Five things: A deadline day spectacular


1. The Flames’ action, or lack thereof

So after all that, the Flames’ big haul as they attempt to rebuild from years of mismanagement is what will probably end up being a mid-second- and late third-round pick, and the only guys they offloaded were Reto Berra and Lee Stempniak.

Let’s start with the former of those deals, which shipped Berra, a 27-year-old goaltending “prospect” who was in way over his head in the NHL and should have no value whatsoever. Getting anything for him, let alone a pick that’s likely to be in the 50s, is frankly not half bad. It’s more than should have been expected.

The Stempniak trade, meanwhile, was about par for the course given what was being thrown around for far better players than him. He was never going to be worth more than a pick in the 90s, if we were being realistic.

But with that having been said, this is another catastrophe in a long line of trade-deadline catastrophes for the Calgary Flames. That’s even if they end up re-signing Mike Cammalleri. This is a team that needs assets to restock the cupboard, not to re-up mediocre declining veterans. Of course, I don’t know why anyone should be surprised; Brian Burke said just yesterday that his goal was for the Flames to be buyers at the deadline next year, which shows how ridiculous his view of things is, necessarily. Because let’s say Calgary (miraculously) is in a playoff position around this time next season. To what end does the acquisition of rental players help this team in being competitive for the Stanley Cup? It doesn’t. That’s correct.

This is a team that — to borrow Jay Feaster’s phrase — is still not being “intellectually honest” about the way in which it should approach what it has now acknowledged is a rebuild. Even now. Even after everything that’s happened these last four years or more.

2. A big change in Vancouver

How weird is it to see a Western Canadian team realize less than one year into their likely descent into mediocrity that they needed to blow everything up?

Roberto Luongo was shipped, at long last, to Florida this week for a return that was underwhelming but understandable given That Contract. As I write this, before the deadline lands, Ryan Kesler is being shopped around and appears likely to be traded either now or in the summer, and Alex Edler might get a similar treatment. Mike Gillis reportedly might not have the authority to make any such trades (i.e. he is fired as hell the second the season ends) and John Tortorella may likewise be asked to pack his things after just one season in Vancouver.

This is responsible stuff from ownership, period. They saw the problem over these 50-something games and said they wouldn’t stand for it, rather than trying to fruitlessly milk another playoff appearance or three out of a team so far past truly competing as to no longer be able to see it over the horizon. 

(I would listen to an argument, though, that not letting Gillis trade Kesler of his own volition today, if that’s the case, is some level of interference from ownership. That’s a generally loathsome proposition but if Murray Edwards had stepped in and said, “No more,” to Jay Feaster after, say, the Iginla trade, then I think we all would have understood.)

The Flames and Oilers could really take a page out of their book, but maybe the Canucks saw what happened in their own division and just learned the hard lesson.

3. Hemsky finally gone

Speaking of the Oilers, I can’t believe they finally traded Ales Hemsky after all this time. Of course, they traded him for a third- and fifth-round pick because that’s all the market would bear for him, and they picked up half his salary, but still. Hemsky playing somewhere other than Edmonton will be a bizarre thing to see.

This is a great lesson for Brian Burke — or whomever ends up being the next Flames GM — to learn. The Oilers worked so, so hard to systematically devalue a guy who has proven that he can be a useful if often-injured offensive contributor on a garbage team (and boy did the local press ever chip in to help), so to then to get this kind of return for him should come as no surprise.

Another thing that should come as no surprise: If Hemsky starts ripping things up on a line with Kyle Turris in Ottawa; I’m not sure it’s necessarily all that wise a move for Ottawa since they’re not going to make the playoffs and should, instead, be looking to sell, but it’s certainly low-risk given what they gave up to get him. Hemsky’s old these days, yeah, and the likelihood they re-sign him this summer likewise appears quite low, but this too is a valuable lesson to learn.

4. St. Louis in New York

I really can’t believe this was a thing that ended up happening. The Rangers paid through the nose to get him — and dumped a negotiations headache they didn’t want to deal with this summer — but he’s a huuuuuuuuuuge pickup for a team that’s really ready to be a threat in the East, all things considered. 

It’s unfortunate that the team traded the guy who’s been the face of the franchise for the last decade (sorry Vinny) on the day the guy who’s going to be the face of the franchise for the next decade returns from a horrific broken leg. But that’s life. Especially when you’re dealing with a baby like Martin St. Louis. Alain Vigneault better hope he doesn’t look at good ol’ Marty the wrong way, and Mats Zuccarello might want to start wearing platform shoes so the big ol’ cockalorum doesn’t get upset about no longer being the shortest guy on the team.

