Clueless and Pointless
It's really amazing how dumb the Calgary Flames have become.
A lack of strategic thinking has the Flames in a terrible spot with a disappointing record, still trying to deny all the strong evidence that they need to take a giant step back and rebuild, hanging on to veteran players beyond their due date in some faint hope that the club can scrape into the post-season and make magic happen.
It was evident last season in the way they hung on to Jarome Iginla, and with the deal done to give up a second round pick and a prospect in the deal to bring forward Mike Cammalleri, then 29 years old, back to Alberta. It was further evident in the free agent signings of Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman last summer to inflated salaries.
What are these guys thinking? Its like the Leafs of the final days of Mats Sundin being played out all over again in western Canada.
Maybe they'll clue in and move Iginla (Miikka Kiprusoff too?) by the trade deadline and get the necessary process started. Or maybe not. If they do, it will take 4-5 years to get back to competitiveness, and they seem to believe the hockey public in Calgary won't go for it.
Still, this plan to try and acquire centre Ryan O'Reilly through the offer sheet process really didn't make a whole lot of sense and smacked of desperation. Even worse, Sportsnet.ca is reporting that if the Flames had successfully landed O'Reilly, they likely never would have got him in uniform because he would have had to go on waivers first after playing in the KHL on Jan. 23rd.
Look, this was never going to work anyway. Colorado had no choice but to match rather than take the first and third rounders as compensation. The issue of compensation for restricted free agents wasn't a significant one during the lockout, but clearly a system in which compensation was higher for RFAs might provoke a more fruitful offer sheet process. The Avs might have been tempted by two firsts and a prospect.
But right now, matching is almost obligatory. If Nashville had to match Philly's offer for Shea Weber, matching the O'Reilly sheet was even more automatic for Colorado. Moreover, Colorado was and is under no salary cap pressure at all, and so wasn't vulnerable in the same way other teams might be.
Second, the Flames have helped a team mired in the same area of the Western Conference standings by getting a player signed and back to active duty that the Avs weren't otherwise able to sign. So the offer sheet, essentially, bolstered Colorado's lineup.
Third, the Flames have now set the price for a young centre of O'Reilly's calibre at $6.5 million, an arbitration comparable that will send shock waves through the league and could ultimately cost Calgary more as well. Sure, the Avs are now stuck with an awkward contract; O'Reilly will have to be qualified in June of 2014 off that $6.5 million figure, way too much unless he becomes a much bigger scorer than most believe.
But Calgary might have stuck themselves with that contract if the Avs hadn't matched. And now they have to live in the same world in which a sturdy, 50-point pivot can command those kinds of dollars.
Look, maybe the RFA system stinks, and yes, you could argue that the Flames were being aggressive in trying to improve their team.
But strategies for player procurement need to be based in logic and reality. This one wasn't based in either. The best hope for Flames fans is that perhaps Seth Jones or Nathan MacKinnon is one the way. But the fact Calgary was willing to give up its first rounder to get O'Reilly suggests that pick is now in play as the Flames continue to fool themselves that the future is now.
Now, the fact they would have lost their first and third rounders and never got O'Reilly at all is looking like one spectacular embarrassment for a once-proud franchise.