Trade market hints in this week’s 30 Thoughts

Sportsnet guru Elliotte Friedman pens 30 Thoughts every week. It almost always has interesting tidbits. This week’s edition was rather heavy on Calgary Flames discussion, with his “feature” section focusing on Dennis Wideman’s hearing with the National Hockey League’s Hockey Operations department.

But Friedman also had a couple thoughts related to the Flames as it regards to the trade market.

18. Remember Anaheim is overflowing on the blue-line, looking for young forwards. Dallas would like to add a defenceman, but there’s a possibility Jim Nill plays it more conservatively than we expect. He’s a big picture thinker, and may look at the Stars as going through the process, as opposed to being at the apex of it. Very intrigued to see what he’ll do. Minnesota would love to add scoring — the sooner, the better. Calgary controls the goalie market. That could change depending on late-season or playoff results, but the if the Flames wish to strike now for next season, they’d have more options than others before the market heats up. No idea what Vancouver’s defence looks like after the deadline, particularly if they are still in it.

(Emphasis added.)

Organizationally, the Flames presently have Mason McDonald and Jon Gillies signed for next season as far as goaltenders go. Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo are pending unrestricted free agents, and AHL netminders Kevin Poulin and Joni Ortio are both pending restricted free agents. There’s no guarantee that any of these guys are back next season, but Ramo’s recent hot streak has given him some value as an asset. It’s possible that the Flames try to flip Ramo for an asset for next season – heck, they might also be tempted to retain him given how thin they are organizationally – or they may package assets to shore up the position.

19. Looking to see who takes a shot at Jiri Hudler. The hardest thing to do in this league now is score, and he can do it. It makes sense for the Wild, although they prefer size, too. He hasn’t been himself this year, and some of that undoubtedly is seeing Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik get paid while he hasn’t. The writing is on the wall. Get him into a new situation where he can score a couple of big goals and he’ll be motivated to do it.

Long story short: it appears very evident (from the outside) that Hudler’s days in Calgary are coming to an end. And he could be a very interesting rental piece for teams with dreams of playoff glory that want to add some scoring.

Combine these two factors: the Flames have assets to move around that other teams want – and that’s ignoring the possibility of them moving a pending restricted free agent or somebody with term – and they seem well-positioned to (finally) shore-up their goaltending in a post-Kiprusoff world.

If this chatter is any indication, the Flames may be quite busy with moves at the end of February.

  • CofRed4Life

    I saw this yesterday.

    The thing that made me sit up and bark wtf was the comment that Hudler’s dissatisfaction is “undoubtedly” the fact that Frolik and Dougie are getting paid and he isn’t. Really.

    Contracts work one of two ways. They are just right or more commonly, one of the counterparties isn’t getting a great deal by the end of the term. I am not sure that applies here but even if it does are we saying Hudler is playing badly because he thinks he should be paid more?

    Really? In a contract year?

    • CofRed4Life

      I think that’s just Friedman giving a reason why he thinks a trade is imminent. I personally think it’s hogwash, like you said, but he’s a reporter. He can add some fluff in there to make it sound more plausible.

  • Parallex

    With respect to the goalie part, I took that to mean that Calgary is the only team actively looking for a goalie (“Strike now for next season”) so if a team is looking to trade one they have to come to Calgary.

    I used it as a hypothetical yesterday but I really wonder if some kind of deal centered around Wideman for Howard might work? I don’t particularly want Howard but he’d be an acceptable bridge between now and when Gillies arrives (Year 1: Howard-X, Gillies is Starter in Stockton – Year 2: Howard-Gillies – Year 3: Gillies-Howard).

    • Kevin R

      Howard just isn’t a good target. In fact he is going to be a big problem for Detroit. The guy has 3 more years after this one at just under 5.3 mill per cap hit. He is very quickly becoming a very high priced back up. Why would we want to anchor ourselves with that contract.

      The injury to Gilles is a little un nerving to say the least. He should be ok, but this just delayed his development by 1 year. Suddenly, we don’t have a whole lot in the pipe & we still really don’t know what we have in Mason Mac. Tampa is where you look, as they have a big decision with Bishop & they have 2 pretty nice young goalies waiting in the wings. I still think a blockbuster potential is going to be with Tampa.

      Have no idea what a rental is worth these days & we have a few.

      • piscera.infada

        The problem with Bishop and/or Andersen (for that matter) is two-fold.