This really does make the Rangers pretty terrifying. St. Louis playing run-n-gun with Brad Richards again is going to be fun to watch. Just don’t screw up any passes, Brad!

5. Something doesn’t have anything to do with trades

When last we spoke of hotshot goaltending prospect Jon Gillies, it was to say that he had been hot garbage since the end of World Juniors. Fortunately, though, whatever was ailing him seems to have corrected itself, and the ship has absolutely been righted at this point.

After suffering loss after loss — and giving up large amounts of goals even in wins — Gillies has rounded back into form over the past three weeks while playing some fairly tough opponents. He gave up 24 goals in eight games from Jan. 7 to Feb. 11, and really looked pretty disinterested in doing it, going 2-5-1. But giving up three on 26 and losing to lowly UConn (one of the better teams in perhaps the worst conference in the country) seems to have scared him straight.

Since that loss, he’s played Notre Dame, UMass Amherst, and Maine, and gone 4-1-1 with a .933 save percentage. Those four wins, by the way, were in a row, including a sweep at Maine, where the Black Bears had, previous to last weekend, lost just one game all season.

Very encouraging stuff from a kid many thought had checked out after World Juniors. He’s likely to improve on that performance, too, because he basically got the Friars into third place in Hockey East by himself over the last few weeks. Providence scored just 15 goals in those six games to support him.

  • prendrefeu

    I find it laughable that trading Schnieder for Bo Horvat and Luongo for a questionable goaltending prospect and a 3rd/4th line center is earning Vancouver praise..

    They traded 2 starting goalies for below market value. They had one of the best tandems in the league and now…? If the Canucks made the Luongo trade at the draft and kept Schnieder I would applaud them but this is a joke.

    You trade Schnieder because you don’t like the offers for Luongo then you bench him for a huge game and trade him anyways (I get that Luongo wanted out but he wanted out long ago)..

    They don’t deserve any credit for trading Schnieder last draft now that Luongo is gone as well.

    If that is good asset management in the eyes of some then I wonder how blind those some may be…

  • prendrefeu

    Can we trade Lambert to another fan nation site?
    There aren’t trade deadlines for the Nation Network. Or are there?

    At this point he may be worth, oh… maybe two hour’s worth of traffic bandwidth and a $10CAD gift card to Tim Hortons.

  • mattyc

    Two thoughts:

    1. I’m not sure what your definition of a ‘mediocre declining veteran’ is, but Cammalleri is a guy who’s only 31 and has been about .75ppg the last 5 years. This year, admittedly he’s had some struggles coupled with injuries slowing him down. Realistically though, he’s still a viable top 6 option, and there still aren’t teams in the league he wouldn’t make better. He’s not a middling Ryan Smyth, he’s a top 6 player, and probably will be for a couple more years.

    2. Vancouver hasn’t learned anything IMO. They were forced to trade Luongo by his agent (and rightfully so IMO). It’s pretty ridiculous how he was treated here (in Vancouver). They messed with him for 2 years waffling around trying to trade him and then hanging him out to dry and embarrassing him in the media. The final straw was the game last weekend. Between Tortorella and Gillis, I don’t know how you can more publicly embarrass a player who is the best goaltender in franchise history, brought them to within a game of a cup, won 2 gold medals, and played 8 years in the city. To me, that should (and probably will be) a fireable offense for both of them. Rumours of ownership nixing a Kesler deal tell me Gillis is done at the end of the season.

  • T&A4Flames

    The return for Berra was unbelievable. He has won a single game in regulation and his save percentage is terrible. this was a robbery by Burke. I also think that a third for Stemp based on the market is a very solid return. I think that the Berra trade deserves more credit in this article and from fans in general. (I wonder what Roy and the Avs see in Berra. Are we missing something?)

    I agree that not moving Cammy is disappointing. I suspect that is how Cammy and the Flames organization feels. It seems to me that Burke was negotiating tough and ran out of teams and time. This was a mistake. Having said that if he was only going to get you a fourth (for instance) perhaps holding onto him was wise. It is possible that his rights could be traded at the draft for a similar return. I also think that there is some merit, some, to Burke’s claim that developing a reputation as a team unwilling to give away assets has some truth.

    I would have loved to walk away with more at this deadline but it was an odd market. Not a whole lot of teams willing to give up quality picks or prospects.

    With the addition of a second does the Boumeister trade of a 1st, 2nd and Cundari seem more reasonable? With the solid play of young players and some trades looking more promising does this improve the way that we view Feaster’s tenure?

