Alright, before we begin, some housekeeping.
The Calgary Flames first round draft pick of this year, Sven Bartschi, was recently inked to an entry level contract. We bring this up for two reasons.
One is to point and laugh at some of the people who embarrassed themselves defending the Flames handling of the Tim Erixon fiasco. If the Flames themselves were able to recognize and correct the obvious mistakes they made with regards to Erixon, it's a pretty clear indication that mistake were indeed made in the first place with regards to Erixon. Why some people in the media chose to cover for the organization instead of grilling them for the Erixon fiasco is beyond us, but admittedly, we do not understand that whole 'paycheques and pom-poms' thang (Of course we do, we are just being polite).
But we bring the Bartschi thing for more than just schadenfreude. We bring it up because, intentionally or not, Jay Feaster, the ventriloquist dummy himself, gave away the ghost. Yesterday the Flames - oh hell, we will indulge in the polite fiction - GM was interviewed on the FAN960. He was asked, predictably, about Bartschi's signing and how it obviously relates to Darryl Sutters/Ken Kings mishandling of Tim Erixon. Jay Feaster answered the question in the affirmative, that yes, the Bartschi signing was a result of the Erixon situation, but he then went further, getting into the process of the whole thing, and that is where the interesting tidbit came out.
Jay Feaster, Jay Feaster said, had to get permission to sign the Calgary Flames first round drift pick to an entry level contract from Ken King.
Yeah, it's true. The General Manager of a hockey team had to go get permission from the teams President to sign a prospect to a contract. This pretty clearly illustrates that despite whatever his title is, Jay Feaster doesn't have the organizational authority to make player personal moves, major or minor, without first having to go get permission from Ken King. In effect then, that means Jay Feaster is the 'assistant General Manager'. Ken King is the real GM of this team, something we have been saying publicly for quite some time, and something the sports 'media' in this city has known for quite some time but for whatever reason (probably something to do with 'paycheques and pom-poms), refuses to acknowledge publicly.
So for those of you out there who are wondering why Feaster, who came in talking about how he wasn't going to hand out NTC's/NMC's anymore or trade away draft picks, has proceeded to hand out NTC's/NMC's and trade away draft picks, there is your answer. It's because Ken King is still in charge, and Jay Feaster is nothing but a mouthpiece and a puppet (a situation we have been told Feaster is less than thrilled with, but hey, when only one team in the league will at least grant you the title of GM, you grin and bear it, we guess). With Ken King still in charge, we should have, and can still, expect the type of managerial moves that characterized Darryl Sutters last year and a half with the organization.
At least we all know now, and people claiming ignorance to this fact can be safely assigned to the 'paycheques and pom-poms' category.
Now, on to 'Plan B'.
This one is pretty obvious. The Nashville Predators.
Yes, the Nashville Predators. This is a team with no money, and several big money players on the roster. Anybody who lived through the early 90's with Calgary knows how this story is going to play out; Shea Weber is going to leave. Ryan Suter is going to leave. And Pekka Rinne is going to leave.
With the Flames ownerships recent attempt to acquire Brad Richards, we know that the team has an appetite to spend, and also an appetite to bring in a new superstar face-of-the-franchise, if you will. Which is perfect, because Shea Weber is the type of franchise cornerstone that a portion of those 64 million dollars the team had for Brad Richards could be showered on.
Shea Weber and his agents have let Nashville know that they are interested in signing a short term, possibly two year deal. In English, this means that Shea Weber and his agents have let Nashville know he is going to be looking for a major payday. Nashville cannot offer Shea what he is worth. Nashville couldn't afford Lombardi, for fucks sake. What's more, Nashville is not going to win a cup, or have the assets to put a real good team around Weber, in the next two years. On top of that, as of today, Nashville is spending, according to the contract canon that is capgeek.com, about 36 million dollars in salary, well below the salary cap floor of 48 million dollars.
Why not trade Nashville Jay Bouwmeester, and whatever other assets, for Shea Weber? The Flames are in a position where they could offer Weber a long term contract that he would find palatable, and there is certainly the need for a player like Weber on the Flames blueline. Acquiring Weber would make the signing of Ryan Suter in the free agency period next year that much easier, and who knows, maybe even get the Flames a foot in the door with Pekka Rinne as well. The Flames have over 20 million dollars coming off the books next year, so cap space is certainly not an issue (and wouldn't have been even if we had retained Regehr
Nashville would get Jay Bouwmeesters minutes, and a nice big cap hit to bump them closer to the cap floor. Nashville would also not be forced to spend upwards of 50 million dollars on a player, like they would be if they want to keep Weber. The Flames could throw in some draft picks as well (and Matt Stajan, if we can con the Preds), to make the transaction more palatable.
Obviously, unstated, is the threat of an offer sheet. Hey, the Brad Richards contract offer is as clear an indication as we have seen that the Flames are not going to rebuild, or at least not rebuild properly. So, if we are still in 'win now' mode, whats the damage in the offer sheet route, anyways?
If we were running the Flames, we would call up Nashville and tell them we were about to offer Weber an offer sheet worth 70 million dollars over 10 years. There is no way in hell that Nashville would be able to match that. We would then say to Nashville they could have the draft picks that come with an offer sheet, and the big gaping hole on the blue line that would come with them losing Weber, or they could play ball, and make a trade. The trade would be, as we have stated, Jay Bouwmeester and a combination of draft picks for Shea Weber. If Jay Bouwmeester says no to the trade, that`s fine. We could still offer Weber the offer sheet, and bury Hagman in the minors and we would have enough cap space to have both Weber and Bouwmeester on the roster. We would then not play Jay Bouwmeester for the rest of his Flames career. Zero minutes for the next 3 years if we had to. Jay wants to play, so he would probably accept the trade.
Then, following the season, we would offer contracts to Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne (yeah, we would trade Kipper after signing Rinne. Rinne is 28 years old) and then, if we had the space, Alex Semin as well, but who knows, maybe the team could find a centre instead. And viola, you have rebuilt the franchise, and all it took was money and draft picks, but very little short term pain (by which we mean `losing`).
So there it is, Domebeer-aholics. Plan B. Nothing fancy. Power play Nashville for Weber this year, and sign Suter (and if it can be managed, Rinne as well.) next year. And if money is left over, why not at least take a shot at Semin, too.
But seriously. OFFER SHEET WEBER TODAY, KING/FEASTER. Hell, if Dome Beers is managing the team anyways (Brad Richards!)...
Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.