Random Thoughts – On the Flames Trade Deadline

The trade deadline has come and gone, featuring relatively minor moves but a maximum of drama nonetheless. The Glencross swap was expected and straightforward, but there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to moving Sven for a second rounder.

– I’ll admit, in absence of the knowledge that Baertschi had demanded a trade, I was disappointed in the return for the 22 year old winger. Whatever the circumstances, converting a 13th overall draft choice into a second round pick less than four years after his draft day is significant asset degradation. 

– The tendency in the wake of the deal is to point fingers and determine blame. There are roughly two camps to this debate currently: one side who says Baertschi sewered his opportunity with Calgary due a combination of poor attitude and poor performance. The other side says the Flames completely mishandled the player, scuttling his development. 

Boringly I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. 

– There’s no question Baertschi’s play fell short of the lofty expectations that were set for him after his explosive debut as a 19 year old. His 21 year old training camp in particular was poor. It may have been this ill-timed dip in perceived effort that sealed his fate in the organization, given it was also the first summer for Brian Burke (and, ultimately, the genesis of a complete regime change). One wonders what would have happened had Baertschi had a better camp that year. 

With that negative first impression burned into the memory banks of his new bosses combined with the ouster of the decision makers who drafted him, Sven was left with a single alternative: play so well that he would be impossible to overlook. And while he had “good” performances at both the NHL and AHL levels given his age, he didn’t knock the cover off the ball. It was clear the organization’s ambivalence grew into disinterest in him as a prospect over time as he ran in place.

– That Hartley’s (and Burke’s) dislike of the player were fairly obvious is why the club can be accused of mishandling Baertschi’s development. 

Sven might be the first prospect I’ve ever seen openly derided in the press by a senior level manager in Calgary. And while Burke’s comments at the time were certainly defensible, they also seemed to taint the perception of the player internally as well as Baertschi’s own perception of the organization. 

The relationship seemed to become adversarial in the final 12 months or so as a result, with the team’s bench bosses obviously dubious of Sven’s worth, leaving him the difficult task of having to prove his superiors wrong. Anyone in that position can tell you it’s a difficult task and often a self fulfilling prophecy, particularly when your boss is in a position to dictate the circumstances of your performance. 

While tough love might be a successful development tact with some young players, it clearly went counter to Baertschi’s proclivities. Unfortunately, the relationship soured to the degree that neither party was either willing or able to make it work in the end.

– Let’s circle back to Baertschi’s performance in the Flames organization. Because the expectations for Sven were so wildly skewed when he arrived, we should try to place them in better context in order to properly judge what the club (and have since given up). 

Baertschi scored 80 points in 109 games AHL (0.73 PPG). Over his three seasons in the AHL, Baertschi ranked first (0.81), fifth (0.71) and third (0.69) in PPG pace on each iteration of the Flames minor league team. If we narrow our look at other Flames prospects on those teams (read below 24 years old), only Markus Granlund (0.88 PPG) scored at a cumulative higher rate than Baertschi (0.73) over that period. 

Those results aren’t amazing and the downward trend isn’t terribly encouraging, but they certainly aren’t bad either. Tyler Dellow looked at young AHLers years ago and found that the rule of thumb for forwards is a 0.70 PPG pace for you to reasonably expect a guy to make the NHL as anything but a role player. Baertschi, despite his tumultuous tenure here, cleared that bar. 

In the NHL, his results are comparable to many of the younger players who have appeared over the last couple of seasons. This year, for example, he had the best possession rate of Granlund, Ferland, Poirier and Colborne and second best ESP/60 rate (1.7). For further context, last year Monahan and Baertschi had almost the exact same possession rate in similar circumstances. Monahan scored 1.5 points per sixty minutes of ice time at 5on5, Baertschi scored 1.3. Of course, Monahan stuck around because he couldn’t be demoted to the AHL and the decision makers have far more faith in him. 

So while Baertschi didn’t live up to his blue chip expectations, his results were at least good enough to say he is still a noteworthy prospect. 

– As for the rest of the deadline, Brad Treliving was wisely prudent. The injury to Mark Giordano and the Flames position as playoff hopefuls set up a situation where moving picks and prospects for rentals would have been at least defensible. Instead, the Flames GM was more seller than buyer, a decision that is much more likely to benefit the team in the long run. 

– That said, I was mildly disappointed the club wasn’t in on some of the defensive help that was available. Jeff Petry was had for a relative song (though the price may have been higher for the Flames) and a guy like Simon Despres was had for cheap (Ben Lovejoy). Patrick Wiercioch, one of my favoured deadline targets, didn’t move, which means the Sens decided to hang on to him for a stretch drive or nobody offered them anything of note. 

