Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Cupboards Aren’t Bare Anymore

A couple years ago the Flames organization was seen as having one of the worst prospect pools in the league. Darryl Sutter was in “win now” mode and many people thought the Flames were a contender. Maybe not a legit Stanley Cup contender, but a playoff contender at the least. Things didn’t go as planned, Sutter stepped down and Jay Feaster went from assistant General Manager to acting General Manager in December of 2010. He had a lot of work ahead of him to fix a team loaded with No Trade/No Move Clauses and not many good prospects.

While Feaster was in charge, the Flames drafted and traded for some young players that have given fans a better hope for the future. Some of the trades include bringing in Corban Knight, Karri Ramo, Ben Hanowski and Kenny Agostino. Not all are household names but they help build and develop a strong system in the minors which is important for any team that wants to produce quality NHL’ers.

Where Feaster and his team did their best job was at the draft table. All of the Flames best prospects in their system right now have come from the draft. Sven Baertschi, Markus Grandlund, Tyler Wotherspoon, John Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier, etc. (Max Reinhart was a Darryl Sutter draft). These are the players fans hope and pray will become future stars on the Flames.

Now with Brian Burke employed as President of Hockey Operations, and as acting General Manager until he hires someone, the Flames need to continue to draft smartly for this team to move forward. Barring a “Burkian” style Sedins or Kessel trade, this summer’s 4th overall pick should land a very strong player especially if Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett are still available. This is a big draft for the team with Brian Burke in charge for the first time. Will his vision lead to different style of drafting players? Will he continue to look at size as one of his top qualities in a player he wants to draft? Will he emphasize skill?

Seeing the Edmonton Oilers is a constant reminder of how important draft day is when building a team. Let’s hope the Flames continue to do a good job so our rebuild only lasts a couple of years.

Friday, April 11, 2014

HE SIGNED HE SIGNED HE SIGNED!!!! Gaudreau Signs With The Flames

The Calgary Flames Officially Sign Gaudreau & Arnold

The wait and speculation is over, the Flames have finally and officially signed John Gaudreau. Along with Gaudreau the Flames also sign and his Boston College team mate Bill Arnold. Many fans were worried this day would never come, but here it is.

Bill Arnold Contract terms: Two-year entry level two-way contract commencing immediately with an annual NHL base salary of $810,000, a signing bonus of $90,000 each year and an Average Annual Value of $900,000

John Gaudreau Contract terms: Three-year entry level two-way contract commencing immediately with an annual NHL base salary of $832,500, a signing bonus of $92,500 each year and an Average Annual Value of $1,850,000 incorporating performance bonuses .

Both come with a lot of expectations, Gaudreau is expected to produce almost instantly. At least that is what most fans expect. Arnold who has put up good numbers in college is more expected to become a solid third line player. Arnold is a physical player with decent size, known for his work ethic and hockey smarts. Arnold will have to improve his skating as that is considered a weakness of his.

Gaudreau is crafty, fast and has major skill that allowed him to put up 77 points in 39 games for Boston College. Where will he fit with the Flames? Only time will tell. 

Both Gaudreau and Arnold may play Sunday in Vancouver.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Season Slowly Coming to an End

This & That Update

As the season is slowly coming to a close, many little tid bits are surfacing. From Cammalleri to Gaudreau and the elusive GM search, an exciting off season lays ahead.

With the Flames playing a game in Toronto, Brian Burke made himself readily available to the media. Besides the obvious questions about being back in Canada’s largest city, he also addressed the Cammalleri contract situation.

Burke stated that the Flames have offered Cammalleri a contract that they feel is fair. Now, he followed that by saying that Cammalleri and his camp feel they can get a better deal in free agency. With the lack of top end talent come July 1, Cammalleri is likely right. We do not know what the Flames have offered but I would imagine Cammalleri is looking for a longer deal with an annual salary north of 5.5 per season.

It is starting to look like the Flames may end up watching Cammalleri walk for nothing. This will make some if not most of the fans upset, but all we can do is hope that Burke not selling him for a low pick will pay off in the future? I am not sure how that will pay off, but Burke stated that it is important the Flames send a message that they will not sell their talent for below for what they feel is market value.

The new GM search continues but sounds like it is on hold. Brian Burke on the FAN960 said it could take until July before they can continue to interview possible candidates. This means Burke will be in control at the draft. With that said keep an eye on George McPhee, if the Capitals fail to make the playoffs and with an expiring contract, George could be out as the GM in Washington. I am not saying he is my #1 choice, but he will be a front runner if he does indeed need a new job. McPhee would allow for a seamless transition for Brian Burke.

Now the Gaudreau situation, it just keeps getting more and more intriguing. The latest is his father; Guy Gaudreau who in an article by Dave Isaac from the Courier-Post was quoted saying:

"My wife and I, we've argued about it quite a few times," Guy Gaudreau said. "As a father, and her as a mother, we'd love for him to go back for his senior year and get a degree. As a hockey person that knows the game, it would be better for him if he wanted to eventually make the NHL to go sign with Calgary."
"If the management they had there before was there, like (former general manager Jay) Feaster, the ones that drafted him, I'd be really comfortable letting him go," Guy Gaudreau said. "I know that (Calgary president of hockey operations) Brian Burke likes big boys, big hockey players. My son is not a big hockey player. He's made it clear that he likes him or whatever, but I don't think he's sold on him. That's been John all his life, wherever he tried out. It's always been, 'He's got to prove himself, prove himself, and prove himself.' He's done that over and over and over."

Interesting comments for sure but I can understand where he is coming from as a parent. This saga continues and will only ramp up if he decides to return for his senior year at Boston College. Gaudreau cannot become a NHL free agent until August 15, 2015.

Transaction news:
Wotherspoon will miss the rest of the season and will undergo shoulder surgery. With the Wotherspoon injury; Chris Breen has been called up along with Mark Cundari. Cundari who was loaned to the Chicago Wolves earlier in the year. Since he has been with the Wolves he has done fairly well, recording 13 points in 22 games while being a plus player.

I think it is safe to say that both guys are being closely watched and evaluated. With expiring contracts on both guys (Breen UFA, Cundari RFA) Burke will want to see some progression if they want a new contract with the Flames. Wideman, Smid, Granlund and David Jones remain on the IR. 
Flames Jambalaya is in no way, shape or form associated with the Calgary Flames Hockey Club or the AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat. This is a fans blog for fans. We just happen to love the Flames, so we write about it.