Flames add Jiri Hudler: Feaster not done
The Calgary Flames went out and made a splash in the free agent market on Monday signing former Detroit Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler to a 4-year contract worth a total of $16 million.
The move comes three days after the Flames traded for and immediately signed defenceman Dennis Wideman to a 5-year deal worth $26.25 million.
GM Jay Feaster said he would be active. Well, we can’t fault him for lying to us.
Now, first looking at the Wideman signing, my initial reaction is that the Flames overpaid by maybe a million a year for a guy who has fairly glaring defensive deficiencies. Feaster wanted more scoring from the backend and so, he went out and spent a lot of money on Wideman in hopes that he will bring just that. Feaster and his “Win Now” mentality is a strategy that a lot of people disagree with. Now, I don’t believe in the “blow it up” philosophy either, but the Flames have some defence, already on the team, that could have potentially provided that needed offence if given the chance.
TJ Brodie and Derek Smith are two players that easily could have jumped into the spot light on the power play, or even strength, and put up some points. Those two players cost the Flames $1.4 million combined, whereas Wideman costs the Flames nearly four times that.
Smith scored 10 goals and added 44 assists in 2010-11 playing in Binghamton for the baby Sens. He has only played 58 games in the show and hasn’t really been given any opportunity. He scored two goals and added 9 assists in a very limited role with the Flames last season – cut short due injury.
Brodie, meanwhile, is built to be an offensive defenseman with great speed and a great awareness in the opposing end. He put up 34 points in 68 games with Abbotsford in 2010-11. Now, like Smith, he put up points in the AHL and I know that the AHL and NHL are totally different but the offensive potential is there. And they will never have the opportunity to develop that potential is they continue to sign and plop veterans in front of them.
Seems kind of like the same old Flames, doesn’t it?
The move for Wideman leaves the Flames with eight defenceman on one way deals – Bouwmeester, Wideman, Giordano, Babchuk, Sarich, Butler, Smith and Brodie, with the likes of Clay Wilson, Brett Carson and Joe Piskula all craving a shot with the big club.
According to many, this move signals the end of Jay Bouwmeester. I would tend to agree. Despite Bouwmeester playing big minutes, his contract is simply too large and the Flames need some wiggle room under the cap. With the floor set to be $54.2 million, it leaves teams like Nashville, St. Louis, Phoenix, Dallas, Florida, Anaheim, Ney York Islanders, Colorado, and Winnipeg all more than $6 million under the floor.
Florida took on Brian Campbell’s monstrous contract, maybe they would take back Bouwmeester too?
Tied into that decision could be the Flames signing of Jiri Hudler. The move puts the Flames with a total payroll of $66 million.
Hudler represents the continuous Euro shift in Calgary. Hudler joins fellow Czech’s Roman Cervenka and Roman Horak, while the Flames will look to have rookie sensation Sven Baertschi and 23-year-old Mikael Backlund in the lineup on a daily basis. The skill level has definitely risen in Calgary, at least on paper.
Hudler, at $4 mill per season might be over paying but after watching Jokinen get $4.5, I’m more than happy to get a Stanley Cup Champion in Jiri Hudler, who has played under Mike Babock and the Detroit Red Wings for his entire NHL career. He comes from a winning organization. He doesn’t know anything else.
More changes are imminent for the Calgary Flames as the Jay Feaster said he wants to make the Flames harder to play against. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
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