FlamesNation Mailbag: The in-between

Looking at AHL moves, contingency plans, and potential blockbusters in this week’s edition of the mailbag.

I could see a case for yes and a case for no.

Let’s start with “yes.” If Mike Smith can work in tandem with David Rittich as an effective 1A/1B punch for the rest of the season, that’s a way better alternative than naming Rittich as the starter and hoping that Jon Gillies or a cheap free agent can get the job done. The Flames have been unable to start a new goaltending legacy since Miikka Kiprusoff retired, so maybe sticking with the same duo for the third straight year may be appealing to Flames management. After all, why mess with a good thing?

The “no” side is much more likely to happen, however. The Flames bet on Smith to begin the season and were rewarded with some pretty lousy performances, mostly due to him being old and having injury history. Last I checked, he is still on pace to be older next season and his injury history still has not gone away. Are they willing to take that risk and potentially (likely) get burned again? He’s also making $5.67M this year (some of it paid by Arizona) which is pretty pricey. Will he be argued down to a discount? Hard to say. Do the Flames need the cap space more than his production over ~40 games? Absolutely.

I can’t imagine a realistic situation where Smith comes back. The Flames have addressed defensive and offensive needs over the past three-ish offseasons. They know they need to address goalies now. If they re-sign the 37-year-old because they had no other plans, that’s a major failure.

It’s almost 100%. I think they’re long overdue to draft some at least a goalie and with picks actually in the top 100 (for now) they will probably target that position. For immediate NHL moves, they probably bring in a journeyman to fill in the backup spot or provide organizational depth should Gillies win the spot in the NHL. I’m not sure “revamp” is the right word, so tinkering and restocking is probably what happens.

They should certainly let him walk. Garnet Hathaway is a pretty okay energy guy and penalty killer, but that’s pretty much all he is. Should you try out higher ceiling guys like Austin Czarnik instead? Yes. Why not figure out if you have a potential diamond in the rough rather than going with ol’ reliable 15 points per season? The Flames should absolutely be looking to open up spots for players like Andrew Mangiapane now, and players like Dillon Dube and Matthew Phillips in the near future. You can’t do that if you’re going to commit a roster spot to grinder. Right now, I don’t think Hathaway is hurting the team by playing less than 10 minutes a night. But you can’t ignore the potential of the team being so much better if someone else was in that spot.

If they re-sign him, he’s an emergency backup at best. I can’t see them committing more money to him given the fun of the Lance Bouma experience.

I think NHL clubs have to reconsider how they spend money in general. There are always players on every roster who haven’t proven that they’re really worthy of a roster spot, but teams will keep trying them out due to sunk costs, veteran status, loyalty, or what have you. GMs will always overpay someone and then try to make it work when it obviously doesn’t.

Of course, we can’t ignore that the issue is magnified with goalies, given that there’s only two spots for them on an NHL roster, but I don’t think it’s the fault of the contracts. There isn’t anything that makes teams commit to long-term deals other than they decided it was a smart idea. Why wouldn’t the Canadiens want Carey Price for eight more years (answer: he gets older and injured a lot)?

I think that in order to solve this issue, teams should probably invest more heavily into understanding goalie aging curves.

I’m fine with Big Save Dave getting his rest in from time to time, as long as Bill Peters doesn’t believe that Rittich was just a stop gap until Smith bounced back. If he commits to the 1A/1B split that seems to be working so far, then we’re good.

For Czarnik, I have no clue what’s going on. Czarnik had a bonkers preseason, which was more of a curse than a blessing, because now he can’t live up to those lofty expectations. As I have already said, he deserves more of a shot than some of the other bottom sixers on the roster (I can’t see why you need both Hathaway and Ryan Lomberg in the lineup at the same time. One is fine, the other is redundant) and it’s confusing why Peters continues to sit him.

It’s a few years away, but I think they would. Given that he’s not at all slowing down (he appears to be getting better as he ages) and that he’s the heart of the team, I can’t imagine the Flames wanting to get rid of that contract. The narrative after he signed that contract was that the Flames could probably look at ditching it as he got older and theoretically worse. Since that hasn’t happened yet, no need to move on.

