Once again, I’ve been tricked by the Calgary Flames into thinking things would change this summer. But it seems to be much the same. Six days into free agency, the Flames have left me wonder exactly what direction the team will be moving in this upcoming season. Adding Bob Hartley and his coaching staff to the bench was a bright spot of the summer. In the hopes that the team would move with the change of the bench, I looked forward to this off season. Strategic moves to help the team flourish, build a more youthful base, and shed the dead weight dragging down the team was what I had envisioned. Instead this happened:
Calgary Flames have locked up 6 free agents in the past week. Mikael Backlund (RFA), Paul Byron (RFA), Akim Aliu (RFA), Blair Jones (RFA), Cory Sarich (UFA), and Blake Comeau (UFA). None of them long term, but none of them exactly inspiring players that give me hope for the upcoming season. For the most part, each player has contributed to the Flames, but all they’ve done is resign 3rd/4th liner and 3rd pairing d-men. No Cup can be won by a 1st line alone, but it can’t be won without one too.
And with that, the Calgary Flames let Olli Jokinen walk away to the Winnipeg Jets. As the Flames’ top centermen, he was integral in many games, coming up with that perfect pass or getting one past a goalie. Sure, he slumped at the end of the season, but as we soon learned, Jokinen needed surgery. Whether or not that affected his physical game is unimportant, it would have affected his mental game most certainly. That being said, I’m happy the Flames did not decided to pay Jokinen $9 million like the Jets did. That’s just too much for him.
To be fair, my complaint about David Moss leaving is more about my love of him than anything else. He was a good right winger, and he’s headed to the Phoenix Coyotes, a team I can’t stand. Moss will be missed.
Players added to shake up the status quo haven’t been impressive either. Calgary Flames really enjoy over paying below average defensemen. Dennis Wideman joins the team for 5 years, $5.25 million yearly cap hit. To say this gives me a headache is an understatement. Why would the Flames ever trade for his rights? Was Jay Bouwmeester not enough of a waste? There’s only two years left on JBou’s contract. Which meant in two years the Flames would be rid of that cap drain. Instead, after his contract is up, they still have 3 more years with Wideman! Bad Flames! No! Both JBou and Wideman’s talents would be better served elsewhere. For less money.
Ben Street was signed from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL. Not exactly giving me hope for the future, signing an AHLer when the market has so many players who could be solving more important holes in the Flames game.
The one, somewhat, bright spot is the signing of Jiri Hudler. His money is a bit much, but I see that extra $1 million as paying for his guidance. It’s been a few seasons since the Calgary Flames have made the playoffs, 2008-2009, and while the game hasn’t changed that much, the team has picked up a few new players who don’t have the playoff experience. And many haven’t gone as deep into the playoffs as Hudler has. Hudler can bring the experience of a veteran and still has the youth needed to breath life into the team. Overall, I see him as a beneficial member of the team.
The free agency market still has players out there, players are still on the trading block. The Calgary Flames still have a chance to capitalize on the positive momentum that comes with Hudler. So Rick Nash isn’t an option for the Flames, doesn’t mean it’s time to pack it in. Make offers! Go be proactive! Don’t restrict yourself to the UFA market Flames! Take a look at some RFA, offer up the compensation for the players. Jamie Benn is out there as an All Star and a RFA, make them an offer! Evander Kane is another one, bring him in for help in the goal scoring department. Crazier ideas have been had, but maybe it’s time for the Flames to jump in with Alexander Semin’s pool of options.
The Calgary Flames need to so something in this off season. Go big, don’t let this off season go by without trying to build in a winning direction.
Go Flames Go!