        They’re likely going to cost more than $5.3 million moving forward (in fact, Bishop already does). In addition, you’re going to have to give them more than 3 years of term to be able to resign them. If you’re looking for a stop-gap, you’re not resigning Bishop or Andersen to a long-term contract. That said, if you go that route, maybe you can afford to move Gilles, because you’re basically going in on “full time number-one goalie” for the forseeable future. I don’t like that idea, I think it’s important to have cost-controlled goaltending for as long as you can.

        Secondly, a Bishop acquisition is going to be far, far, far more expensive than a goalie like Howard would be. This goes even doubly for Andersen–assuming Anaheim would even consider trading him within division, you’re going to have to pay an extreme premium to get it done. You’re probably looking at a good draft-pick, and good prospect, and they’d probably even want Gilles anyway. Yes, Tampa has cap issues going forward, but ‘Winnie The Bish’ got them to a cup final last year. That’s not cheap to acquire.

        I’m not a Cam Ward or Jimmy Howard fan at all, but a deal like signing Ward as a UFA, or trading Wideman for Howard, is the most likely solution to the Flames goaltending woes. They would be relatively low-cost, low-reward, but low-risk. They’re veteran goalies that will be good for bringing along a young goalie (like Gilles in a couple years, or even maybe Poulin or Ortio as a backup next year). Yes, their contracts won’t be pretty, but at least you can manage their term, and that’s going to be huge here if you’re simply signing a “stop-gap”.

        • cberg

          Assuming you are correct about Bishop and Anderson (I personally would go for either), and that Howard and Ward are not that attractive at this point, why would we not just re-sign Ramo and bring up one of Poulin/Ortio? Its going to be a lot cheaper, less term and we pretty much know they would be adequate guys. We really don’t know where Ward/Howard are at and its a big risk considering the longer term and $s.

        • Kevin R

          3 more years though. That is a big cap hit for a guy playing 15 games a year the way things are going in Detroit. Who is going to take that off them. I guess you make that deal with Wideman going out & i would want to be compensated for the cap relief Detroit just got. Nobody does us any cap favours. Howard probably could give us similar calibre goaltending Ramo will. That Howard contract has buyout written all over it by the time that 3rd year comes around. Gilles needs at least next year in Stocton & possibly the year after as well, by the 3rd year, he should be ready to graduate if he hasn’t pushed his way on the team before that. Suddenly you have an very expensive backup that could cost you a rental piece on a playoff push to get you deep in the playoffs.

          I almost would rather roll the dice on Bernier. At least he’s only 1 more year after this.

          • hulkingloooooob

            I gotta say i agree. As far as i’m concerned, the devil you know is better then the devil (with longer term and more money) that you don’t. Yes, if you look at Ramo’s stats over his time in the NHL it doesn’t look like he can carry a team, but he’s been a slow grower for most of his pro career.

            Take his Dec./Jan. numbers (when i believe he had the best save % in the NHL for about a month or so) and project that forward and he could be an IDEAL stop gap. We can’t afford to make any bad calls/trades/contracts at this point.

            Especially if we get a high draft pick this year. That would potentially give you gio/mony/johnny/sam/hammer/Frolik/new guy? all making north of 5 or 6 mil for the foreseeable future. Not to mention a top flight goalie and what that might end up costing. Stay the course, reduce risk, off load contracts we don’t need, and develop the young. this must be our course of action. Ramo can help with all of this as long as he keeps his play up….

            plus he’s got sweet locks.

          • hulkingloooooob

            . . . so yeah sure, kick the tires on Berns, but i think Toronto will want too much in return. I strongly think Ramo is the safest bet. And ….. Bye Bye Hiller….

          • piscera.infada

            It was not an argument for acquiring Howard, but moreso and argument against acquiring Bishop or Andersen. Let’s state at the outset here that I don’t think there is any chance at all the Flames acquire Andersen (too expensive within conference to be manageable)–so let’s take him out of the discussion for now.

            You’re right, 3 years of Howard at $5.3 million is too much. We need to be clear what we’re acquiring though. Are we acquiring a stop-gap goaltender than can give the Flames somewhere around league-average goaltending for a couple of years, before ceding the crease to Gilles, or whomever? Or, are we acquiring a legitimate number-one goalie, who will be here for the forseeable future, who will be considered “part of the core”?

            If it’s the former, Bishop simply doesn’t fit that bill. You have him under contract for one more year at $5.9 million. He’ll be a UFA at that point, which means he’ll want more money, and term. You’re probably looking at a Bishop deal somewhere in the 5 to 6 years, at $6+ million per. Now, is that a stop-gap contract? That’s a deal that will effectively make him a number-one goalie on your roster until (at least) 2022. Now, factor in how much it will take to acquire him–which, although I understand Tampa needs the cap-space–will not be cheap. They’re going to be asking for high picks, young prospects (not the mediocre ones), and/or young cost-controlled players. The discussion probably also begins with Gilles. Too rich for me.

