Sunday Open Thread: Who Is Part of “The Core”?

We’re 40 games into the 2014-15 Calgary Flames season, which means we’re getting close to (a) the All-Star Break and, before you know it, (b) the NHL’s trade deadline on March 2 (at 1pm MT). This means that the Calgary Flames continue to burn through their schedule and, potentially, could have some hard questions as they remain near the playoff pack with increasingly fewer games remaining on the docket.

The prospect of important pieces being moved at some point in the near future leads to this week’s question: Who is part of Calgary’s “core”?

A few players are pretty evident: Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, T.J. Brodie and Mark Giordano are all core players. I’d make an argument for Jiri Hudler, but I bet the Flames would trade him if they got a really good deal offered. You can argue that Curtis Glencross, Kris Russell and/or Matt Stajan are also on the periphery of the core, but would likely be moved if an offer came in.

Heck, Glencross might be moved this year as a pending unrestricted free agent.

Lance Bouma and Joe Colborne may also be considered core guys, depending on how you stretch the definition.

But for my definition, the absolute guts and heart and brain of the franchise, the essential pieces, I’d go for the main five: Monahan, Gaudreau, Brodie, Giordano and Hudler. Who’s in yours?

  • Howie Meeker

    To me it’s simple…Hiller, the 4 top D-men, all centres and wingers under the age of 27, all the boys in the AHL (unless you can swap an eye for an eye) and your leadership vets who are the glue guys (Hudler, Glencross, Stajan and even Bollig). As we trend upwards changes will have be made to the core until we hit the salary cap limit but till then there are still a lot of holes in our game. But isn’t it nice to see we can loose Cammy and his 6 million dollar salary and replace his production with a dynamic rookie who can still find another gear with even more talent and skill just waiting on the doorstep….we will get there eventually if we continue to build via the draft, develop at the farm then only pick up quality UFA’s in weak areas. However, what is more important then the core is to continue to create the identity of a hard working team and building a winning culture in the room, those that don’t compete nightly need to go core or not and for peanuts if necessary.

  • Howie Meeker

    To me it’s simple…Hiller, the 4 top D-men, all centres and wingers under the age of 27, all the boys in the AHL (unless you can swap an eye for an eye) and your leadership vets who are the glue guys (Hudler, Glencross, Stajan and even Bollig). As we trend upwards changes will have be made to the core until we hit the salary cap limit but till then there are still a lot of holes in our game. But isn’t it nice to see we can loose Cammy and his 6 million dollar salary and replace his production with a dynamic rookie who can still find another gear with even more talent and skill just waiting on the doorstep….we will get there eventually if we continue to build via the draft, develop at the farm then only pick up quality UFA’s in weak areas. However, what is more important then the core is to continue to create the identity of a hard working team and building a winning culture in the room, those that don’t compete nightly need to go core or not and for peanuts if necessary.

  • Howie Meeker

    To me it’s simple…Hiller, the 4 top D-men, all centres and wingers under the age of 27, all the boys in the AHL (unless you can swap an eye for an eye) and your leadership vets who are the glue guys (Hudler, Glencross, Stajan and even Bollig). As we trend upwards changes will have be made to the core until we hit the salary cap limit but till then there are still a lot of holes in our game. But isn’t it nice to see we can loose Cammy and his 6 million dollar salary and replace his production with a dynamic rookie who can still find another gear with even more talent and skill just waiting on the doorstep….we will get there eventually if we continue to build via the draft, develop at the farm then only pick up quality UFA’s in weak areas. However, what is more important then the core is to continue to create the identity of a hard working team and building a winning culture in the room, those that don’t compete nightly need to go core or not and for peanuts if necessary.

  • KH44

    One thing I think is very important is that you have core players in different age brackets. Take a look at a couple teams

    Chicago.
    Toews – 26 Kane – 26 Keith – 31 Sharp – 33 Hossa – 35

    LA
    Doughty – 25 Kopitar – 27 Quick – 28 Brown – 30 Carter – 30 Williams – 33

    Boston
    Krug – 23 Lucic – 26 Krejci -28 Bergeron -29 Seidenberg – 33 Chara – 37

    These teams are the class of the league over the past few seasons but will need to replenish soon. I think it was a mistake for Boston to give up Seguin not just because of the player he has become, but also because they never got back that 22-24 year old presence.

