It’s been almost four years running now that the Flames have had right wing problems.
Just as the Flames had been trying to find a long-term goaltending solution since Miikka Kipprusoff’s retirement (arguably, this process is still ongoing, although certainly less grim than Leland Irving and Danny Taylor), they really haven’t had a bonafide first line right winger since Jarome Iginla, despite repeated attempts at filling that void (at least the one in the roster sheet, you can never fill the one in the heart).
Since the day he was traded, the Flames have brought in a murderer’s row of players to fill that RW gap. Jiri Hudler had one great year, but fell off the wagon quickly. David Jones was here for a little while, never really doing much, but did nab the Flames Matthew Phillips (who happens to be a RW. Hmmm). Lee Stempniak was useful yet unspectacular, as always. We have fond memories of Josh Jooris, though he was never going to be much beyond the third line.
Today’s situation is just slightly above grim. Michael Frolik is injured, out for the next month and change. Some are counting down the days before Troy Brouwer’s contract runs out. The next best right-handed shot is Garnet Hathaway, who has been above expectations since being recalled, but has also dried up offensively as of late (five points in his first eight, two in his next eight). If Micheal Ferland hadn’t taken everything to the next level, there’s the chance we would all be looking forward to next year by now.
The next biggest problem is Jaromir Jagr, who is almost certainly on his way out. Nagging injuries have pretty much forced both him and the team to shut it down. He was useful, he was fun, but Father Time remains undefeated. It seemed like a good bet that the guy who had stymied aging nearly 10 years longer than when most guys called it quits could do it for one more year, but it just didn’t work out. Happens.
So we’re back at square one: no right wing options, what to do?
What’s the deal with Jagr? Is he unhappy with us or are we unhappy with him?
— Questlove Walewander (@ibkabbitle) January 7, 2018
It’s hard to read the tea leaves from an outside position, but here’s probably the best explanation from what we publicly know:
Jagr wants to play hockey. That’s why he’s still 45 and playing hockey. It helps that he was still able to keep his head above water at such an age, but there’s been a few guys who did not wait for grey hairs to stop playing the game, despite being still fully capable. The mental fortitude and love of the game is admirable on his part.
The problem is that Jagr’s body does not want to play hockey. That has been painfully obvious. The guy is slow, which we knew from the start of the season, but recurring (and likely compounding) injuries to his groin and knee have made that more pronounced. Despite Jagr wanting to keep playing, it’s unlikely that he can be effective given the shape he’s in. He’ll probably need a longer stint on the IR rather than just a few games.
Neither party appears to want to wait it out. The Flames fear the blade swinging over their necks: they need their roster at 100% or it’s not going to work. You see why this conflicts with Jagr, who is not 100% but wants to play hockey. Both parties understood that it wasn’t just for the novelty: if Jagr’s playing, Jagr’s 100%. This is why he kept getting playing time earlier in the season when he was healthy and effective, but lost it later.
The feeling is mutual. Perhaps not a negative feeling, but mutual. Jagr’s not going to get the ice time he wants here (or anywhere: it’s hard to see any team that could give him that given his injury status right now) and the Flames aren’t going to give it to him if he can’t play like he was earlier in the season.
People want to write this off to mismanagement, but the truth is just that Jagr is old and broken. He played well, but if he can’t play, what else is the team supposed to do?
Heard that Duclair’s camp made the rounds to present to all other NHL teams indicating his value might be real low. Is there a fit in CGY or does he need a lot of sheltering? ?personal issues aside?
— Samuel Luke (@sammydeedub) January 7, 2018
Is Duclair someone the Flames should be looking at, if so what would they have to give up.
— Tyler Leduke (@TylerLeduke) January 7, 2018
Anthony Duclair is certainly a player I would look at. He’s young, can play the RW (left shot though), and looking to be back on the up-and-up after a sophomore slump last year. I also like him because his perceived value is very low. The guy is rocking a 0.984 PDO right now on a crummy team, which is likely going to drive down whatever he’ll cost.
What will it cost? Well, Arizona’s not stupid. They’ve been able to con GMs out of plenty for few (Jason Demers for Jamie McGinn, a first and a second for Martin Hanzal). John Chayka knows Duclair wants out, but he also knows what Duclair is and is probably aiming to sell as high as possible. He’s still an RFA, so there’s not exactly a time constraint.
For the Flames, this is a bit of a problem because they’ve set the market. By giving a second rounder for Curtis Lazar, often a healthy scratch, they pretty much have to up the ante for a winger from the same draft who, despite his struggles, is doing much, much better than Lazar. I imagine this will cost a higher grade, close to the NHL prospect, such as Dillon Dube, Morgan Klimchuk, Oliver Kylington, or Rasmus Andersson in addition to a pick.