Dube, like Czarnik, is a kid who had a great preseason and has seen the shine wear off since. The major difference is that he’s waiver eligible. I think the Flames are in a spot where they don’t need him right now, and he certainly hasn’t done much to convince them that he’s worth keeping. If he’s getting fewer than 10 minutes a game, there’s not really a point in him being here when he could be getting top line minutes elsewhere.

To get called back up, I think he has to blow the doors down and hope that a pretty important spot opens up. That’s pretty much every AHL prospect’s hope, but I can’t see the club calling him up again if there’s just a fourth line spot open. There’s no point in sending him down to get minutes just to bring him back up to play in a scenario that doesn’t set him up for success.

The Flames have some flexibility with Oliver Kylington, but it’s all going to come down to Juuso Valimaki. It’s four games, but I think Kylington has at least been around the same, if not a little better, than what Juuso has done so far. When Juuso heals up, it could be a tough choice. I could certainly imagine the team sending Valimaki down to learn some of the finer points about professional hockey while keeping a more experienced pro player in Kylington around.

That’s the short-term solution, though. Long term?

I think the easy and obvious answer is a trade, it’s just a matter of who. With Tkachuk getting more expensive by the minute, the Flames have to move out some salary. You feel Giordano is out of the question immediately, and so is Noah Hanifin as they only recently acquired him. You also feel that they don’t move out the youth, as there’s probably little they could actually get for them, plus they don’t really alleviate salary issues.

So that leaves TJ Brodie, Travis Hamonic, and Michael Stone. Stone’s recent health issues takes him off the trade market for potentially the rest of the season, so no go there. Hamonic and Brodie are the two big dangle pieces, and both are conveniently having great bounce back seasons. With both hitting 30 by the time their contracts expire, the Flames are probably mulling over the idea of trading at least one of them.

Hamonic might be my bet for most likely trade asset. He’s very attractive for other trading partners, coming in at under $4M with a full toolkit of talents. He also doesn’t have a NTC, which opens up the options. But the Flames paid top dollar for him, and it would be poor optics for the team (who have had a lot of big deals go awry recently) to get a depreciated return for him.

There could be another option….

I mean, yes. Teams are generally very interested in trading for known good players rather than once good players who may bounce back. Given that Brodie has bounced back into being a good player, teams could be interested in him.

While Hamonic may be more likely, I think Brodie is the higher value trade piece. He does have a modified NTC, but if he’s playing like a #1 defenceman, you can probably get a grab bag of picks and/or prospects for TJ. You can clear salary, add some talented pieces to your organization, and still have a pretty stout defence. If you believe Giordano playing Norris-level hockey is behind Brodie’s success (very likely), why not try Hamonic/Hanifin up with Giordano? The Flames traded their #1 RHD this past offseason and have managed to survive, hell, even thrive. They might just take that gamble again.

But on the other hand, why break something you just fixed? The Flames made one of the most shocking moves of the offseason partially because they wanted to get Brodie going again – why trade Brodie now? They can certainly find the money for their pricey offseason if they move other, less consequential contracts.

  • BendingCorners

    @CT – Sorry, I meant to send this to the mailbag but was too busy drinking … If you were the GM and Neal finishes the year with under 20 points and is benched in the playoffs, would you buy him out in June? 1.9MMx8 is ugly, but freeing up 3.8MM lets the team keep it’s D intact and still pay Tkachuk.

    • MDG1600

      He will get another year to see if he can bounce back before they would consider a buyout. Owners should only approve a buyout if Tre promises to never pay another UFA more than $3M a year. Probably 90% of UFA signings end up being over pays.

    • Off the wall

      I think we’re all a bit concerned with Neal’s production. He’s not in the buyout conversation though.
      Trade able- maybe , buyout would spell disaster for us.

      Playing 3rd line has been a challenge for Neal, who had from the outset, been brought here to play top 6 minutes.
      It’s his play in the top 6 that has him relegated to 3rd line.

      Perhaps if he can get it going on the 3rd line (when?) then we can have a better valuation of his work.

      I think he might have to work a little harder for his goals, and even start being more physical with his play. A lot of older players have to reinvent their game. I think that’s what Peters wants from him.

      I just hope it’s a real slow start for him and he figures it out soon, cuz we need the secondary scoring.

      • BendingCorners

        I think he’s washed up, and a third or fourth line grinder can be had for under 1MM per year – the Flames already have enough of those. Secondary scoring will come from whoever BT acquires after dumping Neal.

