Sunday, June 17, 2012

Trade them all, but not without a plan

(@Takes2toTanguay is a new contributor at Dome Ice Advantage. Have a read and discuss with him on Twitter. Also, he lives in DC, so be sure to ask him what the hell draws him to the Calgary Flames when you get a chance)

It's beginning to look like Jay Bouwmeester will be dealt. Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington could be possible destinations, as you'd expect they are seeking a top pairing defender. Would I trade him? Absolutely not. Trading Jay Bouwmeester would hurt this team and would create an insurmountable hole on the blueline. If the speculation is true, Feaster must know something we don't. If he can somehow get 2 top pairing defensemen in Calgary this summer, then by all means trade Bouwmeester. Unloading Jay at the draft would indicate that Feaster will be throwing some serious, serious dough at Parise and/or Suter - a bad gamble without a back-up plan.

Bouwmeester is always under some sort of scrutiny for his contract and lack of point production. People need to realize that he was utilized for his defensive skills rather than his offensive skills. I really want to see what he can do under a different coach and system. If the Flames manage to trade him, they better have a plan or there will be trouble. You cannot trade from weakness, and defense is serious weakness on this squad. I find it hard to believe that the Flames would get fair value in a trade for Bouwmeester. He adds value to the team, especially in a “win now” mode. If they do trade him, I’d hope Feaster can get a top 6 centre or a cheaper top pairing defender. The team is not in a position to trade their best defender for picks/mid-level prospects. So the question remains: do other teams GMs value Bouwmeester enough to deal a top-6 centre or a cheaper top pairing defender?

Henrik Karlsson is another guy that could and should be dealt. With Irving showing us a glimpse of his potential and Karri Ramo tearing it up in the KHL, Henrik Karlsson has ran his course here and for obvious reasons. He was a decent experiment, but it just never worked out for him. Not a goaltender with zero potential, he just needs an opportunity elsewhere.

Anton Babchuk would help any team’s power play and could help solidify a team who is looking for a 5/6 defenseman that can contribute offensively, but that's about it. If the Flames have any plans to upgrade their power play presence on the blue-line (and they should), I'd expect Babchuk is on his way out of town.

Matt Stajan, I would keep. I never thought I would say that, but the Flames continue to lack depth at his position. It’s clear he never truly found himself in this city. We’ve seen times where he looks like a 50+ point player and times where he looks like he's never played an NHL game before. Like a lot of players, I feel Brent Sutter didn’t utilize him the way he should have. Under a different system/coaching style, he could be effective. You'd expect the Flames are about to get even thinner up the middle this summer (especially if they aren't retaining Jokinen). This, along with a free agency pool looking rather shallow up the middle, trading away a potential #2 centreman with limited trade value might be an issue. If a team gives Feaster an offer for Stajan that makes sense, great, but you'd better be sure you have other options in the system before making that deal.

To me, there is no doubt that the Flames could ice the exact same line up and have different results under a new coaching scheme (St. Louis, LA as examples). However, you get the sense Feaster wants new faces on this team. Three years with the same line up and all we've seen is "just missed” excuses. It's not good enough. Jay Feaster and upper management would be the first to tell you it’s not good enough.

For one, I'm against a full rebuild. A gradual re-tool is simply more realistic. Trading away core guys might be the biggest mistake a team could make. It could pay off long-term, but Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff hold more value to this squad than a blue chip prospect and a 1st rounder - especially for a team that’s in "win now” mode. It’s certainly possible that the Flames could trade Iginla and remain competitive, but trading away the face of the franchise would not make sense from a business perspective, let alone a hockey perspective. If Jarome confronts management, that’s a different story. Until that point, he won't be going anywhere.

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