*** CANUCKS JR BROADCASTER EXTRORDINAIRE: http://soundcloud.com/josh-statham/nov-1-mcdonalds-junior-1 Donny Taylor, eat your heart out ****
Not the best night to make a case for staying the course in Calgary so please bare in mind it was just a couple weeks ago the Canucks looked as bad as the Flames do tonight at home against a "soft" team no less.
I was listening to B-Mac and Taylor on Team1040 talking about how it would be a good idea to blow-up the Flames and rebuild because Canadian fans are tired of watching second-tier hockey markets dog-it for years and get handed the fruits of the draft to assemble a cup winner. The argument was Canadian fans are smart and would tolerate a few bad years for one good one rather than enjoy another 9th place season.
Calgary GM Jay Feaster inherited a few bad contracts in Calgary but for the most part doesn't have the worst set of circumstances to build a contender. He's also come out in a radio interview criticizing crosstwon rival Edmonton for performing the blow-up/rebuild act. The cupboards are on the bare side in Abbotsford but when Mikael Backlund is back they should finally have their top forward and the unheralded Roman Horak is looking like quite the find, along with Sven Bartchsi this team is slowly restocking the farm system.
Last year the face of the franchise had his name dragged through the trade rumor mud after a mediocre 2009-10 campaign and a slow start last year. He promptly lit up the league for 43 goals cementing his rightful place among the games elite power forwards. He's got a lot of game left in him at 34 and Calgary would be remiss to cash him out now. Where would they have been without his 43 goals last season? Sadly enough many in the Sea of Red think the return for Iginla is what might resurrect the franchise but the reality is no Calgary GM has ever brought in a top tier centre to play with Iggy and there's still time to give him the pivot he deserves and finally bring Calgary back to respectability.
And what would a team be willing to give for Iginla and his multi-million dollar contract? Any package of prospects or picks would take years to materialize. Yes, I know this is the point of rebuilding but all the teams that have been bad enough to attempt this have been really, really bad and had a lot more to lose than the Flames. The Red Mile is loyal, sure, but even a modest dip in interest in the team spills the gravy for ownership and they're not going to let that happen. Worst-to-first stories like Pittsburgh and Chicago were so far gone it didn't matter if they fell off the map for a decade because they were on the Luxury tax teet anyway.
If I were in Feaster's seat I would be looking at ways to improve my team and that does mean making some moves but not tearing the thing down. Rene Bourque and Jay Buowmeester have both been heavily rumored to be inquired about by other GMs. If the Flames could use those two bartering chips to acquire another legitimate top six forward and a puck moving d-man they might just get over the hump. They would be looking at a top six that includes Horak and Tanguay on the left wing, Backlund and Jokinen at Centre and Iginla and Winger-X. The bottom six is amazingly deep rolling out Curtis Glencross, Tom Kostopolous, Matt Stajan, David Moss, Brendan Morrison, Nik Hagman, Tim Jackman or Lee Stempniak at any given time.
The surprising weakness of the team is on defense, formerly the backbone of the organization. Gone are Phaneuf and Regher and by my design Buowmeester too. That would leave:
Butler D-Man X
Between the pipes Mikka Kiprusoff is still getting the job done. There's a lot of talk about lowering his games played in the course of the year and back up Henrik Karlsson seems to be able to handle the workload. On the farm Leyland Irving is finally showing the kind of play that made him a first round selection oh so many years ago. With Irving, Bartschi, Backlund and Horak the majority of the answers are going to be coming from within. I would kill to be Jay Feaster sitting on a couple easy trades to address all the teams needs. This is not a blow up, it's just a re-fit.