Thanks for a great season Flames fans! Though it’s been another tough one with no post-season appearance from the Flames, it has been fun to connect with so many of you online and in person. I’ve learned that there are a thousand different opinions on what it takes to make a good hockey team and a thousand more opinions on what it takes to make a Stanley Cup Champion.
While it’s clear that Flames aren’t one of the elite teams in the NHL this season, the jury is still split about whether they have it in them in the near future. Whenever I talk to Flames fans I find that there continue to be two trains of thought: Blow it up or re-tool. Some fans believe that it’s time to trade away all our assets and to make like the Edmonton Oilers and rebuild. Others think that the Flames could have it in them with a bit of tinkering. The other thing that is clear is that everyone has their opinion and that nobody agrees.
So with that in mind, I challenge you to come up with your own off-season plan for Jay Feaster (or whoever the new Flames GM may be). My own personal plan is below and it’s somewhere between re-tooling and rebuilding. I’d say it’s more towards re-tooling, with some trimming of excess fat that doesn’t serve any purpose. I don’t expect you to agree with it, but if you have a better plan, leave a comment with your own “who to trade and who to keep.” If you’re really ambitious, throw in a few trades to indicate who you’d add to the Flames roster to make them a better team.
First, let me say that I don’t believe in blowing up the team. I think some changes are necessary to bring in some youth, and shed some salary that’s way overpriced, but I don’t think we should trade away our biggest assets. I’ve used my favourite salary cap calculator to determine how much each player is worth, and I recommend you check it out if you’re wondering how much we’re paying each player.
Here’s who I think we should keep (total cap hit ~$33.5M):
☑ Morrison (re-sign 1 M, 1yr) [Morrison re-signed for $1.25M, 1yr]
☑ Tanguay (re-sign 1.7M, 2yrs) [Tanguay re-signed for $3.5M, 5yrs]
☑ Glencross (re-sign 2M, 3 yrs) [Glencross re-signed for 2.55M, 4yrs]
☑ Babchuk (re-sign 1.4M, 2 yrs) [Babchuk re-signed for $2.5M, 2 yrs]
T.J. Brodie (740K)
☒ Pardy (re-sign 800K) [Pardy signed 2 year contract at $2M/year with Dallas]
☑ Mikkelson (re-sign 750K, 2yrs) [Mikkelson re-signed for $721K, 1 yr]
☒ Staios (resign 1M) [Flames let Staios go free as UFA and signed Scott Hannan to a $1M, 1yr contract instead]
☑ Karlsson (re-sign at 700K, 2 yrs) [Karlsson re-signed for $875K, 2 years]
Here’s who I think we should trade or let go (total cap hit reduction~$32.3M):
Kotalik (3M) NTC [Kotalik sent to Buffalo with Robyn Regehr]
Stajan (3M) NTC [no luck here]
Jokinen (3M) NMC [no luck here either, but at least Olli’s on Twitter now.]
Hagman (3M) [definitely no luck here]
Ivanans (600K) [still no luck here]
Langkow (4.5M) NMC [I’m secretly glad he’s staying]
Kostopolous (916K) [he’s staying and better play hard]
Modin (UFA) [Modin was not re-signed]
Bouwmeester (6.68M) NTC
Regehr (4M) NMC [Regehr traded to Buffalo with Kotalik for Chris Butler ($1.25M, 2yrs) and Paul Byron (prospect)
Sarich (3.6M) NMC
You’ll notice that I’ve slashed a lot of cap hit on the defensive core, most notably by getting rid of Regehr, Jay Bo and Sarich. My idea is to get rid of some excess salary on the back end and shift it up front to pay for some better scorers. Spending $6M on offence is always better than spending it on defence unless you’re able to miraculously convince Niklas Lidstrom to sign with the Flames. I also realize that we can’t get rid of players without taking others in return, and I think that the magic number is to replace the $32M with about $20-$25M of newer, younger players that can revitalize the Flames offence.
Here are a few thoughts on the guys I’d get rid of…
As far as I’m concerned Sarich is a non-negotiable item in my off-season success plan. We don’t call him “lead foot” for nothing and his one big hit on Patrick Marleau in the playoffs a few years ago don’t make up for continued poor play, atrocious give-aways and a general lack of effectiveness on the ice.
