FlamesNation Mailbag: Garbage bag day edition

Well, it’s a disappointing end to a promising season. As the Flames sombrely sort through their own physical trash, let’s join them, metaphorically.

The playoffs happened, and they went in cold. That’s pretty much it.

The funny thing about the postseason is that the best teams rarely win. That’s not a bug, but a feature. Teams play six and a half months of gruelling hockey and are then solely judged on a week or two at the end of it. That’s a system that will always reward peaks and punish valleys. Over the course of an 82-game season, teams have their high and low points, but the regular season is long enough that pretenders can’t rely on one or two streaks to keep themselves afloat for very long (remember when the Sabres were playoff-bound?).

You can throw all of that out the window in the playoffs. The Avalanche played their best hockey all year leading up to them and caught a Flames team that was limping to the finish line. One team was hot, one was not. They had four games to recover and didn’t. Oh well.

This isn’t to exonerate the Flames completely – we’ll get into their flaws later – but it’s folly to tear everything down or demand major changes because of four bad games in April. As they are constructed now, they are still a head above the majority of the NHL, and will remain that way next season. They can’t do much about getting cold at the worst possible time to do so.

And there’s no fix for that besides improving and trying again. Let’s look at Tampa Bay, whose 2018-19 regular season is one of the NHL’s all time greatest, if not the greatest. They won 62 games, the most in NHL history, and won 30 of those games by three goals or more. They also exist in the salary cap era, so cultivating this much talent and staying under $79.5M is no small feat. The Lightning were an absolute juggernaut.

And then they had one good period in the playoffs and then got run out of the building for the next 11 by a team that had to mortgage everything just so that they could get something meaningful out of two of their best ever players before they split in the offseason. Playoff hockey!

Andrei Vasilevsky, a Vezina finalist, put up a .856 SV%. Nikita Kucherov, probably the Hart winner, finished with fewer points than Erik Cernak, a guy who was playing in the AHL this year. They had three of the top 10 goal-scorers this year, all scoring over 40 goals, and they combined for two in the entire series. Their coach is likely winning the Jack Adams and was out-coached by someone who has been fired twice in the last six seasons.

What do you change for Tampa? You can tinker at the edges, but does that really move the needle? Will a third pairing defenceman really avoid them having the same fate? The answer is no. Not because an improvement cannot be made, but because you cannot predict what happens in the playoffs.

What you cannot do is dismantle the group that got you there. Trading Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point et al. is insane, and once you get rid of them the first thing you’re looking for is another one of them, which is impossible. Tampa’s problems are also Calgary’s problems, but they both have the same solutions: do what you can to make the roster better, but don’t think it involves trading away your best players.

Specific to coaches, yeah, more needed to be done. Bill Peters endeared himself to the faithful in ways that his predecessor never could by actually trying new things when everything else wasn’t working. Throughout the regular season, he brought out the blender, he shortened his bench, tried different and unconventional lines, and did what he thought might work to see what would happen.

And in the playoffs… they didn’t. They waited until their lives were on the line, and still reverted back to the usual. Colorado seemed to know what was coming and the response from the Flames was to proceed anyways. The powerplay was painfully predictable, the Avs knew exactly where the penalty kill’s weak spots were, they knew which matchups were coming, which matchups to take on, and the Flames were willing to give them exactly what they wanted.

Like everyone else on the team, Peters’ coaching was incredibly uncharacteristic. Coaches are risk averse by nature, but I don’t think Peters took even one in the postseason. Perhaps his players coming out flat didn’t help things, but his response to that mostly seemed to be paralysis. I don’t think mixing the lines up early would’ve saved the Flames, but could it really hurt to try?

Hopefully, like all things 2019 postseason, this is just a blip on the radar.

This very handy and scientific model from Hockey Graphs’ EvolvingWild says $2.5M. That sounds about right. Sam Bennett has been stuck in neutral for three years now, so a slight raise from his current $1.95M is fair. He doesn’t really have any leverage in this situation, so perhaps the Flames can push that number down a little bit.

