Archive for the ‘Calgary Flames’ Category

Ovie on the Flames: a great Photoshop by Scotty Hockey

July 22, 2009
(Click to enlarge. And go visit Scotty Hockey right now.)
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Five Hole Fanatics/Matchsticks & Gasolines’ Kent shares (pre-Bouwmeester signing) Flames FA thoughts

July 1, 2009
H/T to Vance from Bangin Panger for another great PhotoShop

Please keep in mind Kent sent me this post before it was announced that Jay Boumweester signed a big contract with the Calgary Flames. Congrats to Kent and Calgary fans for that; good luck to Sutter as he tries to make some kind of sense of the team’s cap situation.

Anyway, as always, we thank Kent for his considerable loyalty and generosity to CLS. Make sure to follow both Five Hole Fanatics (for the number cruncher in you) and Matchsticks & Gasoline (for the Flames information). Thanks, Kent!

1.) Which player, for the love of God, do you NOT want to see in your team’s sweater in the 09-10 season?

Todd Bertuzzi. And it’s not because he’s a violent criminal (this time). It’s because he’s an ineffective hockey player. His stats line may look alright from last year, but he was, for very long stretches, the worst player in the Flames top 9 forwards. Lazy and penalty-prone, Bertuzzi also favored the excessively fancy play to the right one. I dubbed him “sore thumb” for the manner in which he stuck out during amongst the Flames top 6 forwards. His inappropriate use of back-hand passes became a punchline in Flame circles. He’s big, but he plays like a man who’s had numerous back surgeries. He’s also injury prone. His offensive totals from this past season are almost totally based on Keenan feeding him lots of ice time and good line mates.

If the Flames re-sign Bertuzzi, I may have to turn in my fan card.

2.) Conversely, pick a potential move by another team that would just crush your soul/favorite team’s chances.

I would hate to see Marian Hossa land in Edmonton or Vancouver. He’s easily one of the best two-way forwards in the league and he instantly makes any team he’s on better.

Kent of Five Hole Fanatics/Matchsticks & Gasoline provides Calgary Flames draft perspective

June 25, 2009

Kent is one of the earliest supporters of Cycle like the Sedins … and certainly one of the most generous. Every time we’ve asked him to contribute something, he’s come through.

So, naturally, we asked him to provide some Calgary Flames draft thoughts. Since we knew that Kent takes a deep (but still coherent to the Average Joe Stain Shirt in all of us) look at stats at Five Hole Fanatics, we thought we’d ask him a specific question before we got to the general stuff.

Make sure to follow Kent’s work at Five Hole Fanatics as well as Matchsticks & Gasoline, the Calgary Flames blog at Sports Blog Nation.

1. We’ve asked a lot of bloggers about their given teams’ plans, but we’ve really enjoyed reading your statistical analysis-related works. So we thought we’d ask you: if you were a GM, which factors (intangible as well as statistical) would weigh most heavily for you when deciding on a prospect?

1.) In terms of statistical factors, a ton of good work has been done on this topic recently. Before we get to the more advanced material, I’ll discuss the basic numbers stuff I personally look for:

a.) Contextually based offense. Like in the big leagues, a prospect whose output is based on favorable circumstances (good linemates, lots of PP time) is a red flag to me. For example, I wrote this recently about Carter Ashton in a draft preview:

…while he was leading goal scorer on his club, he was actually 5th in terms of total points (50) and 6th in terms of PPG pace (0.71). Of the top 10 scorers on the Hurricanes, Carter scored the most PP goals (10) and had the worst plus/minus (-5). Remmerde also notes that Ashton slumped in the second half of the season after being taken off a line with leading assist man and point getter Colton Sceviour. The downturn was a marked one and visible by glancing at the game-by-game results: from January – March, a period of 31 games, Ashton scored just 9 goals and was a cumulative -18. Yikes. That slump continued into the post season where he scored just 1 goal and 3 points in 11 games (and was a team worst -8).

Link here.

