FN Mailbag – July 5, 2015 (Part 1)

Mailbag

It’s been quite a year in Calgary. 

The Flames shocked the hockey world by making the playoffs on the backs of a cadre of young players, then they upped the ante by winning a round. Then the org’s GM consummates possibly the biggest impact trade since Sutter swapped a 2nd for Kiprusoff and caps it all off by snagging the biggest forward UFA target on the team’s list. 

Which is to say, we have a lot to talk about. In fact there’s so much that I have split the mailbag into two posts. In Part 1, we talk about the Flames various roster logjams and what we can expect out of Michael Frolik.

If the Flames sign all of their pending RFA’s, the club has a lot of forwards at the bottom of the rotation to muddle through. The list includes Lance Bouma (RFA), Paul Byron (RFA), Josh Jooris (RFA), Drew Shore (RFA), Brandon Bollig, Joe Colborne, Matt Stajan, Mason Raymond and David Jones with Micheal Ferland, Markus Granlund, Bill Arnold and David Wolf knocking on the door.

That’s 13 guys battling for seven roster spots. Three of them are still able to sneak through waivers if they are sent down for now (Granlund, Arnold and Wolf), though Granlund is just five games away from waivers eligibility. Ferland is this grouping as well, though depending on how you read the CBA, he may be waiver eligible starting this year.

We can say the list of “fringe” guys looks like this: Raymond, Bollig, Ferland, Granlund, Arnold and Wolf, with Ferland challenging to work his way into a full blown regular player this season. Bollig and Raymond are clearly redundant and it’s on the team to find ways to move them along somehow. After that, it will be incumbent on Granlund, Arnold and Wolf to prove they are more than top line AHL players in order to bump one of the other regulars. 

If Raymond and Bollig are traded or demoted, that leaves Colborne, Stajan, Bouma, Jooris, Byron, Jones, Ferland and Shore to fill out the bottom six. If Ferland can’t be sent to the AHL without waivers, the Flames may need to get rid of at least one more of these bodies before the season starts. 

The other logjam is in net. With the re-signing of Karri Ramo, Calgary now has three puck stoppers who are waivers eligible and on one-way deals. 

Sometimes it’s possible to sneak a goalie through waivers at the start of the year because teams almost always start the season with a full complement of goaltenders. That said, there’s still plenty of risk when it comes to trying to slide a prospect of Orit’s calibre through 29 NHL clubs. It would only take one to decide he’s a better long-term bet than they’re #2 guy for him to get swiped for nothing. 

Brad Treliving has made veiled references to potentially trading one of the veterans at some point during the summer recently. In fact, the team may have re-signed Ramo to increase their trade options and roster flexibility. If I was forced to bet, I say the Flames deal one of Ramo or Hiller before the puck drops in October. 

Though this is somewhat answered above, I wanted to talk about these two players specifically.

Raymond, I think, will get moved along at the team’s earliest convenience. He lost the confidence of the coaching staff last year and was passed on the depth chart by more than a few guys. Calgary has since added more depth and his contract is now way out of line with his position on the team. I’m sure Treliving will hope to send him to a bottom feeder lacking depth or needing cap dollars by September (NJ? ARI?).

As for Ferland, everything depends on his wavier eligibility. If he can’t be sent down without exposing him to the rest of the league, I’m sure the team will keep him around on the parent club some way, some how. 

Treliving has referred to Frolik as a “Swiss army knife” forward because he can fill in at some many different positions. Frolik is a left shooting right winger, but he can play LW and C in a pinch. He’s also a capable defensive forward and PKer.

From my perspective, Frolik makes a great linemate for Backlund on a shutdown trio, but he may be forced into a more offensively oriented role in a year or two if the Flames can’t re-sign or replace Jiri Hudler. That said, ideally Frolik is a middle rotation forward who takes on tough circumstances so the team can give the high ground to the scorers (almost exactly like Backlund). 

This is more up to Bob Hartley than Treliving, but at this juncture it’s really hard to guess how Frolik and Bennett will be deployed this season. The team may want to shift Bennett to the wing due to the dearth of scorers on that side after Gaudreau, though they may also want to start to develop Bennett at centre if that’s where they feel he is more impactful long term. 