But anything higher is a no-go. The Flames’ first priority is cap space for Matthew Tkachuk and then David Rittich. What remains can go to Bennett. He’s more of an accessory to the roster than the crucial piece the Flames thought they were getting when they drafted him, and they should pay him as such. Playoff performances are one thing, but you can’t pay up for them when he’s dragging his feet for the majority of regular season games (besides, the Flames have only won one series with Bennett, kind of putting a hole in the “you need players like Bennett to win in the playoffs” theory. You evidently need much more than that).

No, move on from Mike Smith.

You can appreciate his great postseason appearances and also recognize that he’s rapidly approaching his career expiration date, if he hasn’t already passed it. Smith came up big when he really needed to, which is great. He’s not going to do that next season. He’s still 37 and his health is still questionable: do people really want to go through that again?

However, I could see Smith coming back as a “devil we know” option should the Flames not find a goalie in the offseason. A one-year, $1M contract is probably fair value, and can easily be disposed of midseason if need be.

It’s tough to parse right now. Artyom Zagidulin is still an unknown quantity, which puts him in good company with Jon Gillies and Tyler Parsons, who are also complete unknowns at the NHL level. That’s not helpful when trying to determine who gets an NHL spot next year.

Unless the Flames know something about these goalies that we don’t, it’s a stretch to see any of them in the NHL next season. Zagidulin has had a good year as a backup in the KHL. That’s it. That doesn’t put him in line for an NHL spot right off the bat. Gillies and Parsons both struggled heavily in the AHL, so they’re also probably not in the NHL conversation. Perhaps the Flames take a leap of faith, but I can’t see that happening given how goaltending has plagued them since Kipper.

I think Gillies gets moved out this offseason. The Flames have been patient with him, but the results still haven’t come in. Goalie development is notoriously tricky to nail down, but seven years in the system without any major steps forward is a sign to move on. Zagidulin and Parsons will probably split the AHL net.

It would be a similar package to what Vegas gave Ottawa: Juuso Valimaki and a first plus a few other bodies.

To answer this and the question below, we have to consider whether or not Mark Stone would have fixed the Flames’ problems, and the answer is an easy no. Stone is a hell of a player having a truly special season, but the Flames were built to survive without needing to add a Stone type player. One elite addition wouldn’t have fixed the brain farts, the lack of urgency, the passiveness, or the entire team getting cold. One player simply can’t do that (source: Edmonton Oilers).

There’s also the issue of his contract. Extending him would’ve been an impossibility given the cap structure. Would it be worth it to trade a potential future #1 defenceman and a first rounder for a quarter of the season and maybe an extra first round game? Again, easy no.

For James Neal, it’s a bit of aberration, a bit of the classic “he’s getting older and less good.”

Let’s start with aberration. Neal’s saving grace is that he had a career low 4.96 SH% at all situations. If he hit his average, he would double his goal production from seven to 14 (and if he played a full 82, 18). That’s not the 20-goal scorer the Flames paid for, and it’s still a career low, but it’s much better than seven. Regardless of his performances, Neal didn’t get the bounces going his way either.

Of course, hitting 14 with normal luck is a problem in itself for a player like Neal. His possession numbers rank second lowest to Garnet Hathaway for players who played at least half of the season. His WOWY data isn’t pretty either, with a lot of players doing much better away from Neal than with Neal. There’s really no saving point of data or observation that absolves Neal except for a low shooting percentage. You could argue that a decline this steep despite his generally fine career is also an aberration, but it’s more likely he’s 31 and is hitting the aging curve hard.

It isn’t entirely unfeasible that Neal has a bounce-back season in 2019-20, but don’t bet on it. Age remains undefeated.

A trade partner is hard to find, but it is possible. It seems unlikely, but teams do value weird things in players, regardless of contract. Remember that Troy Brouwer was nearly traded back to the Blues after one season in Calgary (wouldn’t waive his NTC). It’s very, very improbable, but it’s not out of the question.

The most likely teams to start calling are the ones in danger of being unable to hit the cap floor, but there aren’t many around (it’s really just Ottawa). Even if a team was so desperate, they probably don’t want to take on Neal’s contract. There’s over $20M remaining on that contract over the next four seasons, which is a lot to take in even if you need to take that cap hit on. If Calgary finds a willing partner, they probably want a lot of sweeteners and they probably want Calgary to take some salary back. It’s hard to carve out a win in that situation for Calgary.

