Having built up depth with a bunch of new faces this offseason, the Flames have a few tough decisions to make regarding some of their old faces. There’s a few that have become expendable given what’s been added to the team. There’s no room for complacency anymore. Who might stay, and who might go?
Remember that you can email the FlamesNation mailbag at [email protected]!
It’s understood that goalies develop by sundial, but how much more time will the Flames give Gillies before discarding him?
— Cameron Hilton (@cameron_hilton) July 14, 2018
Jon Gillies’ waiver exemption doesn’t actually expire until he’s 27, so the Flames can afford to be patient. He’s 24 right now and has been better year after year. If he can get to the NHL this season that’s pretty good, but if he doesn’t, that’s alright, too. The discard point is probably if (or when) Tyler Parsons passes him in development. If Gillies hasn’t made a mark on the NHL by the time Parsons is ready to be a starter in the AHL, the project is probably worth abandoning.
Since there’s nothing left on the UFA market, which teams have excess goaltending depth that might make sense as a trade target?
There’s not a lot of goaltending depth league-wide. Most teams have a starter, a backup, 50 feet of crap, and then AHL journeymen and developing prospects. Most of them are dime a dozen goalies, but here’s a few who I feel might be available and worth the risk:
- Jack Campbell: a cheap goalie with some strong AHL performances and a great NHL stint albeit in a small sample size. Los Angeles has two waiver-eligible goalies on the roster already, but might not want to trade in the division.
- Ville Husso: solid AHL performances with some strong pro performances in Finland and is behind two waiver-eligible goalies, but is waivers exempt himself and may not be an immediate solution.
- James Reimer: Florida has three pro goalies, given that Michael Hutchinson just signed there. Reimer is a capable backup option, but the Panthers appear to believe that Hutchinson can sneak through waivers (highly probable), so he might be hard to get. He’s also got one more year on his contract.
- Anton Forsberg: might be okay, but he also might be a goalie you can make a waiver claim for.
- Anders Nilsson: could be a solid backup, stats deflated by playing on a lousy Canucks team. Is UFA in one year, and with Thatcher Demko coming up, he could be expendable. Vancouver is in the division though, so there might be a premium to pay.
- Michal Neuvirth: depending on how Philly’s goalie situation breaks down he could be available, but the Flyers could also keep him regardless.
- Calvin Pickard: low value despite good backup seasons in the past, but he’s probably available on waivers with Toronto having two goalies who need it. A few teams with waiver priority might grab him before the Flames do, so the team needs to trade for him before that happens.
If Curtis Lazar cleared 200 games played, does that mean he skews draft “success” stats higher than they should be? Seems we need a better proxy for successful draft selections than games played…
Two hundred games is the measure for draft success, largely because waiver exemption usually goes away after about 200 professional North American games. If a player can stick around in the NHL for 200 games, a team feels that they are valuable enough to have a committed roster spot over a minor league replacement player. We use 200 games as a handy measuring stick to determine if a GM has deemed this player worthy enough of a safe roster spot. If the player crosses that line, they’re a draft success.
But: GMs can be stupid; we learn this year-in, year-out. Just because a player reaches 200 games does not necessarily mean that they were above replacement level, just that the GM thought they were. In Lazar’s case, it’s likely his status as a first round pick kept him in the league when it was clear that he wasn’t of league quality. Lazar is pretty replaceable by NHL standards: his offensive game is non existent and his defensive game is borderline okay. Not really that worthy of a roster spot, but because the Senators and the Flames deemed him a worthy project, he is technically a draft success.
This happens. There are players that don’t really deserve 200 NHL games that get them regardless. As a thought experiment, ask yourself: if Emile Poirier, Hunter Shinkaruk, or Morgan Klimchuk got those 200 games Lazar did, would there be any major impact, positive or negative, on your team’s performance over those 200 games? The answer would likely be “no.” All of them are AHLers who might be at or around replacement-level NHLers. It’s just a matter of who gets the call. Sometimes, it might just be luck that one gets 200 games while the others don’t. Outliers happen.
If your concern is draft metrics, than perhaps Lazar might prove worrisome, but there’s other metrics to measure whether or not he was worth the first round pick. Draft analytics have advanced to the point that we can more or less identify bad value picks versus high value ones. We can never be sure whether a prospect breaks out, but we can at least assure ourselves of the probability one makes it over the other. If a player’s junior performance lines up with the performances of others who successfully jumped from juniors to the NHL, we can be more sure of their success. In Lazar’s case, there were likely higher value picks who, without hindsight, should’ve been selected in that spot. Despite Lazar clocking in at a success by games played, there were always signs that he shouldn’t have been that candidate based on his performances and others in that draft class.
