Flames Brass Facing Risk Management Decisions

They’re not quite there yet, but the Calgary Flames are heading toward a pivotal point in this confounding season.

During a well-publicized rebuilding phase that officially started with
the unloading of former captain Jarome Iginla less than two years ago,
the Flames are actually in contention for a playoff spot.

They woke up Sunday
morning in a wild-card spot — a position no sane person expected them
to be in this season — in a tie with defending champion Los Angeles Kings but owning more wins in regulation. It appears to put the Flames
in a precarious spot with their strategic direction. Do they hold onto
their biggest trade chip and risk another Michael Cammalleri situation
with Curtis Glencross? Do they deal him away and fill his slot with one
of the many up-and-comers on the farm but face potential scrutiny for
appearing to throw in the towel on the postseason?

Additionally, do they look to dump David Jones and/or Jiri Hudler, who each have one more season on their $4-million deals?

Any of those hypothetical moves could be interpreted as an indication of
indifference when it comes to this year’s playoffs. But the Flames
management team cares nothing of public perception. President of hockey
operations Brian Burke made that perfectly clear with the Cammalleri
sit-in last season.

Luckily, the team is probably in a win-win situation with what I believe
is a fairly obvious answer to the questions posed above.

Get what you can for Glencross. The a pending unrestricted free agent is
probably nowhere near as valuable as Cammalleri was a year ago based on
his injury history (including his current absence) and declining
offensive numbers.

Bid goodbye to Jones and Dennis Wideman and, really, almost any of the
veteran players not named Mark Giordano who might fetch a return that
gives your scouting staff the opportunity to find another Johnny
Gaudreau or T.J. Brodie in the later rounds of a future draft.

The Flames need to move out players who are not part of the long-term
plans regardless of what the effects may result this season. The funny
thing is that a stronger finish to the season is possible with ‘the
replacements’ than with the status quo.

Youth drives this engine now. There are enough veterans in town to
influence the kids without worrying about losing the likes of Glencross,
Hudler or Jones. There may be the desire to bring Hudler back given his
skill level and production, even if it’s for just that one final year.

Glencross may be asking for too much money and term for a team that
wants to afford itself the luxury of flexibility, and Jones has upped
his trade stock with a recent hot streak but over the course of his time
in Calgary has done little to show he is deserving of being a part of
this team’s long-term future.

Michael Ferland looked ready for the NHL during his time with the Flames
earlier this season and could step right into Glencross’s spot. Centre
Markus Granlund could also move to a wing if needed. Emile Poirier is
performing extremely well in the American Hockey League and folks are
excited to see what he can do at the NHL level sooner than later.

It’s not giving up on the season, it’s giving the long-term players a
chance to take advantage of an unexpected situation and continue to
build the culture of a hockey team that does not consider losing
acceptable or automatic.

It’s looking forward to seeing what these kids could become if given chances to grow in the most difficult competition possible.

It’s an easy call.

The hardest part might be convincing other teams that there’s decent
value in a player a team in a playoff position doesn’t want to keep.

  • everton fc

    Fans are saying move out the veterans (who coincidentally have high salaries), but what do you replace those salaries with? some other team’s salary dump? And you have to be concerned about team chemistry too. BT overpaid Enggeland just to get over the cap floor.

    Jones has been a valuable big bodied guy playing with GlenX/Bouma and Mony on the number one line. They can hold their own against Pacific Division competition. If GlenX doesn’t give up his no trade clause for any team then what can you do….Bouma has been good as his replacement.

    Wideman has earned his paycheck this year..his goals have won the Flames more than just a couple of games.

    Huds is valuable, as a mentor for youth and his scoring and setup abilities. Smooth skater that could play to 38…

    Gio? You gotta be insane to even consider it!

    Trade pending UFA Ramo or sign him to an extension NOW…Hiller did not like being replaced as #1 by a rookie in Anaheim – will he accept backup to a rookie with the Flames???. Best bet would be extend Ramo and trade Hiller.

    Flames needs may be best determined at the end of the season to the next draft. Let this season play out, with the exception of moving a goalie..and management can get a good read on how the youth perform in an intense playoff race!

      • JumpJet

        Yes, GlenX is a pending UFA..but with a No Trade Contract. For this NTC he gave up some salary.
        If he REFUSES movement to a team that gives the Flames something valuable in return there is nothing the Flames can do….either resign him or let him go UFA.

  • Danomitee

    If you trade Gio, Hudler or Wideman you can kiss our chances at the playoffs this year and next year goodbye! I think Gio and Hudler go without saying but all the Wideman bashing is getting a little ridiculous, did anyone see the game last night??
    Our top 4 are great, our bottom two are terrible no matter who they are. GlenX can go kick rocks, all I ever see is him slugging his way back to the bench. I know he has offensive upside, but I don’t see the argument that we need his veteran leadership as I don’t want to see any of his habits repeated by our young guns. If you can get something for him and he waives his NTC then fire away, if not let him leave in free agency the price on him isn’t that high anyways.
    The Ramo/Hiller scenario is kind of interchangeable. Ortio has proven he can play at the big level, but lets not get ahead of ourselves and say we’ve found our new #1. If he’s to stay then its going to be in a tandem situation with one of these guys, trade the other who you can get the most for at the deadline.

  • Danomitee

    If you really look at our healthy roster then you can that:

    Jooris has Jones spot anyway and is a decent replacement right now. Maybe Jones nets a 4th rounder if we eat some of his salary… but hey like Pike said… a 4th would be enough take a swing at another prospect like a gaudreau or a ferland.

    Hudler should not be moved for picks. Id package him with a prospect for a defensemen or a young forward that fits into the future. If not then keep him and move him next season for picks.

    Wideman – consider moving him if the interest and return is there. But try to avoid picks and prospects as past him at 4 we dont have much coming.

    Glenx – he has a clause so some fans may get disappointed here. If he can be convinced to take a chance on another prairie town like winnipeg then maybe there is a fit and a chance to get a return. Regardless I would move one of him or Raymond for anything close to a decent return just to open up a spot. At this point in there careers they are just depth wingers with no real upside.

    When I said do not trade wideman and hudler for picks there is a caveat – a concrete plan to parlay said picks into a defensemen or defense prospect over 20. I just think that for these two in particular the return in picks will not equal their value on the ice currently. I could be wrong. Maybe the interest is there.

    Pike you didnt mention the Goalies. Both Hiller and Ramo could bring something back.

    Overall I would be conservative at the deadline. Move out a Jones or Hiller for picks. While we have a lot prospects we still beed to acquire draft picks to replenish our system. The amount of graduates in the next two years will take a huge toll on our system and leave a lot of gaps.

    That said we probably need a defensemen and a d prospect as well.. so if the return is right (im personally not seeing it) then and only then do we move Huds and Wides… we should have enough assets to acquire some picks without moving our more crucial assets.

  • RKD

    Keep Huds for another season, you can trade him next year. Trade Glencross and Ramo, both are UFAs and will probably want more money. GlenX already said he would not take a hometown discount. Better to get something for these guys than nothing. The Flames should stick to the plan and be sellers. Any talk of spending to the cap now is nonsense. The young players Gaudreau, Monahan, Bennett, Poirier, Wotherspoon, Brodie, etc. are the future of this team.