How has the rebuild leveraged existing assets?

Rebuilds can be a painful, protracted process. As we’ve seen up the road in Edmonton, a rebuild that is conducted improperly can become a never-ending cycle of disappointment that lasts the better part of a decade.

The Calgary Flames began the rebuild on March 27, 2013 when they threw in the towel and traded away Jarome Iginla. By taking a look at the 2012-13 Flames roster, we can get a sense of how well the Flames have leveraged existing assets as they have worked through their rebuild.

Here’s the roster sheet from Jan. 20, 2013, the opening date of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 5.49.10 PM

(Anton Babchuk and Roman Cervenka were on the injured reserve, while Jiri Hudler began the season on bereavement leave.)

ASSETS RETAINED

  • D Mark Giordano

  • D Dennis Wideman

  • D T.J. Brodie

  • F Mikael Backlund

  • F Matt Stajan

ASSETS TURNED INTO CURRENT ASSETS

  • D Jay Bouwmeester: traded to St. Louis for Mark Cundari, Reto Berra and a 2013 first round pick; Cundari left as a free agent, Berra was flipped to Colorado for a 2014 second round pick used to take Hunter Smith, and the 2013 first was used to take Emile Poirier.
  • D Cory Sarich & F Alex Tanguay: traded (together) to Colorado for David Jones and Shane O’Brien; O’Brien received a compliance buyout, while Jones was traded to Minnesota for pending free agent Niklas Backstrom and a 2016 sixth round pick used to select Matt Phillips.
  • F Jarome Iginla: traded to Pittsburgh for Kenny Agostino, Ben Hanowski and a 2013 first round pick, which they used to select Morgan Klimchuk. Agostino and Hanowski both left via free agency.
  • F Tim Jackman: traded to Anaheim for a 2014 sixth round pick, used to select Adam Ollas Mattsson.
  • F Lee Stempniak: traded to Pittsburgh for a 2014 third round pick, which they traded to Chicago for Brandon Bollig.
  • F Curtis Glencross: traded to Washington for a 2015 second round pick and 2015 third round pick; the second was traded to Boston as part of a package used to acquire Dougie Hamilton, while the third was traded to Arizona so the Flames could trade up and draft Oliver Kylington. (The remainders of each package traded were the Flames’ original picks in the first three rounds of the 2015 draft.)
  • F Sven Baertschi: traded to Vancouver for a 2015 second round pick, used to select Rasmus Andersson.
  • F Roman Horak: traded to Edmonton (with Laurent Brossoit) for Olivier Roy (who left as a free agent) and Ladislav Smid.
  • F Jiri Hudler: traded to Florida for a 2016 second round pick, used to select Tyler Parsons, and a 2018 fourth round pick.

ASSETS TURNED INTO ASSETS THAT WALKED

  • F Blake Comeau: traded to Columbus for a 2013 fifth round pick, used to select Eric Roy (who they didn’t sign).

ASSETS THAT WALKED

  • F Mike Cammalleri: left as a free agent.
  • F Steve Begin: retired.
  • D Derek Smith: left as a free agent.
  • D Chris Butler: left as a free agent.
  • G Miikka Kiprusoff: retired.
  • G Leland Irving: left as a free agent.
  • F Blair Jones: left as a free agent.
  • D Anton Babchuk: left as a free agent.
  • F Roman Cervenka: left as a free agent.

SUM IT UP

The Flames had 25 bodies on their extended roster when the 2012-13 season (year zero of the rebuild) began. They turned the entirety of that roster into Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, Ladislav Smid, Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson, Adam Ollas Mattsson, Brandon Bollig, Hunter Smith, Emile Poirier, Morgan Klimchuk, Matt Phillips, Tyler Parsons and a 2018 fourth round pick.

Three Flames general managers turned 25 assets into 15 since 2012-13.

If you look at when the assets were traded, you’ll probably notice that Treliving has done a better job than Feaster or Burke did at leveraging existing assets and turning them into something useful. (See: Glencross, Baertschi, Hudler.)

    • freethe flames

      Of the assets acquired we are still waiting to see who develops into NHLers. To get a real feel for whether or not this rebuild has been successful one has to look at what other teams have done during a rebuild during roughly the same time period and where they are in the process. For me we will get a much better understanding of where the Flames are this season. We will also have a much better feel for the young assets as well.

        • Rockmorton65

          Yup, if Iggy had kept his word, that Boston deal would look much better on this team. It did, however, lead us to the Burke/Treliving era, so it wasn’t THAT bad.

          • piscera.infada

            If fairness, would the Boston package really look that much better? The optics say yes, but I’m not too sure. Let’s assume for the purposes of this exercise that the first round pick (one spot later than Pittsburgh) ends up with the same player in Klimchuk–I think that’s a fair assumption, and probably a good starting point for this discussion.

