Darryl Sutter’s stepping down as GM of the Calgary Flames earlier this week sparked a flurry of articles and blogs suggesting interim GM Jay Feaster commence overhauling the roster immediately by dealing away core players, such as team captain Jarome Iginla and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, for high draft picks and promising prospects.
Feaster, however, had other ideas, telling the Calgary media he has no plans or desires to trade Iginla and called all trade rumors about the veteran winger mere conjecture.
He also said he had no plans to move Kiprusoff or other core players, such as defensemen Robyn Regehr, Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano, as he intends to rebuild around those players.
Feaster will find that task a difficult one, as his predecessor left him a roster of ageing, slow-footed veterans carrying expensive contracts with no-movement or no-trade clauses.
Capgeek.com listed 11 Flames with clauses that restrict their movement and next season’s payroll is a whopping $56.25 million committed to 17 players. Shipping out potential unrestricted free agents such as Alex Tanguay, Brendan Morrison and Curtis Glencross at the trade deadline won’t lower that cap number.
Feaster might get some cap relief if center Daymond Langkow ($4.5 million) misses next season recovering from his neck injury or retires as a result. Plus the cap is expected to rise to $62 million, giving him perhaps an additional $7 million to work with heading into next summer’s free agent market, where Feaster could be forced to seek younger talent.
Tanguay, Morrison and Glencross aren’t likely to fetch much of a return if they’re indeed moved at the Feb. 28 trade deadline. The same goes for the oft-injured Rene Bourque, the underachieving Matt Stajan and the fading Cory Sarich, provided they can be convinced to waive their no-trade or no-movement clauses.
Any trades Feaster makes in the New Year will be for draft picks and/or prospects, but Flames fans shouldn’t expect any first or high second round picks to be coming their way.
It’s going to take time to rebuild the Flames and as long as Feaster insists on maintaining the core of his roster it’ll probably take much longer than most Calgary fans would prefer.
NABOKOV’S TOUGH ROAD BACK TO THE NHL
Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail noted the St. Louis Blues’ failed attempt to add Marek Svatos highlighted the difficulty teams interested in former San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov would face trying to sign him.
Hoping to add depth to their injury-depleted forward lines, the Blues signed Svatos to a one-year, two-way contract earlier in the week, but because he began this season playing in Russia’s Kontinental League he had to pass through waivers, where the Nashville Predators, whose forward lines were also plagued by injuries, snapped him up.
Like Svatos, Nabokov began the season in the KHL and would also have to clear waivers if signed by an NHL team. While it’s believed a few teams are interested in his services – hello there, Tampa Bay Lightning – they aren’t willing to take the risk just yet.
That could change by the trade deadline as the playoff races tighten and injuries or inconsistency start taking its toll on some goaltenders. For now, Nabokov will have to sit and wait.
As for the Blues, GM Doug Armstrong continues to evaluate his options, which might include a trade or claiming a player off waivers himself at some point.
BERGFORS TRADE TALK GETS WILD
The Atlanta Thrashers reportedly offered the Minnesota Wild winger Niclas Bergfors (and Ben Eager), but Michael Russo of the Star Tribune doubts the Wild would be interested in Bergfors, citing his lack of size and grit.
Kevin Allen of USA Today, meanwhile, reported the Thrashers aren’t seeking a player in exchange for Bergfors, as the low-salaried club hopes to divest itself of the remainder of the winger’s $900,000 salary in hopes of using the available cap space to bolster their lineup at the trade deadline.
So far there have been no takers for Bergfors, who was a healthy scratch in several Thrashers games in December, but that should change in the coming weeks as teams battling to make the playoffs seek scoring depth.
Perhaps the Blues would be willing to pick him up if the asking price is reasonable.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.