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When I originally began writing this article it was before the recent moves by Feaster in the trading of Flames icon Jarome Iginla and their top defender in Jay Bouwmeester. Some of my opinions will certainly change based off of these 2 moves.
On December 28, 2010, Darryl Sutter resigned as the General Manager of the Calgary Flames and the position was taken over by Jay Feaster as the interim GM. The following season he was named the permanent GM of the Flames. Feaster, needless to say, was walking into a mess of a prospect pool and farm system. The Flames prospect pool was made up of pretty much zero to little skill and all projected 3rd to 4th liners/depth defenceman. The top prospect in the system at the time was Mikael Backlund who has really only translated into a decent 3rd line center on the big club. Their top defensive prospect was TJ Brodie, who is an offensive minded defenceman and a great skater and is only now starting to pay off at the pro level.
So let's take a look at some of the moves made by Jay Feaster since taking over as the Flames GM and then we'll decide how we can grade him:
Perhaps one of the more underrated moves of Feaster's was trading the disgruntled Tim Erixon to the New York Rangers for Roman Horak and two 2nd round picks. Those two 2nd round picks ended up being Markus Granlund and Tyler Wotherspoon. Granlund was one of the top scorers at the 2012 World Junior Championships for Finland and is projected as a top 6 forward. Tyler Wotherspoon also played in the 2012 World Juniors for Canada as a big shut down D-man and more recently (this week actually) signed an entry-level contract with the Flames.
The most significant move made by Jay Feaster at the 2011 draft was the drafting of Sven Baertschi. Baertschi is a Swiss player with great vision and speed and projects as a top line forward on the Flames. He is considered the crown jewel of all the draft picks Feaster has made to date.
With the last two picks Feaster had available in the draft he selected LW John Gaudreau in the 4th round and G Laurent Brossoit in the 6th round. Gaudreau was one of the top scorers in this past year’s 2012 World Junior Championships for the USA and more recently has been nominated for the Hobey Baker award in the US for the top collegiate player (he was also nominated in 2012). He projects as a top 6 forward with great speed and finishing skills although he only stands 5’6” (very Theo Fleury-esque). Brossoit is one of the top goalies in the CHL and just this week was names CHL goalie of the week.
Another significant move made by Feaster in June of 2011 was the trading of Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a 2nd round pick for defenceman Chris Butler and forward Paul Byron. This move freed up some much needed cap space for the Flames and made the Flames younger in the process. He had to give up the 2nd rounder in order for Buffalo to take Ales Kotalik back in the deal.
In August of 2011 he traded away another overpaying contract in Daymond Langkow to the Coyotes for Lee Stempniak who is a serviceable 2nd or 3rd line player. Stempniak also resigned with the Flames this past offseason.
Feaster made several other minor tweaks in 2011 to help bring more skill into the organization as well as help cut some of the overpaid contracts. It should also be noted that Feaster made a significant pitch to try and sign Brad Richards in UFA to finally give Jarome the number 1 center he had always wanted to play with but in the end Richards chose the bright lights of New York City.
Jay Feaster started 2012 off with a bang in reacquiring Iginla’s old line mate Mike Cammalleri. The Flames shipped out Rene Bourque, prospect Patrick Holland and a 2nd round pick in the 2013 draft for Mike Cammalleri, prospect Karri Ramo and a 5th round 2012 pick. “Cammo” played decently for the Flames but was never able to find the previous chemistry he and Iginla had from his first stint in Calgary. Karri Ramo is considered by the Flames scouts as the best goalie not playing in the NHL. Take this as a grain of salt (ie Jonas Gustavsson). Perhaps the most painful part of this deal is sending the 2013 2nd round to Montreal which will presumably be a low 30s pick.
Feaster also made some noise by trading for the right of Dennis Wideman from the Washington Capitals which led to his signing and then he also turned around and signed Jiri Hudler in free agency. Feaster then signed Roman Cervenka from the KHL as the projects 1st line center the Flames were hoping for. Feaster’s intentions for the 2012-2013 season we clearly to drive the Flames into the playoffs by adding some more skill. Cervenka for the most past has been a bust only showing minor glimpses of his skillset. Wideman has played pretty well at both ends of the ice but the makeup of the Flames team doesn’t allow him to show his skillset. Hudler has looked pretty good overall.