The most likely option is to wait until Seattle enters the fold and see if they might be persuaded to take on that contract. That’s 2021, if you feel like setting a timer.

For buying out, I don’t think that’s an option. Neal’s hit would be a decent $1.917M, but it would be over the next eight years if he’s bought out this offseason. Next offseason, it would be six years. It really only gets digestible after 2021, where that contract would remain on the books for four years. I think if he’s bought out, it is that season, provided Seattle doesn’t take him.

The Flames could stand to add to their centre, right wing, and RHD stockpile. Late first drafting is all over the board, so it’s hard to accurately pin down who might be available, but here are some good options, by position:

Centre: Connor McMichael, Philip Tomasino, Ryan Suzuki

RW: Cole Caufield, Bobby Brink, Pavel Dorofeyev, Raphael Lavoie

RHD: Moritz Seider, Kaedan Korczak

If they’re drafting for best player available, Arthur Kaliyev, Jakob Pelletier, and Nils Hogstrom could be of interest.

Of those options, I think Caufield (goal-scoring machine, hit 60 this year), Brink (Martin Pospisil linemate, 35 goals in 43 games this year), and Kaliyev (102 points in 67 OHL games) are the highest value options at #26.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Playing the last few meaningless games didn’t help, no momentum entering the playoffs. Could have been a mistake trying to get Johnny his 100 points, personal goals not team goals. Maybe a better strategy would have been, how many goals can we score on these teams, no resting players.

    • The Beej

      I think that had something to do with it. Colorado had to fight for their lives the last month and were already in playoff mode and had already elevated their game.

      • Alberta Ice

        Yep- and not only the Av’s garnering momentum at the end of the regular season, but the Blue Jackets too. Would make quite the story if they battle it out in the Final.

          • Brian McGrattan's Salute

            I also wonder about the wisdom about resting players during the last week of the season. It’s a very new phenomenon in the NHL, although other pro sports leagues have been doing it for years.

            In fact, I think it was brought to the mainstream to rest non injured players as early as last season by the Nashville Preds, no? (correct me if I’m wrong).

            Seems like a bad strategy. Specifically, Monahan was playing much better prior to gettig pulled from the lineup the last time (so, between his time off from injury and his last couple games off). Hockey players get into grooves, and get into momentum. Pulling them out can clearly screw them up a bit. I know BP’s has said he would look nto if this is a viable strategy moving forward, but it doesn’t appear to be working out so hot.

    • oilcanboyd

      Yes, Avs and BJs were still hunting for a playoff spot while Flames and Lightning were playing meaningless games. Avs and BJs also benefitted from the layoff after regular season to the start of the playoffs; no benefit to the Conference winners. Make it fair and start the playoffs the first Monday night.

  • Skylardog

    The hope for a Neal buyout is when a new CBA is signed. I believe that has opened up good opportunities to rid teams of bad contracts.

    Sadly a new CBA is still a couple of years out.

  • Justthateasy

    Monahan isn’t one of our best players. He’s one of our highest paid.
    All he had was a quick release and that went cold because it does not work when the slot is congested.
    We don’t need any lady byng candidates on this team.
    So folks, there’s my answer.

  • Kevin R

    Christian, I know Bennett has not come close to expectation but in all honesty, another bridge deal should not be the goal.
    He is a solid bottom 6 option with a bit of ceiling that if the light ever comes on he can be a 2nd line forward. Give the kid a 6 year deal for $21mill if his agent lets him. Maybe once the pressure of playing for a huge contract is off his shoulders & he focuses on his game & consistency, the ceiling will jump out & his deal will be a steal. He’ll still be young when that deal expires. Heck if we had to I would go up to 4.0 mill per if it could get Benny signing the contract. That wouldnt be out of line for a third line forward.

    Agree, if we cant get a different look in net with Riitch, I wouldnt be mortified with a 1 year 1.0 mill deal with Smitty with the understanding he will get maybe 25 games &/or injury duty.

    Moving Brodie, Frolic & Stone is not a knee jerk reaction from this dismal playoff performance. These players need to be moved to bring in the young guys & the bonus will be some cap relief.

