The issue I feel we run into since the new collective bargaining agreement came into effect is that our internal G.M. often argues with the real life scenarios that take place.
I read trade ideas, in fact I am guilty of making them, and hear how simple it would be to fix this team. We Blame Sutter for quite a bit, maybe rightfully, but we also seem to forget what he did positive.
I am increasingly more willing to stop and really invest some research time into what really irks us as fans and ask some hard questions that might have surprising answers.
The first stop on this journey is Cap Space, this is where our internal G.M. argues heaviest, for example, “He’s not worth 3 million! Trade!!”. I can appreciate how much everyone cares but we are not the billionaire oil barons paying the salary. Where this comes into play is if a player is targeted for being over paid and there is a perception that this is impeding the progress of the club.
To start with dissecting the team pretend everyone gets paid a dollar. Forget the dollars for now, we’ll get there. I will look at a few players that seem to garner the most negative feedback and you can tell me why they should be moved or let go.
Cary Sarich is a player that gets huge negative feedback, recently one of my blogs mentioned Sarich as a possible trade bait at the deadline should the Flames not be in the running. Some reactions surprised me, “Ahurst” wrote, “Why would anyone want those players when the deadline approaches?....” and “Broadstreet11” wrote, “Sadly, no teams will want to acquire any of those guys because they don't improve any squads going into the playoffs….”. “A-Mar” always a rational voice and knowledgeable wrote, “Sarich is a useful piece, but not at the salary being paid…”. This is an example of what I mean, you can see his value just not at what he is being paid.
So why would Cory Sarich, if paid one dollar, be moved by the Flames? He is a shut down defenseman that occasionally lays a big hit. His obvious stats were fine for a guy in the second pairing 17 points and a plus 11. His underlying stats were also positive in most major categories, he started in the defensive zone slightly more than Offensive, the team scored more with him on the ice than off. The one detraction is his competition quality was not very high end. Either way he is a good, solid top four defenseman. If you are saying, “Well of course, if he was one dollar I wouldn’t move him!” then great, just realize you now have an appreciation of his value on a relatively new defence.
Jay Bouwmeester is now widely considered our 1 or 1A Defenseman, Giodano being the other. He starts most of the time in the Offensive zone however the stats say that even when he starts defensive zone the play will more often than not end up in the attacking zone. The quality of his competition jumps much higher than Sarich so the zone stats are impressive. That being said last year the competition scores more with Bouwmeester on the ice than the Flames do however the difference is slight and Bouwmeester plays an average of 25 minutes a game. He is a work horse plain and simple. His skating is elite and when he needs to, Jay has serious elite hands. If Bouwmeester was paid 1 dollar like Sarich I think you would say he is way better value and that you could see all of these great things he does. His skating, his puck movement, his minutes and his decisions.
So I think you see what I’m getting at, when you take dollars out of the equation the players start to glow a little bit brighter, let’s make this harder though…Hagman. There has been some recent posts about his attributes in a positive light, Flamesjambalaya had a good one. More often than not he is sited as the guy who needs to move. It’s obvious his scoring was poor last season for him. There was no lack of try in him though, often we saw him buzzing around, sometimes a little aimlessly for sure but still skating hard and shooting often. The corsi with him on the ice goes way up however the quality he faced wasn’t tremendous and the goals for and against with him on the ice were identical. His previous years saw him hit over 20 goals often, so is it possible he just had a bad year? Yes it is. He did have maybe one of the nicest individual goals last year as well showing he still has the ability. Would you care if he was on the team if he was paid 1 dollar? Would his upside intrigue you?
So now we get to it… Money. Why is the internal G.M. in us so crazy about this? Hagman makes 3 Million so is way over paid according to many so why would any other team take him? His upside? His ability to be a top six player? Then why is he overpaid? On the market as of right now I highly doubt Hagman is worth a 5th round pick because it is a salary dump pure and simple and in addition there is not a huge demand. I believe the Flames would take a third for him. His average points over his last four seasons is 38.5, what do most other 35-40 point guys get paid? Well Bergenheim just signed as a UFA for 2.75 and his average over the same time frame is 24.5 points. Ward signed as a UFA averaging 34.75 points over the last four seasons and he got three million, less average points, same money. Hagman is actually UNDERpaid if you use some comparables or at the very least making what he should.
Sarich… well a comparable might be Eric Brewer Who had 16 points was a Plus 6+ played way more minutes than Sarich but for comparable he might fit. Brewer is getting paid 3.85 Million this year. The closest guy comparable with surface stats is Mike Weber in Buffalo and he gets $950,000.00 so I’ll leave you to decide. Sarich did win a cup and is a playoff competitor, something to consider.
When compiling a team in the real world as opposed to our fantasy G.M. brains so many things are considered including chemistry and intangible leadership qualities. I am sure stats are very closely followed as well as the comparable player salaries but the on ice play, the reason this all happens, is what is cared about most. If paying more for a player that brings what you want means a higher chance of winning then a team will pay it. We as fans can try and look at the positives a player brings as opposed to just comparing his salary league wide and being enthralled or disgusted. If they all just cost a dollar or even all the same how disgusted would you really be with certain players that you may, as of right now, want to see gone?