Brian Burke dismissed Jay Feaster back on December 12, 2013 for reasons which were purposely left ambiguous. It wasn’t that long ago but a lot has transpired since then, so it might be time to take an early look at what has happened since.
Mr. Burke traded former first round pick, Greg Nemisz, to Carolina for Kevin Westgarth (pending UFA at the time). Nemisz had not progressed as hoped and was labeled ‘just another Sutter draft-bust’ by some. It seemed like a nothing move at the time that brought some, apparently, much needed truculence to the Flames.
After Nemisz was traded, he scored 3 goals and 8 assists in 14 games for the Charlotte Checkers. To date Westgarth has not been offered a new contract by the Flames. The trade could end up being regrettable, but it is way too early to be critical.
Mr. Burke’s first major duty (in lieu of hiring a GM) was to guide Calgary through the trade deadline. He traded Lee Stempniak to Pittsburgh for a third which reflected the going rate. He also dealt Reto Berra to Colorado for a second round pick which was at the high end of the return scale. According to Mr. Burke Colorado came after Berra so hard he couldn’t say no. Sometimes it helps being in the right place at the right time.
Mr. Burke did not however deal Mike Cammalleri, to the surprise of everyone. Cammy was the most anticipated deal. Shopping him had been openly discussed in the media and he was the Flame thought to hold the most trade value. So why wasn’t he traded?
Publicly Mr. Burke stated that the offers for Cammy were too low, and that dealing him for less than market value would give other GMs leverage in future negotiations. This explanation did not ring true to me for a couple of reasons.
For starters Mr. Burke was committed to hiring a GM before the season at the latest, but preferably before the draft. Once the new GM is hired Mr. Burke would rarely, if ever, be negotiating with other GMs in his position as President of Hockey Operations. That would be Mr. Treliving's job. Secondly, Mr. Burke has a well established reputation and long career of dealing with GMs. It is difficult for me to believe one deal like this would change the perception of him much, if at all. It would be viewed as an aberration.
Mr. Burke misjudged the market for Cammy by his own admission and stated he lowered his price once he saw how soft the market was. It doesn't make sense to me that lowering your price twice would mean much more than you adjusted to a soft market twice and salvaged what was available.
I think it is possible he may have simply lost a game of chicken with the other GMs holding out for a second rounder when it wasn't there. When asked why Cammy wasn't dealt the justification used was salvaging future bargaining power.
When you win the game of chicken you look great, when you lose, not so much. Losing a possible third round draft pick when you don’t have a fourth or a fifth pick in the draft isn’t the end of the world but it isn’t great asset management either when the asset doesn’t re-sign.
Mr. Burke also signed Matt Stajan to a four year extension with an AAV of $3,125,000.00. Matt has reinvented himself the last two seasons, and turned into a solid player and stabilizing influence. According to Bob Hartley ‘he has turned into one of our most consistent players’. At 30 years old the term might be a bit long, but a rebuilding team needs some veterans to form the foundation, and rebuilding teams aren’t primary destinations for UFAs.
By far the most significant move Mr. Burke has made was the hiring of Calgary’s newly minted NHL GM Brad Treliving. Mr. Treliving has been through Free Agent Frenzy and the NHL Amateur Draft now, so I think he has done enough to warrant an early assessment, which I will do next time.
Factoid: Brad Treliving’s father, Dragon Den’s own Jim Treliving, has an estimated net worth of over $650,000,000.00.
Thanks for stopping by.