That said, the deadline wasn’t the last time the Flames will have an opportunity to bolster their blueline. With a bunch of picks in the upcoming draft and plenty of cap space in the off-season, they could come away with some improved defensive depth by the end of the summer.       

  • piscera.infada

    Grear article. Completely agree with the above. The only thing is I think Petry would have been too expensive in a trade between Edmonton and Calgary, and I doubt he would have resigned here, so that probably would have made the move moot.

    As for Despres, would have been a great add, but I don’t even know who the Flames would have traded. Do we even have a Lovejoy? Would it have been Russell (per reports Pittsburgh was asking about him)? Wideman (little pricey, no?)? Surely not Diaz, Engelland, or Potter? I just don’t see the pieces there.

    • RKD

      Agree, great, balanced article. Sad that Sven did not work out but hopeful we can turn pick into a good player. Also agree the D trades didn’t really mesh with the Flames, but we still have time, ie this summer.

    • DoubleDIon

      Despres would have been nice. I think you’re right though. Russell is significantly better than Lovejoy. Engelland significantly worse. Wideman is slightly better, but the contract makes it impossible. I just don’t see a fit there.

  • Christian Roatis

    Considering how prices seem to dip on deadline day as opposed to the days leading up to it, I found it a very shrewd move from the rookie GM Treliving to pull the trigger on the Glencross deal when he did. Saw what he liked and took it. Encouraging sign, in my opinion.

  • icedawg_42

    Mark my words..that “trade” will haunt us. I HATE the canucks…but Horvat, Virtanen, Sven – that’s a pretty good start for a team that’s not in full rebuild mode. BT did as good as he could given the circumstances, but I’d thank BB to not ‘help’ develop prospects any more and keep his big hair out of it. Clearly the Nazem Kadri approach that all prospects need the poop kicked out of their ego doesn’t fit everywhere.

    • Parallex

      Yeah, I’m annoyed that the Canucks have so improved their prospect base without having to gut much of the roster beyond Kesler (No, the goalies don’t count… offer me Miller/Lack + the stuff they got in trade or Luongo/Schneider and I’ll take the Miller/Lack+ package).

      It’s not great but it is much improved and I was really looking forward to seeing them bottom out with nothing much in the cupboard.

  • supra steve

    Just my opinion on the Sven deal…

    What people don’t realize about Sven, is that his NHLE ppg rate has dropped every year since his best year in junior. He was a depreciating asset that wasn’t going to sign with us anyways. I’m glad he was traded when he was for what he was. He had been passed on the depth chart by numerous prospects and even if we had been able to sign him, I easily could have seen the situation turn into a Colborne type situation (former first rounder that doesn’t earn roster spot, is waiver eligible and therefore has to be traded for pennies on the dollar – in colbornes case, for a fourth).

    And I don’t even think we can judge the deal yet. All depends on what Treliving does with his wealth of top 80 draft picks in this deep, deep draft…

  • Derzie

    I was hoping someone would post an unbiased assessment of the Sven situation: How do his numbers compare to his prospect teammates and NHL linemates? Well, quite favorably it turns out.

    Looking at the bigger picture, we sold an asset low who on paper was as good or better than anyone we have in our development system (except Sam Bennett). I don’t care if his name was Barney, Joey or Sven, that’s just baffling and shows there is information we have not been made aware of or there is extreme bias in the Flames decision making process. The 2nd one (bias) is the one that concerns me as a fan. I want to trust that the Flames will get better with this management group through drafting and development. The jury is still hearing arguments let alone being ‘out’ on this topic. On ice performance is due to what has been done by prior management and current coaches and players. The future is muddy. We have a lot of picks but if we don’t draft and develop well they get wasted. Bias is a huge red flag.

  • Parallex

    As an aside does anyone here get to watch OHL games on the reg? Just asking because since we now have three 2nd round picks I’ve been looking at a lot more mocks and ranking that go that far down and I’m intrigued by Rasmus Andersson of the Barrie Colts as he seems to be presently ranked where Calgary should have an available pick. Wondering how he looks on N.A. ice

  • beloch

    I was really pissed off about the Baertschi trade too. Then I tried to set my attachment to the first exciting prospect the Flames had had in ages and looked at how his career has gone thus far.

