News and Notes – February 25 2014

The Flames practiced today after an off-day, and the Abbotsford Heat practiced on the Lower Mainland of BC, so we have a few bits and bites of information as we inch towards Calgary’s game with Los Angeles on Thursday night.

Once again, Karri Ramo (knee), Curtis Glencross (ankle), Brian McGrattan (upper body) and Lee Stempniak (personal) didn’t practice with the main group. In fact, I don’t recall seeing Stempniak in the building. Coach Hartley wouldn’t tip his hand regarding the line-up for Thursday – potentially involving the NHL debuts of Joni Ortio and Markus Granlund – partially because he’s expecting an update on the status of his injured and absent players tomorrow.

Lines shook down like this at practice:

Galiardi – Backlund – Hudler
Cammalleri – Monahan – Colborne
Bouma – Stajan – Jones
Granlund – Byron – Westgarth

Giordano – Brodie
Butler – Russell
Wideman – Smid
Smith

Berra
Ortio

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Berra starts against the Kings and Ortio gets to make his NHL debut on Saturday against the Oilers. Ramo’s likely a ways away from playing, so Ortio will probably get a game in somewhere. Not sure about Granlund, as his status is dependent on the other three guys (Stempniak, Glencross and McGrattan), but I think he’ll get his NHL debut in this week.

A lot of discussion revolved around some comments Brian Burke made on Sportsnet 960 radio this morning about Mike Cammalleri. Basically, the club offered Cammalleri a deal – one that he’s obviously not agreed to as of yet, because they haven’t announced an extension. Now, before everyone gets all atwitter about the merits of signing or trading Cammalleri – and my gut says he’s gone on March 5 – bear in mind that most clubs chat with their pending free agents about an extension prior to the trade deadline. We don’t know anything about the offer other than it exists – it could’ve been a token deal for league-minimum, for all we know – so rushing to judgment on something based on a comment is a bit short-sighted.

Down in Abbotsford, they’re getting a bit healthier. According to Mike Cadarette (@MCaddd on Twitter, who follows the Heat for the Flames site), goalie Joey MacDonald, blueliner Kane LaFranchise and forward Blair Jones participated in full practice this morning. The injured Heat players include: Patrick Sieloff (infection recovery), Corey Locke (undisclosed), Ben Street (undisclosed), Michael Ferland (knee), Trevor Gillies (undisclosed) and Adrian Foster (undisclosed). They’re hopeful that Locke and Street will be ready to go for Friday’s game against Grand Rapids.

In terms of a healthy body breakdown: 2 goalies (MacDonald & Roy), 8 defensemen (Lamb, Wotherspoon, Breen, Ramage, Arsene, Billins, LaFranchise & O’Brien, though Lamb played wing on the weekend) and 13 forwards (McKelvie, Street, Knight, Elson, Jooris, Trupp, Jones. Locke, Reinhart, Hanowski, Bancks, Baertschi & Olson). Obviously, things get a bit hairy if neither of Street or Locke can go on Friday, as that means either a recall from Alaska or the team uses Brady Lamb as a 4th line winger again. Expect the Heat to potentially get even thinner after the trade deadline. But after mid-March, when the junior and college playoffs start, they should get some reinforcements – albeit banged-up bodies that don’t know their systems.

  • Parallex

    Galiardi on the top line? They must anticipate Stempniak being back and he’s (Galiardi) just a placeholder… I’d think that Cammy would have that spot with Granlund getting the spot on the soft minute Monahan-Colborne line otherwise.

  • T&A4Flames

    If it was up to me I would trade Stempniak, Cammalleri, O’Brien and Wideman before the deadline..

    I would target draft picks or young RH players/prospects in return.

  • MonsterPod

    Whew. This is definitely a rebuild. Not gonna be negative here. We know where we are. I really really hope we do not re-sign Cammaleri. The guy provides the biggest return for us and he’s 5’9″.

    I like him, but after watching Team Canada and the Benn, Getzlaf, Perry line, we just simply need to get bigger. Re-signing Stajan doesn’t help us there and Cammy sure won’t either, as much as I like him as a dude.

    I’m excited to clean house a bit and see some youth from Abby. I hope we can get another 1st round pick for Cammy.

