Random Thoughts – Prepping for the Second Half

random thoughts

Incredibly the Calgary Flames find themselves within spitting distance of the post season as the half season mark approaches. The possibility of a post-season appearance in year two of a rebuild is tantalizing, but the true priority for this organization remains the long term. The challenge for Brad Treliving and the decision makers, then, will be to balance the two objectives as we move forward into 2015. As a result of the club’s unexpected success they have some interesting upcoming decisions to make, ranging from who to send down when Backlund returns to what to do with some pending free agents. 

– Let’s start off with the question of Backlund’s imminent return to the line-up. The Flames have a full complement of active players so in order to fit him on the roster they’ll have to demote someone. The primary options are a couple of kids who are waiver exempt in Markus Granlund and Josh Jooris or tough guy Brian McGrattan, who has only appeared in eight games this year. 

We can assume that the team is not comfortable demoting McGrattan for various reasons, so it comes down to the youngsters. Both guys have scored at roughly the same rates in the NHL (13 and 14 points, respectively) and played very similar roles so far. Jooris is older at 24 and probably closer to a finished product than Granlund. 

Jooris is also the much better possession player right now. His corsi of 46.1% is well clear of Granlund’s 41.5%. In relative rate terms, Jooris is at +1.8 corsi/60 while Granlund is down at -9.6/60. That is despite very similar playing circumstances. 

The choice is a clear one. 

– A demotion might also be in Granlund’s best interest. After a torrid, percentage assisted start, the 21-year old has fallen off a cliff recently, managing just four points in his last 19-games. In fact, he has just three shots on net in his last five games and 40 shots in 29 contests this year. That’s a very low rate for any forward above 4th line duty.

Furthermore, Granlund is struggling by observation as well as by the math recently. Although he has good hands and vision, it’s very clear he has trouble handling the strength and speed of NHL opponents, especially in his own end of the rink and in the more defensively demanding role as a centre. Granlund is neither overly big nor fast, so he’ll either need to get a lot more wily or improve one of those skills in order to become a useful, full time NHLer. A stint in the AHL may help him play more minutes and work on these key deficiencies. 

– What might also help is a move to the wing. Calgary has three established NHL centres currently in Matt Stajan, Sean Monahan and Backlund and a probable high-end guy on the way in Sam Bennett. There’s also Corban Knight and Bill Arnold pressing for minutes in the minors, as well as possible pivots in Paul Byron, Lance Bouma, Joe Colborne and Josh Jooris still in the show. Wingers also have less defensive responsibilities. 

– On to the bigger picture. With 45 points in 40 games, the Flames are somewhere between 47 and 50 points away from a playoff spot, depending on how the West washes out. To be safe, let’s assume the cut-off is 95 points. That means they will have to finish around 25-17-0 or some equivalent to get in (say 22-11-6 with some OT losses throw in), which is a win percentage of about 60%. To put that in perspective, the Flames WIN% up until now has been about 53%. 

– Calgary can increase their playoff chances by improving their possession numbers. What’s interesting about the team right now is their bottom-five possession is mostly the outcome of just one side of the possession equation: shots for. 

Currently, the Flames allow just 28.0 shots against per game, good for 5th best in the entire league. Some of that is the club’s penchant for avoiding the penalty box – Calgary takes the least amount of PIMs in the NHL so far, which naturally leads to less time on the PK and, therefore, less pucks being fired at their net. The Flames also manage to block a lot of shots.

At even strength they are still competent, however, allowing 28.1 shots/60 (14th in the league between St. Louis and San Jose). The problem, as mentioned, is shot generation. Only the Buffalo Sabres (22.6/60) get less pucks on net than the Flames at 5on5 (24.6/60) in the league. In fact, there are only five teams overall who managed less than 30 shots/60 in the first half of the season (BUF, CGY, EDM, ARI, PHI).  

The objective becomes a bit clearer for the coaching staff then – how does the team increase their lousy SF numbers while maintaining their decent SA numbers?

