FN Mailbag – January 23 2015


Welcome to a returning staple here at FlamesNation: the mailbag. From time to time, likely on a weekly basis, we’ll check in with the citizens of the Nation regarding any questions or queries they have regarding the Calgary Flames.

Some will be serious questions. Some will be wacky questions.

All will be answered.

If you have questions for future mailbags, fire away in the comments or tweet them at me (@RyanNPike) or the FlamesNation account (@FlamesNation).

Sean Monahan has incredible hair. Probably the best on the team.


It’s amazingly consistent, and resistant to outside forces. When he takes off his helmet, his hair is often in peak form for post-game interviews on Sportsnet. People have raved about Monahan’s maturity and two-way prowess, but not enough attention has been paid to his veteran hair game.

Prior to this season, Brandon Bollig had 7 goals in 125 regular season NHL contests. He has none this season. His last goal was March 6, 2014. Historically, he has scored 7 goals on 159 shots, or a goal every 22.7 shots (or a goal every 18 games or so).

Based on previous seasons, he should have two goals already. However, recall that he was playing on friggin’ Chicago and the cast of characters on Chicago’s fourth line and third defensive pairing are probably significantly better at setting him up for high percentage shots than Calgary’s.

But he’s gotten a bunch of good looks lately, so I figure he gets one before January is over.

Ortio’s rough ride against Anaheim was probably due to a few factors. Nerves. Bounces. Fatigue from starting several games against teams that put a lot of rubber on net. The Flames having ugly defensive zone play in the first period. And also, he was probably due for a bad game. The NHL’s average save percentage last season was .912 and it’s been wobbling between .912 and .914 for the past several years.

Ortio’s save percentage was .958 prior to Anaheim. Unless he’s the Goalie Messiah, his numbers were due for a course correction.

This is probably the same question the Flames pro (and amateur) scouts are looking at. Calgary is a one-pairing team, really. Giordano and Brodie are superb. Kris Russell is a notch below them, but he’s a pretty solid all-around defender. Dennis Wideman has deficiencies defensively, but he’s a good offensive contributor if you pair him with someone who can fill his gaps – Russell fits the bill right now.

The Flames third pairing is not great, no matter how you slice it. They give up many scoring chances, often good ones. The goal for the team is to (a) find a right-handed defenseman that can play with Russell and bump Wideman down to the third pairing, or (b) find a better third-pairing option to spell off Russell and Wideman a bit. They’re probably trying to do both, I’d imagine.

The hope is probably that Tyler Wotherspoon can emerge as a good third-pairing option, though it’s yet to be seen this season how he meshes with Smid, Diaz or Engelland. He played well with Smid briefly last season, though their underlying stats were hot garbage (but they did put up points).

I wouldn’t be shocked if the Flames didn’t take steps to address this issue at the trade deadline, primarily because it may be the club’s most obvious roster deficiency. In the media events I’ve been at where Brad Treliving has discussed the roster and organizational depth, the blueline was mentioned as an area where improvements were needed.

  • RedMan

    Im not even going to mention getting Petry in and bumping wideman to 3rd pairing pp specialist with wotherspoon as a partner cause everytime i do you all are mean to me and hurt my feelings. ?

  • RedMan

    NHL just named Gaudreau as Crosby’s replacement. Another credential he can add to his superb season. Hopefully, the All-star game will help him relax a bit, and come back 100% fresh for the remainder of the season.

    Flames will need him and any luck (PDO) they can get. Time for a playoff run.

    Side note: Was watching highlight of Kipper from 2004 and beyond. One word: Legend. Earned every win.

  • The Last Big Bear

    As for improving D..

    The two best options for bumping Wideman down, would be Cody Franson or Jeff Petry. But they are both UFA’s and could be expensive acquisitions.

    But to fill out the third pairing I know Colin Greening is available in Ottawa, and could be a really cheap option. He’s big and has an offensive upside. Can’t be worse than Engelland.

    • RedMan

      if we got an relatively expensive but very good defensive 3/4 guy, we wouldn’t need to worry about keeping some of the other expensive vets around to satisfy the cap floor and could potentially trade a Glencross or Jones to make room for a forward. My concern is that all these inflated and imbalanced wages have the potential to sour a room.