            If it’s the latter, then yes, perhaps Bishop makes sense here. This is also a goalie that hasn’t proven to be particularly injury resistant (although, that doesn’t matter a large amount). He’s also going to be 30 at the end of his contract. That means, a long-term extension is going to take him until he’s 35 or 36 (at least).

            I agree with many on this point. If I’m Treliving, I’m much more likely to just stick with Ramo. The organization knows him, he’s not going to command a ton of term, but his dollars will go up–without a doubt.

            The biggest trap the Flames can fall into with their goaltending though, is pigeon-holing themselves into a situation where they are going to get locked into term with a goalie. You simply can’t afford that. Unless you have Price, Lundqvist, or Holtby, you basically need cost-effective play from the goaltending position, because the raw numbers tend to fluctuate year-to-year. If you’re the Flames organization, you have to believe you have that coming in a couple of years, but you need to get there. Any contract you sign with a goalie over 3 years in length (from the end of this year), is essentially forcing a trade. However, if you can’t stabilize that position, you could be stalling the rebuild for good.

  • CofRed4Life

    The goaltending situation is interesting. Right now if you read through various internet bloggers and their trade “opinions” you get a couple of different views of the spectrum.

    From eklund you get the fantasy that the Flames could be looking at some sort of deal with the Bruins that would bring back Subban. I use fantasy because he indicates that Wideman could be a piece wanted by Boston.

    Over at CP there a suggestion with supposedly similar talk out of Detroit that there could be a deal that would bring back Howard from the Wings for Wideman. Howard is over 30 and has 3 years left to Wideman’s 1 year so there would be pieces coming back with Howard.

    Then there is the ever present cap rumors in Tampa Bay and St Louis that suggest Bishop and/or Elliot could be moved at the draft because of cap concerns. Doubt that either gets moved before the draft because both teams need their guy and have cup aspirations for this year. As such, I have a hard time with these matching the wording of Friedman’s note because by the draft teams would have more flexibility and these two goaltenders could create a bit of a bidding war.

  • CofRed4Life

    Re. Howard…

    I’m not sure Detroit does this, at least not for Wideman. I think they have, like, 2 players on their roster as a result of trades – and those guys are actually there because they became FAs. They just aren’t very willing to take back roster players in trades.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Instead of the NHL playing with balls to determine the draft order, I say make all the draft-eligible players unrestricted free agents, so they are available to all teams. This way no tanking to try and get the first overall pick. Yes, this would necessitate increasing the salary cap because the three-year salary cap on entry level contracts would be out the window, but so what. To manage salaries in the NHL with draftees as free agents would very quickly separate the competent GMs from the chaff.

    Think about it. Under a free agent system, who would have got McDavid and for how much? Would a team have badly overpaid for McDavid knowing the next “generational talent” would be coming the following season? The system polices itself. A dumb GM that pays heavily to lure a rookie wunderkind and is pushed against the cap is going to have to shed some other big contracts fast. To make the system even more interesting, the NHL must allow only a minimum number of safety valves, so GMs who get stupid can’t get enough mulligans to hide their sins and thus continue to repeat their foolish spendthrift ways.

    Under this system the action off the ice would be as entertaining or more entertaining than what happens on the ice. Imagine the Pens deciding to go all out for Matthews but to do so they have to move Kid’s contract. Can you imagine the posturing and positioning of teams lining up to get Crosby in his prime? It would make the Stamkos vigil look like watching paint dry.

    I don’t see my dream of this happening any time soon, but it doesn’t cost anything to hope.

  • What about a trade with the Isles involving Hudler and Okposo? Would need to trade other pieces to NY of course and the pieces be dependent on Okposo re-signing with Calgary (probably the entire trade is dependent on that).

    What would it take? If the Isles know that they are not going to get Okposo signed but they still want to remain competitive on the RW for the playoff push it may work.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Makes no sense for the Flames as they don’t have cash to extend Okposo. Makes no sense to the Isles as they can get a lot more in return than the enigmatic Hudler who has badly worn out his welcome in Calgary. Hudler is not seen by GMs as a nugget who can put your team into the playoffs and help propel it to a long playoff run. He is seen as an old Drouin but without the guts to withdraw his services until he is moved, Hudler just pouts and floats and draws his breath and paycheque. Gee, what team wouldn’t want him? I have heard the Kings, Hawks and Caps are in a titanic bidding war for this gutless wonder.