    A less successful model would be Philly:
    Voracek -25 Giroux – 26 Simmonds – 26 Streit 37

    There’s some difference there and Couturier may start coming on soon but overall I don’t feel they have those different levels of experience necessary to be a contender. Edmonton and Colorado have similar problems with their core.

    Experience guides youth and youth energizes experience. Right now I’d say Calgary’s core is:

    Monohan – 20 Gaudreau -21 Brodie -24 Hudler-31 Giordano – 31

    I would add in Backlund or someone around his age as a major piece of the team going forward. So when Monohan/Gaudreau are 25-26 then you’ll have a 30 year old there working with them.

    Also here’s to hoping that Bennett turns into a stud just because.

    I’ve heard a winning recipe is 1/3 of your roster under 25, 1/3 age 25-30, and 1/3 over 30. Right now the Flames have 8,8, and 10 respectively. Not too bad!

  • everton fc

    My core:

    Monohan, Gaudreau, Gio, Brodie, and yes, Hudler. I’ll also add Jooris, Bouma and Russell. And of course, Bennett, who is part of the core already, even though he’s yet to play an NHL game.

    Backlund has to prove he is part of a core by actually playing 80+ games in succession. I like him, but he seems injury-prone. If Colborne can convince this fan he can score 15 goals a season, I’d add him to the core.

    Note Gio and Hudler are 30+. I think Hiller’s are #1 goalie for at least this and next season.

    On the farm:

    Poirier continues to score. I love Ferland, but he isn’t putting up points on the farm these days, Arnold is. Goals and assists. Another to consider.

    Culkin’s +1 in 28 games. Wotherspoon’s -7 in 34 games. Wotherspoon obviously weathered the early season storm. Still, – 7 is a concern.

    Wolf is a long shot still, but I like him. Sven may be a playmaker, vs. a scorer. Hanowski may be a career AHLer. Seiloff’s -6. Van Brabant and Hathaway are interesting to me.

  • KH44

    I see the core in 2 years as being: Monahan, Bennett, Gaudreau, Ferland, Poirier, Colborne up front and Gio, Brodie, Russell and hopefully Wotherspoon and or Culkin on D.

  • RedMan

    I agree with the posts that suggest a solid core needs people in different age groups.

    The core today would definitely include Hudler and glencross. Next season? I hope we don’t see the team dump all these seasoned NHL guys and make us look like the 2014 Oilers.

    So – while i usually agree with Rex, this time i have to say that Hudler is definitely part of the core going forward.

    while it may not qualify him as ‘core’ I would have no issues if Glenscross had another 2 to 3 years, and then see where he is, as long as he keeps his level of tempo and play up to to standard.

    • Parallex

      “Next season? I hope we don’t see the team dump all these seasoned NHL guys and make us look like the 2014 Oilers.”

      Overstatement.

      The Average Age of the Flames is 27.471 (So not old but not really young either). The Flames can and should drop several vets either at the deadline or in the offseason. We’ll still have plenty of experienced guys on the bench (and the young guys this year will all be a year older).

      • piscera.infada

        Not really arguing the point, because I agree in part, but using ‘average age’ in the discussion of which vets to “dump” is somewhat of a red herring. Point is, you have to keep the right vets in the right spots in the line-up, or again, you run into an Oilers’ issue–assuming you can “plug-and-play” vets, just because “vets”.

        So yes, the team needs to shed players who don’t fit the bill long-term, but that’s not to say any (and all) vets. I would say the fruitful discussion here, is which vets are the ones to keep?

        Obviously Giordano, but Hudler, Glencross, or others? I mean, obviously what the market will bear for others may force your hand, but in the perfect world, who would you keep and why?

