In light of the Flames facing off against Toronto tonight, the team they partnered off with to make last year's blockbuster deal, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the Flames options moving forward.
The Flames have issues. That’s clearly apparent. But fixing those issues -- therein lies the true work of art.
How do you get yourself out from under this mess? A mess that includes but is not restricted to: Locked in contracts to over rated players (cough...Stajan); no-trade/movement clauses to anyone and everyone (Iginla, Langkow, Stajan, Bourque, Kotalik, Jokinen, Tanguay, Bouwmeester, Regehr, Sarich, Kiprusoff).
These problems, among others, are reasons why the the Flames are going nowhere fast, just so everyone is aware.
So let’s look into some possible options to fixing this crap storm of poor managing.
Option 1: The waiting game.
Calgary waits until some contracts come off the books. Right off the bat, problems arise. Next season, the Flames have Tanguay, Glencross, Morrison, Conroy, Staios, Babchuk, Pardy, Mikkleson(RFA) and Karlsson coming off their salary cap. Given the great play of Tanguay and the versatility of Glencross, I would, being the GM, choose to hang on to these players and re-sign them. Do the same with Karlsson (I’ll explain more later). So, with the other players departing the Flames would have just over $6.7 million coming off their cap hit for next season. You go ahead and re-sign the three players I referred to earlier to roughly $4.4 million combined ($2.5 for Tangs, $1.2 for GlenX, $700K for Karlsson) and you are left with $2.3 million in spare room. Not exactly a whole lot of money in NHL standards. It might buy you a couple third line grinders, and the last time I looked, the Flames cupboards are chalk full of those.
So the waiting game doesn’t really serve as much of an option, because next year the team would be in the same predicament is in now. I realize that this team would most likely not just stand pat in the off-season, but this is purely a hypothetical analysis.
Option 2: What about buying out or trading some secondary players?
Cory Sarich – trade or buy-out. You free up $3.6 million and you can replace him with a Matt Pelech, John Negrin, TJ Brodie, etc. The guy occupies the press bow more than a player making his kind of money should. The writing should be on the wall. Next, you get rid of Jokinen and Kotalik somehow, some way. Neither has shown any productivity and at their $3 million price tags, they aren’t exactly a bargain. The problems with these two guys is that they both have no trade/movement clauses(as stated above), making it difficult to get rid of them. Send Ales to Russia. Send Olli to Finland. Pay them to go for all I care. Or better yet, try and con someone into taking them in a trade. Oh wait, Calgary has the only GM dumb enough to do so. So maybe this won’t work either.
Moving on. Unfortunately no team will take Stajan off of the Flames hands. Who is going to pay a guy $3.5 million for 4 years to score less than ten goals a season? Once again, Calgary is the only one swimming in that pool.
Option 3: What about trading a big name?
Here is where things get interesting. As we all know, the biggest assets invite the greatest returns. It’s how the world has worked for centuries. Trade a prize cow and get a bagful of money. Trade a cow that doesn’t produce milk and you’re lucky to get a couple of dish rags and a swift kink in the junk.
There have been many who have been on the ‘Trade Iggy’ bandwagon for the last month of so, and for good reason as this team is in need of prospects and draft picks and Iginla could fetch such a return. But, let’s for a second, think in a different way – quite possibly, a totally irrational way.
What if the Flames traded Kiprusoff?
Now I know what most of you are thinking. What are you nuts? Quite possibly, yes, but I’m just exploring different options.
Here are my reasons.
The Flames are deep at the goalie position right now. They have Karlsson who has played admirably and seems to be getting more and more comfortable with each passing game. In his last 3 starts he has allowed only five goals. He has a .926 SV% in these games with each game going to a shootout. Leland Irving has finally shown his worth in the AHL. He has 15 wins, tops in the AHL. He sports a 2.17 GAA and a .916 SV% -- both quite good.
There is no denying that Kiprusoff is nothing short of a god in net on most nights. He has single-handedly won numerous games for this team when they had no business being in the game in the first place.
So why trade him?
Well, because if good teams covet anything in the NHL, it’s solid goaltending. Where would the Capitals have been last year if they had Kipper and not Theodore/Varlamov? Where would Tampa Bay be right now if they had even a shooter-tutor instead of Ellis/Smith? Look at how San Jose has fallen without Nabokov. Niemi may have won the cup, but he is no Kiprusoff.
See where I am going with this?
What could he fetch on the market? The possibilities are endless. Draft picks, high end prospects, top 6 forwards, and so on and so forth.
Let Karlsson and Irving run with it, and see what happens. You saw what happened when Colorado gave a goaltender a chance – he ran with it, and is still running.
It’s ironic though because what I am saying the Flames should do now is sort of the way Kipper became the Flames goaltender in the first place. He was given a chance by a GM and he used that opportunity to snag a Vezina, a Williams Jennings Trophy, and almost a Stanley Cup ring.
Why trade Kipper and not Iggy? One word: Depth. Goaltending depth is evident as I just explained. On the other hand, the Flames have little to no depth at the forward position. Past Iggy, Tanguay and Bourque, it gets pretty scarce. No offence to Brendan Morrison, but he should NOT be on a team’s PP in the year 2010.
Not like this could ever happen, but I just thought I would stir the pot up a bit and get people thinking outside the box – really outside.
Kipper no longer between the pipes? Yikes. I must be crazy just to think it, no?