I’m a big fan of Regehr for his influence on the team, but in the new NHL, I don’t think that there’s really such a thing as a true “shut down” defenceman. The whole team needs to be involved when you’re playing in your own end, and one guy smashing the opposition’s top players is no longer an effective way of playing defence. Regehr’s main deficiency is offence and puck control and it really hinders the Flames ability to move the puck out of their own end when he’s on the ice.
Jay Bouwmeester sounded really good when Darryl Sutter signed him just before he entered free agency, but the $6.68 million price tag is looking a little steep for a guy who skates like he’s 10 feet tall, but hits like he’s 3 feet tall. I now understand why Michael Peca said he liked playing against Jay because he was soft. If we moved Jay up to the wing on the 2nd line, he’d probably be more effective than he was this season.
The only big surprise on the front end is Daymond Langkow. I have been a big Langkow fan for a long time and his play after his return from injury at the end of this season was pretty amazing, but I think that his age is going to start becoming an x-factor soon. I don’t belive that you get as much for guys like Langkow, but you may get more for him now than you do in a year or two. So being the ruthless GM that I am, I think it’s time to trade him for someone younger and a bit cheaper.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I think we should get rid of Stajan, Hagman, Kotalik and Jokinen. I think that Jokinen made a valiant effort at the end of the season, but his inconsistency still troubles me and I think we’d be better without him. I sure hope that someone else is dumb enough to pick him and his $3M contract up, but if they don’t we’ll have to keep him and hope that he finally figured out that making the playoffs doesn’t come without a full season’s effort.
I have no idea why the Flames thought that it was a good idea to sign a 2nd/3rd liner to a $3M contract, but I think that Matt Stajan isn’t worth his cap hit and needs to go. Who’s going to pick him up? I don’t know, but maybe we can send him to with Jay Bo in exchange for some young, promising goal scorer. That would make for a good deal.
Ales kotalik is a waste of $3M even if he does have the hardest shot on the team. He doesn’t have a place in the new culture that the Calgary Flames want to build since he is notorious for putting in the minimum amount of effort on a daily basis. All I have to say to him is Buh-bye. Enjoy your time in the KHL.
Hagman is one of those guys that I was on the fence about. He is skilled and shows some amazing hands sometimes, but 11 goals and 27 points for $3M isn’t my idea of a steal of a deal. For the same offensive production we could spend $600K to $700K on Jeff Halpern who is a UFA this season. I’m not saying that Hagman is a bad player, but he’s not playing like the other $3M hockey players in the NHL.
As difficult as it seems, my keepers and sweepers is pretty simple. Keep the guys who are playing well, and sign the guys that need to be re-signed. Just don’t over pay them. At the same time, we need to get rid of the overpriced players who aren’t performing and trade them to teams with cap room. Since most of the teams with cap room also haven’t made the playoffs for a while, there’s a chance they have some good young talent that they’ll be willing to part with.
Hopefully we can get a few high draft picks in return to make up for all the 1st and 2nd round picks that Darryl Sutter traded away to bring in all these guys, and we’ll be no worse off than we were in the 2004-2005 season. Oh, wait… that season never happened… but the ’04-’05 Flames on the Xbox were really good that winter. No matter what happens with the Flames this off-season, I’ll be happy to see them return to the ice this fall and will always choose Flames hockey over poker on TV.
(UPDATE, 11 April 11): I added the No Trade Clause (NTC) and No Movement Clause (NMC) info beside each player’s name with one of them in their contracts. For definitions, please see FAQ #13. I don’t subscribe to the notion that an NTC means you can’t trade a player. More details in the comment section below.
(UPDATE, 16 May 11): Curtis Glencross signs contract extension for $10M over 4 years with NTC. That’s $2.5M per year for those who failed math. I was only $500K and one year off. I didn’t expect the NTC though.
(UPDATE, 24 June 11) Robyn Regehr takes Ales Kotalik with him to Buffalo. That’s the first two off the list…
(UPDATE, 25 June 11) Alex Tanguay re-signs at $3.5M per year, for 5 years. That’s a lot more than I expected. I guess Regehr+Kotalik was to make a bit of room for him. Depending on what happens with Chris Butler (850K, RFA) and Paul Byron ($550K, Abbotsford-likely), the Flames could net out with $3.5M in extra cap space.