    Agree Neal is an absolute no way no way buyout candidate. I would rather eat 2.0 mill & sweeten with some decent prospect to a team like Ottawa or Rangers. That deal wont happen until after the Free Agent frenzy beginning of July.
    Either that or we bring back a player with salary another team wants to move on from. There are a few candidates out there. Schneider in Jersey, 3 more years at 6.0 mill & his game was starting to turn around at the end of the year. Gamble but it kills two birds with one stone so to speak. Thats just an example.

    I give Peters a pass for being his first playoffs as a coach. The last 30 games or so he should have been blending that top line when the hockey got tougher to play & they vanished. I expect a more proactive Peters next year.

    • Toma41

      Is this Tkachuks agent or Sam Bennet himself?? You want to give Sam Bennet, 30 points a year average, 4 million a year?! Tkachuk sees that he will laugh to the bank when he asks for 10 million because a 30 point player got 4 mil.

  • freethe flames

    I’m back; after giving up commenting on this site for Lent I can finally lend my voice to the discussion. Great season followed by a disappointing playoffs. Let’s remember we lost two OT games that we had chances to win.Will there be changes; absolutely. What they are going to be is yet to be determined. This team needs to add two forwards that can play further up the line up and they may be found within just through internal growth. Ideally they need a more dynamic center; one who change a game; none of our centers is that person. None.

    We need a nasty defenceman who can play in the top 4. The kids on D are going to be very good but I would like to see someone who makes it hell to be in front of the net.

    For Smith it was great to play well in the play offs but for the Flames it was not so great as we did not get to see Rittich in these games and at the moment he is our goalie of the future.

    I like everyone else was disappointed in the playoffs but look at the other good teams that have already lost out; Tampa the best team in the league that has been building for years to win, the Jets who were preseason favorites for many, the Pens with all their experience and star power.

  • BendingCorners

    I have to disagree about buying out Neal. 1.9×8 is annoying but the 3.7 that it saves can be part of the salary of another top 6 forward. Better now than later.

  • Honkydonk

    We have a speed issue on defensive side. GIO was too slow to cover Colorado forwards. I don’t know how you keep that on your top line in a changing game yet folks wanted to trade Kylington? Frankly Kylington should have played in the series with his transition game to counter Colorado but no let’s go with old time thinking.

    Monahan isn’t a centre period. He is a second line Left Wing. The only success he has ever had in the NHL is when he plays with a winger “Johnny” who in the offensive zone plays the role of centre on that line which makes life terribly easy for Monahan to find space and shoot the puck. That is a long term recipe for disaster. Given current roster

    Mangiapane /Backlund/Frolik

    • Joel Ottos Jock

      Terrible lines. Janko isnt a first, or second line center. Bennett is the only guy on this roster who is capable of playing first line center with a maybe at lindholm

      • piscera.infada

        Among all of the disappointing playoff performances, Jankowski has to be the most disappointing. Full disclosure, I’m not a Jankowski fan to begin with, but he was downright awful for the entire series. He didn’t do a single thing well. Frankly, even though he had an alright

        • piscera.infada

          (Apparently I hit the “post” button) …[an alright] season in terms of bottom-line production, I’m not sure he ever really played “well”. He’s always been slow to me–both in terms of footspeed, but also reaction. There has to be a better option.

  • Kzak

    As frustrating as it is to talk about the Flames drafting this year, does anyone know where we’ll be picking? Do we pick 29th (SC winner 31, TB 30) or do we pick 22nd (TB 23, 8 first round winners 24-31)?

      • cornwallroyals

        Don’t understand how the 26 spot is the one. There will still be 8 teams left in playoffs after the first round. 31 less 8 should leave us at 23 but Tampa had more reg. season pts than us so should we not be picking at the 22 spot???? Someone please clarify how it is the 26 spot. Tks.

        • BendingCorners

          Spots 28-31 go to the conference finalists.
          Division winners who do not make the conference finals pick ahead of the finalists. Tampa #27, Calgary #26, Washington and Nashville TBD since they are still playing.
          Colorado has the lowest point total of any team that made the playoffs so they will pick 16th unless they make the conference finals. Capfriendly may have jumped the gun on their ranking, a little bit.