– Part of the problem is likely intractable given the roster: the club’s two most effective puck movers from the back-end are TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano and they are buried beneath an avalanche of difficult circumstances every night, which naturally reduces their ability to create more shots. The Flames can’t really re-jig usage to give them higher ground, however, since the shift in responsibility would probably undermine the other defensive pairing’s results. 

– What could help, however (and is eminently possible) is moving Matt Stajan back up the rotation. The veteran centre has very quietly put together better than average underlying numbers in less than ideal situations – results that have been masked by underwhelming counting stats (and circumstances). 

Stajan’s relative corsi is +5.5/60 through 22 games even though he starts more often in the defensive zone than any other regular forward (35.5% zonestart) and usually plays with grinders and tough guys. In fact, the team has the highest on-ice shot rate with Stajan at 5on5 this year (29.2/60). For context, that number is 10 shots better than Joe Colborne (19.5/60) and more than five shots better than Markus Granlund (24.5) and Josh Jooris (23.8), all of whom tend to play more than Stajan. In fact, amongst regular skaters, the only forward who plays less than Matt’s 9:45 ES ice per game is Brandon Bollig (8:48). 

Altogether: the team has a decent possession rate and a relatively high shot rate with Stajan on the ice this year, even though he is deployed almost exclusively in a defensive role with grinders. It’s probably time to give him a longer look in the top-9 rotation. 

– Here’s how my line-up would shake out with Backlund back, Granlund demoted and Stajan getting more minutes:

Glencross – Backlund – Byron

Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler

Raymond/Colborne – Stajan – Jones

Bollig – Bouma – Jooris/Colborne

The Backlund line gets the tough assignments, The Monahan line gets sheltered and the Stajan line lands somewhere in between. The other option is to keep burying Stajan, but simply give him more minutes and better line mates. 

– Two items might surprise people from my line-up: Glencross on the tough minutes line and Colborne thrown in as a filler in the bottom six. Let’s start with Colborne.

The only player with a worse relative possession rate on the Flames is Brandon Bollig. Colborne’s corsi of 39.8% is comparable to enforcers and fringe NHLers. Amongst NHL forwards with at least 200 ES minutes this year, Colborne’s possession ratio is the 19th worst in the entire league. And that’s in part because 11 members of the historically bad Buffalo Sabres sit below him on the list. For more context, take a look at Colborne’s WOWY (with or without you): you’ll notice every player’s possession results absolutely crater when skating with Colborne this year (aside from Monahan’s, whose stay steady). 

As mentioned above, the Flames shot rate with Colborne on the ice is just 19/60, which is five shots below the team average. That’s fairly shocking, because the Flames are the second worst team in the league at garnering shots on net at 5on5! In addition, Colborne himself doesn’t direct many pucks on net. He has managed just 22 shots in 22 games so far this season, even while averaging 16 minutes of ice per game. 

What has prevented Colborne from looking completely terrible is luck and tools. His PDO is a team high 107.4. That’s a combination of an on-ice SH% of 11.7 (about the rate many teams score during the PP) and an on-ice SV% of 95.7% (better than Dominic Hasek in his prime). It’s amazing that a player with those kinds of bounces has just 3 goals and 12 points (and a +3) in 22 games, but it goes to show how lousy Colborne’s shot ratios are. 

In addition to lady luck, Colborne has the look of a guy who should be a good hockey player. He’s big, has relatively good hands and can skate pretty well. Every few games, he manages to make a play in the offensive zone that suggests he could become an impact player. But, aside from being able to win some face-offs, he struggles mightily at all other aspects of the game.

That Colborne is young and has the requisite tools to be a player is the only reason I haven’t agitated to demote or trade him. His underlying results are replacement level player bad, though. Once the percentages regress on Colborne he’s going to get lit up like a Christmas tree unless he can start pushing the play north a lot more effectively. 

– Of course, this comes back to the primary objective at hand – if the Flames are more committed to experimentation and development than winning this year, then maybe playing Colborne more than Stajan is more worthwhile. 