      • The Fall

        Neal should be above Bennett on the depth chart.

        We all love the ‘new’ Sam Bennett — but he’s a third line grinder. Even Matt has slowed down with Sam on his wing…

      • Heeeeere’s Johnny

        I agree with you on the need for some additional physicality. What he’s doing now isn’t working so change it up … shift your energy and see what happens.

  • Chucky

    Internally I laugh and laugh every time somebody mentions Czarnik as an NHL asset. Time to wake up and realize he had a great preseason when nobody throws a body-check. When the real season started he disappeared, Boston fans have commented that this is what they saw as well. Hockey is played within 30 feet of the boards a player that spends the majority of his time inside the box created by the faceoff dots is basically useless, unfortunately that describes the $1.25 million dollar invisible man. If the Flames have good sense they will trade him for any asset they can get that might be NHL worthy (draft pick or player) sometime in the future before they need to send him to Stockton by the end of the year.

    • He gets very good results when he plays. He’s good enough to be in. The MMA line has run show during the times they’ve got to be a thing. It’s an odd thing to keep him out. Especially over someone like Lomberg who is very much NOT an NHL player.

    • I see this too. I seriously don’t get the hype for him. Seems to fly around the ice, make mostly bad passes, avoid contact and take low percentage shots. I am not a fan on Lomberg either so if you need to play one my vote would be having Czarnik on the 4th line and possibly penalty kill. Czarnik doesn’t belong any higher than 8-10 mins a night.

  • MDG1600

    I am not even remotely sold on the idea that Smith has his mojo back. He will play well for a game here and there but the decline seems pretty clear. On top of that it now seems we have no starting goalie in the AHL that can be viewed as a call up candidate. Parsons appears hurt LT and Gillies is a dumpster fire. Schneider had a few good games but has been pulled twice I believe in his last 3 starts. What does everyone else think – do the Flames need to go out and get some goalie help sooner rather than later?.

      • MDG1600

        Your cherry picking a small sample size where he has been getting the easy starts against weak teams. For the season he is 3.05 and .886 in 16 games. His last 8 games last year he was something 3.4 GAA and .880. Lay that over the fact he is 36 yo and I don;t think it is unreasonable to say he is decline.

        • Jessemadnote

          The segments you are choosing to focus on: Last season, on his return from Injury when the team had nothing going. This season he has been adjusting to a new system and new equipment. He has brought his save percentage up a .013 in the past 5 games. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to argue he’s in decline but I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to argue the opposite either.

        • oilcanboyd

          MDG You are cherry picking a small sample size – last year after he returned from injury and 16 games this year while he may have not been totally confident that he was free from injury, re-injury.

          • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

            “(Smiths) last five games he’s 0.923 with a 1.82 GAA”

            Calgary has REALLY sheltered when Smith has started over that time. Four of Mike Smiths last five games have been facing an opponent on the second game of back to back nights. He’s faced no more than 29 shots in every one of those contested (and he’s faced 24 or less in three of five). Since February 1, 2018 Mike Smith hasn’t even come close to putting up replacement level NHL numbers. Five games where he was played on the easiest starts possible doesn’t make up for that. The five games he’s played last were also against Chicago, LA, Arizona, Montreal and San Jose. Outside of San Jose I don’t really see a legitimate playoff contender in those four other opponents. Mike Smith is getting backup starts and that’s what he deserves right now.

  • Jessemadnote

    I think you’re really undervaluing Hathaway. Given the depth of our team and the minutes that others require someone needs to play less than 10 minutes per game. You want those minutes to be productive and energetic.

    Hathaway leads the team in hits/60, He’s 2nd in takeaways/60, and 4th in penalties drawn/60. Did I mention on top of this he has more points/60 than Czarnik? Good teams need guys like Hathaway wearing down the opposing defence and killing penalties.

    • Chucky

      Start worrying about his smile after you make your next $3.125 million. Some guys are just not happy like you OTW. He probably can’t tell a decent story either.