          • Beer League Coach

            Agreed. I found the rules for draft order on Wikipedia.ca and had to search long and hard to find that. 31 to S.C. winner, 30 to S.C. loser 29 and 28 to semi final losers based on regular season points. Then 27 down to 24 division winners who did not make it to conference finals. So Tampa drafts 27 and Flames locked in at 26. Washington and Nashville would draft 25 and 24 if they fail to make it to the semi finals. All others would fill the spots from 16 to 23 based on regular season points in inverse order of finish in the final standings.

    • Porcupine at a balloon party

      As canadian1967 we are locked at 26.
      31 and 30 go to Stanley Cup winner and loser. 28 and 29 go to conference final losers based on regular season rankings.
      The next spots go to division winners ranked by regular season points and in no way whatsoever their playoff performances. This is why Tampa will be 27 and Calgary 26.

  • Alberta Ice

    Talk about teams in disarray. And what if Canada’s great Hope, the Maple Leafs, lose game 7 to the Bruins? A lot of GM’s having more heavy matters to deal with this summer than they want – especially in this ‘your guess is as good as mine, figure it out’ Cap age.

  • Franko J

    Time to move on from:

    Brodie, Stone, Frolik, Prost, Smith and Gillies.

    Possible trade candidates:

    Monahan, Jankowski, Czarnik, and Kylington.

    Definitely not returning next season:

    Lazar, Fantenberg, and a few AHL prospects like Foo and Fischer.

    Possible re-signing:
    Hathaway, Bennett (I think he will be part of trade packages like Ferland was last off season). Tkachuk, Mangiapane, and Rittich are a given.

    Surprise moves (purely speculative):
    Hamonic, Backlund, and Lindholm.

    Neal: talked about here on FN at length.

    Giordano I would trade just due to the fact I don’t think he be as productive next season and judging from the playoffs will loose another step. However, who will replace him is the question.

    Finally JG: his decision is clearly up to him and where he sees future with the Flames.

  • canadian1967

    Centre: Connor McMichael, Philip Tomasino, Ryan Suzuki

    RW: Cole Caufield, Bobby Brink, Pavel Dorofeyev, Raphael Lavoie

    RHD: Moritz Seider, Kaedan Korczak

    If they’re drafting for best player available, Arthur Kaliyev, Jakob Pelletier, and Nils Hogstrom could be of interest.

    Of those options, I think Caufield (goal-scoring machine, hit 60 this year), Brink (Martin Pospisil linemate, 35 goals in 43 games this year), and Kaliyev (102 points in 67 OHL games) are the highest value options at #26.

    Please no more 5’9″ scorers (Kalieyev). Pick Suzuki or someone with Speed and Jam at least 5’11” We don’t need Monsters, just Guys with Heart and incredible wheels, trade up for Brett Leason.

  • canadian1967

    I entered 2 Pools, Flames Nation and my Work Pool.
    If Boston loses tomorrow I will have zero players left in my work Pool and only Robin Lehner and maybe Tom Wilson left in the FN pool.

    Can anyone “top” that?

  • buts

    Move on from Smith, they have too, he played very well but also if you look at some goals that got past him he was deep in the paint on on his knees. Neal is too slow for todays NHL. Even if you have to retain salary and add a prospect you have to get rid of him. Time to get rid of Brodie, Frolik, Stone and get a #1 centre and move Monahan to #2 or trade him. A major re-tool of the top 6 is needed as this group isn’t close to grinding a run to win the cup.

  • Off the wall

    I think for me, we need to give Bennett some great players to work with. Maybe he’s not a bottom six like many believe him to be?

    You can’t perform in the playoffs, if you don’t have skill and desire. Just saying. He did.

    Having him with Jankowski and Neal, will never bring out his best. He should be in the top 6, leave him there for a good 3 months. Not 3 games. If 5 games doesn’t make a season, why should a few looks on the top line make a synopsis for his abilities?

    One thing is sure. Our top 6 needs reconfigured. If we learned anything about the playoffs, it’s about using your BEST players effectively.
    Skylar was right, we didn’t experiment enough with other options that were available. We waited too long after the All Star break, when symptoms were bad enough to merit changes.