  • The Last Big Bear

    It would be expensive. But I like Yandle. He fits the flames style perfectly. Loves to jump into the rush, great at moving the puck. He could easily slot into top 4.

    Ryan, what would it take to get Yandle?

    • The Last Big Bear

      There were rumors going around of Yandle for Ryan O’Reilly straight up.

      So, I’m guessing Arizona would want either a first round pick, or Backlund. Might do it for Granlund and a pick… but, I don’t think BT is too interested in trading any youth.

      Hoping BT and Don Maloney connection could make this work, that would be awesome.

  • loudogYYC

    I dunno if I’m alone in this but I kind of like Diaz as a #7 (for now considering our depth at D) and Smid as a #6.

    Engelland is the odd guy out, to me, if your not taking contracts into consideration.

    But in the end we are stuck with Engelland as his contract is a tough sell, which is fine so long as we upgrade.

    Next year I would like to see Wotherspoon on the team but also add another piece back there this year.

    That would leave Gio, Brodie, Russell, Wideman, Smid, Engelland and Wotherspoon as players under contract for next year.

    Considering this it makes one wonder if this might not be the best time to trade Wideman. His value is as good as it ever was or ever will be in his tenure here and if we want to make room for Wotherspoon for next season we have to move someone if we also want to upgrade our top 7.

    I think moving him leaves a huge hole but it might be best move from an assest management standpoint…?

    Gio, Brodie and Russell are here to stay and Smid and Engelland still have term and are not very valuable even with retaining salary. If the plan is to upgrade the postion and make room for Wotherspoon one player, outside of UFA Diaz, needs to go.

    For many reasons Wideman seems like the obvious choice. But for many other reasons he may not be.

    What does everyone else think?

    Trash: Upgrade on Smid or Engelland, keep Wideman and make room for Wotherspoon.

    Props: Upgrade on Diaz, trade Wideman and make room for Wotherspoon.

    • piscera.infada

      I’ve long been of the mind you don’t give up first-round picks any more. I mean, I know teams do it, but you’d have to be getting something really good in return. In the salary-cap era, it’s just not a sustainable model for running a franchise.

      I do really, really like Yandle as a hockey player though. I’d just be much more hawkish on a later pick and prospect type deal. It also seems as though Phoenix would have a great deal more interest in NHL ready, or close to NHL ready players, as they are in a situation where you can’t really sell hope for the future.

      • RedMan

        I think Sven is probably the only prospect Calgary would consider moving at this point. The only way they trade there first round pick would be to move up in the draft.

        • everton fc

          In listening to Treliving on the fan a few weeks back I would have to disagree..

          He mentioned Sven a couple times when talking about young players impressing on the farm. He wasn’t even asked about Sven and he brought him up on more than one occassion.

          I get the feeling Trevling is pretty high on Sven.

          Can you blame him really? Outside of Gaudreau and Monahan, already on the team, our only top-6 prospects are Bennett, Porier and Sven.

          Players like Granlund, Shore etc. may get there but I think they are more classified as top-9 prospects..

          Sven has a high ceiling and has been getting alot of bad press this last year. His value isn’t where it needs to be to trade a player with his potential.

          Trading youth (and high picks) is not part of the plan right now especially when you aren’t going to get value. Sven is more valuable within the organization than as trade bait.

          Just my 2 cents anyway.

          • RedMan

            You’re right. I just think he would be the only one made available due to the depth we have on left wing. And for a team like Arizona, they would want a NHL ready prospect.

          • piscera.infada

            Fair enough.

            For me that means Glencross should be moved. Its not because we don’t need him but he has battled injury his whole career and now being 31/32 that will only get worse.

            I’m just hopeful a guy like Ferland/Shore/Poirier can come in and be a bit physical and screen the goalie and tip shots on the PP to fill that hole that Glenny’s departure will create.

            The only issue I have with trading for Yandle is the LH shot. We have a fair amount of average sized LH puckmoving Dmen. I really would like a bigger RHed guy but beggers can’t be choosers, I guess. Just don’t see value in trading a high ceiling dman for something we already have.