    • HAL MacInnis

      That was the first thing I noticed about Ryan too, when watching the highlights last night. I chalked it up to being focused and not letting off the gas. Some guys get psyched up and stay in the zone… or he could be terrible at telling stories. Either way, he scored! 😉

      This one is for Derek Ryan’s stone cold face…
      How many Vietnam vets does it take to screw in a light bulb?
      Yeah, that’s right. You don’t know… because you weren’t f_cking there, man!

    • Marvin the Paranoid Android

      Thinking about DR smiling more makes me tingle with dread. Smiles just lead to joviality, which ruins the overall atmosphere of gloom that I prefer. And I’m confused by the comment of worrying too much … that sounds like you think it is a bad thing. Marvin worries professionally and would hate to consider stopping.

  • radiomonkey

    Brodie seems like the likeliest trade bait in the offseason. His greatest asset is his skating, and who knows how long that will last into his 30s. A high-end, NHL-ready prospect and a high pick seems like a reasonable ask.

    • Rudy27

      Something I’ve observed since the original 6 days is that good, fast skaters are still good, fast skaters even after losing a step. It’s the average or marginal players who quickly find themselves out of the league when the lose a step.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Flames are in a win-now mode so trading Brodie would be idiotic, especially since he and Gio have once more become the dynamic duo.

      Hamonic might be playing the best hockey of his pro career and the grit he adds to the backend can’t be overlooked.

      A healthy Stone brings next to nothing back, so he’d be a salary dump.

      Intriguing to move one of Kylington or Andersson but as both are still soaking behind the ears as NHLers, trading either would be reckless and foolhardy.

      Valimaki? Next.

      I am not big on Hanifin. If his ceiling is Dougie, that’s great but that doesn’t excite me as I see Valimaki projecting much higher and much sooner than Hanifin. Tre traded Dougie and honestly, how many Flame fans really miss him? Among Valimaki, Andersson and Kylington, the Flames are stacked in high-end young defencemen, so the aging of Gio, Brodie and Hamonic is not a big issue. If the club wants to win now, Hanifin would be my choice to be punted. Besides, among the defencemen not named Gio or Valimaki, who is going to bring back a bigger return than the oozing-with-potential Hanifin?

      • Jessemadnote

        Hanifin is on an amazing contract through his prime. You don’t get out of cap trouble by trading away your best contracts. I think the Flames will look at moving on from Stone and Frolik which would net them 7.8 in savings which should cover Tkachuk.

      • mrroonie

        “Oozing-with-potential” Hanifin, who you say would be your choice to be punted, is 50th in a 31 team league in points by a defenseman since the start of 2015-16 (his rookie season), and is 2nd on the team and tied for 34th league-wide in that category so far this season. Valimaki may project higher but punting Hanifin would be a major mistake, especially because he’s only 21 and has a team-friendly contract for 5 more seasons after this.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Where’s Dougie on that list? He was dealt. My problem with Hanifin has nothing to do with his being an offensive threat. I don’t think he is especially good defensively. That part of his game might get a little or a lot better, but at this “win now” time, his defence is simply not good enough and that’s with Peters still coaching him.

          What you want to do is maintain the status quo and if just getting into the playoffs this season is a goal realized, great. I see a bigger picture than you.

          Hanifin is the most tradeable of all the team’s defencemen for a number of reasons. The main ons are that he can bring back the biggest haul and that between Valimaki, Andersson and Kylington , they can make up for whatever is lost from Hanifin’s departure. I really don’t see Hanifin as a younger Dougie and as I noted above, how many Flame fans are lamenting the loss of the giant gazelle?

        • cberg

          Gio is the guy to trade, followed bu Brodie. Take advantage of their excellent play and leadership while accepting the benefit of our great young D. This should definitely not happen till the off-season, and maybe not ever but it is the only thing that makes sense. Of course, a massive, proven, high potential return would be absolutely essential.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I have been a big fan of Ras but I am afraid that he may not generate the desired offence we hoped. His outlet pass is as good as any, he contributes but not much on the score sheet. It looks like Kjillington may have a higher ceiling for generating offence.

    • Flint

      Chiarelli already placed all the logs on the salary cap bonfire and then tossed gas on it all with the Draisaitl contract. All Dubas did was light the match.

      • Korcan

        Agreed. It is Draisaitl’s contract that has caused this problem. Were it not for that contract, Nylander would likely have signed for 6M per and in time for the Leaf’s training camp. It was Chiarelli and the Oilers who created this mess by overvaluing and overpaying their own talent (again).

