless we send someone back the other way that we want to move for productivity reasons and we get a first rounder in 2015 or a piece that is immediately useful.

          I think the Flames need to be patient and let those in cap jail come to us.

          • prendrefeu

            I wouldn’t do Richards for Stajan straight up. I think that burns cap space and we don’t get a player we really need. Richards may still have some in the tank but I think that contract is an albatross by the timeit so done.

            Sultan is right. We give up some of our young centre depth, someone we regard very highly, like Granlund and someone else, for real help on right wing or defence. Plus, plus if we take back a ton of salary.

            This year is about development. Let’s not rush into something.

          • Burnward

            I like Sharp from Chicago. Decent age, right handed shot. I’m sure Chicago will need to make some roster adjusts prior to the Kane and JT contracts kicking in next year. Having said that, Yandle would be my first choice. I would be willing to move some youth for a 28 year old, puck moving d man that could slot in with Russel.

          • Burnward

            Seriously, 5.75mill for 5 more years after this. He’ll be 3rd line at best & we have some big contracts to extend on the likes of Johnny, Monahan, Gio, Hudler(maybe) in the next 2 years, by the time we get to year 5, we may be juggling the cap somewhat. Richards at that point would be an albatross. If he had maybe 2 years left, that may change how I look at the deal, but it still would be a questionable acquisition. I doubt Stajan would be enough when teams like the Oilers could upgrade that offer significantly & he would be a #2 C for their team hands down. Why they aren’t talking to the Kings is beyond me.

          • Burnward

            Just a thought around your comment of extending big contracts to Johnnie and Monny…let’s learn from the Oiler screw up of by passing the ‘gap’ contract and immediately jumping to $30M plus contracts for there young stars…trust that BB/BT have this under control when looking at the future.

          • Burnward

            Well, they each have 1 more year after this one & if Monny continues, he may be entrenched as our #1 centre & plugging 30+ goals next year. Johnny may hit 60 points this year & next year playing with confidence & good players could push 70-80 points on the top line. Boom, then what do you do, we basically a Johansen scenario x 2. Even a 3 year bridge is going to be in the 4.0-5.0 mill range or do you try to get both to 8 year deals at 5.5 to 6.0 mill each. I don’t usually criticize the Oilers for the contracts they have handed out to what they felt are established young longterm core players. You would expect these core players to lead & improve the team. That’s the problem with the Oil, none of these very talented kids are leading the team. I like to think we will develop & cultivate leadership in Monny & Gaudreau & even Bennett for that matter. Paying the money isn’t the issue, making sure they can perform to the expectation that comes with earning that money is the key.

          • Burnward

            You make good points but my bigger concern is the added pressure a huge contract puts on a young player. All of a sudden the expectations from fans to management has increased substantially and the player is expected to perform at the $30-40M level. I admit the Oiler stars did not have the support network in place but nonetheless I think it’s a legit concern.

            If performance is exceeded as you say then I would lean towards more term and less $…regardless a good problem to have…..

          • Burnward

            Exactly, I guess we cross that bridge when the time comes. BT will have his hands full thats for sure when you add Gio’s contract expiring after next year as well. So much can happen in the next year & half with these kids. Hopefully by then we are looking at needs & pieces to go on a long playoff run & who knows what scenarios arise.

          • Burnward

            Okay. But we still need some vets once Jones and GlenX are gone.

            He doesn’t even cover their money. Proven winner. Don’t think he’ll kill us. I understand the concern though

      • Burnward

        Now that would be a bold move. And if Hartley could motivate Kovy into playing a 200 foot game for 60 minutes and an entire season, he’d be the greatest magician since Houdini.

        • mk

          That last year in NJ, Kovalchuk was pretty damn good in his own end too. Selke candidate he was not, but still better than the general storyline on him says.

          If the KHL collapses sufficiently, that would be hilarious to see him and Radulov back in the NHL.

          • everton fc

            I thought about Kovalchuk a few nights ago. Never posted because I thought it’d be nuts to even consider it. But he’s got far more “juice” than Richards, and far more to offer.

            Kovalchuk was a lot tougher physically than he got credit for. He fits our style.

            Can you imagine if we somehow got Kovalchuk AND Sharp AND Yandle? One can dream…

            As for the Oilers taking Richards, I could see them thinking this would be a good move. Typical. Can you imagine Richards in that dressing room, with Ference?! He’d be a poison up there.

            As a side note – take a look at the roster for the Kings AHL affiliate in Mancehster. Once they traded Linden Vey, there’s not a lot of depth there, and many smallish forwards. They could use some prospects. Would have loved to have Vey here in Calgary. Even the Kings roster is growing old. They seem somewhat vulnerable to me, as a franchise. “On paper”, of course.