Time will tell if my misgivings about Ashton prove correct. Point is, stats can suggest which players are driving results and which ones are riding coattails.

b.) Year-over-year Progression. A more “macro” approach to prospect evaluation is looking at how a given player improves every year. While a year or two isn’t a big issue for grown men, it can be significant for teenagers. In the CHL, a 16 year old rookie would be playing against 18, 19 and 20 year old guys for example. A kid who doesn’t take a few steps forward every year is another red flag: his numbers should improve just by virtue of aging and playing in a league with markedly younger and more physically immature guys. In addition, every prospect aside from the odd phenom has to improve by several orders of magnitude in order to eventually make the big league – and he only has a limited “development window” before he ceases being a prospect. A guy who isn’t moving in the right direction each season is bad news, right Angelo Esposito?

Now on to the advanced stuff. Oilers super blogger Lowetide had a good post recently on “NHLE” or NHL Equivalency ratings based on the stellar work of behindthenet.ca owner and operator Gabrieal Desjardins. Desjardins has created a method of converting a prospects junior stats to an equivalent output at the NHL level based on their age and what amateur league they played in. The methodology is a bit complicated, but basically it takes a players PPG (point per game) rate and multiplies it by a ratio to get the converted “expected” NHL output of the prospect in question.

Another Oilers blogger, Jonathan Willis, has started to look at the percentage of team offense to grade prospects. Basically, that means taking a kids point production in his draft season and dividing it by his club’s goals for total. It’s a simple calculation, but an elegant idea: it “corrects” for team circumstances and gives us an idea of the degree to which the guy contributed to his club’s offensive totals. His initial investigations into this method are encouraging, with the percentage ranking outperforming scouts in the ’98 and ’00 drafts.

As far as tools and intangibles, I prefer prospects who can skate well and have high utility (can contribute in more than one area of the ice). I’m also not as enamored with big guys as most scouts and fans seem to be meaning I would have no qualms taking a little guy who performs over a big guy that “projects well”.

2. Tell us about some of the steals and busts in Flames’ drafting history.

Steals:

1.) Joe Nieuwendyk, 27th overall, 1985.

The Flames picked a lanky center from Cornell University who managed 21 goals and 45 points in 29 games during his Freshman year. He went on to score 51 goals in his rookie season in 87/88 and won the Calder trophy as the NHL’s best rookie. He was a major part of the 1989 cup winning team and probably stands as one of the best Flames players and draft picks ever. The cherry on top is the fact that Nieuwendyk was dealt for a relatively unknown 11th overall pick named Jarome Iginla in 1995.

2.) Theoren Fleury, 166th overall, 1987.

Calgary scouts took a chance in the 8th round on a tiny, explosive dynamo who was ripping up the WHL at the time, but who was passed over by other teams due to “size concerns”. Fleury scored a mind-boggling 61 goals and 129 points for the Moose Jaw Warriors in his draft season and followed it up with a 68 goals, 160 point performance the next year. At the NHL level, it only took Fleury 3 seasons to breach the 50 goal, 100 point mark. Over the course of his career with Calgary, he’d score 30+ goals and 70+ points 6 times (it would have been 7 save for the lock-out in 94). He had held the Flames Franchise record for goals scored (830) which was recently broken only this past season by the aforementioned Iginla.

3.) Brett Hull, 117th overall, 1984.

Although he played just 57 games as a Calgary Flame, the hall-of-famer stands indisuptibly as the best pure scorer ever chosen by the organization. In addition, his trade to the St. Louis Blues brought Doug Gilmour to town, setting the stage for the Flames Stanley Cup win in ’89.

Busts:

1.) Trevor Kidd, 11th overall, 1990.

Tabbed as the future franchise goalie, Kidd was the first goaltender chosen in the 1990 entry draft. And while he did go on to have something of a decent if unspectacular 387 game career in the NHL, the real reason he’s on this list is the second goalie picked that year (at 20th overall) by the New Jersey Devils was Martin Brodeur. For more than a decade afterward, the Flames franchise floundered and sunk, due in no small part to on-going problems in net. In contrast, The Devils (backed by one of greatest puck stoppers of all time) became an NHL super power.

