Many people are going to be focused on what the team gets back in return, or what the rumours are, and all that. Which is fine; We are interested in something else.
The message going into the season, the official, from-the-GM's-mouth message was that the Calgary Flames are going to make the playoffs. In fact junk was talked about challenging for the division, and being a high seeded playoff team.
Now since that message was delivered at the start of the season, we have seen the following stories: Stajan, Hagman, Jokinen, and Moss are on the trade block, and Rene Bourque is on the trade block.
These two messages seem to be in conflict with each other, unless of course Jay Feaster thinks he can trade those players for players of better calibre in the short term, which is doubtful. So are the Flames trying to compete this year, or are they shedding salary?
We have no clue, but the evidence we have up to this point suggests that the latter option may be correct. With Jay Feaster officially installed as the GM, his major moves trade-wise have been not about adding players who are better than the players being traded away in the short term, but about adding players who are cheaper than the players who are being traded away.
Regehr was traded for what might amount to be less of a return than what Darryl acquired for Dion; What Feaster didn't acquire in talent, however, he acquired in budget room. Feaster saved $2.77 million dollars with that move.
Further savings were acquired when he traded a 2nd round pick to Sabres to have them take on Kotalik's contract. He saved $3 million dollars with that move.
Feaster would then trade Langkow to the Coyotes for Stempniak. Now this move has enough area in it for reasonable people to find grounds for debate. It isn't unreasonable to see this move as improving the team in the short and long term. We disagree, because it weakened a weak roster spot (centre), added to the teams log-jam at the wings, and becuase over the course of the season we think Langkow adds more value to a team than Stempniak. But Langkow is old, we can see the other side of the coin. However, the point remains, Langkow was traded for Stempniak, and the club saved $2.6 million dollars by doing so.
The optics going into the season, it can be argued, would seem to paint the club as one that was more interested in shedding salary than acquiring talent when it came to trading players off it's own roster. It has saved ~$8.6 million this year (and $12.62 million over all) with these trades. It has not made itself more competitive.
Regehr appears to be better than Butler (limited sample size alert). At behindthenet they have a stat, Goals Against When You Are Off The Ice Per 60 Minutes TOI, which would seem to be one that would be useful if applied to Dmen (we compare it to the goals against when dude is on the ice per 60, obviously):
So we don't really see how it can be argued that the move was made because of anything other than salary cap relief. The Kotalik deal was obviously done for cap relief so there is no need to do anything on that one, and due to Langkow missing a year from injury, it is probably to early to tell who is the better player. At this point, Stempniak has no goals, and Langkow has one.
What is the point of all this? Well, we started talking about the message the team was sending: the official one was that this was a year where we were going to compete for a playoff spot at a minimum, but the message we have been receiving from the clubs actions suggest that it is more interested in shedding salary than acquiring talent, which doesn't seem consistent with trying to win.
So what is going on?
Did Jay Feaster make all that noise about making the playoffs because he was trying to market the team? Was he trying to sell tickets?
We would doubt this, but that could be hubris. We have seen tickets on StubHub going for less than their face value (If that link doesn't work, it was to two tickets in section 223 for $45 a piece to the Ranger game.). Maybe they are indeed worried about fans showing up; we did notice they didn't tell us what the season ticket renewal rate was this year.
Maybe. Who knows. Could it be anything else? Dreger suggested that perhaps this was Feasters attempt to instill some sort of fear in the locker room, that this was him warning of a shake up if things don't improve. That Feaster is in fact serious when he says we are attempting to get into the playoffs this year, as opposed to treading water until next years free agency period. But does that make any sense? It's only game 5 of the year, and while the teams play so far has raised question marks, would the GM be ready to jettison the parts he made a conscience choice to keep over the offseason this early into the season?
offseason, we would think. Maybe Feaster is afraid that this teams chances to make the playoffs are thin, and because he put his neck out, he is panicking. But if he didn't believe in the team, why would he guarantee a playoff spot in the first place?
Maybe Murray Edwards just wants to clear the decks before next year, and save some salary. This seems plausible, but again, if that is the case, why would Feaster have gone out and said what he said about the playoffs?
Where there is smoke, there is often flames, so maybe the team does indeed have about six players on the trade block, and is looking to unwind some of it's long term commitments. Frankly, we wouldn't even be mad if that was the case, we would probably endorse it. But, again, then why all the talk about making the playoffs?
So Dregers explanation is probably the best one: Feaster has little intention of trading Bourque, and is simply trying to spook some better performance into the team. The incongruousness of the message is odd, though. Maybe it will be an interesting season, after all.
For the record, we really don't like this 'Bourque doesn't give a shit' stuff that is out there, the 'He needs motivation and then he would score 100 goals' stuff.
Here is what we think of Bourque, and his perception amongst the people. One, Bourque is very, very good at hockey. Two, he is so good it looks like he isn't trying. We try to do things on the ice that Bourque does, and we (the mortal man) have to try to do it. So when we see Bourque doesn't, we assume he is lazy or something. No, he is just gifted and playing within a system.
We think Rene is made of glass, and we think Rene knows he is made of glass. You want to know why he doesn't engage physically, it's because (we think) he doesn't want to risk getting injured again, as he is a valuable presence in the line up. Also, remember, these guys are human. Bourque makes a lot of money, he probably feels duty bound to be in the line up, so he isn't going to do things that might get him hurt. We think a lot of people see that and think he isn't engaged, or doesn't care, or is a pussy, when it really is none of those. He just wants to remain healthy, and because he has been injured so many times in his career, he is super sensitive to it.
Now, we can see why an organization would want to trade a guy who plays carefully, especially one who is injury prone and has a contract that extends until 2016. But we think this slander that Bourque is a soft pussy who doesn't care is exactly that, a slander.
Furthermore, I think