  • Burnward

    The Oilers lost badly last night.The Flames will be trying for more points against the Oilers soon. The Oilers after the loss went home and got up early on Sunday morning to go back to the rink. No sleeping in for this group.They put on a Skills Competition the next day. It must have been thrilling for Oiler fans to see if they actually had any skills! Maybe when they encounter the Flames again, these SKILLS will make a more competitive game?

    • everton fc

      Are you being serious? It sounded like sarcasm when I read it, but I think you are being genuine. What a shame.

      OMG, they woke up early to put on a skills competition. Wow. What a workout. More like going to the skeet shooting club for some fun with the guys.

      The team is in a complete shambles and you think they need to work on skills? They need to work on being a team. Bag skate the lazybones. Have drills until they understand what the basics of hockey are.

      Until they play as a team, they will have no chance against a team. Don’t just give up on a play just because you 10 feet away. Don’t skate off the ice to make sure you don’t get a minus on a shift. The players have pads, so they can hit another player.

      I shouldn’t bother giving advise to a team dressing AHL players because they are fixated on the next 1st rounder.

  • Burnward

    I think the Flames can go 4-6 or 5-5 in this stretch. They should be able to take wins out of Florida, Edmonton, and Arizona for sure, and should be able to pick up one to two wins from amongst the rest – maybe SJ and Vancouver (sure as hell hope so, anyway). They might even take one off of LAK, Detroit or the Islanders too.

    I think they have to take the wins off the three clubs I named because a good team beats the teams they are supposed to beat consistently.

    • mk

      Agreed.

      The art of winning a trade is too have them approach you first. As much as I like Richards the Kings would no doubt want draft pick(s) in return..for me that is a non starter as we stay the course and build through the draft and select trades/UFA’s.

    • Burnward

      Projecting the wins for the next section is a fool’s game, though it does make for interesting posting. The Flames have beaten every one of these teams and could go as high as 10 wins down to 1 win (Oilers doing everything in their power to lose these days…). The likely withe way they have played this year is 5-6 wins but looking that far out is counter productive. They need to focus on the next game, tonight, which will be a big test, especially as LAK will be focused considering how they blew the last game against Calgary. Even so I think Calgary will be extra focused after the losing streak and will win 5/6 on this home stand…. and then go from there.

  • Byron Bader

    Our two biggest assets are our salary cap space abs our depth at the centre position. Going forward, ideally, we see Monahan, Bennett, Backlund, and one of Granlund/Stajan/Jooris. That’s not to mention Colborne can play centre, and we have Arnold and Knight, and everyone’s favourite Jankowski. Best case scenario Jooris is switched over to wing and we dump some vets so Granlund isn’t stuck on the fourth line.

    I would not make a deal for Mike Richards or any other player that plays centre. We need defensemen bad, and while the price will be high, the only player that comes to mind is Keith Yandle. Yeah, I’d love an Adam Henrique or a Gormley but the price may be too damn high (insert meme here).

    And if we could get it done, take advantage of them, I’d inquire up the QE2 what it would take to get Eberle off their hands. What Edmonton lacks — amongst many things — is depth down the middle and in goal, both of which we have in spades.

    • Burnward

      Would love to see Eberle or Perron in a Flames uniform (or RNH for that matter) but it’s clear that MacT is in the “paralysis by analysis” stage of his GM career. It’s clear the Oilers need to make a “bold” move but equally clear that MacT is afraid to make a mistake so he will sit on his “core” and continue to trade for fourth line wingers, second string goalies and 5/6 defencemen. It’s inevitable that MacT gets fired (can’t believe Lowe and Mac still have jobs) but it now appears that it won’t be done until the end of year. Katz needs to go out and hire a top GM and top coach. If I were him, I’d throw gobs of money at Babcock to coach my team and restore some credibility to a once proud franchise. Having said that, Babcock would need a psych assessment if he agreed to coach that mess.

  • Burnward

    I also vote to remove Oilers Nation from the top of the page and from our network altogether. I just think it’s funny how the Oilers suck so bad that their loser fans come here and trash everything to somehow “get back at us” as if that will somehow make them better.

  • Burnward

    I would do Hiller for Eberle straight up. One thing we need to address before next season is our goalie situation. Ortio is on a one way contract, Gillies we’ll see soon after that, and we have Mason McDonald waiting in the wings as well. I’d be confident with Ramo/Ortio or Hiller/Ortio going forward, especially if we shore up our D.

    I don’t get all the love for Richards. Here’s a guy who was a problem in Philly, akin to what Phaneuf was like when he was here, and now he’s making almost 6 million dollars playing fourth line minutes. In my opinion he’s pretty much collecting a paycheck. If I were the LA Kings, I’d jump on the opportunity to trade that contract, and pity the fool who took it on expecting him to be a 60-70 point player. We don’t need any more centres. Right wing and defense.