2.) Daniel Tkaczuk, 6th overall, 1997.

Another reason the Flames stunk in the mid-90’s was their woeful drafting record. Tkaczuk was a scoring winger out of the OHL that never managed to put things together at the next level, partially due to concussion issues. By taking him 6th overall, the Flames left Sergei Samsonov (8th), Marian Hossa (12th), Scott Hannan (23rd) and Brendan Morrow on the table.

3.) Rico Fata, 6th overall, 1998.

Another high value pick, another big whiff. A swift skating winger out of the OHL, Fata had a single good year as a Junior – his draft year (98) where he put up 43 goals and 76 points. The fact that he was an 11 and 19 goal scorer the previous two seasons (and was only the 4th highest scorer on the club during the year in question) should have been a tip-off to the hapless Flames scouts at the time, but alas. Fata bounced around the NHL for several years, cobbling together a 230 game career somehow, but never really made a dent to any significant degree. By taking Fata 6th, the Flames missed out on Manny Malholtra (7th), Nik Antropov (10th), Alex Tanguay (12th), Martin Skoula (17th), Robyn Regehr (19th), Simon Gagne (22nd) and Scott Gomez (30th). Luckily the org was able to save this draft year by moving Theoren Fleury for a yet un-tested Robyn Regehr in 1999. As for Fata, his name remains a punchline in Flames fan circles to this day.

Five Questions: Chicago vs. Calgary

April 16, 2009

Some really great stuff for the Flames vs. the Blackhawks at the satellite blog.

For the Flames, we enlisted our tenured scholar of Calgary, Kent of Five Hole Fanatics and Matchsticks and Gasoline fame. He provided us with yet another great contribution. Here’s a bite:

“The organization spent a lot of money this season and expectations were elevated by the club’s high budget and relatively good results in the middle of the year. If Calgary once again flames out in the first round, there’s going to be a lot of hard questions asked and I’d guess at least one head is going to roll.”

Once again, the Blackhawks bloggers gave us not one, but TWO great contributions. The first comes from Clare from All Hawks – who, by the way – might just edit our Calgary/Chicago mini-blog. Check out this excerpt:

“The Blackhawks web crew has really out-done themselves this year, and Burish has been a main part in many of the videos on the website. Between the Prankster Parts 1, 2 and 3 and the Ladies Man video it is hard to miss Burish. He can always provide a laugh and his overall likeability is what make him so endearing to Hawks fans.”

Finally, our buddy CT from Hockeenight wrote his responses, too. We had an absolute ball sharing our reflections on the Hawks (but more so on man boobs) with CT and forklift during the Hockee Night podcast if you haven’t heard it yet. Here’s a piece of CT’s post:

“For some reason, Joel Quenneville has got it into his head that journeyman defenseman Matt Walker is a top 4 guy. He’s been playing big minutes this season, often while paired with Brian Campbell, and he’s awful. His only tangible asset is his size, but he’s too slow to catch anybody and hit them. He’s pretty bad covering in his own zone, and even worse, as of late he’s gotten it in his head that he’s Phil Housely, making crazy cross ice passes to no one in particular.”

Just a great trio of posts. Read them all here.

Blogger GM vs. Real-life GM: Northwest division

March 12, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Northwest Division.

Real Life: Vancouver Canucks do nothing.

Zanstorm from Nucks Misconduct said:

“Something is going to go down by Wednesday. We officially have too many defencemen. I think Gillis may flog Shane O’Brien, Wellwood, or even Mason Raymond with a pick included to acquire either a top 6 forward or a 3rd line player.”

The ‘Nucks didn’t do anything. It looks like that could have been the right (non)move.

Real Life: Colorado Avalanche trade Jordan Leopold to Calgary Flames for two prospect D and a 2nd round pick in 2009.

Tapeleg from Jerseys and Hockey Love said:

“Ryan Smyth is going nowhere, let’s just get that out of the way. He has a no-trade, and doesn’t seem like he wants to leave. And frankly, I would have a long talk with him about how I felt he was performing and what his position would be if he didn’t have that clause, and try to get a better dollar to performance ratio going from him for next season.