As such, the coaching staff may choose to shift Frolik to the left side and either play him with Bennett at C to provide him some veteran help at even strength, or instead cobble together a shut down unit with Backlund so that he can shield Bennett more fully (Frolik – Backlund – Jones/Byron for example).

I’m not sure how eager the team will be to eat that kind of money in the minors (combined $4.4M), especially when it only affords the club some $1.8M in saved cap space. That said, if neither player can be moved and both are bumped from the active roster by better options, it may be the club’s only play in the short term.

Right now, Engelland is probably safer than Bollig – there’s less bottom rotation depth on the back-end than up front. If the team signs another player or two for the blueline though, that could change.

Asked and answered here I think. Glencross was a really effective 2nd/3rd line winger for years, but he’s clearly hit a wall the last few seasons. Previously one of the quickest players in the league, Glencross has visibly slowed down, which takes away one of his primary assets. Curtis can still fire a howitzer of a shot, but he’s not nearly as aggressive as he used to be and he doesn’t have the sort of hands or hockey IQ that can sustain his play now that he’s lost a step.

I still think he’s NHLer, but Glencross’ time as a legitimate impact guy is all but done, a fact which is no doubt clear to GM’s across the league. It’s unfortunate for Curtis because he was completely underpaid during his last deal in Calgary. His window for a retirement deal is now closed, so he’ll be hustling for short-term contracts from here on out I assume.

  • I don’t know if anything can be done this year but the Flames still are really lacking at least one top 6 forward, maybe 2 if Bennett can’t play there and a crease clearing defensemen. Are there any players any of you see that may fill those positions?

          • RCN

            Yes, by advanced stats, they are. But, they still are valuable as seen by the contracts that Bueska and Beauchemin just signed. They play a different role. Can’t win with a team full of choirboys.

          • mattyc

            Not sure the Bieksa and Beauchemin contracts prove they’re good players. Just proves that some GMs think they’re good players.

            A pessimist (and/or me) would look at those players and think “well if they’re really so valuable, then why didn’t their old teams keep them?”

          • JumpJet

            GMs pay them and coaches play them. Remember that xcheck that Regehr laid on Hudler? Hard to play against guys who leave you knowing you were in a game are valuable. If Ferland is for real, we should be good up front but a Shaw like player would be great as he can slot into the top 6.

          • Toofun

            None of the players you mentioned is better than Engelland. Regehr is a fossil, Bieksa is a broken-down husk and none of the others is or ever has been an even tangentially useful player.

            Ask a ducks fan what he thinks of Stoner. Seriously. It won’t be a ringing endorsement.

            The immovable object is a relic. Defenseman who can’t skate or handle the puck are completely obsolete. I don’t care how much you respect them or like the way they play. They’re not useful.

            I’m not convinced they ever were.

          • Toofun

            I would love it to be Zadorov but he was moved. Or Gudbrunson perhaps. I used the older guys as an example. Where did Belesky and Perry get their goals against us? How many did we get in close playing against the fossil named Beauchemin and the pylon named a Stoner?

          • Rockmorton65

            Who said anything about Beauchemin? Unlike the rest of the pylons you mentioned he’s actually a good player (or at least a functional one. It’s been a few years since I paid any attention to him).

            Did you happen to miss the fact that the Flames beat the canucks in six games? Exactly how useful was Bieksa in that series?

          • flamesburn89

            Another important reason why Anaheim dominated Calgary was because they spent so little time in their own end. With guys like Fowler, Lindholm, Despres, and Vatanen, the Ducks were able to move the puck out of their zone so quickly that they just made the Flames transition to defence. I honestly think the play of those 4 young defencemen was the main reason why Anaheim handled Calgary so well. It’s amazing how young they all are (PITT is probably regretting the Despres for Lovejoy swap).

          • Parallex

            I kind of do think they’re better then Engelland… but being better then Engellend is a really really really low bar to clear.

            Your point does stand. The team should be looking for substantive upgrades. Not stylistic niche improvements.

          • flamesburn89

            I’d rather play against England, but that’s just me. At least with him, you know you’ve got the puck most of the time, and that you’re probably going to beat him with speed to the outside and get a quality scoring chance.

            Spurgeon, while smaller, is a more effective defence man. He’s a terrific skater and distributor of the puck, and can make forechecking forwards silly. I think Minnesota is lucky to have him.