Is there a scenario where Bennett is a Flame beyond next season? If he continues to be a 30 pt guy do they keep him? If he takes the next step and scores 20-30 goals do they have the cap space to retain him?
— Ryan Good (@RyanScGood) July 14, 2018
If Sam Bennett turns out to be handy depth, I think the Flames might just accept (if they haven’t already) that he was not the guy they thought they were selecting in 2014. A cheap 30-point scorer might fetch anywhere between $2-3M as an RFA, so they might just keep him around until he’s a UFA and then moving.
If he suddenly breaks out though, he probably would get a raise, but nothing that breaks the bank. It’s one great season versus three bad ones. He’ll get a slightly pricier contract, but one that won’t last long, likely only taking him to his UFA years. It’ll be an expensive “show me” deal, but if he actually does break out during his next deal, that’ll be livable. He’ll be a good player on a cheaper contract than what he deserves during the Flames’ contention years. They might have to wrestle with cap space after that next hypothetical contract expires, but they should still be fine.
Any chance Stone will get moved to make room for the kids?
— Cameron Hilton (@cameron_hilton) July 14, 2018
Michael Stone probably sticks around for now. Their RHD depth is Travis Hamonic, Stone, Rasmus Andersson, and Dalton Prout. If one goes down, they’re in trouble. They should park Stone in the pressbox, however. He’s unlikely to fetch a decent return on the trade market, and if Andersson is too good for the AHL (he is), he should be playing now. They took an obvious risk signing him for too much for too long with a prospect likely snapping at his heels before that contract came close to expiring, but that’s the reality they live with now. Pricey, but nothing worth fretting over.
Why has there not been more talk of the flames looking to trade frolik and stone? Both guys have younger players who can take their spots, and it wouldn’t hurt calgary to acquire some more draft picks or a better backup goalie in return.
— ian (@ian64310432) July 14, 2018
We already mentioned Stone, but Michael Frolik is probably not a player you should trade. He had a terrible year where he got injured and saw his shooting percentage collapse, but he is still very good defensively and a smart bet to be a bounceback player.
Stone has Andersson ready to take his job, but who does Frolik have? Lazar? Garnet Hathaway? Perhaps Austin Czarnik, but he’ll have a roster spot regardless (and is also not much of a sure thing). Spencer Foo is also a stretch, as he’s had one okay AHL season, and is likely an offensive option if anything. You aren’t going to be able to replace Frolik just like that. I wouldn’t be against the notion of trading him, provided you get a solid return back, but selling low to move a less sure thing up is a very bad idea.
Disregarding contracts, is Troy Brouwer a better fourth line option than the likes of Hathaway and Lazar
— Brendan Olson (@BrennyBaller) July 14, 2018
Pick your poison:
Brouwer and Lazar have about the same relative impact, although Lazar is more sheltered. Hathaway fares the best possession-wise, but also had the high ground much more often. If defence is your fourth line focus, you probably want the guy who doesn’t allow the most shots against.
I might go with Hathaway. He’s had some pretty good success on the PK and seems to be at least competent in the possession game. He has limited offence, but in a fourth line role, you can’t expect much. In an ideal world, however, neither would be the choice.
Should troy Brouwer be bought out
— Harlan Rempel (@harlan19rempel) July 14, 2018
In the ideal world, yes. I feel the Flames don’t do it though. It’s easy to want to buy a player out when it’s not our money to play with. Although this is the best year from a financial standpoint to buy him out (they would pay him $6M this year if they bought him out, $7.5M if they bought him out next year, and $9M if they stuck with the contract), Treliving probably doesn’t want to keep the deadweight on for an additional two years. They should buy him out (they probably know this) but they probably won’t.
If Giordano & Brodie are reunited and perhaps they can't reach that elite offensive production that they once did, which current d-man best fits in with Giordano on the top line?
— Society & Life (@yourkind_human0) July 15, 2018
If the offence doesn’t come back, there’s really no other options. You could try Noah Hanifin on Mark Giordano’s right, but who knows if he can play the right side. That also means that Brodie-Hamonic is back together, which kind of nullifies the entire reason for making that trade. Brett Kulak and Stone likely aren’t going to do it either.
Andersson might be worth a shot, but he’s still a rookie and is probably not going to touch the first pairing for a while.