      • The Last Big Bear

        I think Yandle would be a great fit, not a rental & has 1 more year of Wideman $$$ & will have an immediate impact this year & solid top 4 next year when expectations will be even higher with Bennett & Porrier in lineup. Maloney seems to want a huge price tag or Arizona would have traded Yandle by now as they seem pretty committed to taking a run at that lottery sweepstakes. They want to rebuild, Flames with our wealth & depth of good young forwards have the means to put more to a rebuilding team than the likes of the Kings or Bruins or even Canadiens.

        Arizona has several young D that are well developed already, so their rebuild actually can go way quicker than most. Besides Domi, they lack some good forward prospects. We have so many ripened young players coming up, several won’t get a chance. Where are you going to put them? We got Porrier & Bennet & probably Shore, who I think we could get consensus will be cracking the lineup next year. We don’t have room to legitimately give NHL minutes to some of the guys crashing down the door. We are a year away from having happening to us what we did to Florida to get Shore, giving up a superior prospect for a B prospect because we simply have no room for all these guys. Not sure how we got to this stage, wasn’t that long ago we were in the bottom 3 in Hockey Futures. I want to keep the 2015 pick & Im thinking Maloney wants McDavid or Eichel & after that wants bluechip NHL ready young players to crack the lineup next year.

        I would go to him & offer him 2 of Granlund, Sven or Klimchuk & pick of either Agostini, Reinhart or Hanowski. Huge package of good prospects but we keep our 1st rounder & picks to replenish & lengthen the window of some decent prospects. Thing is, this package will not be on the table this time next year as Yandle will be a UFA & basically a rental & no way I give that up on a rental. But for a playoff run this year & a good look & huge piece for next year, I could part with some of the future. But I see Yandle as part of the future as well & what a top 4 we would have in Brodano & Yandle/Russell.

        Not many teams could offer a package of NHL blue chips without including their 1st rounder like Calgary could. Trash away but moves like this are necessary despite how much you like some of these prospects. You only have so many spots on an NHL roster.

        • piscera.infada

          I agree with the reasoning of your post, and that’s exactly what I meant by a package deal. The only issue with going that route is that the “value” of a prospect is much more difficult to get a read on. It’s a tough situation. It seems as though the value of a first round pick is largely set, but the value of a Baertschi or Agostino could be drastically different from organization to organization. Thus, if you want to proceed this way as a GM, you’re going to need to be extra cautious.

        • everton fc

          Yandle is 28. This is a factor. But he’d be a great fit here. Better than Franson. Another Yank from Beantown. He’d fit in w/the rest of them here!

          I like Yandle and I also think Cowen’s better than our current 5/6 pairing. Wotherspoon should get a long look.

          Rusell and Yandle as 3/4 is great. Then maybe Wideman and Wotherspoon.

          The Coyotes have issues in goal. There’s your ticket to Yandle. Mike Smith’s 32. They have no one on the farm. The question is who moves. Moving Ramo and a forward prospect probably gets this done. But Maloney is a shred, smart dealer. You wouldn’t need to part w/Sven or Granlund. Ferland, Wolf and Arnold should be off limits. Poirier obviously is. The rest may be fair game at this point.

    • The Last Big Bear

      Of course they should consider it.

      I can name easily a dozen young top-4 defencemen who would be perfect in Calgary, and it would insanity not to consider making a move just because of some dogmatic notion that you shouldn’t trade a 1st rounder.

      For example Karl Alzner would look pretty damn slick babysitting Wideman on the 2nd pairing and anchoring the PK. He’s 26, and signed with term, and if he was on the market and a 1st rounder was part of the asking price, I sure as heck wouldn’t hang up the phone.

      Doesn’t mean we should be shopping that pick. But the Flames need high-quality defencemen, and it’s going to take high-quality assets to get them.

  • piscera.infada

    Here is something to think about too… If the Flames are convinced that Ortio is legit.. do they consider moving Gilles?

    personally I wouldn’t consider moving him. I’m just throwing it out there.

