To Rebuild Or Not To Rebuild: Calgary Flames

It’s a question hockey fans, especially Flames fans, have asked for years; shouldn’t the Calgary Flames just stop adding salary (i.e weight) to what many view is an already sinking ship?

My take: it depends (doesn’t it always?). The Flames don’t have to rebuild, contingent on one very important factor: they need a good GM.

Is Jay Feaster the guy? He better be. I at least like that he’s making things happen. He brought in Mike Cammalleri; rumors are out there that he would like to acquire Jeff Carter if only he had the cap space… This was a team with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay as top-six forwards, and that was about it. Olli Jokinen, Curtis Glencross, Rene Bourque were all producing as near top-six forwards, but the true natural talent of an Iginla or Tanguay was lacking. In other words, if they are top-six forwards, they’re much closer to the six than the one, although Jokinen has heated up of late. But really, it was Tanguay and Iginla as true, consistent top-six talents. So if Feaster can go from Tanguay and Iginla to Tanguay, Iginla, Cammalleri, and Jeff Carter in one season, that would be a step in the right direction.

That’s not to say Cammalleri still wouldn’t be overpaid; he doesn’t seem quite the player he was two seasons ago, but at least you’ve significantly upgraded the goal scoring talent, which has been the number one issue in Calgary for years. However, Jeff Carter is the main component of that, and he’s still a Blue Jacket, not a Flame. Cammalleri alone probably is just adding weight to a sinking ship, especially when Feaster added him at the expense of Rene Bourque and his 25 goals.

So for those of you asking why the Flames don’t just rebuild, I can see both sides. It’s easy to just suggest they go the Edmonton Oilers route, but the Flames are not the Oilers. They’re a much older team full of hard-to-move veterans with no-trade clauses, and they also have some quality pieces that they feel they can build around (not that the Oilers don’t). Mark Giordano is a very underrated top-pairing defenseman, Jay Bouwmeester is very overrated and overpaid, but still a physically talented top-four guy (hockey sense seems to be another matter entirely), Jarome Iginla is a beast, and I’ve always liked Alex Tanguay. Curtis Glencross is playing excellent hockey, and Olli Jokinen is a good depth piece at a fair cost. And of course the newly acquired Michael Cammalleri is a quality player.

So the Flames have some good pieces. I understand why, if they feel they can add a couple more to the mix, they would feel they could become a playoff team without rebuilding. It’s just that it’s so hard to add significant players through the trade market in this day and age, and the Flames are still a few pieces away. It’s hard to find one of those pieces, yet alone three, for example.

But that’s the route they’ve decided to go. Do I agree with it? Well, how good at his job if Jay Feaster? If he was the Bill Walsh of hockey, then yes! I agree! A truly great GM can turn a team around in a season or two without rebuilding or stockpiling draft picks. But is Feaster the next architectural genius of constructing hockey teams? I don’t know the man, but the odds are against it. I’m not even sure that person is currently running an NHL team. But we’ll see. If Feaster is just your average NHL GM, then Flames fans might be in for a long not-rebuild.

Written By Shark Circle