    You don’t go to the doctors, when you’re well? You go when you know something isn’t right.
    Your body tells you. And our body of work was telling us, that we were not playing good hockey after the All Star break.

    Coaching has to be a very difficult position. You’re dealing with so many factors. One man can only do so much, when dealing with a host of players, personalities and making them all accountable and bringing out their best.

    But not giving Bennett a real good look, was not a great decision. If you don’t cast your rod in the waters, do you expect to catch the BIG one?

    Or is it the one who got away?

    • canadian1967

      For sure. Benny has never been given that opportunity for real. He should be. Trading him away before giving him an opportunity with some of our skill players will be a mistake, and that opportunity definitely needs to be for 40 games at least.

    • everton fc

      I agree with your assessment of Bennett. He’s a keeper. In fact, he’s been one of the only players to truly show up and perform in the playoffs, since he’s been here. Ferland was the other (hint-hint!) I’d love to see Bennett w/Tkachuk and Backlund.

      Also agree that Jankowski and Neal, on the same line, is a dead line. Nothing there. Not sure what to make of Jankowski, but as a 3C, he doesn’t hurt us, though Ryan is better.

      The Neal signing is a possible (probable?) long-term millstone for Treliving. How do you move him? We can only hope he has some sort of rebound, next season.

      We have some trade chips; several on defence, a few forwards… We have Dube perhaps ready to play a bigger roll, next season (he’ll be better than Jankowski, and might be a good linemate for Neal, though Neal needs to play w/players who have pace and can set him up). We have to re-sign Hathaway. Tkachuk, Rittich and Bennett are the obvious ones, but we need Hathaway back here. So much to mull over and discuss here, up to draft day!

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Very great points, OTW.

      Top six definitely needs be reconfigured.

      Lindholm at center, Mony to the wing? Benny top 6?

      Time to get creative, maybe add another top 6 guy (Zucker). If anyone can do it, hopefully it’s BPs. Would defs be open to splitting up JG and Mony

      • Beer League Coach

        Lassi Thomson of Finland, playing for Kelowna, is another possibility for Flames RHD at the #26 draft position. I also would not rule out that Vlasic kid from the USNTDP for LD.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I agree that BP showed some savvy coaching throughout the year but praying that your top line can figure it out is not coaching. Recycling Bennett into the top six is always going to be an option but not a great one.
      Janko continues to be a polarizing player. I jumped off the band wagon when he failed to show any grit or finish any checks. But, I am not ready to give up on him until he is given a shot centering the top line or at the very least move him to top wing.

      He is definitely not slow but he lacks some explosive quickness. This can be corrected with a skating and a fitness coach. Of course, none of this will matter if he doesn’t start to play a heavy game. Janko kept his spot in the line up because he was an effective PKer but he was picked apart in the series….which was no different than the rest of his teammates.

    • everton fc

      I think we need to add, not subtract, using our over-abundance of d-men, and forwards like Frolik and Czarnik, the latter in as a piece to a trade. We need a player like Ferland back here. We need some skilled grit. We have some dead weight to move, as well (Neal – but how?) Lots will change, this summer.

        • Albertabeef

          Otherwise known as “Sutter hockey”. No thanks. I would rather add complimentary parts but not remove the skilled. Johnny and Mony are great guys to build around. Play them on different lines or whatever, but build around them. Guys with their production are rare, we really don’t clue in to how lucky we truly are. You can only move them if we are getting a top 20 in the league scorer to replace them each. Otherwise you just add pieces.

    • withachance

      You also cant win without goals and star players. Jonny is a star, Monny is Calgary’s most consistent scorer. Trade them and you instantly are looking to replace them. Try again

  • Just.Visiting

    After having said nothing for an extended period, I’ll share some miscellaneous observations….

    Elliotte Friedman made a very interesting observation the other night on the panel. In essence, he said that the NHL really has two seasons-the regular season and the playoffs and that teams that are built for the regular season (e.g., TB, Calgary) might not be built for the playoffs. Ultimately, a larger physical presence is required for the grind of a long run, with the differences in how the refs manage a game rewarding the more physical teams at the expense of the smaller, more skilled teams. In essence, this summarized my major fear entering the playoffs-that we might not respond well when faced with a more aggressive forecheck and more physical play. That the Flames performance was much less consistent after the all star break was also a major concern.

