This season has been well, horrid so far for the Flames and despite some bright spots (T.J Brodie, J.T Diebor, T. Jorbdie, and Michael Frolik’s somewhat Vulcan-ish appearance), many are calling for rolling heads, call ups, line switching, and the return of the Flames retro sweaters. Well, maybe I’m just piling on with that last one but you get the point.
There’s no shortage of opinions out there regarding what the Flames should do, so let’s assume that you have the power to be the GM of the Flames but with a restriction on the number of moves you can actually make. Think you could fix the Flames in three moves? Let’s get into it after the jump.
Hey, good for you! Through force of will, nepotism, or the strength of your CV, you’ve been hired as the GM of the Calgary Flames effective immediately. I know this must be a big day for you and you have a lot of people to thank. Get yourself cleaned up and pick up a shiny object for Ken King to play with, it’s a brave new world!
However, on a more somber note, you’ve been hired as the GM of the Calgary Flames effective immediately. Yikes, sorry about that, you’ve got some work to do. Also there’s one catch, because it was a sadistic hockey genie that granted you this power: you can only make three moves. That means only three players can be removed from the current roster in order to fix the team, including sending players to the AHL or trading players to other teams. It’s time to start prioritizing.
WHERE TO START?
Let’s get started on this hypothetical exercise
So, not to tell you how to do your job or anything, but there’s a bit of a problem in net for the Flames. Namely, the problem is that you can measure the timely saves the Flames are getting with a lunar calendar. Oh! And the Flames haven’t just been getting bad goaltending, they have been getting an interesting variety of bad goaltending!
Between Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller, and Joni Ortio, the Flames have had no success in achieving anything resembling league-average puck-stopping and many have been quick to blame the menage-a-trois that started the season. The Flames have some hope for the future with Jon Gilles in Stockton, but, I’m not sure about baptizing him on the HMCS Dumpster Fire that has been the Flames start to this season. But hey, I’m not the boss. You do you. So, do you spend one of your three moves acquiring a goaltender?
THE FLAMES DEFENSIVE ZONE
Outside of the aforementioned demi-god T.J Brodie, the Flames defense has been exceptionally disappointing this season. Dougie Hamilton looks uncomfortable, Dennis Wideman looks geriatric, Kris Russell looks, well, dreadful, and Mark Giordano looks like an over-worked mother of quadruplet boys, who just wants a warm bath and a vacation.
If you want to know how bad it has been this season, I have said genuinely nice things about the play of Deryk Engelland. I did not know such things were possible.
Okay boss, you have an expiring asset in Kris Russell who has garnered interest from teams as late as last season. However, Russell is a sucktastic minus-15 this season and looks absolutely horrendous in his own zone. That should uh, temper his trade value. Do you move Russell, even if it’s for very little? Does that ‘fix’ the Flames? Do you try and find a home for Wideman and his massive contract? Use your moves wisely.
Ooh, yeah, sorry boss. Things aren’t a lot better here either.
Aside from Johnny Gaudreau, there have been essentially no regular contributors on offense to start this season. Frolik has played well but aside from a delicious hat-trick against the Oilers, struggled to score despite numerous chances. Over the last few games, Sam Bennett has started to look like the player the Flames are hoping for but it would be unfair to expect him to carry the mail offensively as a teenager.
Sadly, Hudreaunahan is but a memory at this point. Sean Monahan has struggled mightily out of the gate and probably should be moved down the depth chart for a little while. That being said, Bob Hartley has tried a zillion line combinations so far this season without any real progress. Have a look at a snapshot of this from the player usage from last night:
Flames player usage. Deep confusion in the forward lines. pic.twitter.com/mG2Ur4i2mx
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) November 4, 2015
Also, as has been noted on a number of occasions, there is a lot of dead weight in the bottom two-thirds of the Flames lineup, most of which are tied to largely immovable contracts like Mason Raymond and Brandon Bollig. As with players like Wideman, to move them would require the Flames to retain salary or take back another bad contract. Hardly the bold change the genie hired you for. So, keep that in mind boss.
How would you shake up this group? Waive someone? Trade someone? Who would you recall?
YOUR THREE MOVES
Okay big shot, what are your moves? I suspect the answer a lot of you are going to formulate is: “You see Taylor, this team needs more than three moves. I can’t be expected to fix this team with such restrictions.” Well, to that I would say that three moves is quite a substantial number of revisions to make to a roster and if three seems too far-fetched, then the extent of the Flames troubles may be brought into tighter focus.
I cannot imagine three enormous moves being made to this roster by Brad Treliving and that is perhaps for the best. If this season is to be a lost one, then the moves are likely to come later when the Flames can trick teams into acquiring less-than-useful players for assets (see: Glencross, Curtis). However, it is cathartic to imagine what moves could be made to the team as it is presently constituted. Let’s see what you’ve got.