    At the game last night I really liked the play of Granlund. Skill vision and responsible play. Seeing Knight win some draws also was encouraging. I don’t think that Hanowski will ever skate well enough to play regularly in the NHL. With the move of Berra I suspect that the team will be looking to add goalies over the summer. Pretty thin in term of depth t this position.

  • redricardo

    I actually pretty much agree with what Eric Francis wrote here (which is odd… I normally disagree with what Francis says on principal…)

    I’m amazed we were able to get a second round pick for Berra. And not trading Cammalleri was disappointing. So they kind of balance out.

    But there is hopefully a cache that comes with not just giving Cammalleri away, a la Islanders crappy return on Vanek. Hopefully next year if a team is looking at a Flames player they’re interested in, they’ll know that if they want him, they better make a fair offer, because Calgary isn’t going to just give him away.

    Of course, too many years of that, and refusing to maximize assets based on principal, and you’re left wandering the desert… So who knows.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I would not be so giddy about St. Louis if I was a New York fan.

    I personally don’t get it. Do the Rangers think they are winning the cup this year? The guy is 38 years old!

    That’s a ton of assets to give up for a guy his age and given where the Rangers are in the standings. They could miss the playoffs!

  • Parallex

    I wouldn’t be so fast in proclaiming that the Canucks have realized “they needed to blow everything up”.

    I mean what did they really do?… they traded away what is generally considered one of the worst contracts in the NHL (albeit attached to a pretty good player) That they’ve been trying to get rid of seemingly forever. I don’t think you can make the leap that they’re blowing anything up yet, The Sedins? Still There, Burrows? Still There, Kesler? Still There (for now), Edler? Still There.

    I mean… it’s possible that they have started what Sutter should have done before all the madness took over… they may have looked at the dearth of young NHL talent that’s in it’s near prime stage (21-25) and the abundance of talent on the wrong side of 30… but it’s also possible that they just took the opportunity to rid themselves of a longterm headache and intend to just carry on with carrying on.

    • T&A4Flames

      Agree with this…. the Canucks are an absolute disaster right now and if they had started the rebuild a year and a half ago maybe I would give them some credit.

      Luongo demanded a trade after the Heritage Classic snub so they shipped him out for basically nothing (agree that getting rid of that contract IS something) and have since replaced his politely disgruntled ass with Kesler’s obnoxiously disgruntled ass which will be a thorn in their side until he’s dealt. Leverage diminished due to the fact that everyone knows he wants out and apparently will only go to a small handful of teams.

      Twins signed long term and declining HARD, Burrows basically zero value, Kassian is a bust, Gillis and increasingly Tortorella despised in Vancouver and a fan base that doesn’t even care anymore – they don’t even care enough to be mad!

      With regards to a few other “things” I think calling yesterday a catastrophe is a bit much. Berra for a 2nd is 100% win for us, Stemp for a 3rd was expected. Not trading Cammy I agree isn’t ideal but not a total loss. I think Burke can still get some value out of him one way or another.

    • redricardo

      Look at where the Canucks are now compared to last year. Instead of Schneider and Luongo, they have Lack and Markstrom. Kesler is on his way out, probably at the draft, and rumors about Edler are flying. The Sedin’s are in their 30’s and nowhere near as effective as they were, and the team is hoping to be lucky enough to scratch their way into a playoff spot after several years of it being a given. Sounds familiar to anyone who’s been a Flames Fan for about a decade.

      Yes, they still have a few marginal pieces in place that they could potentially build around, and maybe they aren’t going full out “blow up” like the Oilers, but I personally agree with Lambert. Just a look at the goalies now compared to a year ago and the rumors of exodus would lead me more towards rebuilding, than loading up for another run.

      • Parallex

        Oh, I’m not saying that their going to be good. No, not at all… what I’m saying is that simply relieving themselves of Luongo doesn’t nessicarily mean that “they’re blowing it up”.

        They’re not river-boat gambling away futures like Sutter did in the final years (which is unfortunate from a Flames fans perspective). I mean I remember hearing just a few days ago that the Sedins were considered untouchable… in my mind when you’re declaring a pair of 33 year old forwards untouchable it means you’re not embracing a burn-it-down rebuild.

        They’re probably thinking they can have their cake and eat it too.

        • piscera.infada

          I was involved in conversation about the Sedins when they signed the extension with one of my old friends from Van. The problem I see is that of course they’re untouchable, the very nature of their relationship makes them untouchable – it’s a total catch-22. Of course, you get two really, really good players for a decade (hurts to admit, but it’s truth). Now though, if you need to move them (a la Iginla), you now have to move two relatively large contracts to move (as opposed to one), and are now depreciating assets that must be moved as a package. They’re going to be very hard hard to move, let alone get anything substantial for when the time comes.