    Yo, if we pick 5th in the draft, should we take Jake Virtanen? Just scored his 40th goal. He’s 17 and 6’1″ and over 200 lbs. Obviously, if we draft higher, we should take Eckblad, but if we pick 5/6, what do you think?

    • T&A4Flames

      Yes, Virtanen! Although maybe we could trade down a spot or 2 for an extra late 1st round pick. My wish list:

      Ekblad

      Reinhart

      Virtanen

      Fleury

      Tuch

      McKeown

      Bleackley

      Obviously this is dependant on where we pick and hoping we pick up at least 1 more 1st. I wouldn’t be upset if we took Dal Colle or Bennet either.

      • piscera.infada

        I don’t want to be “that guy” but I don’t see Virtanen as a great pick anywhere inside the top-10. I’ve been to many Hitmen games this year and last year, and he never really wows me. In my (likely horrible) opinion, his skating is sub par (fast-ish, but not overly strong on his skates – which is often a bigger issue in the pros), he’s often nowhere to be found in the defensive zone, and he seems to shy away from contact a bit. The biggest thing though, is that you never really notice him until he pots two consecutive goals in a game that’s already well in favor of the Hitmen. I honestly don’t know, but I wouldn’t take him anywhere near number 5 overall.

        I was leaning towards Draisaitl, but the game he played here a couple weeks ago left me wanting a little bit more. One stand out however, was the kid’s vision – it’s (to put it bluntly) amazing. He finds the open man seemingly out of no where and then executes, making him particularly strong on the powerplay. That said, he had a few horrible giveaways, but they seemed to be more a function of playing on a very bad team and trying to do too much.

        • T&A4Flames

          Draisaitl has attitude issues i’ve heard. Either way, Virtanen or whoever else we take will have areas that need to be addressed. The unfortunate part about prospect speculation from a fans perspective is tough because we don’t often hear about the kids personality and psych tests; how likely will their mental make up help them develop.

          Just heard Conroy on 960 saying MacDermid is done. They had a talk and Lane doesn’t see hockey in his future, tired of it. 1 contract back for us.

  • Christian Roatis

    Anyone have a sure-fire losing team out of the 12 games on Thursday night?

    Was thinking Calgary or the Islanders but don’t like a Home Team as my loser pick….

  • T&A4Flames

    Maybe talks with Cammi is a way for Burke to gauge what it might cost to resign him in the off season when he goes FA. Or, the return seems to be higher on a signed player raher than a pending UFA? Or, other teams are inquiring as to what he may be looking for in terms of contract to see if trading for him may give them a good chance at resigning him.

    Any word on what the deal is with MacDermid? Is he rturning or is his ontract likely terminated?

  • Christian Roatis

    Virtanen would be a great pick for the Flames after 5ish IMO. Beast potential, still could be a useful bottom 6 NHLer if he doesn’t pan out because of his raw tools.

  • RexLibris

    Virtanen would be a good selection for the Flames if they are picking between 5th and 7th. Any higher and a center should be their focus.

    If we were to slot the Flames in as selecting 5th, behind the Islanders, Panthers, Oilers and Sabres, then who is likely to be left at that point?

    Ekblad and Reinhart are almost certainly going to be gone. Bennett a strong possibility as well.

    So that leaves Dal Colle, Draisaitl, Virtanen, Nylander, Perlini, and Fleury.

    Burke doesn’t favour size in the first round of the draft the way he does in other areas (Kadri as an example), and while he will have input into the draft list we have to assume that he will likely give due respect to the scouts’ opinion.

    All things considered that isn’t too bad a collection of names from which to choose, and there are prospects at almost all the positions the Flames need to address.

  • RexLibris

    Another positive, perhaps, for the Flames long-term rebuild is that whomever they select, provided it isn’t 1st overall, is unlikely to appear in the NHL next season.

    Longer maturation and development process along with deferred arrival of talent means a greater window for talent acquisition through the draft and improved draft standing. It also means that a more accurate accounting of organizational assets and deficits is likely to take place this off-season and next regular season.

