June 17th, 2016 | Posted in Commentary
By: D'Arcy McGrath
A buzzword heard over and over again in Calgary since Brad Treliving was hired by Brian Burke in the late Spring of 2014.
Each draft is a process requiring meetings, and a list and a recalibration, and a new list, then a challenge to the list, then a final list. Then of course the draft.
His off season to do list is a process that results in an action plan to go out on acquire players. Last summer he said they targeted finding a young defenseman that would fit the age group of the young core they were assembling up front. Low and behold he pulled in a very surprising fish in Dougie Hamilton. He felt his club was too on their heels and wanted to find possession players so in addition to Hamilton he brought in a great play driver in winger Michael Frolik.
The past few months have been filled with the terms process and profile, as the thinker endeavors to find his first head coach, his hire. We don’t know what this process is for sure, but he’s offered hints by describing a profile of what he needs in a coach. He went on to say that once this profile was completed they met with some candidates, then rushed back to the profile to make sure the fit was secure. This process has lead him to a choice, his choice, that could be announced as early as tomorrow with the betting line suggesting Glen Gulutzan.
If that’s the case his thoughts will then shift to another processes, that of the draft and selecting players, but also to the draft and potentially moving picks or assets to find a new number one goaltender in Calgary.
Do we know what this process looks like? Of course not but given the track record of the man I thought it might be fun to take a stab at what the straw dog of a process might look like.
What would a meticulous man do in order to find a goaltender that he feels best suits his hockey club and their goals next season? What are those goals? Do they include getting back to the playoffs? Just taking a positive step? Winning a round? Winning their division? The cup final? The cup?
First off we know he loves to look at everything. He will have scoured the entire league name by name and made a list of every team that will be looking to move a goaltender with the expansion draft expected to come in a season. From that list of goaltenders with protection conflicts with their battery mate he will rank each of them; likely in order but also on some scale of some sort.
In house he’ll come up with an estimate as to the acquisition cost of each goaltender, and then rank those as well from most expensive to least expensive. He’ll get on the telephone and talk to all the GMs and kick tires as to availability, asking price, and attempt to get a handle on the likelihood of a deal with each team.
He won’t be done there.
He’ll then move into dollars, and ask himself how much he’d have to pay each of these goaltenders based on contracts they’ve already signed or contracts that will have to be negotiated. Like above he’ll rank these as well, from most expensive to least expensive.
Now what else he’ll ask himself what could make any of these goaltenders better or worse next season and then remember the changes to goalie equipment on the horizon. Which goalteners will be hurt the most by this process? (there’s that word again) What goaltenders will be affected the least by a drop in size of equipment? A good way to handle the answer is to deduct points from the skill rating in the first category by a factor of some kind based on age and size of goaltender. He’ll theorize that smaller and older stoppers will have more trouble adjusting than big and young goaltenders. He’ll call in Jordan Sigalet to discuss athleticism for every player on his list assuming that the athletic type will be hampered less.
Now the skeleton of a pretty good goalie plan is starting to take shape. He has a list of goaltenders he likes, how much they’ll cost to acquire, what they’ll pull in for salary, and an indication of how much they’ll struggle with the changes to equipment.
All that’s missing now is to add some weight to each of these categories.
Does he see the need to add a high skill goaltender as paramount? Or is concerned with not giving up too many assets on year three of his rebuild? How about salary structure with the new deals to Gaudreau and Monahan?
The first scenario has skill as the big driver. He sees the team as ready to make an impact and doesn’t want goaltending dragging the club down. He assigns a weight of 9 to skill and only 4 and 5 to acquisition cost and cap hit.
The result sends him to Tampa to kick the tires on the availability of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Is he available? Probably not as suggested by his acquisition rating, but the combination of high skill and upside, and a low cap hit for next season fits very well for the Flames so Treliving starts there.
Second place lands on James Reimer. His skill level rating isn’t as high, but he is a perfect 10 for acquisition cost and the lack of goalie homes suggests he can be had for less dollars. Finally third place is another tough egg to crack, and that’s getting Korpisalo out of Columbus.
How do things look if he mixes up his weightings a little bit?
In this scenario he doesn’t view this next season as make or break for the Flames. He sees an improvement, but doesn’t feel the need to over pay for a goaltender as he thinks Jon Gillies development will mesh with that of his young core. Here he wants an easy asset to acquire and doesn’t want to destroy his cap structure.
In this case Reimer goes right to the front of the class, up from 2nd in the last case, followed by Marc Andre Fleury. Steve Mason and Darcy Kuemper enter the picture as well, as they are making less money and would be easier to acquire.
There’s more to trading or player swaps than just targeting a goaltender and going out to get him.
A master swapper has to know the market, understand the leverage on both sides and do his very best to put his team (himself) in the best position possible.
With the coming expansion announcement the goalie market is certainly turning into a buyers market teams and protection issues flooding the market with goaltenders they don’t want to lose for nothing. This is instant leverage for Treliving, especially with Carolina signing Ward today and removing themselves from the race.
That leaves Calgary and Toronto as the two clear cut remaining clubs looking to pick up a stopper for next season.
My guess is that Fredrik Andersen is high on both clubs lists, which is a shame for the Flames as they are in the same division. If I was Treliving I’d make an offer to the Ducks right away (if he hasn’t already), and hope that they take this offer to the Leafs and ask them to match. The result will likely be Andersen dealt to Toronto as the Leafs would be the Ducks preferred destination for the big Dane, but the Flames win in this scenario as well.
With the Andersen to Toronto deal done quickly before the Draft, every remaining club with a goaltender and a problem will quickly be contacting the Flames, likely by lowering their demands for a return. With one chair left at the party you can’t mess around when that music stops.
If Treliving has M.A. Fleury high on their list they may find the Penguins more pliable. If there’s any way to pry Vasilevskiy out of Tampa now would be the time to try. If the Red Wings are worried about cap space with the Datsyuk hangover get in there on Mrazek right away and see what you can do.
A great conversation on the site last week came up with another idea, one that yields a great backup plan and leverage in goalie shopping.
Like the deal yesterday between Arizona and Dallas, the Flames should go to San Jose and inquire as to the ask for the negotiating rights to Reimer. If it’s a 5th round pick like Goligoski then do it as getting Reimer in the Flames fold this weekend would really give the Flames some options.
One they’d get to talk to the guy right now. Reimer and his agent aren’t idiots they know there is no other spot in the league to be a starter than Calgary so they’d have to temper their contract demands. By kicking these tires before the draft Treliving would establish his backup plan, one that wouldn’t require the surrender of any of his 4 picks in the top 60 at next week’s draft.
Additionally, the presence of Reimer in Calgary would give the rest of the league the idea that the last hole has been filled by a peg, meaning the only way to move their goaltender is to get really aggressive in enticing the Flames to go with their option rather than the one they already have.
If the Flames trade a third and a C prospect the Pittsburgh for M.A. Fleury and let Reimer walk on Canada day their overall acquisition cost is still paltry compared to what many were guessing a few weeks ago.
Hopefully the Flames will see the completion of the goalie process today with the announcing as Glen Gulutzan as the team’s new head coach. But don’t for a second assume the goalie process isn’t well underway as a parallel. Media reports yesterday had the Flames already kicking the tires in Pittsburgh, and with that we know Treliving is starting to zero in on his pick to stop pucks for the Flames this season.
His thought process might be completely different than above, but rest assured it’s not just chasing the glamorous names. There’s a process a foot and a result that we are likely to see in the next seven days.
Queue up the free agency process!