    • piscera.infada

      No. You always want goalie prospects because “voodoo”. First, Ortio looks good but it’s very difficult to saying anything with certainty regarding his future. Also, Gilles is the guy you want in the AHL. There is definitely something to be said about a competitive farm team. Finally, you always want to stagger your goalie prospects, much like the Flames have now with Ortio looking like he deserves NHL time, Gilles ready for the AHL, and McDonald likely being 3 years away from the AHL.

  • loudogYYC

    Yandle at this stage would be a mistake IMO. The cost of acquiring him would be huge and although he would fit the Flames top 4 nicely, I still doubt the team is ready to become a contender.

    I think an ideal top 4 of the future is currently 23-25 years old, not 28+ like Yandle.

    • The Last Big Bear

      By my eye, the biggest hole in the Flames organization is a future #1D to replace Giordano in 3-5 years.

      I think the Flames’ window starts to open in about 2018 or so. Monahan and Bennett will be kicking butt, Backlund will still be under 30, there are several young wingers who will be in their point-scoring early 20’s, Brodie will probably be just hitting his peak, and we have a strong collection of potential goalies for that timeframe.

      But there’s nobody in the organization that I think has a realistic chance of being a Norris-contending stud #1D in that time frame. Even if they draft a future #1D this year, he’ll only be 21 or 22 when the forwards start hitting their stride, and Gio starts running out of steam.

      And you’re going to have a hard time winning the Stanley Cup without a stud #1 d-man.

      I think the Flames should be kicking tires on every potential future #1D man under the age of 28 right now. Every one of them. And nobody except Bennett and Monahan should be off limits if the right deal is out there.

  • Dayzz

    Regarding the “Upgrading our D” discussion:
    Its pretty clear that our bottom pairing needs the most dire upgrade. Having seen the likes of Diaz/Eng/Smid struggle as painfully as they have through the first half of the season, I’d say just get rid of the whole lot. Whether that means buyouts, or trades (Smid’s likely the only one with even the least bit of trade value). Bring up T-Spoon and put him on the bottom pairing with Wideman. Tyler is a perfect fit for our 3rd pairing; especially playing with Wideman, who I think would complement him exceptionally. Most scouts had him pegged as a stay-at-home defensively responsible, and reliable bottom 4 guy, although having watched a quite a few of his games from his Portland days, I’ve seen a bit of untapped offensive potential from him too. I think playing with a confident offensive specialist like Wideman would really help to bring that potential out, and likewise Tyler’s defensive smarts and positioning could really help cover up some of Wideman’s sloppy coverage. This leaves the #3 spot open, and I’d have to agree with a lot of the guys here in that Yandle would be a really great fit. The only thing is that Yandle is currently in his prime, which not only is somewhat wasteful since we aren’t true contenders yet, but it also means that his price-tag is up in the clouds. Still, if you can have him without giving up a first rounder and for a fair price you have to jump on the opportunity (this likely isn’t going to happen since I can think of a few other teams that would overpay for his services). The more sensible solution would then be to target a younger, unestablished (but very close) prospect; many have named Gormley, Dumba, Larsson etc…). If Treliving can pry one of those, or another fitting the same category then that would be ideal.

    • everton fc

      Dumba coming home would be nice. Granlund and Ramo might get Dumba here in some sort of package deal.

      Larrson… The Devils backup goalie’s 37. Kincaid may be a slid backup next year.

      But he might not.

      With Gormley… Ramo would be the bait. And I like Lessio, on their farm team. Or another d-man.

      All speculation. By fans! The only think with Phoenix is obviously Treliving’s relationship w/Maloney.

  • beloch

    The flames second defence pair is actually pretty sheltered because of the heavy lifting that Giordano and Brodie do. Ideally, the Flames would want to improve their second pair so they can set Brodano up to be even more dominant than they are now.

    The problem with the second pair is Wideman. He’s put up 28 points this season but is -2. He’s great offensively, but a liability in the defensive zone who doesn’t drive play North either. You’d think he could be a powerplay specialist who plays on the third pair, but the Flames absolutely bury their third pair in defensive zone starts at present. Wideman would not do well there. Then again, it’s not like Smid, Engelland, or Diaz are doing well there right now either!

    With a $5.25M cap hit, Wideman is too expensive for what he is. However, his shiny point total this season probably makes him easier to trade than now than he will be at at any time in the next few seasons.