• Well, at least Calgary probably got worse (next year, anyway)

    by  • June 22, 2008 • Uncategorized • 7 Comments

    Given that Kevin Lowe and the boys didn’t make any moves over the course of the weekend, I think it’s reasonable to look south and see what the Flames accomplished. They effectively traded Alex Tanguay and the 17th pick for Mike Cammalleri and the 25th pick. It’s an awfully interesting move. A few months back, a wise man (albeit one whose Willie McGee Helmet have accumulated some 250 fewer points than my own Pete Munro Doctrine in the Alberta Baseball Confederacy) listed a number of reasons for the Flames to hold off on moving Tanguay this year:

    1. His counting numbers (G-A-Pts) sucked this year. He will certainly have some value based on his career numbers and age (potential), and some of the teams that look closer at EV play (and correct for the fact that he “performed” on the #2 PP unit) will be interested. But trading a guy coming off his worst season in years doesn’t exactly maximize return (see post header).

    2. They’re limited in what they can seek in return: they almost have to get a quality LW in return. Not sure if you noticed, but the Flames’ depth chart at LW sans Tanguay and Huselius is virtually non-existent. Who would the #1 LW be? The right-shooting Moss, I suppose? He, or some centreman playing out of position.

    3. Per 1 and 2, he’s almost a mortal lock to be better next season. Huselius is gone, so he’ll almost certainly be the LW on the #1 PP unit, and his numbers will go up. He just scored essentially 20 points less than his career average, and his shooting % was 5% lower than his career average. These are things that are extremely likely to bounce back.

    4. If he is reunited with Iginla on the #1 line — i.e. if the Flames can cobble together a #2 line that doesn’t get torched without Tanguay on it — their performance ceiling is unbelievably high. In 2006/07 (a mere one season ago), those two were the most productive EV players in the entire conference. They really were! Forsaking the possibility of that repeating in order to fish for “depth and energy” (esp. given Sutter’s non-success at doing so to date) seems like a bad bet to me.

    Cammalleri is a left winger, so he fits Matt’s second criteria. The reason for moving him can be found in an examination of the Flames payroll for the coming season, helpfully done by Matt at the end of April.

    I’ve assembled the numbers for Cammalleri and Tanguay over the past three years. I’ve included the numbers of another guy – Kristian Huselius, Jarome Iginla’s linemate last year. Couple of reasons for including him here: he’s apparently on his way out in Calgary and he looks to be a similar type of offensive player to Cammaleri in that he’s nothing special in terms of ES offence but a dynamo on the PP; Tanguay is kind of the reverse. Cammalleri is on the top, Huselius in the middle and Tanguay on the bottom.

    tanguay

    It’s almost eerie how similar Cammalleri and Huselius are at ES. For every ten hours of ice time, Huselius has two extra goals; Cammalleri has an extra assist. According to Desjardins, both are soft minutes types – Cammalleri almost unbelievably so this past year.

    Tanguay looks to be in a completely different class – he matches Huselius on the goal front and adds an extra nine assists or so every ten hours that he plays. He also played tough minutes this year, both according to Matt and according to Desjardins.

    Cammalleri’s big skill over the past few years has been scoring on the PP. I’d venture a guess that that three year goal rate on the PP is very near the top of the league, if it isn’t the best amongst guys who played significant minutes. He should be a nice fit with Iginla on the PP – each guy can play the off wing. The Flames may well have a pretty explosive first unit on the PP next year.

    I don’t see how this trade does anything but make the Flames weaker for next year. If it permits them to bring back Huselius, they’ve still lost a better ES player and one who can handle the tough minutes in Tanguay. Not to mention, either Huselius or Cammalleri would likely lose PP time on the top unit, eating away their ability to contribute in one of their best areas. If they can’t bring back Huselius, they’ve got to find someone who can match Tanguay’s contributions from last year to even run in place and that’s going to be tough to do, particularly given where they are in terms of the cap.

