Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Stab #1

Here's the Flames' cap situation for next season as it sits right now. Typical reports on this are not very illustrative, as they tend to mainly talk about (a) number of players under contract and (b) dollars committed. What that misses is the fact that empty roster spots have to be filled, and you have to spend real money to do so (league min. salary will be about $500k next season, IIRC).

At any rate, that bottom line number is likely either at or above the 08/09 NHL salary cap (I'm sure the new Reebok jerseys goosed revenues a bit, but not to the tune of 250 million dollars). Two things seem clear.

One: Sutter is going to have to shed some salary, one way or another. Trading Tanguay (along with another salary, touch wood), sending Eriksson to the minors and hoping he retires back to Sweden, buying out Warrener; these are some of many options and permutations.

Two: Sutter is going to have to be a good bargain shopper to improve the roster via free agency.

Important note, though: success at the first takes pressure off the second. Other important note: it's almost impossible for next year's 4th line to be worse -- less effective -- than this year's, no matter who's on it (touch wood again).

Having thought hard about it for a good 15 minutes, here is one concept for next season's roster. I'm not quite saying this is my ideal scenario (see: 15 minutes), but it's one that involves only a moderate, rather than extreme, amount of salary dumping.

Here, Warrener and Nilson are still around. In the past 24 hours or so, I've talked myself into believing that Aucoin is tradeable, so he's been traded. Eriksson has been waived, and Primeau has been bought out. (I repeat: this is not a guess as to what will happen; more like an illustration as to what the possibilities are if some but not all of the bad contracts are disposed of.)

As far as I can tell, WJC performance aside, Backlund isn't ready for the NHL quite yet, but that's too bad 'cause here he is. I didn't want to trade Tanguay for Michael Ryder, but I'm happy to spend money on a 27-year-old with some nice scoring numbers in his past whose value should be depressed for all sorts of reasons.

Conroy is back because he really wants to be, he'll take less money to be here (said so quite explicitly), and I think he still has a couple of useful years left as a 3rd-liner who can keep his head above water. Todd Fedoruk needs to be signed because, as we saw this year, Keenan simply will not fill out the lineup card without a heavyweight. So, let's make it a priority to find one who can play a bit. And no offense to CuJo, but I hate the idea of bringing him back. The good value bet here is to pay someone who has been successful stopping pucks at a good rate in the AHL; whether that's McElhinney, Michael Leighton, or someone else, I really don't care.

All for $1M less than the current scenario. This isn't how things will go, but I can at least look at this roster and think, "Hey, the Flames might be a decent team next year." YMMV.


I don't understand why CAL would buy Primeau out. I guess it depends how much the team makes, what kind of profit the Flames owners want, etc, but wouldn't they be better off simply sending him to the minors?

Sounds like Giordano wants to play with the Flames next year:

Sure, but does Sutter want him? He should, but does he?

This is horribly off topic, but I figure Andy will want to see this: the longer article on Malkin's Hart selection. Emphasis mine.

When Crosby slid into the Mellon Arena end boards on Jan. 18 the Penguins’ world looked like it was about to be turned upside down and inside out. Crosby was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, at least six weeks on the shelf was the verdict.

Enter Malkin, last year’s Calder Memorial Trophy winner.

Malkin, who was playing on the same line as Crosby before the captain’s injury, took over his own line with No. 87 up in the owner’s box.

Malkin had 15 goals and 22 assists in the 21 straight games the Penguins played without Crosby. He had 11 multi-point games during that stretch, including six three-point games and one four-point game. He had a 10-game point scoring streak from Feb. 2-21. In eight of those games he registered at least two points. He was the NHL’s First Star of the Month.

The big thing, though, was the Penguins went 11-6-4 without Crosby. That put them in position to eventually win the Atlantic Division crown, their first division title in 10 years, which they did on April 2 thanks to a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Malkin, who during Crosby’s absence ran neck and neck with Ovechkin for the League’s scoring title – he took over the lead for a brief time as well – finished second with 106 points on 47 goals and 59 assists.

His 47 goals were fourth in the League and his 59 assists were sixth. He also had 17 power-play goals, tying him for fourth in the League in that statistical category.

Crosby also missed seven games in mid-to-late March with remnants of that ankle injury. In his absence, Malkin registered nine more points on five goals and four assists, bringing his totals to 20 goals and 26 assists in 29 games without Crosby, who also sat out the season finale on April 6.

In the 53 games Malkin and Crosby were together, the young Russian center registered 60 points, including 27 goals and 33 assists. So, with or without Crosby, Malkin had a season to remember.


Sounds like Giordano wants to play with the Flames

Even if Sutter can't stand him can we please sign him and then maybe trade him? I'm doing a low boil thinking we're going to get bupkis for Juicy, lets start managing the assets a little more crisply, 'kay gentlemen.

Ryder Schmyder, here's the guy we gotta get.


Just to take your possible roster all the way, I tried assembling lines and pairings:


The first line is a no brainer. The second line could be a defensive liability. They could also be a constant scoring threat, with all three players looking for a breakout/rebound season. The third line is young, and Prust's love of penalties could be a big problem. The fourth line is a mix of shutdown/energy line, with the possibility of a few goals mixed in. The last two lines could maybe be shuffled to even out the experience level.