  • Burnward

    I’d also love to have Sharp. If the Flames make the playoffs this year, I think the mindset of a lot of potential free agents change and all of a sudden Calgary becomes a more attractive destination for them.

  • everton fc

    Expensive stars with long term contracts and skills on the decline is the wrong strategy for a team in it’s second year of rebuild…..at the trade deadline see how desperate St Louis is and let’s get Ty Rattie to officially finish off the JBo trade as it should have been!

    Seriously Rattie a former linemate of Sven will certainly rejuvenate him….depending on need I would make some of our established vets available and go from there….

  • Burnward

    By the way guys. To be having this conversation is awesome.

    The steps to even get to here wouldn’t have been something I imagined at the start of the season!!

  • Burnward

    Read on a competitors site that Lucic may be shopped prior to his $6 million salary finishing next year. He might be best suited to the Oilers who desperately need a skilled, power forward who can protect the smaller forwards but how would he look in a Flames uniform. The problem is, the Bruins are a cap strapped team and they’d want picks and/or young players (cheap) in return which the Flames wouldn’t do.

    And Hiller for Eberle? Dream on. It would be Hiller + +. To get Eberle out of Edmonton is going to cost a team a front line defenceman, a prospect and a pick. Which is likely the reason Eberle hasn’t been dealt. Hiller doesn’t cut it by a long shot.

    • piscera.infada

      Quite frankly, there’s no move to made with Edmonton. It will be a cold day in hell when the Oilers can justify trading a “core-piece” to their most bitter rival. If you’re the Oilers and you’re making that trade, it’s only to the East. You don’t want that coming back to bite you in the playoffs (if you ever make it there).

      As for Lucic, no thanks. It sounds interesting in principle, but I’m not giving any young pieces up for a player that a) can’t keep up with the speed the Flames are currently built around, and b) is a player that likely wants to test the UFA market after next season.

      I’m all for making some trades, but make them with an eye to the future.

      • Burnward

        I’d take Lucic in a heartbeat, assuming they could resign him.

        Dude almost single handedly willed Boston by Toronto in that series a couple years back.

        Perfect guy to ride shotgun with Johnny.

        And he’d smash Oilers all day long!!!

        • piscera.infada

          Fair enough. I’ve never been a Lucic “fan” really. Although, that series you’re talking about was Bergeron, not Lucic – but that’s besides the point.

          Again, Lucic is an effective player, but I just don’t really see where he fits in with the current direction of this team, and given his (again, in my opinion, overrated) reputation he’s likely very expensive to acquire – limited term or not.

          In short, it wouldn’t be the end of the world in my eyes, but it would largely depend on what’s going back. If I was running the show though, I’d be spending my time with more fruitful trade talks than Milan Lucic.

          • Burnward

            Lucic is an important part of any team as he can play on any line, has the skill to play top line minutes and plays an important role on the power play. Most importantly, he allows small forwards to play their game and isn’t a boat anchor on the first line. Yes, he has limitations but imagine him playing with RNH and Hall. Lucic would give that line what it needs to truly be a force.

          • piscera.infada

            I never said he wasn’t a good player, nor did I say he wasn’t a major part of the Bruins success–just that I’m personally not a fan of the player. I just don’t see how he fits in on the Flames (he’s also a left-shot left wing), I don’t see the Flames as needing that player this season, I think the price would be prohibitively high, and I don’t think he would choose to re-sign in Calgary at the end of 2016. That’s all. Just how I see it.

            I’d rather the Flames be trading away good young pieces for young defensemen and right-wingers that fit team needs going forward.

  • Burnward

    Not sure if it’s too much to ask but I’d love a detailed Flames prospect report. The world junior has me interested in prospects though we only have one player participating. The guys I’m most interested in are seiloff, Janko, Kamzig, Macdonald, smith, Roy, Gillies, Wotherspoon.

    I guess as we are almost midway I’d be really interested in a more detailed progress report. Who’s trending up. Who looks like they might be pushing. Who is disappointing. I have a bit of a sense but would love a more detailed account. I know some readers on here follow junior closely and might have insights to share as well.

    Happy holidays!

