In a few hours the Flames will take on the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center, and well I don’t have the brightest out look. Three losses in a row does not bode well for the Flames. Morale is low, players are not stepping it up, and the Wild are second in the Western Conference. While that doesn’t mean much right now, so much can change in the next few weeks, their standings certainly reflect the Wild’s current level of play, which, sadly, is at a much higher caliber than the Flames have managed the past two seasons. I’m not advocating that the Flames start to lose games to get the higher draft picks, it is much too early in the season to be thinking that, but they should take a long hard look at their style of play and understand that if they want to give Iginla that Stanley Cup he so rightly wants, it’s not going to happen like this.
Yesterday/last night a post went up about looking towards the future, not with just the season but down the road with the newest players acquired over the last few months. I wrote about Roman Horak, Chris Butler, and Paul Byron yesterday and what I thought of their acquisitions, with the promise of Lee Stempniak and Derek Smith being the focus of this post. Let’s get down to business (to defeat the Huns….)
Oh Lee Stempniak, what to say about you. You’re not quite as youthful as Horak, coming in at 28 years old, and you do come from the Coyotes, who have a tendency of fleecing the Flames with their deals, however you have managed 4 goals and 4 assists in 21 games. While this isn’t anything stellar, you’re still 5th in goals for the team and on pace for an average season of 15 goals. (Why is this post being written to Stempniak? Too much turkey, me thinks) Flames don’t need a guy who will only put up 15 goals, the Flames need a consistent player and that is not Stempniak. The only light at the end of the tunnel is, at the end of this season, Stempniak’s contract is up.
I tried to find something nice and positive to say about this next player, but I truly am struggling to find anything noteworthy about this unremarkable defense men from the Ottawa Senators, Derek Smith. At a $700, 000 cap hit, I’m not really looking for that much from a player, but looking at his stats, Smith isn’t even worth that kind of money. I know he’s a defense man, not really meant to put up high numbers under goals but his assists are equally pathetic and his registered hits? Maybe I’m just accustomed to the hits of Phaneuf, who has recorded 36 hits to date, but Smith is basically non-existant. There’s no presence on the ice for Smith, you can’t have a player like that when the team is struggling as badly as the Flames. Someone needs to step up and clearly that is not Smith. Nice try, but it’s time to cut our loses and move on.
The Flames can’t rebuild the team in it’s current state. There are too many bloated contracts, not enough teams can take on these contracts, and there’s not one player who has enough potential that a team would be willing to risk taking on said bloated contract. Personally, I like the fact that the Flames are taking these lower priced guys, it will give them players to put out on the ice as they wait for the bloated contracts to run out. Flames can’t have any sort of fire sale, so the need to sit and wait it out. Rebuilding will take a long time, and these lower priced guys will help this. Yeah, I’d love to see the Flames salvage the season, but it’s a long shot at this point. These lower price players won’t tie up too much cap space and will be easy to move once the Flames get a handle on the current money situation. The only thing that could screw this up is at the end of the season, the Flames off guys like Smith large, long term contracts. Clear the space by taking on these smaller contracts, sign the big names that actually produce, rebuild the team around said players.
There’s your answer Flames, it’s up to you to find this post and get to work.