After that, the list is extremely short. Maybe Ruslan Salei, or Jordan Leopold. For these guys, you need back what you are letting go, only a better incarnation, defensemen who can move the puck (the holy grail). Then you start getting into bag of pucks guys (I’m looking at you, Tyler Arnason) or guys no one really wants (Tucker, Hannan). And finally, the youth and picks, and I wouldn’t let those guys go. What are you going to do, dangle a Chris Stewart or a David Jones for a few picks? It won’t happen, and it shouldn’t.”

Tapeleg got Smyth and Leopold right, so that’s an emphatic Correct.

Real Life: Minnesota does nothing

Wild View from Section 216 said:

“The problem is Gaborik has no trade value right now. I’ve got to let him come back from his injury this season and hope that I can sign him to a one-year deal, then get something for him next year. The move I make is with Backstrom. I have an anemic offense and I’ve got to get some scoring.

I make a move on Backstrom because I have a good goalie in Josh Harding waiting for his chance and a defensive coach (understatement of the year). I also know there are teams looking to shore up their goaltending heading into the playoffs, and if I can get someone with slightly above-average scoring prowess, and if Gaborik comes back with some fire, suddenly I’ve got more offense to make this playoff push.

And that will make Mikko Koivu, Andrew Brunette, and Owen Nolan better instead of relying on them for all my scoring. And instead of making the playoffs as the 8th seed and losing to Detroit in the 1st round, maybe there’s a bit of run in this team after all.

Unfortunately, I’m not real Wild GM, and none of this will happen.”

Some bold stuff from Wild View. Both right and wrong (with the qualifying last sentence).

Real Life: Calgary Flames become the biggest factor in the trade deadline, acquiring Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold for 1st and 2nd round draft picks with prospects plus Matthew Lombardi.
Kent from Five Hole Fanatics pleaded for the Flames to move Todd Bertuzzi, but also:

“In addition, I would make a play for Jordan Leopold. The former Flame was slowed by injuries in Colorado, but was probably the best ever partner for shut-down man Robyn Regehr here in Calgary.

The Avs are out of the running and Leopold is under the radar thanks to his poor luck during his time there. He could probably be had for a prospect/pick and would instantly step into the divide left by the down-for-the-count Mark Giordano. Then, you can try to re-sign Leopold to take over for the departing Adrian Aucoin, who is UFA in July.”

Well done, Kent.

Real Life: Edmonton acquires Ales Kotalik, Patrick O’Sullivan and a second round pick for Erik Cole, a second round pick and a fifth round pick.

Wasn’t able to get an Oilers blogger, but Edmonton did a great job during the deadline.

If you were the GM (Northwest division)

March 4, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Psh.)

Vancouver
Zanstorm from Nucks Misconduct
(March 1)

Given the failure of Kyle Wellwood to emerge as a top 6 forward and now a 3rd line center, I’m thinking he’s either going to get traded or waived. In that case, a 3rd line center needs to be acquired. I don’t know about a certain center that is available that we should go after to fill that role.

Has Mark Recchi ever played center? He is the one guy that I would love to see in the 3rd line role and maybe even on one of the 2 power play units. He’d fit in well with the Sedins there.

And speaking of the Sedins, I don’t know how long Alex Burrows will be given a shot on the top line with them.

Personally, I’d rather see Burrows back on the 3rd line. Maybe Recchi could fill in a permanent spot with the Twins 5-on-5 and on the power play. He has a great presence around the net. (And he is a BC boy after all!)

Something is going to go down by Wednesday. We officially have too many defencemen. I think Gillis may flog Shane O’Brien, Wellwood, or even Mason Raymond with a pick included to acquire either a top 6 forward or a 3rd line player.

Some people say we need a puck-moving defenceman. I disagree. I think Bieksa, Ohlund, Salo and Edler fill that role already.