– Let’s circle back to Curtis Glencross. He’s kind of the anti-Colborne right now: by eye he usually doesn’t look that effective, but his underlying numbers are much, much stronger. Glencross, like Stajan, sees some of the toughest assignments out of any forward on the team with frequent starts from his own zone. Unlike Stajan, Glencross also faces the other team’s best players every night. Nevertheless, he’s a positive relative possession player* (+5.2/60) and he is even scoring at a decent rate (11 goals, 25 points, 3rd amongst forwards), which is why I’d play him with Backlund in a shut down role. 

*Some might argue that’s an effect of playing with Monahan, but Glencross’ shot numbers are actually slightly better away from Sean than with him this season. 

– This is the kind of rebound season the Flames were hoping for out of Glencross after his lacklustre showing last year, though it makes their decision of whether to re-sign him or not much more difficult. At 33 years old, Glencross represents a significant risk of deminishing returns down the road. In addition, his decent season and low cap number (just $2.5M) likely make him an attractive deadline rental option for a contender, rendering him a quality trade asset. 

On the other hand, sometimes it’s beneficial for rebuilding teams to hang on to quality veterans. As Devin Setoguchi and Mason Raymond have ably demonstrated this year, it can be difficult to replenish quality middle rotation talent from the UFA pool in the summer, especially if you’re not a first call destination for most free agents. 

– I think The Glencross conundrum will ultimately come down to a couple of things:

1.) Are the Flames contending for a playoff spot at the deadline? If so, there’s little chance they’ll auction off Glencross. 

2.) What does the player want contract-wise versus what the Flames can get for him at the deadline? If Glencross is looking for big, long-term money and/or if teams come calling with first round picks or quality prospects, it will probably make more sense to deal him.

– Finally, there’s Karri Ramo, who might be the other guy the Flames shop at the deadline. Although the two puckstoppers duelled it out to start the year, it’s become clear that the organization now views Jonas Hiller as the putative starter. Ramo’s contract ends this year and AHL starter Joni Ortio’s salary converts to a one-way deal starting new season. The org will also likely see stand-out college prospect Jon Gillies turn pro in 2015-16. That leaves a probable set-up of Hiller and Ortio in Calgary and Gillies as the starter in Adirondack next season. 

If there’s any demand at all at the deadline for a veteran back-up type goalie, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Flames move him.

  • smith

    Never understood the love for Colborne. I do not believe he is an NHL player. Too poor offensively to be on the top 6 and not good enough defensively or on face offs to be in the bottom 6. We should trade him while people think he might still be good.

    • everton fc

      I know it will never happen, but perhaps demote Colborne and move Granlund to the wing. Or waive and demote McGrattan, who is really a waste of a roster spot. Why keep him around, other than his “positive impact in the room”, which to me is a waste of a roster spot.

      I am really hoping Backlund comes back strong and lights it up.

  • Parallex

    Question: What typically happens when you put a good possession player with a bad possession player?

    If you were to put Colbourne with say Backlund and Glencross do they lift him up to their level or does he drag them down to his (or do you get some aggregate number)?

    Personally, I’d rather roll with the following…

    Gaudreau – Backlund – Hudler, Glencross – Monahan – Colborne, Raymond- Stajan – Byron/Jones/Jooris, Bollig – Bouma – Jooris/Jones/Byron

    … in the hopes that Monahan’s non-cratering possession with Colborne holds up and carries over to Glencross. Mickis get’s put with some actual scoring talent so the mouthbreathers that rag on him for not putting up eye-popping counting stats can be muted (and y’know help drive the play north so they can use that scoring talent). I’d probably play that pretty close to PvP and maybe bury the Stajan line a little bit (but not to Malholtra levels).

  • RedMan

    Colborne looks a lot better this year by the eye; stronger and more physical then last year. but still, as the team looks to improve individually and as a team, he is making his own case for choosing someone else.

    Glencross seems to me to be the type of veteran that can age well, meaning that as his skills diminish, he can still be useful farther down the lineup. Plays the right way, has an edge, and can shift to the shut down role and PK guy.

    I think many are looking forward to seeing Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler together in a more sheltered role. this could become a dynamic line that is also able to be defensively responsible when, on the road, they can’t be sheltered as easily.

