Monday, February 12, 2007


Flames Bolster Defence, Decimate AFence

In: Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau
Out: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ference

Let's look at this in two parts, shall we? Then maybe I can figure out if I like it...


For whatever reason, I've never really gotten a great handle on Brad Stuart's abilities. The Flames played San Jose 10 times in the year before the lockout -- and Stuart helped take the Calgary Hitmen to the Memorial Cup in '99 -- but I couldn't (with any confidence) answer a question like, "What is Brad Stuart's biggest strength?"

There's three questions/concerns I have about Stuart, or rather his acquisition:

1. How good is he, anyway? I don't mind laying his disgusting -22 this season on his teammates and coach in Boston, but it was still bad even for the Bruins. He was a very high draft pick (#3 overall behind Lecavalier and Legwand in '98), but there's no numbers from his pro career (apart from the 0, as in # of AHL games played) that make me go, "Wow, this guy is effective!" And I certainly don't remember him being anything too special in the Sharks/Flames '04 WCF.

2. Did the fact that he was available make him seem more attractive than he actually is? There's a long, convoluted, Dennis-style sex analogy to be made here no doubt...
If you're a single guy at a wedding reception, and boy it's been awhile since you got off with a lady that wasn't downloaded ;), those one or two single gals at the reception might just look like the bee's knees even though a more sober guy might inform you your expression is referring to the wrong animal and the wrong body part ;)

3. Did Sutter personally overvalue Stuart because of their past association? I think it's quite possible. His record in this area, to be charitable, is mixed. The little table at the left is the players who are (1) presently on the Flames roster and (2) acquired since the lockout. Maybe it's just me, but I'd say on the whole, the players he's acquired who he previously coached have not worked out as well as the players who he hadn't. (The knack that Randy refers to in the comments to the previous post applies to Kipper and -- who, exactly? Bryan Marchment was a useful min. salary player when he was healthy last season, I suppose.)

Not like his teammates were covering for him, but last night was a pretty inauspicious debut for Stuart. He made a lousy play on the Williams goal, backing in too far, and he made a lousy play on the Wings' (cough) insurance goal at the end, putting a clearing attempt right on Draper's stick. Call me Mr. Obvious, but the success of this trade is entirely dependent on whether Brad Stuart plays really well for the next 2-4 months. So far, not so good.

As for Wayne Primeau, Dennis watches a lot more non-NW hockey than I do, and says Primeau will improve the Flames 3rd/4th lines. I'll take his word for it, and happily.


I think Kobasew had run out of rope in Calgary. I'm about 60/40 on his future prospects: 60% that he'll never make the leap and will be a 10-20 goal scorer for the remainder of his career, and 40% that he'll become an extremely useful and productive player (though not a sniper). Though this statement is completely non-disprovable, I definitely think he'll be a much better player for having grown up in the Flames organization.

I'd guess that Sutter had determined that he wanted Kobasew's $1.2M in cap space next season more than he wanted Chuck himself, which is defensible, but I wonder if he couldn't have gotten a bit more back (Kobasew is still less than 2 years removed from keeping up with Eric Staal in the AHL). He's been rumoured to be on the block for a couple of months, so I assume my wondering is little more than wishful thinking.

As for Andrew Ference... know what, he really deserves his own post. I'm gonna Google some things together and get back to you. For starters though, let's just agree that starting this offseason (hell, starting last offseason), an unsigned defenseman who can play a regular shift in the NHL will not be available for $4.2M over 3 seasons. There is a substantial risk of seller's remorse here.


For some reason I was under the obviously mistaken assumption that he had grabbed a couple more of his players from the Sharks...

Hmmm, the disconcerting thing about htis is that I have no idea where I heard that and why I didn't fact-check it myself (which I just did)...

Although its starting to look like Friesen might actually remember how to put the puck in the net still afterall (although the last 7 games is an extremely small sample size compared to the first three months of the season)...

But Huselius from Florida was most definitely a steal...

I had also forgotten that Primeau didn't get the San Jose until well after Darryl had left...

I think I "have a case of the Monday's"...

There's a long, convoluted, Dennis-style sex analogy to be made here no doubt...

If you're a single guy at a wedding reception, and boy it's been awhile since you got off with a lady that wasn't downloaded ;), those one or two single gals at the reception might just look like the bee's knees even though a more sober guy might inform you your expression is referring to the wrong animal and the wrong body part ;)

Oh man, did that make me laugh. Only thing missing was a Paris Hilton reference.

Interesting thing on Stuart.

Once upon a time, I was told that he was "Eric Brewer with more offensive upside".

Then I hear he wasn't panning out as well as some had hoped offensively.

It will be interesting to see what Brewer goes for (if he's dealt), because from what I can gather, he and Stuart are close to being the exact same player, but Stuart had more "trade hype" around his name, so he might have ended up going for a higher price than it would have cost to get Eric out of St. Louis.

The Flames are better today than they were on Saturday when Buffalo won in the shootout....but enough to justify potentially only having the guys they acquired for a few months and sending away guys who were 3 years away from UFA status? I'm not the biggest Kobasew fan, to put it lightly (someone once suggested on Oilfans that he and Hemsky were "comparable", and I damn near got myself banned for the ensuing verbal dust-up), but if he's a 20-goal guy for the next 3 years and both Stuart and Primeau bolt after the Flames choke in the first round, then what?