Is Gillis going to go big on a name like Keith Tkachuk? I really don’t know. He has mentioned that Mats Sundin was his big catch and that he doesn’t want to disrupt the team’s chemistry at the deadline. So that’s why I’m thinking a Recchi-type will be acquired. He’s a leader, a winner, and he won’t cost us too much, as we don’t have too much to offer.

Just my 2 cents.

Yankee Canuck from Nucks Misconduct
(March 1)

It feels like each NHL deadline brings with it the media suggesting everyone in the damn league, playoff bound or not, needs a “puck moving defensemen”. I say screw that; even though Vancouver is tied to Bouwmeester in recent rumors, their defense is more or less fine as is
and they don’t need top tier talent who they’d most certainly have to cough up a first round pick (which, if you’ve seen their farm system lately, you’d know damn well they need). In anything, with Vaananen now on board it suggests a D-man like Salo or O’Brien could be on the
move (or Ohlund assuming he’d waive his NTC).

Also with Vigneault’s man-child Rypien appearing near a return, a bottom six winger could be on the move too. And honestly that’s where Vancouver needs the most help: reinforcements on the wings, preferably a known scorer, a veteran or someone that inspires a bit more offensive confidence than the likes of Pyatt, Bernier or wherever the hell Wellwood is these days. Right now the Canucks are playing well enough to promote Kesler and Burrows, but if those two slow down or need to return to the third line in more of a shutdown mode, what their top six becomes gets mighty depressing without some deadline help.

If Mike Gillis can swing for a winger or two in exchange for a mid round pick, some of the aforementioned dead weight or a prospect not named Hodgson, Schneider or Grabner I’d call the deadline a win.

Chris Kontos:Tkachuk and Wellwood on the same team would be an amazing pairing… those guys should totally room together on the road. The room service bill would totally cut into the salary cap. I don’t think Tkachuk is going anywhere, but picking up Recchi would be a perfect fit and help continue Recchi’s quest to play for every NHL team.

James O’Brien: Some teams have a grind-it-out fate. The Vancouver Canucks seem to be one of those teams. Their lineup seems pretty solid, if unspectacular. Cannot offer much more than a “shrug” on the Canucks.

***

Colorado Avalanche

Mile High Hockey
(March 1)

Mired in last place and playing awful, awful hockey, the Colorado Avalanche are going to be sellers at the deadline. However, most of their bigger assets – guys like Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk – have no-trade clauses and a serious case of…well, whatever the opposite of wanderlust
is. In other words, they ain’t moving. How active the Avs are at the deadline will depend on Francois Giguere’s ability to convince someone that our useless dreck – guys like Darcy Tucker and Tyler Arnason – are the perfect pieces for a Stanley Cup run.

The Avalanche really need a goalie – hey, that “Lalongo” guy Don Cherry keeps raving about isn’t available, is he? Yeah, didn’t thinks so. In light of that, I will use the GM power vested in me to swing the following trade with the Boston Bruins: Ian Laperriere and Jordan Leopold for Manny Fernandez. All three players are unrestricted free agents this summer and have been mentioned in trade talks. The Bruins would get a puck moving defensemen they reportedly are coveting as well as terrific do-whatever-it-takes-to-win forward to improve the team both on the ice and in the locker room. Both players would help any team in the playoffs, and the B’s seem to be as good a fit as any. The Avalanche get that number one goalie they so desperately need. At 33, he’s no spring chicken, but beggars can’t be choosers. Oh, and my GM magic wand will force Fernandez to agree to an extension before the trigger is pulled on the deal.

That’s my GM for a day trade. It kills me to trade “Lappy” and the fans are going to hate me for letting him go, but contract talks have broken down and I need to be able to get something for him. Plus, he’ll get a chance to do a reverse Bourque, moving from Colorado to Boston to win a
Cup. Leopold is walking this summer no matter what, so his inclusion in a deal is a no-brainer. And Manny? I know about the knee and the age. I don’t care – he’ll be the best goalie we’ve had since the retirement of St Patrick.
Tapeleg from Jerseys and Hockey Love
(2/28)

It’s a strange position for the Colorado Avalanche, since this is the first time as a franchise that they have been sellers. But the question is, do they have anything to sell anyone wants?

