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Okotoks, AB • Canada • 27 Years Old • Male
For the first time since 2003, the Calgary Flames look like they have a viable 1st round draft pick with #17 in the first round. It looks as if the Flames will be looking for a forward in this slot and if the hype for D comes through, they could be staring at a pretty solid prospect being available when their time comes.

But let's look around the draft for a moment and map out what we know going in to next season... assuming Sutter's "gentleman's" agreement with Langkow holds true... this is what our line up looks like in terms of contract players for next season. (salary in millions beside their name. Forwards first.

Tanguay (5.375) Langkow (5.0) Iginla (7.0)
------- Lombardi (1.55) ----------
Primeau (1.4) --------- Moss (0.575)
Nilson (1.0) Boyd (0.65) ----------

FREE AGENTS: Conroy, Nolan, Nystrom, Yelle, Godard
MINORS/OVERSEAS: Grant Stevenson, Krys Kolanos, Brandon Prust, David Van der Gulik, Mikael Backlund

It seems fairly certain that Conroy will be back at a discounted price to act as the 3rd line checking centre. Nystrom, Nolan and Yelle will likely all receive offers to return but may have better luck on the UFA market; Nolan may also choose to retire.

As for the players from Quad City last year; I feel that Grant Stevenson should be brought up to play after scoring 33 goals last season. He would fill one of the spots on the right wing. It's possible he and Moss could duke it out for the 2nd line right wing but they would likely fill the 3/4 line RW positions. Brandon Prust will continue to be a call-up option and Mikael Backlund is probably a year away still.

Personally, I re-sign Eric Nystrom for around 700 - 750,000 to play a checking role. I would love to bring back Nolan, but when it's all said and done, I don't think we'll be able to afford him.

On to defenseman...

Phaneuf (6.5) Aucoin (4.0)
Regehr (3.5) Sarich (3.6)
--------- ----------
Eriksson (1.5) Warrener (2.5)
Giordano (contract unknown, likely around 0.75)

FREE AGENTS: Vandermeer
MINORS: Adam Pardy, Matt Pelech, John Negrin, Tim Ramholt

I don't think that Eriksson or Warrener are capable of logging 3rd pair minutes on a team that feels they can challenge for the cup. Unfortunately, I also think it will be difficult to get rid of them (their salaries) because honestly, who's going to take it on? That's going to be a sad truth for Flames fans this off-season.

I'd like to see Vandermeer re-signed with Giordano promoted to the top 6. But again, Vandermeer would likely have to take a cut from his 1.225 in order to stay, so hopefully he enjoyed his time in Calgary being used poorly by Mike Keenan as a make-shift Left Wing... which I doubt.

It looks to me as if Warrener and Eriksson will rotate in the final D spot for the time being with one of the guys in the minors ready to be 8th on the depth chart. Likely Adam Pardy with John Negrin needing one year in the minors before taking that spot over.


Kiprusoff (5.83)

FREE AGENTS: Joseph, McElhinney
MINORS: Leland Irving, Matt Keetley, Kevin Lalande

I can't see Joseph coming back so we should see McElhinney re-signed for a cheap price to play 4-6 games. Irving and Keetley will back stop Quad City and compete for time and possibly even competing to be the next back up to Kipper.

Current Team Salary (incl. Langkow and Giordano estimates) 50.73
Estimated Cap 56 million

Leaves 5.27 million to play with. Sutter won't spend right to the limit; but for this case, we'll assume we have all of that money.

Playing the role of General Manager, I think Sutter will re-sign Conroy (about 1 million), Nystrom (750,000) and bring up Grant Stevenson (475,000).

I think the cap does not allow us to make any moves on D.

Goalie, re-sign McElhinney (575,000)

Adding those numbers to the cap leaves us with 2.5 million and one forward spot left to fill. Since the #17 pick will not be ready to fill a role on our 08-09 team, something will have to be done in free agency.

Going through the list of potential UFA's leaves these players as those I feel Darryl Sutter will have some interest in.

Curtis Glencross: He may have just had his breakout season with the Jackets/Oil. Reports are saying that the Oilers will not be able to re-sign him. Curtis was recently the Parade Marshall of the Brooks Rodeo (my hometown and where Curtis played his Junior A hockey) and in talking with close friends of his, it appears he feels he will not be back with the Oilers because he is not one of their top priorities. When asked if he was coming to the Flames, he said he could not say much, only that the Flames were 1 of 3 teams that have showed major interest. (but there's no tampering in the NHL is there?) I think he's tops on the Flames list and I think the Oilers made a huge mistake not re-signing him.

Ruslan Fedotenko: The Flame killer. Scored the 2 goals for Tampa in game 7 against the Flames. Sutter may have some interest in him.