    What probably sealed Baertschi’s fate more than anything else is the fact that he got worse year over year for the last four seasons in both the AHL and NHL. If a prospect plays in the same leagues and gets worse every year, there should be some concern about him. There are mitigating factors. There was Burke’s totally unprofessional presser comments. It’s possible Hartley could have given him higher quality minutes. However, he had 66 games in the NHL. That’s a fair chance. You expect a 22 year old prospect to take steps forward in the AHL, but Baertschi’s latest season is his worst yet. It’s true that Monahan was a similarly awful possession player as a raw 18 year old, but by 66 games into his first season he was substantially improved. Baertschi is 22 and he still can’t drive play against fourth line goons.

    If anyone didn’t give things a fair chance, it was Baertschi. If you get cut from the NHL team, the response of a pro hockey player is to go back to the AHL and show the powers that be that they messed up. The first time Baertschi was sent down he was absolutely silent for a dozen games or so.

    Baertschi may still make it in the NHL, but it seems very unlikely he’ll be the top line scoring winger he was projected to be after that one 2.0 ppg season he had in the WHL. He has failed to translate what now appears to be a fluke season into success in the pro leagues.

    Will Baertschi start improving again now that he’s away from the Flames system? That really depends on how the Canucks handle him. He had fallen pretty far down the depth chart in the Flames system, but he’s easily the Canucks star prospect now. If he responds better to ego stroking than tough love, the only place that might have been for him would be Toronto.

    This is petty of me, I know, but I hope Baertschi does nothing for the Canucks and walks as a UFA before finally figuring things out while playing for another team.

    • Derzie

      “This is petty of me, I know, but I hope Baertschi does nothing for the Canucks and walks as a UFA before finally figuring things out while playing for another team.”

      Baertschi picked up an assist on a PP goal, 2 SOG as Utica beat Rochester 3-2 in the Shootout. He did not score on his shootout attempt (3rd skater)..decided in the 6th round.

      Well, as I stated before, Jim Benning is quite high on him, projecting him to be a core top 6 forward. His Utica coach is Travis Green who was the Assistant Coach for Portland W Hawks when Baertschi played there.

      The odds are in favor of the Nucks that Baertschi will get his game back this season.

  • supra steve

    I have no crystal ball to see how this will all turn out. Sven could still become a strong top 6 F, he could develop something like Cody Hodgson has, or most likely he falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes..

    But…when a mid 2nd rounder is “by far” the best offer for a former 13th overall draft pick, then I suspect that other teams have their concerns about this player as well. I wish him luck, but hope he and the Canucks fail miserably.

  • EducatedHockeyFan

    Just took a quick scroll through the 2nd and 3rd rounds of 2013, 43rd- Nic Petan, 50th- Dillon Heatherington, 53rd- Madison Bowey, 58th- Tyler Betuzzi, 80th- Anthony Duclair, 89th – Olivier Bjorkstrand. This is just by name recognition but most of these guys played in this years WJs and looked impressive. I’m excited for the draft!

      • FeyWest

        Both Mac and Smith are doing well in their respective leagues, Smith should be expected to given his age and size haven’t watched him myself so I can’t comment but with him he is known to need to work on his skating so we’ll see as he develops. Hickey is looking like a steal in the 3rd round so I don’t understand what you’re getting at or are you forgetting there’s been a year of development? I also can’t see our draft strategy being a carbon copy year after year either so last year doesn’t help much other than, “what did we get last year and what should we target this year…”.

  • slapshot444

    Re Jeff Petry,
    His agent has said he’s looking for 5M plus a year for his free agent signing, so for the Flames he would have been strictly a rental after we signed the Brodie contract because Petry wouldn’t be worth more than Brodie or Gio.

    Re Sven.
    A lot of people don’t realize the effect his dad had by interfering with his expectations. There are some players who listen to the wrong advice especially when they have been young super stars.

  • While there’s guys that moved that I would have liked, prices for the most part were much too rich for my blood.

    The Petry & Connolly deals would have intrigued me, however.

    Also, would have been nice to add another D and maybe even a depth F… Jan Hejda & David Moss for example (not specific to just those two, but guys of that ilk). Guys that could have likely been had for picks outside the top 100 (4th-7th rounders).

    Sven who?

  • Unfortunately the Baertshi trade willl be judged in hindsight.

    Return did not seem to be accurate but maybe we avoided a bad sitch.

    Anyone got a comparable?

    I want to say Comrie… but Comrie was a player that scored some goals.

    Im having a tough time with the valuation and I get both sides of the argument.

    That said… if anyone has a comparable scenario that would be interesting….