Monday, September 11, 2006


Festivus Pt.2

"This is a veteran team. The roster is full." - part-time Flames analyst Perry Berezan, speaking on the FAN 960, Thursday morning

Indeed. The talk from Darryl Sutter since the day after Edmonton lost the Cup has been that he expects a couple of young players to make the team. But the composition of the roster, as well as Sutter's own moves, makes me wonder if he actually believes this.

Here's the rough depth chart at forward going into training camp:
Tanguay - Langkow - Iginla
Huselius - Lombardi - Kobasew
Amonte - Yelle - McCarty
Friesen - Nilson - Lundmark

There's 13 guys with at least a year of NHL experience. Eleven make at least $800k (except Lundmark and Richie), and are mortal locks to be on the Opening Night roster. The possibility of either Lundmark or Richie starting the year in the minors is slight at best (recall that though there were lineup changes in the Anaheim series, Richie played in all 7 games).

So say you're David Moss, Andrei Taratukhin, Dustin Boyd, Eric Nystrom, Eric Godard, Carson Germyn, Brandon Prust, Tomi Maki, or Aki Seitsonen. What do think of Sutter's pronouncement that he wants a couple of young players to make the team?

It seems strange to complain about "too much depth", and that's not really what I'm trying to do. Indeed, there will be injuries in camp and the pre-season. Plus, rosters don't freeze for the season on Opening Night; a player like (say) McCarty that is assured of a spot on October 5th may play his way into the pressbox and/or onto the trading block.

But I just dislike the message to the rookies: the words say "there is room for you if you perform", but the evidence says "maybe in November -- or next fall".

Frankly, my entire objection on this count goes back to the Friesen signing. I don't like it now anymore than I did on July 8th, or July 13th. Obviously, it fills a roster spot that would otherwise been available to the best of the nine rookies listed above. But more troubling to me what I suppose you would call the Implied Rationale:

In early July, Sutter looked at what he thought Friesen could contribute, looked at what he thought his best rookie could contribute, and decided that the right move was Friesen -- at a premium of $500k-$1M. Check Friesen's numbers again in the July 13th post. They're terrible!

Clearly Sutter and I have a difference of opinion on what Jeff Friesen can bring to the team. Fine -- but what I'm much more concerned about is the youths. Does Sutter really think that his best rookie (again, that's the top performing Fwd of at least 9 guys) cannot match, or exceed, the contributions of Jeff Friesen? Or boiled down further: does Sutter think that poorly of his rookies, or is this simply the latest example of his (disproportionate) comfort with the familiar?

Here's hoping it's the latter. And just to clarify, I don't hate Jeff Friesen, or think he's useless. And at the moment, I actually feel bad for him. He's being put in the same position as 37 was last year in Edmonton: the fans are being told, or being allowed to think, that he is going to provide contributions that he cannot and will not provide.


Friessen has had a couple of poor years in tough situations. Still, a good shot and speed to burn. He's surely far better than Kobasew, Lombardi, McCarty, Lundmark, etc. About evens with Huselius and the aging Amonte.

For Sutter, Friessen is one of a handful of UFAs who wanted to play ion Alberta. For Jeff: If he made a list of good teams that he could be within the top 3 or 4 forwards on ... it's a list of one. (It rhymes with Schmalgary, that's your only clue).

If he's good enough, and maybe a couple of other guys too, then maybe Playfair will be able to play Iggy and Iginla together more. Maybe even get them some scoring minutes.

That's a forward corps that looks really thin on talent to me, might be just my anti-Calgary bias though. Still, some solid vets in there, and Kipper and a solid group of D behind them.

I wouldn't put Friesen ahead of the likes of Kobasew or Lombardi on the Flames roster. Nor would I consider him equal with Huselius, at least in terms of offensive ability.

Friesen is a 30 year old guy who's been on the decline for the last few years. Im assuming he'll settle into a third line role this year. If he gets more than 15 goals I'll be pretty surprised.

Am I the only one who thinks the real issue here is Amonte? Friesen is still young enough to find his feet and have an entire second career. Why pick on him when a older player is making more money and is higher up on the depth chart for no specifiable reason?

Sure Cosh, but Amonte was already under contract for the year is all. I could just as easily have used him as the example rather than McCarty of a guy who could play his way out of (or get outplayed out of) a regular start.

I personally still rate Amonte ahead of Friesen (I also rate Lundmark and Nilson ahead of McCarty, but no matter). I definitely don't share Vic's assessment of Friesen's abilities, either objectively OR relative to the rest of Calgary's fwds. I'm pretty much where MetroGnome is; I think a good season for JF would be 15 goals in a 3rd/4th line role. And to me, that upside doesn't justify the signing.

You seem to price 15-goal men awful cheap for a guy whose team only had 5 of them last year.

Matt, I won't argue with you on Friesen, because I know I can't win, the facts just aren't on my side. I read your post a while ago, and the numbers really are damning. And it's not like he's ever been leaned on to play against the other teams talent or anything either. Excuses are thin on the ground for the guy.

Still, I remember him from when he broke into the league. And I have to believe that the talent is still in there somewhere. He doesn't have concussion issues, does he?

I thought Tanguay was being moved to centre this year? They made a big story about how he used to play centre in College and this will be his first attempt in the NHL. Doesn't that change the first line somewhat?

The Islanders are signing DiPietro to a 15 year contract? Wow. That's a spicy meatball.

I'm proposing a moratorium on "mortal locks."

Bill Simmons has the market more than covered.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?