    • BendingCorners

      I’m tired of hearing about Nylander and the Leafs, but I have to disagree. I’m a simple guy so I figure an average team will score 240 goals, nearly all accompanied by a primary assist, and an average team should spend to the mid-point of the cap range and reserve 10% of that for goaltending. The math works out to about 125K-130K per primary point and Nylander had 53 of those last year, giving a value of 6.6MM-6.9MM. The superstars will get paid as RFA not just as UFA. The lesser stars and the average players will be squeezed to counterbalance that, and it wouldn’t surprise me if most of those players end up with short second contracts, maybe 2-3 years in length, to take full advantage of their limited leverage.
      As for Marner and Matthews, who cares? The Flames have nobody that good coming up for renewal in the next two or three years. The drag from Neal’s contract is more important for the Flames’ continued improvement than anything the Leafs might do.

    • Sea of Redd

      I loved Burke’s comment.

      “My objection to the Nylander deal is two-fold. One, he’s the sixth-best player on the team,” Burke said Saturday on Sportsnet’s To The Point. “He’s the sixth-best, arguably the seventh-best, on the Toronto Maple Leafs and they paid him all this money.

      Tough to disagree with that.

      • His Dudeness

        Burke is a dinosaur and wrong more then he is right. I really don’t understand fans always being on the organizations side over the players, Nylander is a very good player and his contract is reasonable. The cap is going up every year, so why should he sign a long term deal just to help the Leafs pay the other stars?

        Not to mention he has to play in Ontario Canada where you lose 50% + of your paycheck to taxes. The teams in Texas, Florida, Tennessee etc. have a big advantage in the salary cap leagues. Two players signed this off season kucherov and Tavares, Kucherov takes home more money than Tavares and has a smaller cap hit. Anybody living in Canada who has a decent paying job would understand these things…

    • withachance

      A lot of other teams wouldve given him a 7M contract I think. Chiarelli is the one that screwed the league with the Draisatl contract – it was actually the comparable that Nylander used at the beginning of the holdout that started this whole thing

  • JumpJet

    I’m not so opposed to re-signing Smith, depending on how the rest of the season goes. The biggest reason being the lack of suitable replacements for the Flames. Bobrovsky, Varlamov, and Howard are the only potential UFA starting goalies, and they all have questions marks like Smith does. After them it’s either hard passes (Elliot, Ward, Talbot) or younger guys who might deserve a fresh start (Mrazek, Lehner, Pickard, DeSmith).

  • That's Old Time Hockey

    For a team that’s moving into their “contending” window, there’s no way I’d be shipping out Brodie. He’s lights out right now. Sure he makes mistakes but that happens as an offensive minded Dman. No one is close to being ready to fill his role. Let’s just ride this season out and see what happens in the offseason

    • Jeremy

      Sorry but I respectfully disagree.
      Brodie is serviceable but he gets destroyed by big players, see what Jamie Benn did to him last week.
      A guy like Brodie is replaceable and could bring a first and second back to the Flames in say a trade with Toronto.Or maybe a young RW like Kapinen.
      They’d love him and Rielly together.
      Andersson has played with Gio a bunch this season and hasn’t looked out of place.
      Trade from positions of strength, with our youth in defence that’s obviously it.

    • withachance

      I love Brodie and he was one of my favorite players in the season where the Flames won the playoff series. That said, if he does get traded, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. If he doesnt, then great we get to keep a stud dman.

      Really think there could be something worked out with the leafs if they do want to explore something – they need a top 4 dman and have too many quality forwards to sign under their cap. Mentioned it above but trade involving Brodie and Kapanen could be interesting, assuming Tre sheds cap elsewhere (maybe trade stone and frolik?)

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Czarnick hasn’t shown anything to me, he’s not strong on the puck and seems to avoid any contact. Not sure what all the fuss was about when they signed him, sure he’s a good skater.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      All that fuss was hopped up GMs stoned on the deluded notion that signing a FA only involves paying cash. I’ve said it before, but ownership should send Tre on a two-week holiday on 30 June and make it a fireable offense if he is seen using any type of communication device, including a pen and paper.

  • The Beej

    I dont know about making a trade on defence if another roster worthy defender isnt coming back.

