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.

  • Graham

    While they are in the hunt for a playoff spot this season, the reality is that this team is likely two possibly three years from being a true contender. I think management needs to build within that time frame, so I wouldn’t be buying this trade deadline, but I would be selling pieces that don’t fit into the 2 – 3 year window.

    Players like Glencross, Wideman, Hudler are not going to be huge contributors in 3 years, so we need to move them for assets that will contribute in 3 years. The real challenge comes with Gio and possibly Backlund. As unpopular as it might be, I might be tempted to move Gio at the deadline. The return for a #1 dman playing at his level might well give us the pieces needed to be a contender in 2-3 years. I doubt he will be the same player in 3 years, and we could save his salary increase to pay Monaham / Bennett & Brodie. Backlund is also an interesting piece, if Monahan and Bennett develop into your 1 – 2 centers, does it make sense in a cap league to have Backlund as #3. He is insurance for now, but likely expendable in a couple of years.

    • everton fc

      I respectfully disagree on both Hudler and Wideman. And Gio will play until he’s 40. He’s the heart and soul of the team – remember what happened to the Oilers after they moved Ryan Smyth.

      Hudler will play effectively at 35. So will Wideman. You keep these two for the next 2-3 years.

      Glencross is a different story, of course. Perhaps sign for 2 years and cut ties. I think Ken King likes Glencross; perhaps he works for the organization when he hangs up the skates. And Backlund, you see how he holds up in the short-term. But he’s proven he can be a leader here, a quiet leader. I like that.

      Monahan/Bennett/Backlund/Bouma or Jooris or Stajan… That’s “above average” down the middle in this league.

    • JumpJet

      Tough argument to win. I strongly advocated moving Iginla after his last 50 goal season, but the team was totally different back then. Old, slow and basically zero prospects of note except.

      The team now is rebuilding and Gio is the heart and the guts. Very difficult move unless you get back a top 3 pick and why would those teams want to do that?

      A 5-10 pick though? A bottom ten team might do it, but still very doubtful.

      An 11-15 pick? Better odds and in this draft it would be tempting, but IMO it sets the team back by at least 3 years. Gio is simply too great a leader, too well respected and still too damn good at the hockey to take that chance.

  • everton fc

    Again, this fan wants to see an ELITE organization built. Not a “playoff contender that might go deep”. Not what we need. We need to be like the Wings, the Ducks, the Hawks… The Pens… What good is anything short of this, and we have the opportunity NOW to make this happen.

    Even discussing the movement of Hudler is a waste of time; he should be part of the ELITE rebuild. Moving Wideman’s nuts, as well. This guy can play as a 4-6 d-man and score for another 3-4 years. If he likes it here, you keep him. We have no cap issues. With youngsters we want to retain, this is where our “cap-ex” should go.

    Jones is one I’d try to move. Ditto Raymond. Engelland/Smid/Diaz – I actually think teams would take Smid as a throw in to a multi-player deal. He’s a serviceable 6-man.

    Byron’s another I might shop as part of a deal. And of course, with Ortio beginning to prove he’s ready as perhaps a #1, we have one goalie too many. Stajan becomes expendable once Bennett comes back, but maybe the “brass” wants to move Backlund? I think that’s nuts, too… But I’m not “the brass”.

    I have been one Ferland’s biggest fans since he was with the Wheaties. But he has to begin scoring on the farm. I wonder if he’s still shaking of that concussion? Poirier could replace a vet, as well. Granlund is another one who maybe worth more on the trade market, but I think moving him to wing needs to happen sooner, than later. Would Minny want Granlund on the wing with his brother centering? What would they give up for Ramo and Granlund, or even Hiller and Granlund? Could a young defender be “had”?? Our biggest area of opportunity is defence. Our biggest assets – goalies/centres/proven vets/over abundance of young forwards.

    And I agree with Walter White – Glencross has played well this year. Is he part of an ELITE rebuild? Maybe short term, for the right price.