At the 2012 entry draft Feaster raised a few eyebrows when he traded the 14th overall pick to the Buffalo Sabres for the 21st pick and the 42nd pick. He then used the 21st pick to select little known high school forward Mark Jankowski. Jankowski plays for Providence College of the H-East league and time will tell whether this was a good selection or not. There was several highly touted prospects not yet selected that would’ve been a safer bet. With the 42nd pick the Flames selected D Pat Sieloff who is a hard hitting, physical shut down defender who played a big role for the USA in the past 2012 World Junior Championships. The remaining picks in the 2012 draft were used to select G Jon Gillies, D Bret Kulak, D Ryan Culkin, LW Coda Gordon, C Matthew Deblouw. Only time will tell how these prospects fare.
By all accounts, the 2012-2013 season has been an utter disappointment for the Flames team and management. The offseason signings of Hudler, Wideman and Cervenka made it clear Flames management wanted to make a playoff run this year. However, as the wheels fell off the team on the ice, so too did it within the boardrooms of Flames management.
First there was the whole Ryan O-Reilly incident. Jay Feaster and company almost gave away a 2.5 million dollar signing bonus, a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick for nothing. Clearly not understanding the rules of the new CBA, Feaster signed Ryan O’Reilly to an offer sheet not knowing the forward would’ve had to pass back through waivers because of playing 2 games in the KHL. Thanksfully, the disaster was averted with the Avs quickly matching the offer (ironically during a Flames/Avs game). Had the Avs not matched, this would’ve set the Flame organization back several years.
Secondly, there’s the tough decision Feaster was put into to ask the face of the Flames Jarome Iginla for a list of teams he would be willing to be moved to. Iginla reportedly provided that list which included the Penguins, Blackhawks, Kings and Bruins. On the night that Iginla was eventually traded to the Penguins it was first reported that it was a “done deal” with the Bruins. The Bruins had an offer on the table that consisted of their 1st round pick in 2013 (confirmed to have no condition attached by Peter Chiarelli), Alexander Khokhlachev, and Matt Bartowski. This would’ve given the Flames the 1st round pick they coveted, a skilled Russian forward almost ready for the bigs and a young shut down defender, not a bad return at all. Instead later in the evening Feaster left the decision in the hands of Iginla who of course chose Pittsburgh and we instead get a return of a 1st rounder (almost assured to be 30th overall) and two midrange college prospects. Although, this is not entirely the fault of Feaster one needs to wonder what went on the scenes to let this happen? Feaster’s job as a GM is to make the team and organization better and in this case that was not accomplished.
Thirdly and lastly (up to date at least) Feaster traded the Flames top defenceman in Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues for a conditional 1st round pick in 2013, D Mark Cundari and Reto Berra. The 1st round conditional turns into a 4th this season and a 1st next season if the Blues miss the playoffs this year. Cundari is a 5’9” defenceman who projects as a 3rd pairing D at best. Berra is a goalie who just wrapped up his playing time in a Swiss league. Flames scouting seems to think Berra, along with Ramo are the two best goalies not playing in the NHL. Well so was Jonas Gustavsson and look what he has accomplished in the NHL. The return for Bouwmeester is far too low for a top level defenceman having a great year with a year remaining on his contract.
Flames management got midrange prospects in return for their former face of the franchise captain as well as their top defenceman. Whether it’s Feaster who is to blame, Murray Edwards, Ken King or the Flames scouting department, something is a miss. The Flames as an organization are doing the right thing in rebuild, although it should’ve been started 1 or maybe even 2 years ago, however they are certainly not kickstarting the rebuild as the prospects they are acquiring are not the names any educated hockey fan want to see returned. A blue chip prospect like Ty Rattie should’ve been in the Bouwmeester deal or no deal should’ve been made.
With rumblings of other players potentially on the block like Kipper, Cammalleri, Glencross, Stempniak, Tanguay, Sarich, Babchuk, etc, one can only hope the Flames management does something right and get’s back some talent or maybe even strike it lucky and get the prospect who blossoms into a star. Flames fans everywhere will embrace the rebuild and are happy to see the 1st round picks coming our way, but the same fans are just as worried to see what the Flames as an organization will actually do with those picks.
As a whole I give Feaster a C- for what he has accomplished as Flames GM. If I break it down by year it goes 2011-A, 2012-C+, 2013-D-.