Feaster’s first player acquisition as acting GM was underwhelming and perhaps a token move to show he wanted to bolster the lineup without giving up much. With the Flames’ season winding down and a playoff spot looking less likely with each passing game, Feaster added a ‘broken down’ Fredrik Modin, giving up a seventh round pick at the deadline in 2011. Modin had little impact, only playing four games for the Flames before being inured heading into retirement after the season.
After a successful 2010-2011 campaign Feaster signed Curtis Glencross to a long-term contract extension paying the gritty sniper a cap friendly average of $2.55 mil a year for four years. Glencross enjoys Calgary and playing for the Flames and took a hometown discount to stay with the club, making him a substantial bargain.
Immediately after ‘free agent frenzy’ started in July 2011, Jay signed left winger and Flames alumnus Alex Tanguay for five years @ $3.5 mil per year. A critical signing at the time for a Flames’ team sorely lacking in talented forwards.
Three days later Feaster re-signed hulking defenseman Anton Babchuk for two years @ $2.5 mil. per year. Although not the most mobile defenseman, Babchuk showed well for the Flames during the 2010-2011 season and possesses a cannon of a slapshot clocked at 104 mph. The signing ended up being a bit of a head-shaker as Brent Sutter opted to sit Anton for many of the games throughout the season despite an anemic powerplay, which his shot could have, and did help, when he eventually drew back into the lineup because of injuries.
Before the month was over Feaster signed UFA Derek Smith in what many thought was a move to bolster the Heat’s roster in Abbotsford. However Smith stepped up and made the team and showed well enough to garner a two year deal.
With the season approaching and lacking depth on defense, Feaster signed veteran defenseman Scott Hannan, who played well beyond his $1,000,000.00 contract.
Also worth mentioning is the signing of Krys Kolanos who ripped it up in Abbotsford and filled in for thirteen games with the Flames when the injury bug hit the big club.
Probably the biggest and most surprising event that occurred regarding free agents was a signing that didn’t happen. To the amazement of many, Feaster offered what was speculated to be an 8 year deal @ over $7 mil per year for the highly coveted but aging Brad Richards. Although Brad would have been a great compliment centering Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, I think it is safe to say Feaster and the Flames are better off with Brad deciding to sign with the Rangers. But as a consequence the Flames are still without a true #1 center as they have been throughout Iginla’s career.
On the trade front Feaster began before the draft making a deal with the NYR under duress, trading the rights to Tim Erixon for Roman Horak and two second round choices. Following that move was the highly controversial Robyn Regehr trade, which saw Robyn, Ales Kotalik and a second round pick in the 2012 draft head to Buffalo for prospect Paul Byron and roster defenseman Chris Butler. I examined these deals in my last blog in some detail. To check it out please go here: http://my.hockeybuzz.com/...=127057&post_id=13868
Jay continued his efforts to improve the club while increasing cap space by dealing fan favourite and stalwart competitor Daymond Langkow back to the Phoenix (are they still there?) Coyotes. The return was likeable but streaky Lee Stempniak to help out on a weak right flank and an important $2 mil in cap relief.
With the season barely underway Feaster saw the opportunity to acquire Blake Comeau who potted 24 goals for the Islanders the previous year for the price of a waiver fee, and acted on it. Blake provided some speed and high level penalty killing minutes, but was a disappointment on the scoresheet, scoring just four times and amassing just fifteen points.
Sometimes a deal that looks trivial ends up being a pleasant surprise. Such was the case when the Flames acquired center Blair Jones from the TB Lightning for prospect defenseman Brendan Mikkelson. Jones brought instant energy to the Flames who were suffering from a depression that can only be brought on by a sulking, surly coach who is never satisfied with the team’s performance.
‘Jonesy’ instantly became a fan favourite using his big body in a agitator/checking role, and was sorely missed when forced out of the lineup after breaking his ankle blocking a shot.
The most significant trade came on January 12, 2012 when Feaster jumped the queue on the trade deadline pulling the trigger on a deal that brought Michael Cammalleri, Karri Ramo and a fifth-round draft pick in 2012 to the Calgary Flames from the Montreal Canadiens for Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a second-round draft pick in 2013.
In one of the most unusual trades I can recall, Cammalleri was pulled from a game and notified he had been traded to the Calgary Flames. In another unusual twist, Feaster announced the trade on the Jumbotron during a Flames’ home game. The crowed erupted with cheers and applause welcoming back a huge fan favourite who many feel should have never been allowed to walk at the end of his contract.
‘Cammy’ started out slowly while becoming acclimatized to his new environment and was hampered by an injury shortly after being dealt. However when asked to step into the top line center role Cammalleri scored nine points in his last eleven games signaling he was back. Although his return did not help the Flames secure a playoff spot it is widely felt by Flames’ fans that his leadership and skill will be a major factor for the Flames going forward.
A seemingly less significant deal that could end up paying big dividends was the trade for enigmatic power forward Akim Aliu. In Aliu’s brief two-game stint with the Flames he scored twice and added an assist in limited minutes.
In a memorable but meaningless game between the Flames and Ducks at the end of the season Aliu scored twice and destroyed Ducks’ defenseman Cam Fowler with two separate body checks, drawing the ire of the Ducks who went after the big Nigerian-born winger. He responded by challenging their bench. This kid is a beast, and if he can get his head together he has the size, speed and skill to become a one-man-wrecking-crew in the NHL.
Despite substantial changes both on and off the ice, the Flames slow start to the season, second most man-games lost to injury and fatigued if not lackluster play down the stretch cost the team a playoff spot by just six points.
This concludes my look at Jay Feaster’s first season as GM. Next time I will begin to look at Feaster’s second season behind the wheel.
Factoid: Michael Cammalleri had his best season with the Calgary Flames playing on a line with Jarome Iginla. Michael scored 39 goals and added 43 assists for 82 points.
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