    Do you really think that someone would claim McGratton on waivers? yes, he is the current heavy weight champ, but teams are jettisoning these role players faster then, well, then something fast.

    I think Granlund AND McGratton should be sent down; Granlund for development, McGrattoon to open up a space for Porrier.

    That someone will soon be making a decision on Byron is another thought that’s been rolling around in my tickle trunk – He is useful to many teams as a depth guy, but Flames have plenty of depth guys and with Backlund back this week and Bennett not far off, Flames can use Byron to obtain a defensive prospect. (plus there is the size/grit thing, though Byron DOES play a game that is much bigger then his actual size – he has lots of grit per pound, which I predict is the next big stat on the scene – grit/pound)

    Finally – extra points for having the guts to use a word like “putative”… I am willing to wager you stopped to consider if this word, while appropriate, was the right choice. been there done that, have the T-shirt. 😉

    • Avalain

      This is a well thought-out post, except I’m not entirely sure about sending McGratton down for Poirier. McGratton’s job is to sit in press box and eat popcorn. That seriously doesn’t seem like the place to put Poirier right now. I think McGratton does the job of locker room guy/13th forward as well as anyone.

  • smith

    I haven’t been impressed with Glencross all season. He seems disinterested most games, so those numbers surprise me. This is where the value of stats comes in handy as I will have to reevalauate my eye test.

    Kent,

    What’s the difference in Colborne’s numbers when he’s on the wing? Is there a difference? I’ve always maintained he can’t think the center game and by eye he’s noticably stronger on the wing.

  • smith

    It has become really clear for me at this point that Jooris will not be leaving anytime soon.

    I’m all for Glencross and Ramo being moved at the deadline.. even if we are not in a playoff spot.

    With the exception of probably Gio and Hudler, all of the Flames vets should be shopped at the deadline.

  • Scary Gary

    Good stuff Kent! I’m thinking the flames should end up around 20th in the league depending on injuries. If the flames appear out of it before the deadline I’d like to see some asset management and prospect evaluation.

    Transaction thoughts:

    Colbourne and or Raymond for a defensive prospect.

    Wideman should get some trade deadline interest.

    Granlund for a defensive prospect.

    Ramo for a second.

    Glencross deadline trade and off-season re-sign.

    Keep Hudler unless the offer is rediculous.

    Call up Culkin, Wortherspoon, Ferlund, Poirier, Baertschi if they’ve earned it.

  • CDB

    One of the biggest reasons I take issue with how Hartley treats Sven and when people want to get rid of Sven is Colborne. The guy is not an NHLer. He’s got great hands in the shootout. Hartley loves him. Feeds him good linemates, circumstance and PP time. Sven rots bottom 6 despite significantly better pre-NHL numbers, and a better pt/game numbers in the NHL. Colborne is mildly better on the wing, but still not good. He is the perfect case why you shouldn’t care how tall a player is. Guy loses more puck battles than anyone on the team despite being 6’5. And then promptly is out on the first PP unit. Love that the advanced stats back up how bad my eyes told me he was (pre shootout, guy has silky mitts and a phenonmenal reach in the skills comp).

    • CutterMcAwesome

      They both tend to look fairly tentative on the ice. If colborne would just drop his shoulder and play a little smash mouth hockey now and then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

      As for Sven, he is still a liability in his own end. All Hartley is doing is forcing him to learn to play defense.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Do you think Sven deserves more playing time with better lines because he deserves it or because he’s a first round pick? If he was a third round pick, would you still support him playing top 6 minutes? To my eye, Ferland looked much better than Sven but like Sven, got sent down. Didn’t hear anyone complaining or that he would have excelled with top 6 linemates and PP time. Players make their own opportunities regardless who they are playing with and Sven isn’t the first “skilled” player to start out on the bottom two lines and work their way up. But make no mistake about it, it’s the player that makes that determination not the coach. And Sven clearly hasn’t. And if he’s as great as you think he is and just needs a “break”, I’m sure there’s astute GM’s salivating at getting Sven in a trade. Stand by.