    • Mort

      If you want the Flames to be an ELITE organization, why do you think Hudler will be part of that? Surely our elite era, if it ever comes, will be a few years (4-6?) from now. Do you really think Hudler will still be elite in that amount of time? Do you think he’s elite right now? He’s a good scorer, but elite is pushing it a bit far. If he’s elite right now, but not in 4 years, why not trade him now and get somebody with a brighter future?

      Same goes for Wideman. That guy is definitely not elite. Good second pairing guy, but he’ll be third pairing at best in 4 years from now.

      Also, why the HELL would you shop Byron? He’s one of the most underrated forwards we have! We should be signing him long-term at a reasonable price, not shipping him off.

      I like how you’d be fine with dealing Jones/Raymond/Engelland/Smid/Diaz. Basically everybody on our team who’s ineffective or underachieving. Yeah, we’d probably all be fine with shipping those guys, but do you really think we’re going to get any value in return?

      • Mort

        “If you want the Flames to be an ELITE organization, why do you think Hudler will be part of that? Surely our elite era, if it ever comes, will be a few years (4-6?) from now.”

        What makes you think it will take 4-6 years if ever?? They have good building blocks to be a top 8 NHL team next year.

        Sure Byron is a little speedster – how effective has he been in scoring goals and setting them up, especially against Murderer’s row in California?? Size matters; Poirier will make him obsolete anyways next year if not this year.

        If Wideman will be a third pairing guy in 4 years, he is better than what we have now there!

      • everton fc

        The Wings, in their elite years, had guys like Hudler and Wideman. We can get there in three years or less if we make the right moves.

        I never said Hudler or Wideman were elite players; I said they are the type of role players elite teams have and keep, guys they find room for. Like Maltby, Draper, Cleary… Others…

        I’d shop Byron because he wouldn’t impact the team if he were moved, and he has value. He’s peaked. That’s why. Packaged w/Hiller, for example, seems a good package.

        I’d not be fine dealing Jones. I like him. for now. And I never said any of Raymond/Engelland/Smid/Diaz would garner value. Which is why I didn’t mention them. No one’s taking Engelland unless he’s packaged. Ditto Smid, unless it’s for a 4th round or worse pick. Diaz is only with the big team because of prior time w/the coaching staff. He might even clear waivers, who knows. Raymond packaged has value. Just to clarify.

        We don’t need to make too many moves – that was my point. And as a team rebuilds towards elite status, you keep guys like Hudler and Wideman for that reason. Gio, as well. I know we are nowhere near where the Wings were at the same time, if that can even be measured. Everyone has an opinion. Mine is you don’t make too many changes for the sake of change.

        Guys that need to get a long look up here at some point – Baertschi, Poirier, Ferland, Wotherspoon, and maybe Wolf and Arnold. That’s some nice depth t forward. Not on defence. Guys like Yandle I’d go for, but only for spare change/parts/prospects, if possible. Hiller, to me, is our most valuable asset at the moment. Glencross has played well, but isn’t owed anything, and I also said the “brass” may not even want Glencross back. Just to confirm.

  • everton fc

    Glencross has played well both ways this season. I think he likes it here and will sign “on the cheap”.

    The real question is this: does the Flames “brass” want to retain his services? If not… He’ll be moved.

    Forgot about Bollig. He and Raymond as part of a package w/Hiller. What do we get for this trio??

  • The Last Big Bear

    With Glencross, we all could have it both ways. He agrees to a move to a contender & resigns here in July for the hometown discount( and hopefully with a ring on his finger). He keeps the ranch, we keep the grit factor and goals. Plus, his being prone to injury makes timely space available for up-n-comers. Win-win-win!
    There’s gotta be a market for our two number 1’s. A package with any of the above mentioned “throw-ins” should yield at least a 2nd rounder and maybe a prospect. I say we pull the trigger on as many deals as possible, with SeanCharles’ top six being in the first clip, regardless of whether or not we’re in the show. Somebody mentioned the winning culture factor we’re growing here. Seems like a great chance for some of the young guns to get a real taste and for us to continue to stock the cellar.