A recent surge by the Calgary Flames certainly complicates the focus of the organization heading into trade season. My view? Jay Feaster was handed the reigns on an "acting" basis to make changes, and one month of solid hockey isn't going to fix the underlying shortcomings of the team. Regardless of any playoff pursuit, I expect the Flames to be sellers by the deadline. That is: shipping out veteran contributors for younger options - be it picks or unproven youngsters, to spur an eventual youth movement in Calgary.
For starters, here are some key points to remember about Jay Feaster:
1) He has expressed an intent to obtain value for *pending free agents*
2) His goal is to become more *mobile* on defense. He emphasized the importance of quick, puck moving defense in today's game
3) He plans to surround the "core" with players that can commit to Brent's style on a *consistent* basis. In other words, Feaster intends to build the team around Brent. Agree or disagree, at least the plan has an element of consistency to it.
4) He has expressed a desire to re-stock the team's draft picks. As it stands now, the Flames have 1 pick in the top 100 for the upcoming draft. Should Feaster prevail, we can expect a number of mid-level picks heading West this February.
One rule: We would all love to trade Ales Kotalik and Olli Jokinen for draft picks and skate sharpeners. The reality? No organzation would be willing to take on those contracts, even if they find some absurd reason to give up assets in order to acquire them. I'll try to remain as realistic as possible when addressing potential trade components on the Flames. In doing so, I'll steer clear of these deadweight contracts in order to set fourth reasonable predictions.
5 players on their way out of Calgary by February 28, 2011:
ROBYN REGEHR (2 years remaining, no-movement clause)
It will be tough to see Reggie go, but his inflated trade value around the leave presents an opportunity that shouldn't - and won't - be passed up. Compounded with 2 more years at a shade over 4 million per, Regehr's trade value is at its peak, and the Flames strength on defense would allow the team to manage without. Unlike, let's say, Jarome Iginla's offensive contributions. Given the team's inconsistency in recent years, one of the leaders - Iginla or Regehr - is bound to be dealt. For my money, it's more realistic to replace a shutdown defenseman than an all star, franchise-leading goal scorer.
- Scott Hannan for Tomas Fleischmann
- Michal Roszival for Wojtek Wolski
Here's the best news - given recent transactions around the league, a deal involving Regehr would garner a hefty return - potentially involving a 1st round pick, along with some youthful offensive depth.
CURTIS GLENCROSS (Pending UFA)
Glencross was a bargain signing in the summer of '08. While I've been a big fan of his tenacity and underrated skill set, Glencross' contributions have been wildly inconsistent - an attribute that has plagued the entire team in recent memory. Curtis has a club membership to Brent's doghouse, and has expressed frustration with his limited opportunity at a top-six role on the team. With this in mind, it seems unlikely that Glencross would be re-signed by the team this summer. Expect Feaster to ship him off and acquire an asset while the option is still available to do so. He would be a low-risk, depth acquisition for a number of teams - most likely of the contending variety.
- Dominic Moore for a 2nd rd pick
- Raffi Torres for Nathan Paetsch, 2nd rd pick
Potential Return - 3 Scenarios
1) Strong team seeking bottom-6 depth:
Glencross for 3rd rd pick
2) Lower seed team, looking for an affordable top-6 option:
Glencross for 2nd rd pick (e.g. Rene Bourque acquisition by CGY)
3) Playoff team looking to ship off an expiring contract of its own - unlikely to re-sign:
Glencross for Bergfors
Glencross for Upshall
Given the desperate nature of the trade deadline, we can expect a team to give up too much for a versatile, energy player like Glencross. Comparable transactions from last year's deadline (see above) bode well for the Flames in this case.
NIKLAS HAGMAN (1 year remaining)
Nik Hagman is what he is: a 31 year old, speedy Finnish winger, that could be a valuable asset to any team... should he find a way to improve his consistency. Based on Feaster's intentions to turn the page with this team, I don't see a scenario wherein Hagman survives the transition. As a capable secondary scoring option, his trade value hasn't completely deteriorated. Unlike Glencross, it's difficult to equate Hagman's deficiencies to a lack of work ethic. He moves his feet, can crash and bang along the wall, and provides some much needed energy for the team. Unfortunately, Hagman simply isn't able to "finnish" (no pun intended). Perhaps his hustle would be rewarded with a more offensively potent line-up, skating alongside players not named Stajan, Jokinen or Kotalik.
- Jeff Halpern for Teddy Purcell, 3rd rd pick
- Matt D'Agostini for Aaron Palushaj
Hagman's additional year under contract helps his trade value. A 2nd rd pick would be a steal, but Hagman is more likely to yield a 3rd rd pick, or mid-level prospect. He's a viable option to re-stock a pick in the top 100 for the upcoming draft, a goal clearly outlined by Jay Feaster.
BRENDAN MORRISON (Pending UFA)
Morrison has proved to be an impressive value signing for the Flames this season. When he isn't contributing on the scoresheet, he's winning face-offs, killing penalties and finding some way to make his linemates better. Brendan has played well on lines 1-4, at centre and on the wing. Luckily for the Flames, Morrison now represents a valuable spare part for any playoff team. With 4 NHL options at centre (Jokinen, Stajan, Backlund, Moss) and viable options in Abbotsford (Wahl, Stone, Armstrong), it seems very unlikely that Feaster would look to re-sign a 35 year old depth centreman. The good news? Morrison has created a market for his services that was non-existent a mere 5 months ago.
- Scott Walker for a 7th rd pick
- Jamie Langenbrunner for a conditional 3rd rd pick
Given his age, Morrison's expiring, pro-rated $725,000 contract serves as an asset, as it gives any organization the ability to evaluate his performance in a small snapshot. This creates some flexibility in the offseason, with no long-term commitments or cap obligations beyond this season. At age 35, the ceiling may be limited, but Morrison's versatility could render a 4th rd pick, which would contribute to the inevitable youth movement in Calgary.
ANTON BABCHUK (Pending UFA)
Since his arrival on the scene, Babchuk has performed as advertised. He's a 5th/6th defenseman, often protected from top line competition, and serves primarily as a powerplay specialist. His shutdown ability is limited, but his overall defensive game has progressed in his short stint with the Flames. Babchuk leads all Flames defensemen with 4 PP goals, and - as advertised - does possess a heavy shot from the back end (2nd only to our hero: Ales Kotalik).
While we're at it, here's an interesting comparison from The 4th Line Blog:
Babchuk-14 Points in last 34 games.
Phaneuf-11 Points in last 33 games.
... Just provides a little somethin' to giggle at. Babchuk has been a capable depth defender, and brings a secret threat on the powerplay. So, what's the market for a depth defenseman like Babs for the stretch run?
- Martin Skoula for 5th rd pick
- Shane O'Brien for Ryan Parent
As a one-dimensional defenseman, the return on Anton Babchuk is limited. Nevertheless, expect Feaster to find a taker on this PP specialist, and attain a late round pick (5th/6th rd) or mid-level prospect in return.
And so ends my predictions for the upcoming trade deadline. Remember, these were assembled based on what we've heard from JayFe to this point, and do not necessarily reflect my own preferences. Look forward to hearing some of your expectations for the deadline!
Here's what we know for sure: this is an intriguing time to follow the Calgary Flames.
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