    You trade Brodie promote Oliver and then that is it. The cupboard is bare. If you run into injury trouble you are majorly effed.

    I dont get how having 7 solid D is a problem. Rotate Valimaki and Kylington… send Valimaki down for a month or two. So many options. This depth gives us so many options lets Not Be Hasty.

    Will we have to trade a D eventually? Yes. but we are set for this season. How about before we make a trade we will regret lets give Valimaki Andersob and Kylington some more time to really see what we have. We may need the depth for a playoff run.

    Then in the off season we can move a Brodie or Hamonic for a good D prospect plus. In the summer we will also be able to draft a D or two to restock the cupboards and sign a cheap UFA to backfill ad a 7 or 8.

    I hope the author here isnt suggesting an imminent trade. Wow would that ever be shortsighted. Losing that depth could cost us the season if we run into more injury trouble.

  • Flamesforever

    Who do you guys think has the highest ceiling among our young dman? Andersson, Kylington or Valimaki? Personally I think Valimaki, he looks like a Roman Josi type player (fingers crossed) but after seeing Kylington these last couple games I think he might have better offensive instincts. I’m really high on all three as they are the type of dman you need in today’s game.

  • L.Kolkind

    So now that Smith has supposedly regained his form can they put Rittich back in net? He has had only one game under .900 SV% and makes the team look far more calm and confident than with Smith. I think it’s smart to keep giving Smith the easy starts but if this team does want to make a cup run this year I think getting Smith off the team is necessary.

    He wouldn’t be a reliable backup come playoffs, and it’s clear Rittich has won the starter role and could just use a better backup in case of injury. Shopping for a backup goalie as an insurance option should also be pretty cheap from a team that’s selling. Detroit could probably part with Bernier for maybe a 5th and Smith with salary retained.

  • SeanCharles

    We need a guy like Hamonic on the back end..

    Gio, Hamonic, Hanifin, Valimaki, Andersson and Kylington is how I view our future top 6.

    You don’t want:

    a) 1 RH shot in your top 6
    b) 0 defensive dmen with size and grit

  • Flaming Duck

    Yes to Rittich and Smith as 1A/1B. No to Smith as 1 and Rittich as “filler”. Rittich is the future either as a 1A/1B or a solid backup for years to come. He is just entering his prime. Smith is nearing the end.

  • sRo

    Why let Hathaway walk??? He hits, he’s aggressive and he’s a decent player. The Flames don’t have anyone (other than Bennett) who plays like that. Why keep Czarnik? An over paid AHLer. He’s a dime a dozen (Mangiapane, Foo, Phillips, Dube). This team has no toughness and you want to get rid of the few that play tough? This is a good team, but if they’re played mean and rough, they’re finished. Case in point, Edmonton were killing them for 2 periods when they were playing Calgary rough. Then, for some reason, they stopped in the 3rd and lost. What Calgary needs is another tough, aggressive player who can play, for the bottom 6, not give more playing time to Czarnik.

    • Albertabeef

      Hathaway and Jankowski have the worst corsi of all forwards on the team. Of the two I’d rather keep Janks as he is way better offensively. At 27 Hathaway is what he is at this point, and he will never be better than a fourth line player. Fourth line is actually to high for him. Last season he had a career year with 4 whole goals. He makes Bennett look like Crosby lol. I don’t understand how people can say keep Hathaway but get rid of Bennett and Backlund 2 way way way better players. Looking at career stats I can understand why Czarnik instead of Hathaway.

      NHL Career 76 6 15 21 Czarnik 25 years old
      NHL Career 121 8 17 25 Hathaway 27 years old
      NHL Career 97 21 13 34 Jankowski 24 years old
      NHL Career 268 46 52 98 Bennett 22 years old

      Janks and Hathaway have never played themselves onto the Flames second line. Benny has, and he still needs a little more time to adjust to actually playing with top end talent unlike the last two seasons. I’d actually give him till the new year to work on it. He is also playing right wing which he’s totally not used to so time should be given to adjust.

      • sRo

        Man, these stupid stats like corsi drive me nuts. There are c ertain intangibles that can’t be rated. Put Mangiapane i n for Czarnik and you won’t even miss him. Put Czarnik in instead of Hathaway in a rougher game, you’ll notice