  • Burnward

    New to the site with a take on MacDavid going to Edmonton. I hated the Eskimos growing up and hate the Oilers with a passion. Now this is a hate for a sports team and different for a hate for something serious like ISIL. I can sit down next to an oilers fan and have a great time comparing teams. Like everyone else it really bothers me that they are going to get MacDavid (or Eichel) but I have come to the realization that its going to happen and there is nothing I can do about it so I am going to look at it positively.
    First-At least a Canadian team is going to get a generational player. I am tired of great players going to markets in the states and we in Canada can only see them play when they play a Canadian team. How often do we see Stamkos, Crosby and Tavares?
    Secondly and this is personally the toughest one to swallow but its true-we in Clagary need Edmonton to be good. This is what made Calgary a power house in the eighties. They are our natural rivals and 2 great teams in Alberta make each other better. I know that the sentiment is that they will continue to suck and they will ruin MacDavid-this may well happen but at least we get to see him and his talent at the Saddledome 4 times a year. That’s worth the misery.

    • Burnward

      I’m still hoping that some team beats the Oilers to the bottom (Hurricanes?) and then another team (Flames?) win the lottery.
      Giving the Oilers third overall pick (again…..) and missing out on both McDavid and Eichel.
      Sure; they still end up with a great player to ruin, but at least not a generational player…..

      WW

    • Burnward

      I’m fine with Edmonton getting one of McEichel.

      The Flames are a team, not a collection of individuals. That will be even more fuel to the fire to crush the Oil.

      I think and I hope.

    • Burnward

      I could see Oilers first pick being traded. If you were MCDavid or Eichel would you sign a contract with Edmonton? I wouldn’t!I,d have my agent let them know I wouldn’t be signing. As soon as there lottery position is decided, they will negotiate a trade. Bet a lot of teams will be competing for one of these players.

  • Burnward

    10 points in 13 games for Mark Jankowski while playing injured for a good portion of his games played. If he finishes the season as a point per game player, i will consider it a success; and if he eclipses that in his senior year i’ll be excited. After all, he WAS/IS a project and we can all agree Feaster quite apparently knew what he was doing at the draft.

    • everton fc

      Feaster looks better each time Gaudreau scores. If he and Weisbrod pegged Jankowski correctly, Feaster will be a GM again somewhere, someday.

      As for Lucic; he’s young. He’s tough. He scores 50-60 pts a season. He’s scored 30 goals. Any team would take him. I think he fits the Flames perfectly. Being he’s a Burke-type player, if he’s on the block, wouldn’t surprise me if Burke’s looking into possibilities.

      Question: who moves? Backlund? Poirier?? Ferland??? Granlund??? Jooris??? A package including players like this is what it’ll take to pry Lucic from Boston, and then there’s no guarantee he signs here.

      He might have his sites on home. On Vancouver. Which wouldn’t be good for the Flames.

      • Burnward

        Well, Jankowski was climbing the ranks pretty well just before the draft and was pegged as a 2nd rounder by people who barley scouted him. I saw Feaster at WinSport for the Canadian JR. camp that year and asked him about Janko and his response was that other teams started scouting him heavily and they often ran into the New Jersey Devils’ scouts at the games. That year the New Jersey Devils went to the cup final and had the 29th pick and had the option to forfeit the pick that pick or the 1st rounder the year after because of the Kovelchuk fiasco, but decided to keep it in hope of landing Janko. Feaster knew how far he was able to drop before running the risk of another team taking him in the first. And we got Sieloff out of the deal, so there’s that.

  • Frank Miron

    Dany Heatly has just been put on waivers… considering his history with Hartley back in the Trasher days, would it be a low risk gamble for the Flames ? I surely think so !

    • Burnward

      Looks better than a seventh rounder to these eyes.

      Seems to skate well and has a little offense to his game from what I’ve seen.

      Wearing a letter too. So, there’s that.

      My .02.

  • Burnward

    Please, no Lucic. Lets remember that the Flames are still rebuilding and the cost of such a player would make little sense. I also don’t think he’d ever re-sign here.

    As for Edmonton, the only smart thing that management there has one is to not let themselves get fleeced out of their young talent. However, I still rue the day the Flames ever made a trade with them and hope o never see one again.

    Re: Janko. Dude is still a loooooooooonnnnnnnnnngggggg ways away from even a cup of coffee in the NHL. I’m just hoping that he becomes something by the time he is 25. I stand by my original development timeline for him – 4 years of college, 2 years in the minors (at least) and 2 more years (at least) of NHL development. If he makes any sort of impact (big if), it’ll be when he’s 26 or 27 years old.

    • Byron Bader

      Those are my thoughts on Janko as well. Probably won’t be anything if anything until he’s in his mid-20s. I don’t think he’s quite as skilled but he sort of reminds me of Blake Wheeler. Both tall way too skinny guys trying to grow into their enormous frame. They have a similar scoring progression in college as well. Hopefully he works out to be a Wheeler Lite type player. Useful 2nd/3rd liner with 50 point potential.

      The Flames with Monahan, Bennett and Backlund will be loaded down the middle by the time he comes around so he probably won’t be a Flame when he gets his first scent of the NHL.