    Looking at the team, the biggest gap is potentially that we don’t have a Getzlaf who can personally carry the team on his shoulders for an extended period. I have nothing against Monahan (and continue to wonder if he was playing injured), but do not see him every being that true number one centre for us. Perhaps a shift to LW is in order.

    The team has a riches of wealth on D. Vali and Ras look like they can be stars. Kylington looks much better than I had expected, and I’d be hesitant in trading him at this stage. While the conventional thinking is to trade Brodie, I’d be inclined to explore the market for Hanifin to see if he could bring back the difference maker we need up front. The return is potentially much greater than what we could expect from Brodie. As well, I didn’t think either Hanfin or Hamonic looked good in the series, with the playoff Hamonic being much closer to last year’s Hamonic than the player we had seen over most of the season.

    Mangi and Bennett greatly exceeded my expectations in the playoffs.

    I continue to be intrigued by Janko’s raw talent, but the lack of intensity relative to a Mangi, for example, is disturbing. While I have always been a big supporter, the standing around without moving his feet a lot, waving his big stick around and looking for the opportunity to move to a line change makes me wonder if we’ll ever see the big man who can shoot, pass, has a high hockey IQ and who can skate when he wants to. It’s really not that complicated. In simple terms, it’s a difference between a relatively short career at under $2.5MM and a much longer career at over $5MM/year. I’m surprised and disappointed that he has yet to figure this out, and would love to know what the coaches and the leaders of the team are saying to him in private. If he can rediscover his intensity gene, he’d be a big part of the solution moving forward. If it can’t be found, he should be moved.

    The Flames and James Neal each appear to have made a major mistake. One way or another, it’s time to move on from each other. Both the Flames and Neal are better with a restart for him on another team, even if that ultimately means a buyout.

  • Scary Gary

    At 26: C Brett Leason, 6’4, 200, from Calgary; 89pts in 55 regular season games, playoffs this year 12 points in 11 games (so far). The scouting report on Brett Leason reads as follows: “He’s a big guy who’s going to put up points. He’s going to be a power play guy. He’s got good hands. He can skate now and he can score. He’s persistent.”

  • Jobu

    We have to stop using Neal’s shooting average as his crutch. The eye test shows…
    The majority of his shots are non-threatening.
    The majority of his points are because of other players driving the net or shear puck luck.

    Neals performance last year can only be explained in three letters: D-U-D
    And to think he’ll be better next year? Hes shown no evidence to think that would be the case.

    Sorry Neal, Jobu was really rooting for you, but you turned out to be just another Brouwer. If you can’t deal him (even with retained salary), and you need the space for a better player, AND you have the extra cash lying around, you don’t hesitate to buy him out now while the window is still open. 8 year cap hit be damned.

    And in doing this, Calgary will no doubt develop a reputation where vets can go to sandbag it and get their lucrative multiyear contracts bought out as soon as possible.

  • Meadowlark Lemon

    No hard feelings; Neil has to go immediately. There will be no turnaround (imho), and he will be a distraction to fans and players alike.
    Monny is a good player but he is not the guy; he’s the Lady Bing guy. Keep him, sure; but listen to offers. A 22 year old clone of Getzlaff would be good for Jonny. (with a nod to ‘Just Visiting’)
    Nobody is sacred except Gio, who has earned it.
    Move on from Fro and Smith. Brody? Sure, trade if it’s a good deal.
    Hannifin and 1st rounder for a stud center ??? We’re deep on D.
    Not sure you would get full value for Vali or Kyl in a trade. (Remebering Martin St. Louis and Brett Hull)

  • Neal is just bad. Poor % or not. I thought the same of Hamonic last 2 years so I suppose there is hope for some recovery. Trade Brodie while his stock is decent. He is a slick skating number 2-4 defender on most teams. That is valuable. Make some room for the abundance of D coming up. They won’t trade Hannifin as they just signed him to a pretty good contract. Wouldn’t look good. Jankowski has never impressed me. Never. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t a decent 4th line option but if you can trade him to someone who overpays for the “potential” he has then go for it. A number one centre would be so great but who is out there available?