Do the Flames pay that? Probably not.
When will Rittich get more starts?
— Colin (@DragonsDeck) January 7, 2018
I’m going to guess that Mike Smith has to have an absolute stinker for Glen Gulutzan not to play him. In the past 30 days, he’s had one game (vs. San Jose, Dec. 14) that stands out as particularly bad. Otherwise, he’s been everything you could ask for. David Rittich has certainly earned some trust, but a lot of coaches love riding the hot hand. I have a gut feeling he could be in next game just because, but I’d think we’ll be waiting a while until we see more of him.
What moves would he logical to get a rental for a late season push into the playoffs?
— EpicSourceProduction (@EpicSProduction) January 7, 2018
It’s hard to predict what exactly the rental market will look like, but I don’t think the Flames will get involved for reasons stated above. They’ve already given up a lot of assets this season, no need to give up more just to chase a long shot.
Besides, their roster is more or less full. Sure, they can send a couple players down worry free, but they aren’t going to do that. They’re happy with the team they have. If they make a move, it’s for a Duclair type player that can viably be a member of the team four years in the future, not just for three months.
With the long term contracts on the blue line are the flames going to move a vet to make room for a youngster at the deadline and/or this offseason?
— Ian Duval (@duvie27) January 6, 2018
I’ve been pushing this idea for a while, but the World Juniors make this even more apparent. Juuso Valimaki and Adam Fox just look amazing, and even if they aren’t 100% ready, you have Kylington and Andersson waiting in Stockton. There’s a strong case that there could be two prospect defenders on the team next year.
So yes, they are probably going to have to move someone. Michael Stone seems like an obvious answer, as he’s the most digestible contract and is probably still young enough to attract a few suitors looking for a bottom four defenceman at a cut rate price. Travis Hamonic could also go, but I feel the Flames would only part if they could get a package back that is at least 50% of what they paid, which is not happening in the summer of 2018.
On the left side, there’s some interesting choices to make. Brett Kulak is kind of everything you want in a third pairing defenceman, and he’s probably also going to come cheap, but he’s also probably expendable. I don’t think there’s much of a trade market for him though, as most teams already have a third pairing defenceman who could immediately fill that role. T.J. Brodie could be an interesting candidate for a big trade, but I feel the team doesn’t want to pull the trigger right now on a loyal soldier.
It’s an offseason move for sure, because there’s just so much to consider right now. We’ll see how the defence holds up for the second half of the season.
Early speculation on what Tkachuk's next contract could look like?
— 1 Job in Baltimore (@UscholdJay) January 7, 2018
If the Flames are smart, they try to get this extension done July 1, 2018, the earliest they can.
Matthew Tkachuk’s taken some serious steps forward, as nearly every on-ice and individual metric is up from last year. I say nearly because his scoring rates are actually down. His 5v5 on-ice shooting percentage has completely fell apart, slouching down nearly 3%. Tkachuk could realistically be seeing jumps into the 0.7-0.8 ppg range, which would make him just a bit more expensive. PDO is a blessing sometimes. If this holds true, I could see him getting Frolik money: five years, $4.5M per. Not bad for a second contract.
That’s a long bet though. If Tkachuk’s agent is worth any money (he has the same agent as Troy Brouwer, so perhaps the guy really knows how to get the max), he’ll wait until the contract has actually run up. If Tkachuk somehow gets better next season, he could easily wind up making about the same as Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, or Mark Giordano. It’s a long ways away, but I think that he could be six years, $6.25M per year.
If we continue treading water do you think a coaching change? Trade? Other??
— Andrew Loudoun (@aloudoun) January 6, 2018
If things don't get better in terms of points, how much changes are we expecting for the team?
— Erkka Peltohaka (@EPeltohaka) January 6, 2018
I think nothing will happen.
If you look at the long list of Brad Treliving’s moves as GMs, nothing stands out as panicky. Sure, he’s had his bad bets, but there’s been no moves made that seem to be made under duress.
This management seems to emphasize patience and the willingness to stick to it more than past regimes, which is both a blessing and a curse depending on how you look at it. Could a coaching change turn the team into a top three Pacific team? Maybe. It could also crash the team further. The most likely option is that it doesn’t do anything. The Treliving regime must have studied the mistakes of the Feaster regime pretty well: bold statements and bold moves can really blow up in your face if they don’t reap immediate awards.
@hashtagswag777 i don't know when you take q's for the mailbag, but consider this an early submission. I hate the oilers, but why does beating the ducks feel so much more satisfying then beating the oilers???
— daniel knapp (@danielknappkins) January 7, 2018
The Oilers are rivals, but the Ducks are villains.