First pairing is again a no brainer. If Giordano passes as well as I remember, he could really open up Phaneuf's offensive game (certainly more than any of the other options). I'd like to see (actually, I spent last summer dreaming about) them on the first PP unit. The third pairing is likely a 10 minute per game line. I could see Vandermeer picking up 12-15 with another partner (Hale maybe?) but I don't expect anything else out of Warrener. Possibly Phaneuf could be playing 25-30, with Vandermeer and Giordano splitting time as his partner.

To put this in the best light, it gives lots of players (Lombardi, Ryder, Giordano) a chance to step up and prove themselves. It could work.

Interesting that you went for Ryder while Lowetide chose Cheechoo. I think they're pretty much the same player.

If we ditched Aucoin, Warrener and Eriksson I would be ecstatic. Not convinced we can move any of them though.

A couple questions, one factual, the other rhetorical: Would Backlund even be receiving $1.25 M? Is he signed for that much, or is that an estimate?

And, Considering his straight-ahead speed, wouldn't Lombardi be more conducive to playing left wing where a decent pass up the sideboards could leave d-men in the wake?

Any thoughts on the over-under probability of Langkow outperforming a $5MM/year contract over the next 4 years (if the rumours bear out, of course)? I'd put it at about 20%, even assuming some continued league-wide salary escalation.

Regarding Giordano, I don't think there's any question Sutter wants him in Calgary (I also don't think there's any question, now, that he'll be getting a one-way contract offer). However, I wish like hell that he'd stop talking like he was Gio's junior coach, rather than a guy who would benefit from a mutually agreeable arrangement. His quote from that Herald piece I linked in the previous post: "We expect him to play in Calgary. He's better off here. I don't think you can develop personally or professionally (in Russia)."

The Backlund cap # comes from Leland Irving's #, who was drafted in essentially the same position the previous year. Like most entry-level deals, it contains bonuses that may or may not be earned.

speeds, re: Primeau -- all fans, myself included, are a lot more concerned about the cap hit than the out-of-pocket expense to the team. So hell yeah, my preference would be to simply waive the guy rather than buy him out: it'll cost them an extra $1M, but then they're not stuck with a $467k cap hit for the next four years. However, my interests and those of the Flames owners aren't necessarily the same. I really have no idea what they'd do if they decided Primeau was no longer in their plans (please please please).

Player similarities aside, the Oilers trading for Cheechoo (trading away multiple 'assets') solves other problems for them, whereas it would create more for the Flames. (And if Ryder has 56 goal upside, then hell yeah, sign him up!)

Lastly, on Lombardi: considering the glut of natural centres on the Flames this past season, if he wasn't moved to the wing already, I don't think he will be. (And honestly, I have zero idea whether it would be a good idea on balance.)

Interesting that you went for Ryder while Lowetide chose Cheechoo. I think they're pretty much the same player.

No cheechoo. reasons: 1. no more former Sharks players 2. he will most likely take #14...NO!!! Theo was the last, and will be the last as they WILL retire his number (hopefully soon).

Ryder's obviously not going back to Mtl so Cgy or Bos seems like the most logical landing places. The B's would make sense because he's always been Julien's boy and they'll be looking to replace Murray's offense, ie looks like Glen's gonna get bought out or farmed out for the season. And then you have Cgy because his brother Dan's a headcase and maybe Mike can smarten him up and it's almost like a two-for-one.

I wonder if there'd be a bidding war for Fedoruk because Minny thought enough of him to put him on the PP so I don't think they're gonna let him walk without making a decent offer

I was looking at other UFA wingers if Ryder signs elsewhere. Radim Vrbata, Ruslan Fedetenko, and Ryan Malone all fit the bill, and their salaries last season are reasonable, but all three had good years and are unlikely to stay cheap (even if they don't get signed by their current teams).

I have some concerns about Prust's ability to play at the NHL level. Specifically, his 3.4 penalty minutes per game over the last three season makes me wonder. He does fight a lot, which makes those numbers a bit easier to swallow, but are his contributions going to be worth the time in the box? Can he be an effective agitator, drawing more penalties than he takes? Has anyone seen him play this past year?

Semi-Breaking News: Pittsburgh Crosbies will be taking on the Philadelphia Headshots for the Eastern pennant.

Key Question: How many times will Andy Grabia throw up in his mouth a little over the Crosbellatio in this series? I'm setting the over/under at 17, in honour of former Oiler Petr Sykora.

Whether or not Backlund is NHL-ready, the fact remains that no one can break out of his crossface chicken wing.

Do you think there would be any interest in Tanguay in regards to moving up in the draft? I really like the Hodgson kid, but he's definitely going to go in the top ten.

1: It's a soft market for FA's and Malone's coming off a fine reg season and now he's putting up counting stats in the playoffs as well. Is he really an affordable option for Cgy?

2: I wouldn't worry about the fawning over Crosby; for all his assists, Malkin's kicking his ass in terms of actually being noticeable when he's on the ice.


1) That's what I meant. Those three guys are likely looking at large upgrades in their salaries next year, likely leaving us out of the bidding war.

2) Don't you know that even when it's not all about Crosby, it's still all about how it's not all about Crosby?

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