Keith Aucoin: This is a personal choice. I think he has some value as a checker who could score 15-20 goals. I watched a lot of Carolina this year and he always seemed to be buzzing.

The bottom line after breaking all of this down is that regardless of what Daryl Sutter says in the media, we are not looking that good in terms of cap. Unless of course, some of these guys in the minors are actually ready to step up.

The Flames should be looking at cutting salary for the upcoming season and I don't think that Tanguay is the option. Without Alex, the Flames are a bunch of checkers with a decent top line.

Serious consideration should be given to getting rid of Rhett Warrener's salary. Does he have a no-movement clause? Send him to the minors to take his salary off of the cap books.

The Flames have several needs and again they seem to fall in an all-to-familiar place, goal-scoring. But anyway I break it down, barring any major moves. The Flames are going to make all of their draft picks possibly even trading down to acquire a 2nd or another 3rd and then try to re-sign a lot of their current UFA's at discount prices.

However, the fact that Sutter has not done anything, including the Langkow deal, leads me to believe that something is in the works.

Enjoy the draft...
Filed Under:   Flames   Langkow   Glencross  
June 17, 2008 7:50 PM ET | Delete
I disagree with you about Warrener and Adrian Aucoin. I would be quite surprised if Warrener wasn't bought out; a buyout is affordable (about $783,000 for the next two years). I'm unsure about this but don't players need a two way contract to be sent to the minors? (I remember that was the reason Gio left for Russia last year - Sutter wouldn't give him a one way deal). Sutter also needs to convince some poor sap to take on the last year of Aucoin's deal ($4M per) if he wants to clear the space necessary to improve. I agree with everything else, though; Glencross or Fedotenko would be good signings for the Flames if only to cut Kipper's GAA in half (in all seriousness they would be good.) I can only hope Sutter doesn't screw up the draft again this year. Great work as always slepp.
June 17, 2008 7:58 PM ET | Delete
You can send players to the minors as long as they don't have a no-movement clause. They just have to go through the waiver process, making them available to other teams as long as they take on the salary. Also, you still have to pay them their normal NHL salary. It has happened recently, maybe Mogilny with the Devils??? But that's why Giordano wasn't just sent down, because he would not have cleared waivers. Someone would've snatched him right up.
June 18, 2008 12:48 AM ET | Delete
sending vets like Rhett to the minors does not do you any favours in getting free agents to sign, if Sutter can make the move of moves and get rid of aucoin and buy out Rhett then we look REALLY good. I agree sutter has something working but also he could just be waiting until the salary cap is decided on so he doesn't lose leverage in deals, especially with the langkow deal reportedly a sealed thing. I think giordano is worth 1-1.2 mil, he signed for that in russia and he can skate and pass,, reiksonn was the big mistake for sure..just a straight up bad move. I'm up in the air on this draft, if it meant getting a jokinen type player I'd say trade it but if we stay on course and get a great player then I'm okay wth that as well...the only thing is our scouting is as bad as it gets (almost). With a deep draft like this I'd say trade it, get your guy, and make sure the deal includes an early 2nd rounder.... those are my thoughts.
June 18, 2008 2:37 AM ET | Delete
I'm most but little worried for the draft considering our some what poor skilled forward prospects, other than Backlund. But with a deep draft and a 17th pick, Sutter will probably get a offensive forward like he has previously said, which we need and not another grinder. And of course there are the Jokinen rumours but I realisticly dont see him coming here. J. Martin has said he wants a 1st round pick since they dont have one this year and since we dont have a second round pick, as well as Vancouver being another team interested in Jokinen and willing to shop that 10th overall pick, then I dont see it happening for us. As for the free agents I would like Glencross but I'm not sold on Fedatenko. I think we should look for a second line guy because the third and fourth line guys are mostly going to be young guys other than Primeau, and possibly Conroy and Yelle. Brunette and Rissmiller are 2 other free agents that I would like to see in a Flames jersey. As for Tanguay, I really love him as a player but the situations he was put in this year I dont think was him. As well as playing on the 2nd line for most of the year I'm not surprised he had his worst season yet but if he gets us a Marleau or Jokinen I wouldnt be upset.
June 18, 2008 8:22 PM ET | Delete
Interesting read - good blog Slepp
June 20, 2008 11:31 AM ET | Delete
"the oilers can't afford to sign" glencross. You better do some more reading. the guy is asking for 1.5-2.0 million a year for having 20 good games. Taking a look at your lineup, you better hope Kipper is at the top of his game from Game 1. Looks like you have a 1 line scoring machine. Its going to be long season for Sutters checking, boring, defensive first Calgary Flames.
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