    The one thing that this does, I think, is put Calgary into a place where they’re better positioned to compete as time passes. They have their Big 4 signed through 2012-13, with Langkow likely to be in place through 2011-12. If Tanguay wasn’t in their plans beyond 2008-09 and they wanted to keep Langkow, this move is defensible in that they needed the cap space so that they weren’t icing two lines of $450K players in 2008-09. There’s some pain now, in that they’re losing a very good player and adding an inferior one, but after this year, they’re going to be in an excellent position to add elite players to their core as they move forward without losing anyone else. If Sutter plays his cards right and actually adds a respectable bottom end to the team, the Flames could be one of the best teams in the NHL for the last two or three years of the five year Big 4 window.

    (Assuming, of course, that Kiprusoff’s ongoing slide is just normal statistical variation. If it isn’t, then his contract is going to be a real problem.)

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    7 Responses to Well, at least Calgary probably got worse (next year, anyway)

    1. cynical joe
      June 22, 2008 at

      I think the trade-off you outlined is fair, and your conclusions are probably ball-park. Couple of things; Tanguay’s contract and no-trade clause seemingly reduced his value, Montreal is getting a v.good ES player (and for that team of PP specialists and floaters some very needed balance). Cammalleri is the younger player compared to Tanguay and Huselius so I’d expect his counting numbers to be slightly below. As you laid out in a chart a couple of threads ago, the Flames are horrible in OT/Shootouts. I don’t know Cammalleri’s 4v4 stats or SO stats, but its probably an improvement on the Flames’ last 3 years. 4-5 more points and the Flames go from 7 seed to a 3 seed as division champ. Cammalleri will probably drive Flames’ shot totals up. This should mean more rebound/scramble type goals, if he plays with Iggy it could be dynamic. The question is can Cammalleri + Huselius replacement – Tanguay = 4-5 more points in the standings? If the Flames exchange more goals for more goals allowed are they going to come out ahead?

    2. mc79hockey
      June 22, 2008 at

      The question is can Cammalleri + Huselius replacement – Tanguay = 4-5 more points in the standings

      I don’t disagree with you that this is the question; I just have a hard time seeimg how the answer can be “yes”; the Flames might get 4 or 5 more points next year but it’s going to have to come from other places, IMO.

    3. June 22, 2008 at

      That’s about my own conclusions on the matter. When the trade was made, I turned to my friend and said “the reasons for doing it may be defensible, but the Flames are a weaker team today then they were yesterday.”

      The Huselius comparison is a savvy one.

    4. PDO
      June 22, 2008 at

      That’s about my own conclusions on the matter. When the trade was made, I turned to my friend and said “the reasons for doing it may be defensible, but the Flames are a weaker team today then they were yesterday.”

      The Huselius comparison is a savvy one.

      And that sums it up perfectly.

      The biggest problem for Sutter right now, is the lack of depth. Iginla, Langkow, Regehr and Kipper is one heck of a core, and if Phaneuf puts it together next year and becomes the defenseman everyone in the media thinks he is, they’re sitting really pretty… but that depth is laughable, and the kids on the farm aren’t instilling any ideas that the bleeding is about to stop any time soon.

      Sutter’s been good at finding some value contracts (Nolan, Huselius), and he’s going to HAVE to find SEVERAL this season if the Flames are making the playoffs….

    5. June 23, 2008 at

      I did a similar (albeit, briefer) look the other day and came to the same conclusions re. Tanguay vs. Cammalleri. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that either a) Sutter has his eye on a cheaper Tanguay replacement, probably at a lower offense level (Williams, maybe?) or b) Sutter took a look at his roster and decided that the Flames had a better chance of competing for the cup 2 – 3 years down the road than they do next season (I think you’ve implied (b) above). The one problem I have with b is that Cammalleri has the reputation of being a difficult player to sign, and if he gets first line PP, I have trouble seeing how Sutter can lock him up at an affordable rate when his contract expires at the end of next season.

    6. cynical joe
      June 23, 2008 at

      Yeah, it looks a little like Sutter has to rag the puck for a year till Aucoin, Warrener and Ericsson come off the books (possible to buy out Primeau at the end of the year too). They are really going to be tight to the cap this year. If they have a lot of injuries it’ll be ugly.

      As an aside, why do the Islanders have so many unsigned players? Are they all holding out for 15 year deals?

    7. Pingback: HOW MUCH CAN WE TRUST STATS FROM PRE-REPLAY ERA? | Edmonton Journal

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