FN Mailbag – May 10, 2015

Mailbag

Calgary is on the brink, so this might be the final mailbag article of the 2014-15 season. Even if the Flames ultimately fall to the Ducks in the second round, it’s been one hell of a ride. 

Where does the org go from here though? Most of this week’s questions are concerned with this topic. After the jump, we get into Bouma’s contract extension, what the Flames should prioritize this summer and whether they can use picks to plug some holes at the draft. 

The ramifications of the Flames turn as Cinderella are not yet known. How the club’s overachievement effects the decision making of Brad Treviling this summer will go a long way to determining whether this was a good or bad thing for the team long-term. More or that in the off-season. 

That said, I wouldn’t ever say this year was wasted chasing luck. The hockey gods looked on the Flames and smiled this year. The team carried on reasonably in the face of their fortune, I’d say: they didn’t buy at the deadline and they didn’t give half the roster to inflated extensions. So despite riding a good wave, the Flames still enter the upcoming draft with 6 picks in the top-90.

This season good also prove to be beneficial in some ways. Beyond re-igniting a fan base that had become all too used to disappointment, it also makes the Calgary market seem more attractive to potential additions in the near future. One of the big obstacles for rebuilding teams is the fact that free agents and players with No trade clauses tend to instruct their agents not to take your calls.

I’ll answer the second question first. 

It’s too hard to make realistic predictions, so I’ll speak in ideals instead – I’m hoping the bottom pairing features one of Russell or Wideman next year, because that means the team has acquired at least one more legit top-4 option. That would leave Engelland to battle it out with the kids and whoever they re-sign out of Schelmko and Diaz.  

Also, I would demote or trade Ladislav Smid. I think he’s reached the end of the runway. 

As for Schlemko, I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of him given the fact he was a waiver wire pick-up. He has been carefully managed by Hartley as a Flame, but he’s been capable in those sheltered minutes. He’s not a guy I’d race to re-ink immediately, but would be a decent option if Calgary finds themselves in need of depth as the summer rolls along.  

I think the fall of the enforcer has doomed Bollig more than the rise of the kids. That said, it will be a lot easier for the Flames to scratch their heavyweight if they think the kids can provide some functional toughness moving forward. 

Of course, Bollig is still regularly appearing in the Flames line-up so Hartley might not be ready to move on just yet. 

I’m hoping it’s the blueline, both at the NHL level and in terms of organizational depth. When you are forced to press Deryk Engelland into service as a top-4 option owing to a single injury, you’ve got real issues on the back-end. Calgary’s first pairing is one of the strongest in the NHL, but it’s a steep drop after that. Management’s goal should be to fill that gap if possible.

We talked about Backlund’s extension in a previous mailbag. My contention was his comparables suggest a value between $3.5 and $4.5M per year. I figure he’ll settle somewhere in the middle over 5 years.

Bouma is a little tougher to peg. He had a huge, unexpected jump offensively this year which might goose his asking price, even though we can’t reasonably expect him to be 16 goal, 35 point guy every year.

A quick look at similar bottom-six bangers with some offense like Darren Helm, Tommy Wingels, Cal Clutterbuck and Derek Dorsett puts Bouma in the $2.5-3.0M territory. Discount that a bit because he’s still an RFA and maybe we can expect something between $2M-2.5M for the next few seasons?

If they can grab a decent defensive option or maybe even another RWer, then for sure. I don’t know if a second rounder alone will be enough to firm up Calgary’s depth in either of those positions, but it could be part of a package deal, depending on what’s available at the time.

Luckily Jonathan Willis recently put together a really good list of pending UFA defenders worth looking at over at OilersNation. From the list he has, I would prioritize Jeff Petry (who is having a great playoffs for the Habs), Cody Franson (an underrated even strength with a right handed shot) and Christian Ehrhoff, who was an outstanding two-way defender for the Sabres before his injury riddled off-season this year. Mike Green might also be an a player of interest for Calgary.

Up front, I would look at Michael Frolik , Carl Soderberg  and Justin Williams. All three guys are capable possession players with some offense.

  • ville de champignons

    Jeff Petry sure, Cody Franson maybe (he looked terrible for Nashville though). But unless it’s for the right price they need to stay away from Ehroff, and DEFINITELY stay away from Green. Wideman is basically the same player as Green, just older, but still more defensively responsible than Green.

    Those forwards would all be good additions to the right side, especially Williams. I’m a big Frolik fan, with the Hawks as my second favourite team. He’s a great 3rd liner, enough skill and grit to play a perfect 3rd line role.

  • ville de champignons

    I disagree on bumping wideman/russel down to bottom pairing after what they’ve shown in 27-29 mins a night. Matter of fact, I think our defense is a point of strength once Gio return. I definitely agree on the D prospects and I would upgrade our depth wingers, especially RW.

    I think we should target some young Islanders D and maybe a Wayne Simmonds type player.

    • Parallex

      … you realize that if Wideman/Russell are bumped down it’s because the Flames acquired a better player right? Thus also improving the third pairing (and both special teams). Not sure how you could disagree with improving 60ish% of every game the Flames play. With regards to trading at the draft I actually think the Flames ought to be acquiring more picks… we have a surplus in regards to quantity of bodies, even before we factor in the desire to acquire a Frolik/Soderberg/Williams type, and we have some guys losing waive exempt status (Ferland and Shore). The team would be wise to move out at least two of Raymond, Colborne, and Bollig

      My ideal offseason plan would basically be thus… trade (eat $$ if required) Raymond, Bollig, Colborne, and Hiller for picks. Sign Franson, Williams, and re-sign Ramo. Resign all NHL level RFA’s. Draft a lot of puck-moving d-men.

  • beloch

    Re: Smid

    Now is not the time to trade Smid. It would likely take a Regeher/Kotalik style trade to unload him this summer. His contract has just two seasons left on it, so it’ll likely be off the books before the Flames run into cap space troubles. He’d likely pass waivers if he was sent to the AHL anyways.

    Finally, there is an outside chance that Smid will improve if his latest neck surgery finally fixes what may have been a nagging injury. Smid originally injured his neck in 2010 playing for the Oilers and, given what we now know about how the Oilers handle injuries, I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t properly handled. The Flames don’t have much use for the version of Smid who played this season so it does the team no harm if he spends all next season on LTIR. The Flames can afford to be patient with Smid’s recovery. If, by the summer of 2016, Smid is once again a capable third or even second pairing defender, he might actually be a positive value player.

  • Parallex

    I’m with #7 @Parallex, except I wouldn’t worry about the positions of draft picks. Teams should stick with drafting the best available player every single time. Unless you’re a top-10 pick, chances are the team which drafted you would be different by the time you made the big club.

    As for UFAs, Green would be enticing — the guy can move the puck — but they’d be better off with someone like Franson. I wouldn’t sign any UFA over the age of 30. The team isn’t ready to be elite quite yet, and you don’t want your defensive core to be slowing down just when the kids start hitting their prime in two years.

    They also need another top-6 right winger.

    • Parallex

      I’m of the opinion that the further away from #1 overall you go the less there is a “the” best player available and the more it become a group of players that you can evaluate as more or less equal… that being the case if a D-man happens to be a part of that group when the Flames picks come up then pick the D-man.