Sometimes you can see the window closing every so slightly and you know you gotta make a move. This isn't the Expos trading Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore for Colon when everyone knew the Expos needed to do more and everyone in baseball was drooling over Sizemore's potential and oh yeah Lee was a lefty SP as well;) I'm just saying I've seen the worst of deadline deals or teams making a push when they think they can win it all and Ference's affordability and abilites aside this simply isn't it.

Moss showed up and showed himself to be useful and that made Chuck expendable and he's right back to being a suspect this season. Giardano came on the scene and the Flames seem comfortable with the littlest sheepherder so there's the depth that allows Ference to be moved. Plus you're bringing in a guy to prop up a dead bottom six and a dman that has played big min before and is mobile and tough and allows you to shield guys that Sutter has admitted needed shielding, COUGH Phaneuf.

All Oilers fans long for July 1st '08 when Cgy loses some of their players:D but until then the Flames have a real shot at winning a Cup and this deal moves them closer to it. Plus I don't think it can be overstated just how much this hurts the Sharks. It seemed like a given he'd go back there but look at their D and the lack of experience and they look like a crew that has a great chance of being owned down low with a hard forecheck.

You gotta give a little to get a little and that's Ference for two rentals. Kobesew's loss shouldn't hurt because there are kids there to replace him. Great deal by Sutter and if it doesn't work out A: I'll be elated but B: I'll still believe it was worth a shot.


Agreed on the potential for sellers remorse when it comes to Ference. As Matt points out, he is a steady if sometimes maddening 5th or 6th d-man who is very inexpensive.

It's pure speculation, but Ference struck me as a solid guy in the dressing room, and he's someone who sacrificed money to stay with the Flames and played hard in almost all situations (including last year's playoff debacle).

I haven't seen a lot of Stuart but he didn't distinguish himself in the playoffs in '04, and although I see Matt's point about blaming his coach and teammates for his ridiculous -22, I think his effort and interest have to be questioned as well.

Let's put it this way - 17 points in 48 games is not the kind of production you'd expect for someone heading into free agency.

Well, now that I've had a couple days to digest the Calgary trade and that I'm not ridiculously pissed off to see another defenseman headed to Calgary while we have some version of the bad news bears on our backend... here's what I got ;).

I like the deal value wise - I don't think Kobasew will ever be anything more than Peter Schaefer at best, and even that is looking shaky right now. Andrew Ference is an older Marc-Andre Bergeron minus the slapshot and great skating and with a few less gaffe's defensively.

I think it's smart of Sutter to send a message that his team is in win now mode, and I agree that you can never have too many defensemsen or centers come playoff time, especially a guy with size like Primeau and a guy with talent like Stuart.

However, I'm not sure this was the RIGHT move by Sutter for a few reasons.

#1) Calgary is a ****ty road team, and as much as adding defensemen may help that to a point - there problem has remained all year that they only have 2 scoring lines at best, and they're all matched up against easily on the road, and their 3rd and 4th lines fail to create anything. Blowing the rest of their cap on a defenseman and a 4th line C probably wasn't the brightest idea when their biggest problems remain their 3rd and 4th lines being anemic.

#2) They dealt off a character guy in Ference. Not only a character guy - but a guy who sat down with Sutter and signed a long-term deal [i]at a discount rate[/i]. A guy who was loved in the dressing room and that's how you treat him?

I can't imagine many players are happy to see one of their buddies who just went through something like that to get treated that way.

#3) Several backup goalies that are a better option than Noodles are by all accounts available, (Joseph, Belfour, etc) would it not have been a good idea to have a guy in net who the team could actually win in front of so that Kiprusoff doesn't get burnt out again?

#4) This is yet another case of Sutter adding the type of player that he likes, rather than the type of player that he needs. No doubt Calgary has one of the elite defensive cores in the NHL - but they already did. They already had Regehr, Warrener and Hamrlik in the top 3, and Phaneuf is starting to look like more than a hitting Andy Delmore - so why not add another depth guy for a much cheaper price, and blow your load on a guy like Knuble who could add much needed depth to the forward group, help the PP and add more grit to the forward group as well?


Good point on Ference's contract — in my post, I almost considered him a straight up match for Primeau (only in a different position, obviously).

Primeau will make the checking lines better... a great player.

I hate to see Ference go, but I like the deal for a couple of reasons. First, Stuart is in a contract year and he'll play his butt off to show his full value down the stretch. I also like the addition of Primeua. Big boy who'll add some grit. I also like the conditional pick from the Bruins. Either we sign Stuart or get the B's 1st in '08. I also like the dumping of Kobasew. Wish him well, but I don't see him being the offensive contributor he was cracked up to be!

Either we sign Stuart or get the B's 1st in '08.

Point of order on this one: sounds like it's actually the Bruins 4th rounder in 2008 that is the "conditional pick" in this deal, and not the 1st rounder as originally reported.

At least that's what I read a couple days ago. I'd provide a link if I had might just have to take my word for it.

SweatyO is correct. It is not a first rounder.

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