The Flames, just in case you had not noticed, are the best team in the world. One of the things that makes the Flames the paramount power of hockey is their depth at the centre position.
But, just for shits and giggles, let's pretend that Flames were not the gargantuan monsters of the hockey world. For the sake of argument, how about we assume the Flames were somewhere at 29-22-9, with 67 points, hovering around 8th place. Crazy, I know, but let's suspend disbelief.
At the same time, lets also pretend that instead of having the best centres in the world, we had centres named Stajan, Langkow, Conroy, Boyd, and Backlund.
What could possibly be done to improve this situation?
Two things come to my mind: Free agency or trades. Again, for the sake of argument, let's pretend the Flames didn't have so many prospects and expendable talent that teams in the NHL were not literally beating down the doors of the 'Dome to get to GM Sutter and swing a deal. Let's say the Flames best trade piece was, oh I don't know, playing for Toronto.
Free agency then. A quick look here shows that the centre market isn't great. Marleau is available, as is Plekanec. Jokinen is available, and I have heard GM Sutter is just infatuated with the big Fin.
That's it? There isn't anybody else? Calm yourself, dear reader. A white knight does indeed exist. His name is Backstrom, and he's a pointaholic (from Sweden!).
RFA Rules. Go down to section 10.5. RFA Compensation. See it? Do you see it?
In case you don't, or just don't want to read: we would have to sign Backstrom to a contract that is at least double what he currently makes. For the sake of argument, lets peg him at 5 million. That would put the compensation at 5 first round draft picks. I know what you're thinking, that we don't have any draft picks, so we can't do it. Fuck that, that's the position of Domebeers. PARAPHRASE: If we had to give up 5 draft picks, we would need them available in the next 6 rounds. Which means that not having one this year matters for shit.
You crazy, Domebeers. That would destroy the franchise! We have money tied into all these players, we need the cheap kids in the system.
No, no, and again, no. Obviously we would trade Langkow and resign Stajan, or at least someone at his price range. Backlund is cheap, so really, you would be replacing Langkow and the cap he is wasting with someone who can actually score in Backstrom.
To the point about how losing a first rounder for the next 5 years will hurt us, I reply with this: Erixon, Nemisz, Backlund, Irving, Pelech, Chucko (just for good measure). Ok players, but no certified superstars. Chucko is a bust. I don't think that one could say that if we forfeited those players and instead just had the second round picks (namely, Prust) the organization would be unsalvageable.
Also, if you have Backstrom, you're going to be winning, and drafting higher anyways. So it amounts to 5 mediocre first round picks. Check out the draft history, GM Sutter does his best work in the later rounds (we hope).
To conclude: We have the cap space to do it, we have the draft picks to do it, and we have the need. It, of course, refers to signing Backstrom to an offer sheet. The draft pick compensation is negligible, because GM Sutter hasn't shown that his first round picks are any better than his third round picks. At the same time, for the next 3 years at least, the Kipper and Iggy window, if we had Backstrom we would be winning, so those draft picks wouldn't be worth what their name (first round) implies.
Or we could just sign Plekanec or Ilya.
Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.