When the biggest name on the list is Ian Laperriere, you know you have a problem. Lappy has been the heart and soul of the franchise for the last year, ever since Joe Sakic got hurt (aka: Super Joe vs Super Snow). He becomes a UFA at the end of the season, but if you could resign him, maybe trade him away and convince him to come back so you pick up a draft pick, then I would consider it.

Ryan Smyth is going nowhere, let’s just get that out of the way. He has a no-trade, and doesn’t seem like he wants to leave. And frankly, I would have a long talk with him about how I felt he was performing and what his position would be if he didn’t have that clause, and try to get a better dollar to performance ratio going from him for next season.

After that, the list is extremely short. Maybe Ruslan Salei, or Jordan Leopold. For these guys, you need back what you are letting go, only a better incarnation, defensemen who can move the puck (the holy grail). Then you start getting into bag of pucks guys (I’m looking at you, Tyler Arnason) or guys no one really wants (Tucker, Hannan). And finally, the youth and picks, and I wouldn’t let those guys go. What are you going to do, dangle a Chris Stewart or a David Jones for a few picks? It won’t happen, and it shouldn’t.

If I were making a long story short, you have to have a dance partner for a trade, and looking at this list, there would be very few dance partners out there. Hell, there may be very few dancers at all. The phone in GM Francois Gigurere’s office must have squeeze marks embedded in it, or have been thrown against the wall. Even being sellers, I think the Avs team we see now will be the same team we see for the last game of the season.

Chris Kontos:As a Kings fan, never in my wildest imagination did I think I’d see the day when the hated AV’s would be in last place. It’s been a long time coming for this team and only Joe Sakic can remember what it felt like to be a Quebec Nordique. This team needs a goalie. And Manny would be a great fit, but if I’m Boston, I’m not letting him go. If the Av’s are selling, a goalie, especially a young one must be coming the other way.

James O’Brien: While I agree that the Avalanche are quite poor in net, at least they are employing poor men in net. Their goaltending spending is quite Detroit Red Wings like – which is about the only similarity any longer between those two diverging rivals.

To me, the Avalanche employ quite a few middle-of-the-road defensemen for $3 million a pop. Ugh, this team is built on a Jenga-like foundation. To extend the childhood toy analogy, this team just needs to shake that etch-a-sketch and start all over with Paul Stastny and … I’m sure there’s SOMEONE else worth keeping on that roster. Right? Maybe?

***

Minnesota Wild

Wild View from Section 216
(2/27)

If I’m Wild GM in a world where the fans are about to revolt if my team doesn’t make the playoffs, I’m a lot more bold than real Wild GM Doug Reisbrogh (who lives in some kind of fantasy world where he thinks he is untouchable). I have two big decisions to make…what to do with UFAs F Marian Gaborik and G Niklas Backstrom. Gaborik has been injured for long periods of time in each of his nine seasons except one, and he has shown me no desire to stay in Minnesota long term. Backstrom is a goalie that emerged out of nowhere to be one of the top goalies in the league.

The problem is Gaborik has no trade value right now. I’ve got to let him come back from his injury this season and hope that I can sign him to a one-year deal, then get something for him next year. The move I make is with Backstrom. I have an anemic offense and I’ve got to get some scoring. I make a move on Backstrom because I have a good goalie in Josh Harding waiting for his chance and a defensive coach (understatement of the year). I also know there are teams looking to shore up their goaltending heading into the playoffs, and if I can get someone with slightly above-average scoring prowess, and if Gaborik comes back with some fire, suddenly I’ve got more offense to make this playoff push. And that will make Mikko Koivu, Andrew Brunette, and Owen Nolan better instead of relying on them for all my scoring. And instead of making the playoffs as the 8th seed and losing to Detroit in the 1st round, maybe there’s a bit of run in this team after all.

Unfortunately, I’m not real Wild GM, and none of this will happen.