  • Christian Roatis

    I have only seen one Hitmen game but I was not impressed with anyone on the team that night. I don’t get to excited about draft picks until after the playoffs. look how much Poirier climbed last year and how far Shinkaruk fell. I wonder if the Cammi deal is because there is not much interest in him and that other teams may be kicking the tires on either Hudler or Glencross. If that is a possibility then it might be good to resign Cammi as a mentor otherwise I would prefer him moved on. Has there been any skuttlebutt about what is up with Stemp? Which Flames prospects are currently playing in the CHL and there teams are unlikely to make the playoffs? What about agostino at Yale, where do they stand? The Heat will need some bodies.

  • Christian Roatis

    Why would Burke offer Cammy a new contract? The guy is making $6 million now, it’s unlikely he is going to accept less like $4 million to stay here for a rebuild. If he says no and Burke can’t find a taker on Mar. 5th then he could walk away for nothing. Cammy has been injured every year since joining the Habs and hasn’t scored more than 20 since the 09’/10 season where he potted 26 and 39 the year before with the Flames. The question for me is he a leader? If we are putting him in the same category as Gio, Glencross, etc. then his value here is high, if not why keep him around. Stempniak should be traded as well. I’m not saying trade everyone but keep around guys over 30 has harmed the long term future of this franchise. If Cammy underachieves the next few years, everyone will be bemoaning his contract and that we should have traded him years earlier.

    • T&A4Flames

      If he has good offers for someone like say, Hudler, but nothing that blows his skirt up for Cammi, you need someone to keep the payroll up. Not to mention maintaining a strong veteran presence.

    • T&A4Flames

      Burke would offer Cammy a new contract to best position himself for a trade. Remember when it comes to trades Burke is shrewd! He is one of the best and Cammy is gonzo!

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Agreed, regardless of what amount/term is on the contract offer, it makes no sense. The best thing for the club going forward is to move him for future assets.

      • Rockmorton65

        I respectfully disagree. There are scenarios where it makes more sense to sign him than to trade him.

        If the offers Burke is getting for him don’t, at least, match his value to the team, then it makes more sense to sign him. If the best offer he’s getting for Cammi is, say, a 2nd and a B prospect, then keeping Cammi is the better option. Cammi at a reasonable cap hit for the next two or three years is more valuable to the teams development than two borderline/long shot NHLers. The Flames are not lacking in lower end prospects. What we are desperately lacking our players who can be competent in playing top line minutes.

        Remember, Feaster was trying to trade Cammi since last season, with no luck. We saw what happens with the “take whatever you can get for him” mentality. At best, you get an “Iggy” type return. If he’s willing to sign, great. If he’s not then unfortunately we will shift into the “take whatever we can get” mode.

        • seve927

          Right. And you can only accumulate so many assets. Eventually they need contracts, and there is a limit to how many you can have. And if you want them to “overripen” in the AHL or college or whatever, you still need your 23 NHL level contracts. We’ve got plenty of good prospects, and some potentially great prospects. We don’t need more Mark Cundari’s and Ben Hanowski’s. Unless you can swing a deal for a 20-23 year old D man with some promise, hang on to a good pro you know.

          • Rockmorton65

            Exactly. And an unsigned Cammaleri isn’t going to get a Rattie, Maata, or Larsson at the deadline. However, if we sign him to say – 3 yrs @ 4.5/5 per, and he has a decent season next year, at the next deadline it’s a totally different conversation. Then teams will be getting a 20-30 goal man, signed to a good contract. Plus we get the added benefit of having a topline player and respected leader for another season.

          • Rockmorton65

            I’d agree with you, but IMO Cammi’s play is no where close to where it was a couple of seasons ago. I agree he’s a good leader, but at this stage he’s merely taking a spot from a youngster. I also doubt he signs ‘cehap,’ but that’s another issue. He may have value to a team like LA, but his scoring days here are done. What he provides now can be replaced and I’d rather take a run at a pick or prospect,long shot or not, in the hopes they become something more thatn was expected. Cammi is just going tokeep declining.