      • CDB

        I think Sven has earned looks in the top 6 on more than one occasion, regardless of draft position. And I agree Ferland has also earned the same chances. Different players but I like what Ferland brought and was disappointed to see him sent down. Both have outplayed Colborne, despite Joes buttery soft circumstances and prime linemates.

        Never said he was great….. Just compared Colborne numbers, circumstances and perception with Sven. Baertschi definitely has loads of room to grow and improve

      • ChinookArchYYC

        I get where you’re coming from, because at the end of the day Baertschi has to make the best of the opportunities he’s provided, and on balance he hasn’t done enough. On the other hand, some players don’t ever belong on 4th line duty. Why bother putting Gaudreau with Bollig and Bouma, on the bottom rotation? It just makes no sense to put a high skill talent, in a position where he can’t succeed.

        Back to Colburne and what CBD brought up. What exactly does he bring? What are the assets he brings and how did he earn 2nd and 3rd line duty? I’ll echo what CBD said, I don’t understand why Colburne gets a pass by most fans I talk to and around FN.

      • Southern_Point

        With decent linemates and circumstances Sven scores at about a 40pt per-season clip. That’s about on par with an average second liner. So yes he deserves more NHL time based on merit, it’s really that simple.

        • T&A4Flames

          Really? Based on what? If knowledgeable hockey people actually believed that, don’t you think he’d be on the second line? Unbelieveable how many on this site think they’re smarter than Hartley and his coaching staff. Comical.

      • Parallex

        I say he deserves it. Everytime Sven has been given top-6 opportunities he has produced a clip fairly better than Colborne. He’s also improved drastically defensively since last year. So yes, he definitely deserves it based on merit.

  • Nummin

    Seems to me this team plays great with lots of young guys in the lineup. I know we all agree we don’t want to become the Oilers but results & eye test don’t lie & this team was playing so tight, the young guys fed off of each other. Whether we are in the hunt for playoffs or not, I say sell sell sell! GlenX, yup, Raymond, OK if there is a demand, Wideman, yup, Smid OK. If a 1st + for Hiller, I’d do it, otherwise check out what is out there for Ramo. Jones, yes please. Someone wants Stajan & wants to give us a decent package, even better.Bring in the young guys, all of them, Ferland, Sven, Arnold, Wolf, maybe give Porrier some NHL paycheques for some summertime `spending. What’s the worst that can happen, we load up on more futures & drop in the standings & get a top 10 pick at the draft.
    Only vets I wouldn’t move would be Hudler & Gio.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    @ the-wolf

    I agree on GlenX. Every time I notice him it seems he flubs a pass or gives up the puck. I guess I’ll have to start looking for him more because my eye test seems to be failing me.

    @ CDB

    I agree. Hartley gets mad props for turning this rag tag bunch of washed up vets and undeserving green horns into a winning club (and not undeservedly) but doesn’t take enough heat for his treatment of Sven, or Backlund last season.

    @ Kevin R

    I agree, as long as we can stay cap compliant. I’d trade HudRat if the price was right, though.

    • CDB

      Well put response to my comment. Definitely agree. Treatment of Backlund last season doesn’t get enough talk. We had our first line center playing between Westgarth and Mcgratton when he wasn’t in the press box smashing onion rings for nearly half the year haha.

      Between that, and his love of Reto Berra / Joey Macdonald, he almost was actively tanking last year.

      But Hartley has done an exceptional job creating an identity, getting the team to play fast, hard and buy in and lots of young guys have developed.

      • piscera.infada

        So what happened then to change Hartley’s opinion of Backlund so drastically? Remember, his comments at the end of the season regarding Backlund were something along the lines of: “best young two-way centre in the game”, “best forward on the team [last] year”, et cetera.

        Look, I get it. If you want to rag on Hartley for his treatment of Backlund last year, and then draw some sort of weak parallel to Baertschi, then perhaps you need to give him his due for the treatment of Backlund in the second-half of the season. Perhaps we need to look at what changed Hartley’s opinion. Divine intervention? Doubt it. Brian Burke? That would quickly change the entire narrative now, wouldn’t it?

