First of all I would like to respond to the posters who commented on my last blog. I tried to use the comments section but my posts showed up blank.
Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog.
@HopintheCordoba. Yeah, that pick caught a lot of people off guard including me. Even though ISS/CS etc. had Jankowski rated lower, Craig Button had him ranked #14 overall. Since Craig’s brother Tod is Director of Scouting for the Flames maybe we shouldn't have been so surprised.
@Kevin. As Hopin’ states if Iginla wants to leave perhaps he will waive at the deadline and the Flames get some return. A 33 year old Tomas Kaberle fetched Joe Colborne, a first-round draft pick in 2011 and a conditional draft pick in 2012 as a rental, which is pretty decent. I would suggest Iginla is worth more than Kaberle.
If Jarome leaves, the bean counters will probably be trying to find ways to capitalize on it to squeeze all they can out of him… Jarome Iginla tribute jersey anyone? ;-)
@FL4MES. Thanks very much for your kind words. I am looking forward to you reading my blogs and offering commentary when you feel the urge.
Jay Feaster officially took over the daunting task of Calgary’s GM position approximately six weeks prior to the 2011 Draft. To put it mildly he inherited a Sutter-sized mess, and along with it, several significant challenges.
Darryl Sutter had botched nearly every facet of his job in the latter stages of his tenure. He traded away numerous draft picks and drafted poorly leaving the prospect cupboard bare. Compounding the problem, he had assembled a patchwork of players with seemingly no plan in place other than to add players he thought could help the team…and in some cases he was dead wrong. Toss in bad cap management, bad trades and a plethora of No Movement Clauses added to bloated contracts…well you get the idea.
Although the mess needed to be cleaned up, Jay’s first challenge was unforeseen by many when he faced losing Calgary’s top prospect to draft re-entry after failing to sign Tim Erixon. For a team with precious little in the way of prospects this was a potential disaster and a stiff test. Few blame Feaster for failing to sign Erixon. Although impossible to prove, it is widely suspected that the Rangers were guilty of tampering with former Ranger alumnus Jan Erixon’s son, in an effort to coerce him into jumping ship; and it worked. Bad form.
Faced with losing highly-touted Erixon for nothing, Feaster was forced to cut the best deal he could. The deal ended up being the rights to Erixon and a fifth round pick to New York with prospect Roman Horak and two second round picks coming back the other way.
It is always difficult to evaluate a trade, especially when it involves young players at the beginning of their development curve. But so far it looks like Feaster did well in making the best out of a tough situation. Roman Horak played in 61 games for the Flames last season, scoring 11 points @ +3. Erixon suited up for 18 games with the Rangers notching two assists @ -2, and has subsequently been dealt to the Blue Jackets. Karma? Calgary’s two second round choices ended up being Markus Granlund and Tyler Wotherspoon, while the Rangers selected Shane McColgan with their fifth round choice acquired in the deal.
Second up on Feaster’s agenda was trying to free up some cap space. Sutter had done such a poor job of cap management Calgary couldn’t afford to re-sign players they wanted to keep, and were stuck with several players they didn’t want. To make matters worse, Feaster was hampered by Sutter’s injudicious awarding of NMCs and unwillingness–either from ownership or management-to bury players in the minors or send them packing to Europe.
Faced with this daunting task he traded defensive rock and fan-favourite Robyn Regehr, along with much maligned winger Ales Kotalik and a second round draft pick in 2012 to the Buffalo Sabres for prospect center Paul Byron and relatively inexperienced (just 155 games in three seasons) defenseman Chris Butler. The net monetary result was recuperating nearly $6 million in cap space.
The fan-reaction was mixed, with some fans accepting that something had to be done, but with the majority wishing it had been something else. A more radical contingent wanted to break out the noose.
As it turned out however, the lynch mob has been somewhat soothed. Butler was slotted well above his pay scale into a top-two defenseman role and competed to the best of his ability in a difficult situation, with speedy Paul Byron showing fairly well in his brief stints with the Flames last season. But they put away the rope when Feaster used some of the cap relief to re-sign Alex Tanguay.
Although there is still a fair amount of negative sentiment surround the deal, I think it can be reasonably asserted that Feaster once again made the best of a bad situation. An assertion made easier by looking at Regehr’s performance with the Sabres last year. Not to mention Buffalo eating Kotalik’s salary while he toiled in the Czech league.
Next up was the 20011 NHL Entry Draft. Under Sutter’s guidance drafting had been suspect at best, with only a couple of decent prospects in the stable to show for his time with the club. It was rumoured that Sutter was told to limit his input before the 2010 draft (his final draft) after complaints from the scouting staff that he was ignoring their recommendations reached the ears of ownership. But even so there was a noticeable departure from the Sutter draft years, when Feaster took the helm.
Feaster reportedly told the Flames’ scouting staff the team was heading in a new direction and the draft list should be prioritized on the basis of skill and hockey IQ. This resulted in the first round selection of Swiss-born Sven Baertschi from the Portland Winterhawks. Sven subsequently devoured the WHL last season with a league best 2 points per game.
Calgary further improved their position by drafting aforementioned Markus Granlund and Tyler Wotherspoon in round two, and adding Boston College sensation Johnny Gaudreau in the fourth round and Edmonton Oil King star netminder Laurent Brossoit in round six.
It had only been six weeks since Feaster was appointed GM, but it was obvious 'the times they were a changin’ in a big way in Calgary.
Factoid: Jay Feaster has won championships in both the NHL and AHL. His Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay in 2004 was preceded by his Calder Cup championship with Hershey in 1997.
Next up I will examine the changes Feaster has made within Hockey Operations in his first year as GM.
Thanks for considering my blog.