In a season full of surprises, many may forget that the Calgary Flames are in the midst of a full rebuild. It’s a process which may require time and patience from Flames fans, as president of hockey operations and acting general manager of Brian Burke looks to fix the mistakes made by former GM Jay Feaster. There is no question that Jay Feaster came under heavy fire after he moved Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester one year ago. Flames fans were expecting the two trades, but were fairly disappointed with the returns.
An Important Deadline Ahead For The Flames
After the controversial trade involving Iginla, who was traded to Pittsburgh for Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino, and a first-round selection, many fans were left questioning if the future of the Flames organization was in the right hands. This came into question even more when Jay Bouwmeester was traded to the St. Louis Blues for Reto Berra, Mark Cundari and another first-round selection in the 2013 Entry Draft. Nearly a year removed from those trades, Reto Berra is the only one of those players to play in the NHL so far, excluding a four-game appearance with the Flames for Cundari last season. And although Ben Hanowski is having quite the year in the AHL (11 goals, 14 assists and 13 penalty-minutes in 46 games), none of these other players have a sure future in the big league. It has been speculated that these two trades, as well as the moves made by Jay Feaster at the 2013 Draft lead to his demise, and with Brian Burke now at the helm as we move towards the 2014 Trade Deadline on March 5th, you can expect the Flames to make a splash as Burke attempts to speed up the rebuild.
Since joining the Flames, Brian Burke has been a part of some solid moves. Burke’s plan is to add size to the roster. When the Flames acquired six-foot-five, 213-pound Joe Colborne, whom he also acquired when he was in Toronto, he took a first step in doing so. Burke has also re-signed Matt Stajan to a four-year, $12.5 million contract and Kris Russell to a two- year, $5.2 million contract. Stajan is a veteran presence in the locker room, and seems committed to staying with the team through its rebuild. Russell, meanwhile, has been a solid add to the Flames blue-line ever since being acquired in the summer. Therefore, it appears we can scratch these two names off of the list going into this year’s trade deadline, but what about the rest of the roster? We can expect that any pending unrestricted free agent not signed by the trade deadline will be moved.
So let’s take a look at a few these pending UFAs, shall we?
LW – Mike Cammalleri – $6Mil Cap Hit
In a season plagued with injuries for the veteran left-winger, Mike Cammalleri is perhaps the name that is most brought up in Calgary when it comes to trades, and one that is hoped to bring in the biggest return for the Flames at the trade deadline. Cammalleri has played 41 games and scored 21 points (13 goals, 8 assists). Cammalleri is a proven goal-scorer and will be an attractive asset at the deadline for many contending teams looking for some playoff depth. But the question is, what team will be willing to pay Cammalleri’s $6 million cap-hit? Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams can now retain salary when making a trade, but it is speculated that Calgary will not be willing to retain any salary when moving the forward.
So where will Cammalleri end up if he is moved at the deadline? The LA Kings are one team that has been rumoured to have interest in the winger, but can they afford to take on the contract? It also appears that the asking price for Cammalleri might be one that teams don’t want to give up. A first-round draft pick and a B-level prospect, or a second-round pick and an A-level prospect is what Burke is expecting in return, and one player on his radar from the Kings would be Tyler Toffoli. Seems a little far fetched, right? Then again, Burke is known for working his trade magic. Other teams that might be a good fit for Cammalleri could be the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils. It is likely at this point that he will be moved by the deadline, but one thing is for sure: if Burke does not receive the value that he wants, he would be just fine with working out a contract extension for the veteran forward.
Prediction: Traded to the LA Kings for one of Linden Vey/Valentin Zykov and a 2014 First Round Draft Pick.
RW – Lee Stempniak – $2.5Mil Cap Hit
Another name that is sure to draw interest at the upcoming trade deadline is that of Lee Stempniak. The veteran right-winger has played the last three seasons with the Flames, but his contract is up in July, and it is unlikely that he will be signing an extension with the club moving forward. Therefore, Burke will look to move Stempniak at the deadline, and the expected return could be a second-round draft pick. Stempniak would be a solid bottom-six forward for a deep contending team, and it is likely that the Pittsburgh Penguins may have interest, as he would be a perfect fit on such a team. Any team looking for more depth and secondary scoring will be sure to take a flyer on Stempniak, and his value could continue to increase as the deadline draws closer, despite the streaky scoring habits he is known for.
Prediction: Traded to the Ottawa Senators for a 2014 Second Round Draft Pick.
D – Chris Butler – $1.7Mil Cap Hit
Chris Butler has emerged as a solid defenceman for the Flames, after facing much criticism when first coming to the team in a trade with Buffalo for Robyn Regher. Butler has matured his game, and become one of the top shot-blockers in the league. He too could be of assistance to contending teams come the deadline, but it is uncertain if Burke will receive much interest in the defenceman. It is probable that Burke will attempt to move him, but not guaranteed that he will be successful. Nonetheless, Butler is a pending UFA with a cheap cap-hit, and we could end up seeing him moved to a team that needs some defensive depth going into the playoffs.
Prediction: Traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a Third Round Draft Pick.
These are the three primary pieces that we could see moved by Calgary at the trade deadline, with Cammalleri drawing the most interest from teams. But that does not mean Burke won’t try and trade away some other assets in order to bring in some more size and toughness. Under Jay Feaster, a player like Curtis Glencross was guaranteed safety, but Burke does not seem to share that view of the winger. Burke was quoted saying Glencross needed to show more consistency in his game once he returns from injury. Therefore, if he returns from injury but does not improve by the deadline, could we end up seeing the winger traded as well? That’s certainly a possibility.
Other names that may be moved? Well, at this rate we could say that nobody on the team is considered untouchable, but we may want to keep a close eye on guys like Sven Baertschi, Mikael Backlund and Jiri Hudler. Those are three players who are signed going forward that would draw major interest from other teams. And if we know one thing about Brian Burke, it is that he is not afraid to make a splash. This trade deadline should be an exciting one for Flames fans, that’s for sure.
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