          • piscera.infada

            I agree you wouldn’t be signing him as a scorer that will be a central pillar to your team moving forward. That said though, he definitely has “clout” in the league as the kind of player that has been doing it for quite a while, paid his dues, bounced around, and more generally has a reputation for being a “true professional athlete”. So, if he is willing to sign here for reasonable market value (which as I mentioned before, would be a sign he wants to be here), then you get all of that “proven goodness” (for lack of a better term) from a player who is currently on the team.

            Yes, that “leadership” can be replaced. Free agency? You’re going to have to overpay anyways, and you likely don’t get a player of anywhere near the pedigree of Cammy. In trade? Again, you likely have to give up an asset. In both those situations you really have to know how that particular player is going to fit in the dressing room – it’s kind of a “devil you know” situation (minus the whole devil part).

            It makes other players, who could fetch more, expendable – Hudler, Glencross, Stemps, etc.

            His decline will likely parallel the ascension of young players who can un-seed him as he slides down the depth-chart. Moreover, if it happens, you have someone on your leadership group that wants to be here in the mold of a Giordano. It can’t hurt.

            I’m not saying Cammy ends up staying, I think he’s good as gone. I just don’t think you throw him away for magic beans (as many others have stated here). I also doubt Burke offers him a ludicrous deal, and if he does that’s a big mistake, but saying that any deal he signs is poor – because we’re missing out on a second-round pick and a prospect of Reto Berra ilk – is shortsighted. I assume if Ty Rattie was offered, Cammy’d be on a plane to St. Louis before you can even say “Cammalleri”.

  • RedMan

    “…Expect the Heat to potentially get even thinner after the trade deadline.”

    Or… just maybe, the heat get crowded with prospects after the trade deadline…

    maybe we get prospects instead of 1st-round picks

  • beloch

    Cammalleri’s concussion happened at a very unfortunate time. His recent play has been well below what it was earlier this season. Unfortunately, how good a player is right now matters rather a lot to teams who are after a playoff rental. The market on Cammalleri has gone soft.

    If Cammy puts together a string of great performances before the trade deadline his value might be restored. If not, Burke will have to choose between selling low or signing him for another year. A one-year contract might provide the Flames with a quality veteran, the salary they need to reach the floor, and give Burke another shot at selling Cammalleri high.

    • Parallex

      At this point in time I see no reason why Cammalleri would sign a one-year contract.

      If I’m Cammy there is no way I’m signing a one-year deal to play in Calgary… I’m looking for three plus years (stability), with a team that can make the playoffs (Still want to kiss the cup), preferably on the east coast (lighter travel/closer to family).

  • beloch

    I don’t see why everyone’s getting there panties in such a knot about resigning Cammy. Its best to resign him and trade him later (possibly even next year) instead of taking a lesser trade ot letting him walk as a free agent. Seriously if you don’t get a good enough offer at the deadline then wait for a better one, there’s no point in trading him for the sake of trading him he’s not that old where you have to worry about his value dropping to much over one season. Also I’m pretty sure next years draft is deeper than this one anyways.

  • piscera.infada

    @King Quong @ChinookArch

    The only other thing that I think is being overlooked in that scenario is that if Cammy is willing to sign at a “reasonable” dollar figure and term, it’s a clear indication he wants to be here. While that doesn’t necessarily mean he believes in what the organization is doing re: “the rebuild”, it does (at the very least) seem like he believes he can help as a mentor and wants to play that role. Thus, assuming (again) a “reasonable” deal, it’s a sensical deal to look at – get a leader who has played at a high level, is rumored to be one of the hardest working guys in the league, and it makes other pieces (that could potentially fetch more) expendable.

    Again though, lots of assumptions there…

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    If Cammy were signed to a reasonable contract for a few years, would he not be of more value to the Flames in a trade?

    If the Flames signed him to $5M per for 3 years (for example) they could still trade him at the deadline, but wouldn’t he be worth more to a team if they knew they were getting him for 3 years instead of just the 2014 playoffs?

    And then if the Flames couldn’t find a good enough deal at the deadline, they don’t lose him to free agency.

    I suppose a players desire to “test the market” is why this doesn’t happen more often

  • My guess is that if Cammy really wants to stay in Calgary he will ask for some sort of no-trade. Otherwise he is better off waiting for free agency than risking a sign and trade to a team that he perhaps may not want to go to.