        I’m wondering what Backlund did to get out of the “doghouse” that Baertschi didn’t do/hasn’t done. I mean, I get the skill argument, but I have a very strong belief that it isn’t personal with Hartley. He’ll do what he believes gives him the best opportunity to win games–as he’s done for the first year and a half of the rebuild. He really doesn’t seem vindictive to me.

        • CDB

          I don’t know what changed Hartley’s opinion. Open to suggestions. Quite a leap to go from 4th liner to best young two way center in the game though.

          Just pointing out his treatment of him. Someone else brought up that both seem were heavy in the doghouse. I was pointing out Sven vs Colborne.

          Also, I don’t think I’ll give him his due for playing our best center…..

          I don’t know what Sven hasn’t done that Backlund and Colborne have to get out of the doghouse. Guy needs to improve defensively. All I can do is go with what my eyes (and the numbers) tell me. I would certainly hope it wouldn’t be vindictive. I just can’t for the life of me see what the infatuation is with Colborne. I generally like Hartley as a coach:

          “But Hartley has done an exceptional job creating an identity, getting the team to play fast, hard and buy in and lots of young guys have developed.”

          *Giving his due (as previously written)

  • Nummin

    Good article Kent. I can’t believe I agree with most of your thoughts.

    Starting with short term to long term here are my thoughts :

    Granlund has leveled out and is on a two way contract. Also would be good for him to get more minutes and see how Arnold, Knight and other centres size up to his play on the same team. McGratts is almost done and I don’t think he is tradable. He could retire early if you don’t send him down unless he wants to still play next year somewhere else.

    Going for the playoff spot and Trade deadline : First they need more from the vets such as Jones, Raymond, Colborne, Bollig, and Engelland. If this does not happen and we are not in the playoff hunt by March 3rd then some players should be moved for draft picks or better players in the future. When the Flames signed Hiller I figured a goalkeeper has to go. Your thoughts are the same as mine — Ramo is a candidate for trade as Hiller has become number one. I feel trading Glenx is really based on what he wants to decide if they trade him or resign him.

  • redhot1

    Great article.

    I really don’t want to sign Glencross. I think any team who gives him a semi large contract will regret it quite soon.

    This is his best season in quite a few years, and hopefully ol BT can swing a deal. Whether were in the race or not

  • everton fc

    Would anyone move Ramo now? With, say Colborne, for a defenceman? Who would want Raymond at this point? Or Jones, for that matter. Maybe gets you a 4th round pick???

    People want to trade Stajan. I’d rather move Colborne and put Granlund on the wing.

    We must keep the young guys in proper perspective. Everyone talked about Knight here, and he hasn’t produced to the level many thought he would.

  • Toofun

    Kent,

    “Calgary can increase their playoff chances by improving their possession numbers. What’s interesting about the team right now is their bottom-five possession is mostly the outcome of just one side of the possession equation: shots for.”

    I never realized that “shots for” was a variable in the possession number statistic that we keep talking about. This is also the first i’ve heard about how low Calgary’s shots for numbers are relative to the rest of the league. Thanks, this observation makes all the sense in the world. Calgary has had a hard time lately driving to the middle of the ice and getting shots on target.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    In the back of my mind I want the Flames to be out of a possible playoff spot before the trade deadline so that they can trade some assets like Colborne, Ramo, and Raymond (and Enggeland and Bollig – whatever market for them?)…If GlenX definitely tells BT he wants to test free agent market – trade him to Darryl Sutter’s team?

    So that the second wave of rebuild players can make their way to the roster- Ortio, Ferland, Poirier and possibly Bennett – give him some games with the big club before sending him back to
    Junior.

  • Nummin

    Anybody have thoughts on trading Hiller over Ramo?

    It is clear that Hiller is the #1 starter right now, but why give up on a guy who is probably still finding his game at the NHL? Ramo has shown glimpses of being a clear cut starter. And with a team that likely wont be contending for the next 2-3 years, stick with a goalie that’s still developing.