          • Joe Flames

            Advanced stats are very useful in evaluating talent but shouldn’t be the sole measure of a player’s value. Most of the time they are an excellent indicator of a player’s abilities (other things being equal), but when building a team you sometimes have to sacrifice a bit in one area to add to the whole.

            For example, the Olympic team doesn’t just take all the best scorers, they take some guys who may be a bit less effective at scoring but help in other areas of the game to fill a role. Otherwise a guy like Giroux (who would have been a first line player on pretty much every other team) would not have been left off our team. Similar to BT signing Frolik rather than going after Kessel, our roster needed a guy who can drive play more than an offence-first scorer.

            I think Clyde is trying to say that if you have six D who have good possession stats but are not big/strong, teams will find that crashing the net is one way to beat you. You don’t go out and get a coke machine, but maybe a guy whose possession stats are a small step down but has better size and strength. Not a bad idea for a third pairing D IMO. Maybe Burke thought Engeland could fill this role last year, but his possession stats show that his size and strength did not add to his overall effectiveness. Players who are tough and can play are not generally available until they are past their prime like Bieksa and Beauchemin, so we are probably better to hope that Kanzig develops into this kind of player.

            It’s funny that many people are willing to give Ferland a spot on the second line despite not having great advanced stats, but wouldn’t want a player with similar advanced stats and physical style playing 10-12 min a night as a sixth D. Bieksa played a similar agitator role to Ferland in the playoffs, Vancouver needed someone to respond to Ferland, and almost nobody else on their roster was going to. I don’t want BT to sign a Bieksa or Beauchemin but I understand why teams are willing to sign them.

          • flamesburn89

            I think it’s all about taking the BPA. That’s what teams say around the draft, so why don’t they take the best players when it comes to the other 364 days of the year?

          • Tomas Oppolzer

            The whole reason you draft BPA is so that you can trade/sign for need. When you draft BPA that means you can trade excesses of skill at positions for needs in others. Signing FAs fills much the same niche as those trades, they are for filling out your roster and sometimes signing that great player. Drafting for need doesn’t make sense because by the time that player is ready to fill that need you may not need it anymore. Signing/trading for need makes sense though because you’re typically trading/signing a player that has already developed into that role.

          • Parallex

            “You don’t go out and get a coke machine, but maybe a guy whose possession stats are a small step down but has better size and strength.”

            … If some guy has better size and strength then why is he allowing the opposition to have the puck more on the attack then someone that has a lesser amount of those attributes? Size and strength are a means onto an end NOT an end onto itself.

            Seriously, they’re not hiring these guys to model for men’s big’n’tall stores.

      • BurningSensation

        Kent:
        According to the CBA, the team has a window of up to 12 days prior to the start of the regular season to demote players without risk to waiver loss.

        Here is the section….

        The “Playing Season Waiver Period” shall begin on the twelfth (12th) day prior to the start of the Regular Season and end on the day following the last day of a Club’s Playing Season.

        Subject to the provisions of this Article, the rights to the services of a Player may be Loaned to a club of another league, upon fulfillment of the following conditions, except when elsewhere expressly prohibited…

        I am no lawyer (and we don’t have Feaster advising on the CBA), but doesn’t that mean that Ortio could be assigned by Sept.25th without risk?

        • MattyFranchise

          You are correct. So far as i know teams during the preseason can demote players that are waiver eligible without the risk of losing them to waivers. Waivers dont start until just before the regular season.

          Think about it, if waivers were a thing all year round it would really handcuff a lot of teams.

  • everton fc

    I think Bennett will prove he is a very capable. productive top-6 guy next season. Whether he plays pivot, or wing.

    Here’s hoping Ferland is ready to show he can play that role, as well. But I see him as a 3rd line option.

    Raymond and Bollig. BT brought them here. He’ll have to find a way to move them out. What’s Bollig’s cap-hit? I think a team would take Bollig from us for a lower pick.

    Raymond’s the tougher move.

    • CofRed4Life

      I think Bollig’s cap hit is around $1.8 million. It’s not as bad as Raymond’s $3.15 million. Raymond would definitely be a tougher move than Bollig, purely in terms of cap hit.

      • everton fc

        Bollig actually had some good shifts down the stretch and in the playoffs. And some bad ones…

        Raymond to a team w/cap-floor issues… Take a 4th round pick… But could he do well with Bennett centering, and Frolik on the left side?

