1-2-3 Steps for Flames Turn Around
Part 1. Cold water in the face.
The warm and fuzzies are still there for most Flames fans, it’s hard not to be a little upbeat after having one game that encompassed a win, Jarome’s 500th goal, celebrating Jokinen’s 1000th game, Bouma’s first goal, and a milestone for the coach as well.
That’s all well and good. However this is still the same team that lost 9-0 a couple games ago though. This is still the team that is 12th in the west as of today. We as fans have to be realistic, the warm and fuzzy feelings do not reflect what is real.
The Calgary Flames are simply a team that is mediocre most nights with the occasional brilliant game, usually against high quality opposition, and more often than not prone to steaks of poor play. We as fans hang on to years past and convince ourselves that Kipper can carry us on his back and Jarome can score 50. We convince ourselves that if we make the playoffs it’s anyone’s game, that we could win it all.
The reality is that today Columbus fired their head coach Scott Arniel because they have been so incredibly bad this season and just got spanked by another team not doing well, the Anaheim Ducks. This team, which is truly horrible, beat our Flames twice out of three times and the lone win came in a shoot-out. This is not a team that can go up against the best teams in the league for seven games and come out on top.
The Flames have one scoring line producing close to 47% of their offense, and although it now has Iginla it might be said that this line was the best line prior to Iginla being on it. Glencross and Jokinen share a chemistry and it does not seem to matter if it’s Bourque Moss or Iginla on the right wing, they get it done. With Tanguay out, Giordano having missed so many games and Moss not contributing due to his fractured foot the likely hood that this team reaches the post season is remote. Sportsclubstats.com has them at 9.4% as of today.
We as fans have to start being vocal that change is okay. Iginla’s 500th came in a Flames uniform, we WILL retire his jersey one day but let the Flames know we want to see him lift the cup! Even if it’s not here. Let the Flames know we want to have some hope for the future so it’s okay if Kiprusoff gets traded for picks and prospects. Let the Flames know that mediocrity is not okay and we will not buy tickets unless there’s change, why would they change otherwise?
Calgary has enough players going into free agency that major change is inevitable, make it known that we are okay with it being on our terms, getting picks and futures for outgoing players who might not want to return.
Part 2. How to turn it around, The Trade Deadline.
Calgary needs a great goalie to be a decent club, not sure if that is an indictment of the system being played but it is safe to say that if Kipper leaves a replacement will have to be found. Irving played decent up here and won against the Canucks which made him beloved by fans but his stats are not great after that Boston game. In addition to losing Kipper the Flames will not be better without Iginla, he’s a guy you can’t replace on many levels but you can start setting up future wins.
A team Like L.A. who has great goaltending but struggles with scoring would love to get Iginla, they have expressed interest in the past (as have many teams) but now the x-factor of Darryl Sutter being there might make them a front contender. Iginla won’t go just anywhere, he has a pretty sweet gig here but would it be hard to convince him L.A. might be pretty nice for a couple years for him and his family? Just a two hour flight from the family and place they call home? L.A. was considered a contender before the season, with Jarome filling in on wing with the possibility of playing with Kopitar or Richards they might be again. Schenn was the golden nugget L.A. had prior to trading for Richards but now that Quick is playing in Vezina type form Bernier would be available I believe. Of course cap would play into this and more pieces would swap but essentially the king’s pick and Bernier would be the starting point.
Acquiring Bernier would allow the Flames to trade Kiprusoff to the Caps. Kipper has a no movement clause in his contract but the reality is it expires this season and the choice is play with Ovechkin or go to Columbus. Washington would trade back Semin, Kuznetsov and their first or Colorado’s first. If that sounds like a lot for Kipper keep in mind Kuznetsov is not signed yet.
So essentially the Flames would end up with an NHL ready Bernier, two firsts on top of their own, Semin, Kuznetsov. As Semin is UFA and Kuztensov is unsigned so this has the potential to blow up in the Flames face yet with all that cap space going hard after a Zach Parise in the off season is much easier.
None of the above scenarios have any basis in reality aside from the source less rumours we all hear however do make some sense. All players on the team are expendable at this point with the exception of Giordano and possibly Glencross. Anything is possible however the Flames have one shot at this so they can’t screw it up like the Phanuef deal.
Getting rid of Kipper and Iginla would hurt in the short term and as a fan you never want your team to lose however after the sting of the season is over you can look forward to the future again, possibly a really good draft pick and an exciting UFA period.
The deadline also represents opportunities for the Flames to trade outgoing players with some value for picks or prospects, Stempniak, Moss if healthy, Kostopoulos, Jackman, Sarich and Hannan would all probably get the Flames a 3rd round pick or better. Comeau could be had for very little as well. They should take whatever they can get and wield it later at the draft.
Which brings us to:
Part 3. The Off Season.
Should the scenario take place above or anything like it the possibility of the Flames finishing with a top 10 pick is likely. The draft is one where a top ten pick is a pretty good player, top five are sure fire NHL players. The Flames should target a D this year as Beartschi looks ready to jump into the NHL next year. Cody Ceci is a guy I think they will like given his skating and upside. If the Flames pick up another 1st rounder trading both (or more) picks to get into the top five is not a horrible move, they need a franchise player now. If they did their job and picked up a lot of picks at the deadline they should still have plenty of top 100 picks left.
UFA day should be fun. July first will hopefully see Feaster target Zach Parise with big money, the Flames will need a scoring replacement for Jarome as soon as possible so Parise fits the bill. Overpaying for Parise will be mandatory so be ready for a long contract worth lots of dough. Think along the lines of what Richards was offered last year and add a couple years.
Other notables they might try to land are: Grabovski, Semin, Suter.
I posted my thoughts on a possible trade, feel free to rip it or make your own, I look forward to hearing them.