            The second piece was Bartkowski. He’s clearly better than say, Hanowski, who never really did anything of note. Fair point. The question that begs asking though, is does Bartkowski make a measurable contribution to the Flames? The guy was a lightening rod for ire last year in Vancouver, getting his head caved in at sub-Engelland levels. He’s now a UFA with “PTO hopeful” written all over him. I’m not sure he even survives two seasons on Calgary’s blueline. Frankly, he’s a player that probably doesn’t move the needle for the Flames, and although I’ll admit he would have been a much better bet than Hanowski at the time, I’m not sure the ceiling’s really there to make a declarative statement.

            The final piece was Khokhlachev–a player I admittedly really liked. I guess for the purposes of this, it’s somewhat fair to compare him to Agostino–another player I really liked. Now those are two different players. What’s interesting is that in their first two seasons in the AHL, they scored the exact same number of points (100), over a similar number of games (126 for Khokhlachev, and 132 for Agostino)–however, admittedly, Khokhlachev did that at nearly 3 years younger than Agostino (which isn’t actually the case at all apparently). I have no problem saying Khokhlachev is likely the better player, however we may never know at the NHL level though, because Khokhlachev appears headed to the KHL now that his entry-level contract is done.

            Now, that’s not to say either Bartkowski’s or Khokhlachev’s situations couldn’t have turned out differently within the Flames’ organization. In fact, I’d probably be willing to bet that Khokhlachev would have been given somewhat more opportunity than the 5 NHL games he played for Boston–it remains to be seen whether or not he would have succeeded with that opportunity though. I think on balance however (and with the extreme benefit of hindsight), I’m not sure we can say the net effect of one trade over the other would have been “much better”–if even “better”.

            • Baalzamon

              however, admittedly, Khokhlachev did that at nearly 3 years younger than Agostino.

              … Agostino: April 1992. Khokhlachev: September 1993.

              Yup. Seventeen months is nearly three years. Definitely.

            • Parallex

              I think in a very roundabout way it turned out better for Calgary to have gotten the Pittsburgh package. If the Flames have Bartkowski they probably don’t go get Russell and IMO Bartkowski probably doesn’t become overvalued the way Russell does and return the same later package.

        • Parallex

          Yeah, thanks to Iginla’s (very) short list of teams they could negotiate with (eventually becoming just Pittsburgh) The Flames had no leverage. The only other alternative deal, which Iggy nixed at the last minute wasn’t great either.

          I mean… that’s what NTC/NMC are for but I do wish he’d had a few more teams on his list… and I really wish that Sutter could’ve read the tea leaves better and taken that 1st, B. Schenn, W. Simmonds deal he’d reportedly been offered a few years earlier.

    • supra steve

      “Three Flames general managers turned 25 assets into 15 since 2012-13.”

      Presented as is, that does not sound great…but with no points of comparison (other club’s numbers), it really means nothing.

      Additionally, had they not made the Hamilton trade and the trade up to grab Kylington they would hold 3 additional assets, but would they be better off? Quality trumps quantity.

      Cammi was the only real missed opportunity, but I for one agree with Burke’s refusal to move him for less than what they believed he was worth. Plus, agree, returns for JBo and Iggy look pretty bad.

      • Kevin R

        Yup! As a whole Feaster couldn’t trade his way out of a wet paper bag.

        Iginla trade-Totally underwhelming & Lord only knows what went down here. I know some people still see potential in Klimchuk but I am for whatever reason not sold on him. I think he should be part of a package to possibly move a contract we desperately want to get rid of.

        JBO- For the life of me I never could understand this deal. 1st off, we could have waited until the following TDL & scored the same if not better return for a top pairing Dman. This one disgusted me the most. Iggy had some extra hair on it & I can almost understand how that deal could be underwhelming.

        Now, that 2013 draft was mega hyped as one of the best in many years. Personally, an astute GM would have taken our 2 later 1st rounders & moved up to maybe 10th or 12th & we could have possibly scored Nichushkin or Domi. I realize we were prospect starved at the time & hindsight is 20/20 but like you say Quality trumps Quantity.

        Cammi screwed us, got injured leading up to the TDL & did nothing just prior & hence the underwhelming offers for him. Whatever, hard to blame anyone about that.

        But as much as looking back ticks me off. Looking forward has me equally excited. We have had some very good things happen. Brodie has turned into a complete stud, partly because the removal of JBO cleared the way for him. The moral of that lesson is once we move Wideman & Smid on, we may find our next Brodie. A lot to be said for giving some young guys a chance. We hit the lotto with Gaudreau & saved us years of suck to get ourselves a bonafide elite player. Monahan & Bennett are positioned to be our top 2 Centres for years to come. Hamilton was a total high coo & seeing Gio become an elite top 10 D in the league at this age has positioned us to be a very talented young team with established core players. The foundation is here now, can’t wait to see what gets built on it.

    • BurningSensation

      “The Calgary Flames began the rebuild on March 27, 2013 when they threw in the towel and traded away Jarome Iginla”

      This still never fails to spike my blood pressure.