        I don’t think so… I think you get more from Byron than Raymond. And Byron’s not a second line player.

  • BurningSensation

    Funny how the depth signings from last year (Raymond, Engelland, Bollig), are now all just cap hits we need to move.

    The good news is none of them have any serious term, and hopefully aren’t too difficult to clear out.

    Personally, Id like to see Cgy offer a 1 year ‘prove it’deal to Semin. Despite all the talk of him being a headcase and coach killer, his underlying numbers are quite solid, and a 1year deal gives the enigmatic RW motivation.

    I’d cut Jones in a heartbeat to make the depth chart work.

  • CofRed4Life

    That really is quite the logjam at the bottom of the rotation. I’m usually privy to the younger guys though. They generally have a higher ceiling. It would be great if we could move on the older guys (Bollig, Raymond) to make way for younger talent, but that’s easier said than done.

    As for the goalie situation, I don’t see a likely scenario playing out where all 3 are here in October. One of them has to move. My guess, since they signed Ramo, is that Hiller wants out (or management wants him out). Should be interesting to see how they fix these logjams.

  • CofRed4Life

    Perhaps the team is willing to go in with what we have but if some excess could be moved, tlusty or Stewart may fit. Would have to go the trade route to find a defenseman who plays with some snarl though

  • Parallex

    Just a feeling I have but I think Frolik & Backlund would be awesome together & put a guy like Bouma on that line & we have the makings of something. I think you have to keep what has been the first time in how many years, our 1st line together. Hudler Gaudreau & Monahan were magic & I just can’t see Hartley breaking that up. So that leaves the 2nd line with Bennett. I would really like to see Ferland with him & see if he truly did really grow up last playoffs. But it will probably be Colborne. Take your pick on that line. I think Jones, if not his usual injured plays on that line. Not convinced Porrier will be ready, I guess it will be up to him to prove he is at camp.

    So the last line has Stajan, Ferland & probably Raymond or Jooris, who ever is playing the best. So Granlund & Arnold , will start in the AHL. Shore & Bollig & Raymond or Jooris will press box.

    I think Hudler/Gio/Backlund now/Frolick/Jones are sufficient in being a the veteran core of this team. Stajan & Raymond should be moved to teams like Toronto or Jersey or Arizona. Bollig we get to eat lots of popcorn in the press box this year unless teams start taking liberties with our young players. I see him being kept for the last year of his 1.3 mill contract. I would love to see Flames open up Stajan’s spot for Arnold. I don’t see Byron back, sorry, I know he’s popular but he would be a great addition to Toronto or Arizona.

  • JumpJet

    I’d like to believe that Raymond can still be a productive player. He looked great at the start of last season and had a good year with Toronto before that, playing all 82 games. If Raymond works hard this summer he could be the best option to play with Backlund and Frolik. But if he has an average or worse training camp I would have no problem seeing with shipped out.

    • Toofun

      I agree Jumpjet. It might be wishful thinking but an effective Raymond could make that a great line. Of course I had the same hopes for Setiguchi last year and that didn’t work out very well.

  • Parallex

    I think that Frolik should be put with Johnny and Monahan.

    With Bennett playing next year he’ll get the “kid gloves” that Johnny-Monahan got this year so we’re gonna have to trust Johnny and Monahan with stiffer competition… if so then we need a winger for them that performs well against stiff competition (Frolik). At the same time with Hudler entering his walk year we may need to trade him at the deadline (ala Glencross) so we can put him in a position to succeed by having him be the veteran winger for another hotshot rookie (Bennett) on a line that gets the good starting ice (while still keeping him on PP1).

    • Mezzo

      I don’t see this as a bad thing, but why break up something that works?

      Additionally I don’t believe it’s a smart choice to base line-ups on potential future trades. Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler have proven to be one of the better first lines in the league (at least in the second half of the season). Additionally, I think the prospect of playing Backlund and Frolik together could do wonders for the both possession and perhaps increasing Backlunds offensive output.

      barring injuries I’d prefer to see our second line as Bennett – Backlund – Frolik. The only reserves I would have about Bennett on that line (and not playing on the third) is that Backlund and Frolik will presumably get the majority of DZ starts and often match up with tough competition.

      Trying to slot Bennett into the bottom 6 becomes a lot messier with such a redundancy of players, one that’s not really worth trying until management sorts out who stays and who goes.