Elise from18,568 Reasons Why (2/27)

Minnesota fans are used to not expecting much at the trade deadline – the biggest trades have included names like Dominic Moore, Adam Hall, and Chris Simon. But this year there are big decisions that have to be made about important players like Marian Gaborik and Niklas Backstrom and the team’s future as a whole.

There’s uncertainty about whether the team will even make the playoffs this season, leading to questions about whether the Wild should bother trying to get a rental player or should start rebuilding for next year. A lot of this will not even be determined by the trade deadline – the rest of Minnesota’s schedule is tough and 14 of 17 in March are on the road.

The best trade for the Wild would probably be to get rid of a member of the clogged defensive corps (most likely stay-at-home Kim Johnsson or powerplay expert Marc-Andre Bergeron) for some offense. Another option would be to trade Gaborik for anything they could. After the injuries and bad relations between the team and Gaby’s agent, there’s no chance the sniper will be staying with Minnesota long-term.

Backstrom also has the potential to be moved, but his chance of moving is much lower than the others. His contract goes through this season, but there have been talks between the team and Backy (whose agent gets along very well with the Wild.) Any trade the Wild makes, it will be for offense, there’s no doubt about that. This team has too much defense and will never win unless they can score more.

Chris Kontos: With Backstrom getting signed today, Gaborik remains the mystery. As a GM, can you really allow this guy to walk away for nothing. There is no way he is coming back to a Jacques Lemaire coached Wild team (can you believe Gaborik played all these years in that defensive system!) so they should get what they can for a damaged Gaborik. Maybe they could continue their short history of bonehead trades with the Kings (really, Patrick O’Sullivan and a 10th overall pick for Demitra) and give the Kings Gaborik for Kyle Calder.

James O’Brien: It seems like the Wild are going to have to tough it out with Marian Gaborik. I really wonder how Wild fans feel about the guy. He was their best player in their long ago run to the Western Conference Finals, then turned into an even less lucky version of Martin Havlat. Why not just dump him for next to nothing and move on? I know I’d want to get him out of site if I was in that spot.

***

Calgary Flames

March 2

Kent from Five Hole Fanatics

If I was Sutter at the deadline, I’d look for a way to flip ToddBertuzzi for whatever I could get. Bert’s stats look alright (3rd highest scorer on the Flames), but it has almost everything to do with lots of ice time with excellent players, rather than any inherent value he brings. In fact, Bert’s been something of lead weight in the Flames top 6 this year – partially because he makes terrible decisions in his own and neutral zones and partially because Keenan refuses to see Bertuzzi for what he is: a marginal player who’s good at the highlight reel stuff but lousy at everything else.

Bertuzzi has a thoroughly mediocre ESP/60 rate (1.94), that’s good for 7th on the team (behind such guys as David Moss and Curtis Glencross).He also has the second worst corsi rate of any regular skating forward(4.4) ahead of only Dustin Boyd (who is 22 and has spent most of the year on the 4th line). Oh, and Bertuzzi’s quality of teammates as ranked by behindthenet.ca? A 2nd best 0.17 (Conroy is first with 0.18). Bert doesn’t play against the toughest competition either (-0.01). In short, he’s getting mediocre results in very favorable circumstances.

So deal him at the deadline to a contender in the East who wants to upgrade their forward depth. Get some lesser roster player and a draft pick and you win the trade, hands down.

In addition, I would make a play for Jordan Leopold. The former Flame was slowed by injuries in Colorado, but was probably the best ever partner for shut-down man Robyn Regehr here in Calgary.

The Avs are out of the running and Leopold is under the radar thanks to his poor luck during his time there. He could probably be had for a prospect/pick and would instantly step into the divide left by the down-for-the-count Mark Giordano. Then, you can try to re-sign Leopold to take over for the departing Adrian Aucoin, who is UFA in July.

Chris Kontos: Wow! This is the most out there one yet. But trading Bertuzzi kinda makes sense. Too bad that Cammalleri is off to the races next season because he has seemed to be a nice fit in Calgary with Iginla.