    The way I see it, you can get a lot more for Hiller right now than Ramo. Then if Ramo plays out the end of the year like last, no complaints.

    At the end of this year you sign Ramo to another 2-3 year deal, takes him to 30-31. Then trade him if Ortio is able to translate his game to the NHL level by then. Ortio likely needs another couple years of seasoning before becoming a full time starter. Likely easy resigning Ramo.

    At the end of next year, Hiller will be 33 and looking for his last contract. The Flames will need to trade him at the deadline or look at having to sign him long term in the off season. Will Ortio be ready by then? Or do we end up with another journeyman tendy to pair with him?

    Long story short, trade Hiller now for more than what you get for Ramo?

    • Craig

      I think this is the smartest asset management that the Flames could do, but management has seemed to lean more towards Hiller. Either way I’m not too worried either way with the goaltending. I honestly think that Jon Gillies will be the Goalie once the team is competitive, his numbers in college are just ridiculous.

      On that divergent note I wonder what some college goalie comparables might be for Gillies. As in what did some current NHL goalies that went through the college system have as save percentages. His current 938 save percentage is amazing. I’d love to see his EV S% too, I’d just love to see a more in depth analysis of his play this year. Another very exciting prospect.

    • Rockmorton65

      It’s bad optics to sign a player to a three year deal and then trade him before the end of his first season, just because he’s worth something. Maybe the guy you WANT long term sees that and doesn’t want to invest in a company that might do the same to him? Players don’t just play hockey here. If he signs a 3 yr deal, he uproots his family, wife has to change jobs, kids leave their friends, and then within a couple months, have to do it all over again? I understand its a business, but respect is always a two way street. Do that too many times and quality players may start demanding the dreaded NTC. Either way, you lose credibility as an organization.

      • T&A4Flames

        How do you know Hiller wasn’t just signing a quick money deal (it’s only 2years by the way, not 3) to prove he can still be awesome on a contender and will bail after the deal is up? Optics aside, this may be exactly what Hiller wants.

        • Nummin

          That’s similar to what I was thinking.

          Also if you look back at last year, its entirely possible we had Berra between the pipes so long to showcase him as a #1 (haha) the more you play the better you got to be.

          Maybe management is just doing the same thing with Hiller. Showcasing him as a goalie who’s found his game again and sell high at the deadline. Maybe Hiller’s in on this too, at 32 he likely wants to win now.

          He’s a good goalie but he couldn’t put it together in Anaheim on a good team, not sure if that’s the coaches fault or what, so I don’t think he can take Calgary as far as we want. He’s not long for the Flames regardless if he’s traded this year or walks next.

    • T&A4Flames

      Finally someone thinking along the same lines as me. Hiller will bring a better return as he is known better around the league. Ramo has proven he is #1 material and he’s younger. Hiller only has 1 year left on his contract and no guarantees he resigns. Of course, you have to resign Ramo 1st. I would look at moving Hiller to MIN for some good young talent. A 1st Dumba maybe. Or if we could pull Coyle out of there.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    The team has grossly overpaid 3 to 4 players to get to the cap floor.

    How does getting rid of them for picks and prospect,s ,or replacing them with the prospect’s we have get us to the cap floor?

  • Nick24

    Sam Bennett is going to start skating tomorrow, in Calgary. As per Sam Bennett’s instagram.

    Also sounds like Backlund may be back in the lineup tomorrow!

  • Kybb79

    Trade Raymond GlenX,Ramo or Hiller ,I like Colborne i would give him another season to see how good he can get! I love Hudler he is a real leader on this team for the young forwards but if we can get a great return for him i would trade him.If we can trade Stagan anywhere do it! We have a lot of young players that are ready to come up from the farm we need to give them a chance.Smid,Bollig and Engelland need to go as well i think Wolf would stick up for anybody on the team that gets a cheap shot or is a target for the other team plus he seems to be improving on the farm! The Flames need to make a splash this summer for a couple solid Dmen like the NYI did with Leddy and Boychuck! This Flames team is looking great for the future we just need some new pieces to improve!