      • Parallex

        Because if the Flames are to improve we need a more balanced attacked.

        A: I want Bennett developing as a center
        B: I want a more balanced attack
        C: Hartley doesn’t have kids do heavy lifting

        The bit about Keeping Huds trade value high is just a fringe benefit. The primary benefits more then justify the change.

  • Toofun

    In regards to Bennett; I believe he is going to be given ever opportunity to play center and will be treated like Monahan was in his rookie year. He will get lots of OZ starts and will be paired with either Hudler or Frolik on the RW(Frolik was not signed to start the season with Backs). It’s the LW on that line that intrigues me; will they give Mason Raymond a look there- he still has some good wheels and scored 20+ 2 seasons ago our will they go with a kid like Ferland.

    Another player that I wonder about is Shore 6’2″ 190, R-handed has shown an offensive set of skills in the AHL; might he have a break out preseason and force the issue on one of the the top three lines.

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    We have a lot of players that are really similar, and I think because of that finding some way to move Bollig, Jooris and Byron work best for me. Thats not to say I dislike the aforementioned players; I just think that they’re surpassed by players with better overall packages and/or ceilings.

    My suggested lineup looks like this..

    Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler
    Jones – Bennett – Frolik
    Bouma – Backlund – Colborne
    Ferland/Raymond – Stajan – Shore

    I know Raymond has fallen out of favour, but his speed would really help the lower-6, even if he doesn’t score a lot. I like Shore more than I like Jooris (though thats not to say I dislike Jooris). I would also prefer to see the team play Bennett at C.

    If they insist on playing him on the wing though, an alternate line-up could be:
    Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler
    Bennett – Backlund – Frolik
    Bouma – Colborne – Jones
    Ferland/Raymond – Stajan – Shore

    I know, not everyone will agree with me

    • everton fc

      Jooris is a proven NHL player. Shore is not. Yet.

      I’d take Jooris over Shore.

      Frolik can play LW, as well. Not sure when he last played on the left-side. So I assume you meant Frolik/Bennett/Jones, as Jones is a RW.

      If Bennett plays centre, than one of Byron/Ferland/Raymond plays on his left wing, Frolik on his right. Though Bennett looked good with Backlund and Colborne in the playoffs, on the wing.

      We could go round-and-round here. But a 2nd lineof Raymond/Bennett/Frolik may get a look in camp. And I think Ferland gets a look on that line, as well. Maybe even Byron, if he’s not cut loose.

      Again – “who knows”. Except it won’t be Bollig/Bennett/Frolik!

  • Toofun

    No matter how I juggle lineups, it is hard to find a place for Raymond.

    I am also not sold on Drew Shore, but coming in at the start of the year and going through training camp he may be able to establish himself. Here is hoping!

  • flamesburn89

    Real hard to move Raymond with so many options left in FA.

    If I am a GM I take a stab at the bargain bin with someone like GlenX before I even consider Raymond. For teams that need to hit the floor there are better value options as well.

  • TheoForever

    Here are my lines:

    Johnny Hockey – Monahan – Frolik

    Ferland – Bennett – Hudler

    Bouma – Backlund – Colborne

    Grandlund – Stajan – Jooris

    Black aces: Shore, Bollig

    Raymond voted out

    I would trade Jones and Byron too.

    Poirier first to come up from AHL.

    On defence:

    Giordano – Hamilton

    Brodie – Wideman

    Russell – Engs/Nakladal/Spoon

    Goal:

    Ramo/Ortio

    Hiller traded

  • CofRed4Life

    I think there’s a little too much Ferland love going around here. Yes, he had a great post-season, and there are a lot of reasons to like him, but he still has a long way to go before he’s a proven NHLer.

    Seeing that everyone has slightly different lines means there’s more than one combination that can work for Hartley. The rest of the off-season and pre-season should help him to solidify the lines a little more. I trust Hartley with the lines. He is the coach of the year, after all!

    Now, after saying all that, this is probably what my starting lineup would be:

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler

    Raymond-Backlund-Frolik

    Byron-Bennett-Jones

    Ferland-Stajan-Jooris

    Shore/Colborne

    Brodie-Hamilton

    Giordano-Wideman

    Russell-Nakladal

    Wotherspoon.

    This is assuming that Bollig and Engelland are moved. Again, it’s really all up in the air until October.