Darryl Sutter Steps Down As Calgary Flames GM—What Now?

December 28th, 2010 No Comments

Numerous media sources are reporting that Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter is stepping down with assistant GM Jay Feaster taking over a team that has failed to produce.

Many fans were clamoring to see Sutter fired during the off-season—an off-season that saw Sutter make a number of questionable moves, including the signings of Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay to contracts when they had failed to produce in Calgary before.

Feaster, who won a Stanley Cup as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s GM, is expected to keep Brent Sutter in the head coaching position, while Duane Sutter’s future as director of player personnel also looks safe, for now.

The Flames own a 16-18-3 record, not a disaster, but hardly what many Flames Flames expected from their club.

When you look at the overall picture the Flames look to be in trouble, both short-term and long term.

The Flames are one of the oldest teams in the NHL and, given how close they are to the salary cap limit and the fact that the Flames will have a total of eight unrestricted free agents coming up this summer, well, you have a recipe for disaster.

Calgary has a total of $56,265,833 committed to 17 players next season. That means the Flames will have somewhere in the neighborhood of $3-7 million with which to sign five players (depending on what kind of increase we see in the Cap numbers next season).

Questionable signings such as Matt Stajan (four years, $3.5 million per) and Jay Bouwmeester (four years at $6,680,000 per) will only further handcuff this franchise.

Alex Tanguay, Curtis Glencross, Brendan Morrison, Steve Staios, Anton Babchuck, Adam Pardy and Henrik Karlsson will all be UFA’s next summer, with another nine players becoming UFA’s in the summer of 2012.

Calgary’s 2012-13 list of UFA’s will include Daymond Landkow, Ales Kotalik, Nik Hagman, Olli Jokinen, David Moss, Tom Kostopoulos, Raitis Ivanans, Tim Jackman and Cory Sarich—few of which are must-have players.

That means if Feaster has his forward-thinking cap on, he could make as many as 15 players available for trade as early as next week, which could allow him to start the re-building process that Sutter was never willing (or able) to embrace.

Feaster’s biggest trade assets appear to be Iginla, Nik Hagman and Mark Giordano—all of whom would bring back a decent return, especially Iginla, who has been red-hot of late.

The odds of any team picking up the likes of Matt Stajan, Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay, Jay Bouwmeester or Mikka Kiprusoff seems unlikely, although Feaster could make taking one or more of these players a condition of moving Iginla.

One of Feaster’s first pieces of business will be to determine the future of team captain Jarome Iginla—who, despite Sutter stating he was not going to move the veteran forward, has been the centre of numerous trade rumors all season.

Let’s face it, as good as Iginla is, without a legitimate number one centre the Flames are going nowhere, a fact the Flames should have figured out a long time ago.

Truth be told, when you consider how many players will be UFA’s in each of the next two seasons the best course of action for Feaster might just be to make wholesale changes.

To be fair, wholesale changes are easier said than done in todays NHL, but if Feaster cannot find trading partners willing to offer prospects and/or draft picks for his pending UFA’s, he could always let them walk and use the money to sign players more to his liking.

A change in GM is not likely to have a huge impact on this team in the standings this season, but a fresh look and fresh ideas could have this team back on track in as little as 24 months.

The odds of any team picking up the likes of Matt Stajan, Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay, Jay Bouwmeester or Mikka Kiprusoff seems unlikely, although Feaster could make taking one or more of these players a condition of moving Iginla.

Let’s face it, nobody expects Calgary to contend for the Stanley Cup this season, so making a number of moves would make a lot of sense, especially if Feaster manages to take back minimal salary in return.

There is a lot of work to be down in “Cowtown”, asking Sutter to step down was only the first step—a step in the right direction if you ask me.

Until next time,

Peace!

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