Flames Continue Retro Rework on Canada Day

July 1st, 2010 | Posted in Commentary
By: D'Arcy McGrath

It’s been an odd six days in Flames history, or better put … it’s been odd watching the Flames dabble in their own history for six days? Or is it … the Flames are history?

Any or all of those statements could be used to describe the club using three player acquisition methods to acquire five pieces of club history during the past week.

The fun got started on day two of the draft when they jumped on the lineage bandwagon by drafting two former Calgary defensemen’s sons in Los Angeles. Another Reinhart and another Ramage are on the way.

Yesterday they went the trade route to acquire a prospect, Logan MacMillan that is the son of one of the original Calgary Flames; Bob MacMillan.

Then to really drop jaws in the city, they used Canada day to bring back two players that have recently left Calgary under less than desirable circumstances when they signed both Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen in the same afternoon.

Unbelievable.

But enough of the recap, lets get into the nuts and bolts of the two signings.

Alex Tanguay

Term: One year. Not a big gamble at all in that if it doesn’t work out they are free to walk away from the player at the end of the season.

Price Tag: Pretty good. Tanguay made 5.25 million in Calgary during his two year stint before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens. Last year he played in Tampa at half of that, and now he’s down to less than a third of his Calgary salary.

Value: 1.7M hockey players don’t score 20 goals and put up 50 points as a rule. Alex Tanguay, with the exception of last year in Tampa, always has.

Thumb: Thumbs up on this one. Alex Tanguay passes the puck very well, and the Flames need more finesse up front; and generally finesse is pretty expensive. Will it work? Ideally he rebounds back to the 80 point range in which case it’s a huge success and he walks after the season to a bigger, longer term deal elsewhere with both sides benefiting. My concern is the attitude of the player. Sure Mike Keenan was the big reason Tanguay wanted out of Calgary, and that’s certainly understandable. However, that doesn’t excuse the player’s sulking demeanour as he requested a trade and let his game fall apart. Hopefully he’s humbled enough to get his game together and keep it there.

Olli Jokinen

Term: Two years. I would like a one year deal for a recovering player (like Tanguay) much better, but two is clearly better than three, so it’s not a massive hindrance.

Price Tag: $3M. It’s 5% of the team’s salary cap allowable which doesn’t seem too stiff, but still a gamble on a top six forward that was far from productive last season (more on that later)

Value: Here’s where things get a little more interesting. Personally I think bringing Jokinen back is nuts, but if you get dispassionate about it and look at the numbers it isn’t bad. Looking at NHL players that produced roughly 50 points last season (Jokinen had exactly 50 points) you’ll find 55 players and an average salary of 4.0 million. Hard to argue that there is value in the contract given a) the numbers don’t lie and b) the chances of Jokinen having a worse season that last year seems remote.

Thumb: Neutral. I was all ready to put a big fat thumbs down on the move, but it does appear the Flames found a million dollar discount on second line production in this deal. If Jokinen returns to a better 20 goal 70 point season then the Flames make out like gang busters. TSN was hearing that Sutter phoned Jokinen right away, meaning it was targeted and not a rebound move to get jilted by another free agent; something that points to a plan at least. They also suggested ownership, coaches, management and the players all want him back. We’ll see. The PR and marketing on this one points to some of the same chaos we saw last winter, just when many fans were bracing for a very positive day. Hmmm.

The Team

Lets put the two moves away in analysis, accept that they are done and look at the roster.

The Flames now have five centers in Calgary, and one could argue four of them are second line centers. Nice depth clearly, but not an ideal way to build a hockey team. Daymond Langkow, Matt Stajan, Jokinen and pseudo rookie Mikael Backlund are all very similar players. Not good enough to be number one centers in the league, but requiring top six ice time to justify their roles. Therefore this team isn’t done yet folks, more changes are coming.

The Left side is about as stacked as I’ve ever seen in Calgary. Rene Bourque, Tanguay, Niklas Hagman and Curtis Glencross suggests three second line wingers, and a great third line guy so they are deep on the port side.

The right flank is where the team has problems, and the obvious target of a trade of one of their centers. Jarome Iginla, Ales Kotalik, David Moss and well … crickets. I can’t see Kotalik being here so they are very thin on the right side.

Add in the fact that Ken King has suggested the team needs to work in three or four AHL kids this fall and the Flames clearly have some room to create and moves to be made. That should add some solace to an odd day.

I wasn’t a Tanguay fan when he left, he just seemed so weak and pathetic in how his time in Calgary wound down. Jokinen was always a man, but a pretty damn ineffective hockey player in most situations, and almost the poster boy for a depressing season in Calgary. Clearly I’m not a happy camper.

However, the numbers, as I said earlier, just don’t lie.

If the two players combine for 35 goals and 100 points next season there is little doubt that Darryl Sutter did a heck of a job today in finding value in a market that was both thin, and at times over priced.

That is … if the chemistry in the dressing room, or the mood in the stands can handle it.

Never a dull moment in the C of Red.


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