  • beloch

    Markus Granlund:
    Early this season he had both a sky high sh% and “Hudreau effect” fluffing his stats. Away from those two his production has fallen off a cliff. This isn’t unexpected. Although he’s not putting up a lot of points, he’s not too out of place in the NHL. Sending him down, switching him to the wing, or demoting him to the fourth line might improve the team in the short term, but giving him substantial minutes this season will likely be better for his development. He’s ready for them.

    Matt Stajan:
    Of all the Flames’ forwards, only Bollig has faced easier competition than Matt Stajan this season. Stajan has the remarkable ability to be mediocre no matter how he’s deployed. He’s as mediocre against top competition as he is against fourth line goon squads. He really should be dominating the bums he’s been up against this season, but he hasn’t. We’ve seen this from him before. He needs to be thrown to the wolves so he wakes the hell up! Right now, he’s the Flames most expendable centre. His spot on the fourth line could, arguably, be more productively used to rotate deserving rookies from Adirondack through. My vote is to stick him with Hudreau for ten games or so to fluff up his stats and then trade him. It’s time. He’s being wasted on the fourth line.

    Joe Colborne:
    He turns 25 later this month which is, frankly, not that young for a rookie. What you see now is probably pretty close to his peak. He’s been a lot better on the wing than at centre, so put him there and leave him there.

    Curtis Glencross:
    Glencross has been healthy all season, has been playing tougher competition with worse zone starts than any forward, and is on track for a career high point total this season to boot. Seriously impressive stuff. He’s at an age where there is pressure to trade him, but the Flames simply aren’t deep enough at RW to let him go just yet. If Glencross is traded this season I’d expect a seriously high return, not because that’s what other teams would pay, but because of how much Glencross is worth to this team right now.

    Goalies:
    Someone’s got to go this summer and, right now, it looks like Ramo. The Flames might as well trade him and get some return. The only trouble is that at least some of the teams that need a goalie like Ramo are probably more interested in tanking than improving at this point in the season.

    The real weakness: Defense
    Russel and Wideman can be good #4D options, but both need help to drive possession against the competition they’ve been thrown against. Wideman and Russel together lose ground every shift. That’s ground Brodano have to regain before they can generate offence. The Flames need a strong #3D that, when paired with Wideman or Russel, could drive possession forward. This would bump Engelland or Diaz off the third pair too (both if Smid is healthy), which can only be a good thing! If the Flames make a trade this season, this should be one of the things they go after. The Flames don’t have anyone poised to become the #3D they need anytime soon.

    • Nummin

      re: Glencross. Not to nitpick, but he’s a LW, which is the team’s greatest area of depth.

      The argument with Glencross is simple, regardless of how you view his play. He’s 33 next season, his value won’t go any higher than it is now, the team is in a rebuild. Not trading him is absurd. Especially if the rumors of him wanting 5.5 x 5 are true.

        • ChinookArchYYC

          And @thewolf

          I’m not disagreeing with either of you, but I believe they’ll resign GlenX. As far as $5.5×5 goes, I can’t believe anyone would pay that.

          • Parallex

            I don’t.

            I mean let’s look at the situation on the ground…

            A: The Flames are a rebuilding team,

            B: Glencross is already on the bad half of the aging curve,

            C: We have a ton of LW depth already at the NHL level,

            D: We have a ton of LW depth at lower levels knocking at the door (and are heading towards a surplus of centers that may need to be converted to wings down the line).

            … I just don’t see a fit for him here past this season.

  • Greg

    If the flames had only squeaked out 2 or 3 wins during that 8 game losing streak, they’d have a 60% winning record now, and only need 53% in the second half to hang on. That’s unfortunate.

    On the other hand, if they’d lost a couple during those improbable winning streaks, they’d probably be within spitting distant of a 10% shot at McDavid. Guess it all comes out in the wash.

  • Kybb79

    Flames website has Raymond and Backlund in (together on 3rd line)and Granlund and Jones out of the lineup against the Wings…decison pending on Backlund so Granlund could be in.