    • Parallex

      Sometimes players & how they see themselves fit in a teams dynamic dictates some of the moves & signings. GlenX days as a top 6 are limited & therefore, if he fits in the bottom 6 forwards on the team 2-3 years from now, that dictates the contract negotiation with him & BT. If he wants a bigger contract like the 5 years at 5.0mill per, that would be a horrible signing & if you have to move on. Cores are not only built around talent, age groups & position but the cap structure is vital as well. Success can be as disruptive to keeping a core as failure is.
      As for a brand new rebuilding team (keep in mind we blew up our core 20 months ago for futures) we sometimes can over react from a small sample size in declaring the new core. It’s important to identify the transitional core pieces in those players that are going to probably not be here when we make the long playoff run but were instrumental in evolving the team to that level. The best GM’s know when to parlay those important pieces that have all the look of being core into future cores. Kinda early identifying these players right now. I think the sure fire cores for long term Flame players is small, Gio/Brody/JG/Monahan.

      This is why we can’t be buyers at the TDL & we need to establish more clear cut future cores.We have a real screwy situation right now in that we can’t really jettison vets because of our Cap floor situation. Would love to see us move a Wideman or Hiller or Hudler for some huge futures (if the right deals were out there) but we can’t lose 12 mill in salary & replace with talented young players on ELC’s. So I see a very quiet TDL for the Flames & much busier on the trade front at the draft.

  • Parallex

    I think we have to make room for at least 2 or 3 forward prospects and on the defence side wotherspoon should graduate to the nhl.

    Sure we need vets around our youngsters to guide them. We are still rebuilding and I guess it’s time for some young players to show what they can do in the NHL for a longer time. 2 or 3 0f Baertschi, Granlund, Poirier, Bennett, Ferland should play a fulltime roll next season. For injurie cull-up’s we have guys like Wolf, Arnold, Potter, Agostino and so on.

    I would almost definitly trade Glencross. Or we trade some of our forward prospects for defensive help. I prefer the first scenario.

  • Derzie

    Not taking offers on: Gio, Brodie, Monahan, Bennett, Gaudreau, Hudler.

    The offer better be darn good on: Sven, Backlund, Poirier, Jooris

    7th Rounders welcome for: Ern, Bollig, Smid, Engelland, Diaz, Potter

    Everyone else is free to play for a job or be traded for fair market value.

  • Derzie

    Brodie, Gaudreau, Bennett, Monahan:

    Everyone else is movable as far as I’m concerned.

    Flames need to start thinking about what they could get for Hudler, Glencross, Gio, Wideman.

    I love Gio, but they were too sentimental with Iginla and waited to long to trade him. Now is the time to move Gio and really focus on the future.

    • Rockmorton65

      I think you’re being a bit shortsighted. A bit. You cant go into year three of a rebuild with four players under 26 and have everyone else be new. That’s courting disaster. You need two more things, veteran leadership and consistency. You cant expect development from the youth when you bring in a whole new crop of FA’s every September. I actually think consistency is more valuable than just a veteran presence.

      I agree on Glencross, assuming he doesn’t want to resign. Wideman if the offer is right. I disagree with Hudler and definitely Gio.

      Gaudreau is having the season he is, because of Hudler. Not only on the ice, but off, Hudler is mentoring the young forwards. I hear he is working closely with Gaudreau’s development and helping him learn to be a pro. Do you really want to risk that by trading Hudler and hoping Johnny will find that chemistry with a random FA next year. No, you stick with what works.

      Gio – same thing. He is the heart and soul right now. You dont rip that out for a pretty draft pick. The only way you CONSIDER moving him is if the return is too good to be true (ie – Seth Jones, 2 1sts and a prospect type deal – which aint happening)

      If they continue to progress they way they have shown this year, this team is going to be dangerous in 2-3 years, not 5-7 like originally predicted. That means when this team is contending, Both Gio and Hudler will be 34, which is a near perfect age for your veterans to be. Then, something magical will happen. Gaudreau then teaches the next group, Monahan becomes the captain for the next 10 years or so and this organization’s laughing.