James O’Brien: If there was an easy way to quantify hate (Kent would know it), I wonder who would win a Bertuzzi hate-off between Kent and I. We both seem to agree that getting rid of Bertuzzi is addition by subtraction. That’s good enough for me.

EDMONTON: (No guest post … maybe tomorrow)

Hockey Orphan: Kent from Five Hole Fanatics on the Calgary Flames

February 4, 2009
Once the Flames traded hockey’s Napoleon, things got really ugly

The Calgary Flames organization suffered through a decade of futility- the 1990’s. The club’s metamorphosis from favorite to bottom-feeder began immediately after they won their first (and only) Cup in ’89. The larval stage was one of regular season success, followed by crushing play-off choke jobs. Los Angeles, Vancouver and San Jose -all massive underdogs – all defeated Calgary in the first round during this span. Frequently via sob-inducing, gut-punch OT goals.

For Flames fans at the time, it didn’t seem like things could get anyworse. Being repeatedly knocked off the dance floor by teams they dominated in the RS seemed painful enough. Then we entered the pupae stage…

In 1995, the Flames began to bleed talent. Joe Nieuwendyk and Robert Reichel were gone that summer. The lone remaining star on the team – Theoren Fleury – would go on to lead the club in scoring by a full 30 points in 95/96, ahead of journeyman German Titov. Soon-to-be-obvious-bust Trevor Kidd was the Flames #1 goalie. The lone bright spot that season – beside Theo – would be rookie Jarome Iginla making his debut and scoring two goals during the Flames first round loss versus the Backhawks.

You know things are bad when Titov is your second highest scorer.
In 96/97, the Flames managed just 73 points and missed the play-offs entirely. A year later, they did the same – except with 67 points. Fleury would be moved to Colorado at the trade deadline in 98/99 (when it was clear the team was going to miss the post-season again) and the transformation was complete – the Calgary Flames officially sucked. An area of dominance was dead. The terrible Young Guns era was born in its stead. The Canadian dollar was on par with the peso, the Rangers were offering checking centers $9M/season and Calgary’s scouting staff was choosing the likes of Rico Fata inside the top 10 at the draft. Hnat Dominicelli, Andrew Cassels, Valeri Bure, Clarke Wilm, Jason Weimer, Rene Corbet and Marty McInnis all took their woeful tours of duty during this stage – many of them at the same time. Hopes were pinned on shoulders ill-fitted to the burden: Rob Niedermayer, for example, was acquired with expectations of becoming a scorer.

Occasionally, diamonds in the rough would surface in the organization, only to be discarded needlessly.A handful of different GMs and coaches would make brief, grim deathmarches through the org, none of them capable of changing the club’s role as cannon-fodder before the league’s stronger clubs. Attendance started to waiver with the city’s hopes of ever being competitive again. Fans stopped expecting wins or even goals due to their infrequency. Instead, bronx cheers followed every mediocre save and every clearing of the puck from the defensive zone. During perhaps the height of frustration in 2002, fans were heard blaming the newest scapegoat Roman Turek for almost anything that went wrong on the ice…even if he wasn’t in any way involved with the play.

Ouch and …
… ouch.
This is why now is a good time to jump aboard the Flames bandwagon. I considered listing the various virtues of the club currently – the competent management, the stable of stars, the improving prospect development, the solid, well-heeled ownership, the team’s position in the standings this season. But, in the end, I figured a contrast between now and the dark years would best serve to illustrate the point that it’s Calgary’s ascendancy back to contender status that is the most compelling reason to cheer for the club these days. The hardwork has already been put in. The fan-base earned this sweet respite after years and years of grueling hardships and seemingly unending failure. The organization and faithful are alive and exuberant again after teetering on the brink of utter despair. The dawn has arrived. We are as parched men who have wandered through the desert and stumbled across an oasis; we are like the starving at a feast; we’re paupers who’ve won the lottery.

Come and join the celebration.

(Thanks, Kent! Make sure to check out Five Hole Fanatics and to follow his other endeavors. He’s obviously worth reading.)