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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

  • Hudler’s proven that he was worth the gamble when they signed him to his contract. He’s been consistently good. I’d be really hesitant to let him go. That said, his trade value has never been higher.

    If you get an offer you can’t refuse, you take it, otherwise he looks like the right guy to play on a wing with Johnny while he’s in the process of establishing himself.

    I agree with everything else though. Glencross should be in new colours before the end of the season, and if you can find people who want Wideman and Jones, I say go for it.

    I’m still even a little bit hesitant to deal Wideman without a decent D option coming back in at least one deal, but hopefully the brass are aware how crippling their depth on defense is

  • Burnward

    David Jones needs some love. He’s been playing hard with Mony, Bouma in that shutdown role.

    I’m not sure I make any huge moves. Glencross, Raymond or Hiller maybe. But there is something good going on now. I wouldn’t be too quick to mess with it.

    I would though split up Johnny and Hudler on the PP. That second unit needs a better distributor than Raymond up front.

    • everton fc

      I like Jones, too. And I agree – no big moves needed right now. If you can package Hiller with Raymond you try for a solid 3/4 d-man, or a young defencive prospect already in the league on a team with an over-abundance of these assets. Hiller will peak team’s interests. He’s got us this far, to be fair. Someone mentioned Nashville. Might be a good fit. I think Ramo is a solid #2 is we roll the dice w/Ortio, but we have to stay the course on “The Rebuild”.

      There was one shift along the boards he just lowered his shoulder and took total control of the puck. He might indeed be a guy you hold onto in an ELITE rebuild. Jones is a solid 3rd line player for most teams; even an ELITE team could use a guy like him. I’ve always thought if he stays healthy he can score 20 goals here.

      • everton fc

        Jones and Wideman are part of an “ELITE” rebuild? Sorry, but I have to disagree.

        Also, I’m still confused as to how fans expect Baerstchi, Poirier, Ferland, Granlund, Shore and Bennett to all make the team next year without moving out vets. If the plan is to make them all play another year in the minors, fine, but a lot of posters on here seem to want it both ways.

        Myself, I’m all for letting guys develop at their own pace, but at least half of that list are already kicking the door in.

        I also tend to take the POV of BT that the Flames are still in an “acquisition” phase. One has to assume that certain players won’t pan out at the NHL level, that multiple players may be packaged in a trade or that some will eventually move on. In order to deal with that, a steady supply of picks and prospects need to be established. In order to do that, some vets need to be moved.

        I have a lot of respect for the Detroit development system, but right now Calgary is not where Detroit is. We haven’t rushed guys like the Oilers have, but the team also can’t afford to keep a guy like Poirier in the minors for 4 years either.

        Besides, as Steve points out, Calgary can afford to move out vets and not suddenly be without any. The team would still have key vets in keys spots and a guy like Monahan will be a 3rd year vet next season so again, the team is not looking at an Oiler-like scenario here.

        As for Glencross being ‘owed’ anything. This is the same sort of argument used to keep Iginla around way past his expiry date…..and look what the return was.

        Glencross wanted a NTC and to stay close to home. He got that. In order to get that, he had to give up money. That’s called bargaining. That’s called life. The team doesn’t suddenly owe him bags of money.

        Besides, the team has to do what’s best for the team, not for one playerwho regrets signing his last contract despite getting exactly what he asked for.

        • everton fc

          Yep. With the right linemates, which I think he now has, why can’t he duplicate his #’s when with the Avs? That’s how I see it. No tot mention he’s a real good guy, a character guy, which is so, so important in an ELITE rebuild.