      The ‘rebuild’ began when Feater unloaded Regehr (trading a core vet for cap relief and Byron).

      • Not really.

        Regehr was traded in the summer of 2011. The Flames needed cap space to re-sign Alex Tanguay, so they moved Regehr to get the dollars and also as a leverage point to package Kotalik for further cap relief. They also re-signed Anton Babchuk to an ill-conceived raise that summer. That’s just a “hockey trade”. Regehr was rapidly approaching his best before date at that point anyways.

        That year, the Flames acquired Mike Cammalleri mid-season in a bid to improve the scoring and make the playoffs. They were still a cap team laden with expensive veterans (Iginla, Bouwmeester, Joking, Tanguay, Kiprusoff). They didn’t make a meaningful trade at the deadline that season.

        Management was persistently vocal about being competitive and pressing for the playoffs for 2 seasons after trading Regehr. In fact, in the summer of 2012 Feaster would sign Hudler, Cervenka and Wideman in a bid to get the Flames to the post-season.

        Calgary’s collapse in the lock-out shortened season, spurred by Kipper finally giving out, and the impending end to Iginla and Kiprusoff’s contracts was the impetus for the rebuild.

        • BurningSensation

          I agree with everything you said abovem except your conclusion.

          For me the ‘Feaster started the rebuild’ argument rests on three pillars;

          1. Regehr was part of the ‘core’. I’d argue by definition dealing away a core piece (albeit for cap space and Byron) is more than mere ‘retooling’.

          2. Every single trade Feaster made brought back assets that were younger and cheaper, and aside from his Regehr trade, the new strategy included hoarding picks rather than spending them.

          3. The ‘slow motion rebuild’ Feaster was doing was something I recall being discussed by writers on this very blog looooong before the Iginla deal. Iginla, for a variety of reasons, was always going to be the last piece moved in a rebuild, not the first. Bouwmeester and Iginla were the end of the old guard out the door, not the signal of a new direction – because that direction was already well established.

          None of which runs contradictory to the Flames under Feaster also being tasked with ‘win now’, and the Wideman signing in particular smacks of Feaster trying to thread the needle of being a playoff team while also restocking the farm and moving the vets out.

          (as an aside, with the dearth of right handed defenseman in the league, Wideman has probably been fair value on his deal till now)

          Again, writers on this very blog made the convincing case as it was happening that Feaster’s task of giving Iginla a fair shot at winning while also rebuilding a gutted system and a vet laden roster with NoMove contracts was being asked to ‘suck and blow at the same time’.

    • Lombardi

      In all fairness…. What has Iggy brought any other team? Sure the return was underwhelming but so is his performance? So maybe the return was what his future was worth? At the time the deal seemed ok just like Beartschi, Hudler do now. If Anderssson and Parsons flop we will be saying the same thing in 3-4 years. Have to remember what we thought at time of the trade. Underwhelming… but fair

      • Tomas Oppolzer

        “what has Iggy brought any other team?”

        -had 11 pts in 13 reg season games in Pit followed by 13 in 15 playoff games.

        -Finished 3rd in pts(61) and 2nd in goals(31) with Boston in the regular season followed by 7 points in 12 playoff games.

        -Tied for team lead in points(59) and led team in goals(29) on an awful Avs team in 14-15

        -Finished 6th in team scoring with 42 while playing with a parade of linemates.

        Seriously, can we stop crapping on Iggy for that trade. After giving the team and city a decade and a half of great play he chose where he wanted to go. His NMC gave him that right. It’s not his fault Feaster couldn’t get a good return. 1000 points for a team should give you the right to go where yo think you have the best shot to win.

      • Yeah, terrible. Repeat after me, NHL GM’s: if you absolutely feel the need to dress an enforcer, never use assets of any kind to acquire them. They can be had all the time for nothing at all (and don’t have a meaningful ceiling).

    • Joe Flames

      Some of those deals make you wonder what BT would have done if he was around since the start of the rebuild. Feaster was too nice a guy for the job, while BT is all business when necessary.

    • RKD

      BT has done a much better job than his predecessors in turning players into assets. The return for Iggy and Jay-Bo could and should have been a whole lot better. It’s totally criminal. Actual proven talented roster players should have been the starting point. Iginla should have given us a king’s ransom. This whole mess was created by Darryl trading away young player, driving a hard bargain with Giordnano signing washed up recycled overpaid floating veterans and handing out ntcs like candy. Darryl was dead wrong as was ownership. They wanted to ride Kipper and Iggy and hoped they would lead us back to the finals on their own. They were never one player away from winning a Stanley Cup. Feaster spend a long time undoing Darryl’s messes but Feaster also made some big mistakes along the way too. Hope BT can right the ship. The future looks a lot better.

    • Slowmo

      Iggy was the 1 that made it impossible to make a good trade due to his demand to go where he wanted to go can’t blame any 1 but iggy for that. Crosby wanted him to play for pits because of the success they had at the worlds.