Flames Offseason Covered, What's Next?
So what’s next? It’s really the question that is being asked about the Calgary Flames. This question breaks down into several larger questions like, “Will Sutter be extended?” or , “Will Kipper or Iggy be traded?”. After those organizational changing decisions comes other subsequent questions about who to draft, who to sign and what will the Flames do to address it’s very poor defence.
So we start with the overall questions, What’s next? After three seasons of no playoff hockey the Flames fans are mad. We all remember the season after season futility and it seems like those scars are now being opened. The 04 run is now long gone and all good will it generated is depleted. After so long losing there has to be a major shift in culture with the Flames. It would be nice if it was a huge purge of the executive branch by the owners but don’t hold your breath on that. Feaster is still working on building up some trust with the fans and has yet to disappoint in a major way, the closest he came was the Regehr trade but in looking at it it’s hard not to say it was a wash. So, if the President and executives will stay and Feaster will stay what other move can you make that would change the culture? Letting Brent Sutter walk is one. The funny thing is no one thinks Sutter is a horrible coach, he simply just hasn’t got results and in today’s NHL that is bad enough to warrant being fired…or just not given a new contract in this case.
So now we’ve moved on to the sub questions and letting coach Sutter walk is probably the easiest to do. They don’t have to fire him, they don’t have to humiliate him, they can simply say, “we love what he did but we want to go in another direction” and move on. So who would replace him? Hartley has won a cup. There is Bob Boughner who played here and is very well respected as an up and coming coach. Troy Ward has done an incredible job with limited talent with the Flames affiliate in Abbotsford. It’s important to also think who they bring with them, coaches like their own guys and during the course of finding a new coach a major question will be who are you bringing to the organization? This is assuming the current Flames Assistant coaches will be fired.
Under the assumption the Flames take their time finding a new coach this summer, waiting for other firings and contracts to expire on coaches currently in the playoffs, they will turn their eye to the draft. June 22nd is right around the corner and the Flames will draft 14th. As I cannot see the future and what will happen between now and the draft I will, for the sake of this paragraph, pretend the Flames do not make any moves and draft at their spot. It is somewhat of a disappointment that the Flames won their last two, and meaningless, games which dropped them down three spots in the draft. The good news is that after Nail Yakupov the field is largely wide open with some players being ranked anywhere from 2 or 3 to 12 or 13th. There is a possibility a decent player may fall into the Flames lap at 14 and it is really a wild speculation game as to who. A whole blog will be dedicated to looking at Flames draft possibilities at 14 but very quickly some names are Gaunce, Faksa, Teravainen, Ceci. As I said I will go into that more later but for now suffice it to say that those players are not bad prospects. The question being if Kipper and Iggy ARE traded does that mean a better pick for Calgary?
Two possible landing spots for Kipper are Toronto and Columbus. Both have publically been critical of their goaltending situation. Dreger has sated on TSN that between Iggy and Kipper, Kipper would get the highest return for the Flames. Kipper’s salary is going down, not this upcoming season but the one following it he will be making just over a million dollars but will have a high cap hit, this is perfect for a team like Columbus. Would there be a trade possible for the first overall pick for Kipper? Maybe other pieces? I like to think yes there would given Columbus’s history with high picks that are Russian, the fact they have so many prospects already and desperately need playoff hockey now. The fit seems to be right with Columbus but with Toronto there is more to it. The fact that Toronto has a history of bending the Flames over the trade table and having their way might make the Flames gun shy as they would need this trade to be an absolute win, Toronto has a lottery pick and prospects. Never underestimate Burkes affinity for trading away futures for winning now. Getting an all-world goalie who could steal them a few games might be enough to push his Leafs over the hump in an easier eastern conference.
Jarome Iginla. The name is synonymous with Calgary and the Calgary Flames now. He’s as loved here as anybody outside Lanny. So when the fans say we want him gone it should really be noted that realistically we know he’s not winning a cup here and we would love to cheer for him to get one. I do not expect the Flames to move Iginla until the deadline and only if they are realistically out of the race. Iginla is getting older, Iginla is not great defensively, Iginla does lead the team, but his value is pretty good still, will it be next year? It’s nice for Feaster to say, “you know to get a guy who has 11 straight 30 goal seasons you have to give us the world” as opposed to, “I know he only has 12 goals this year, but maybe he’d do better on your team” which is a possibility if they keep him.
The prevailing thought is if you trade one, trade the other because really without both what is the point and what is the direction? I tend to disagree with this myself, I think the Flames could have a goalie in Irving that makes it hurt less. He’s not Kipper but he might also be ready to take on the starter job and from there we just don’t know.
The last change is going to be the UFA’s that Calgary brings in. They will try anyway. We as fans want Parise, however we would have to get far back in line for that unless we throw 7-8 million with long term his way or more. Are we prepared for that? The change is coming this summer no matter what with Jokinen, Stempniak, Kostopolous, Moss, Sarich and Hannan as UFA’s. Blake Comeau will hopefully not be qualified by anyone who is sane and his salary is coming off the books too. That would be around 14 million to spend and we haven’t even looked at if Kipper or Iggy’s salary being gone would add to that. In addition you have guys like Beartschi who could play NHL hockey now, Nemisz, Horak, Bouma, Smith, Backlund, Irving, Byron, Carson, and Jones all with NHL experience, all young and CHEAP. As it turns out the one guy that Calgary would and should covet the most is Ryan Suter, if it becomes clear Suter is not going to sign in Nashville trading Jay Bouwmeester there for his rights might be a move that Nashville looks at. Bouwmeester plays superman minutes in Calgary and really too much is placed on him here to be offensive when he is probably just trying not to burn out. In Nashville where Weber is the star Bouwmeester might really shine. At that point throwing gross amount of money at Suter would be fine with the fan base here after seeing the charade that was the defence this year.
Here is quick list of who I think the Flames would covet in the off season as UFA’s and this list probably goes for the entire NHL so don’t hold your breath: Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Denis Wideman, Brad Boyes, Barret Jackman, Alexei Ponikarovsky (if Jokinen goes UFA), Dan Ellis/ Vokun/ Montoya (if kipper is traded), P.A. Parenteau.
So even though we as Flames fans will suffer through another playoff season with no Flames we can look forward to a lot of exciting change.