I’m betting anyone who follows me on twitter (@TJ_Soups, cheap plug I know) figured this blog was on the way. I tried to hold off and talk about different things but I knew all week I was going to get to it, and here I am. What bothers me is that nobody really goes after Jay Feaster. Sure they question some of the deals, but very few take a run at him. I’m not going to hold back (what do I have to lose?) and I’m going to tell it the way it is…Jay Feaster is a bad GM.
Everyone knows the back story about the Flames. It’s a team that has needed to rebuild for 2 years now. The return on Iginla is getting weaker by the day, the return on Kipper could be great right now and his NTC is now up, but Feaster refuses to go this route. In fairness nobody knows if it is him that doesn’t want to rebuild or upper management won’t let him, but given his track record I don’t put it past him for a second.
But that’s only the beginning. At the draft I couldn’t help but kill Feaster and company for trading down to draft Mark Jankowski. He is a very intriguing kid don’t get me wrong but as I said that night and I’ll say again, a team whose system is loaded could take that risk. Calgary couldn’t afford to do it. Had they stayed at 14 they could have picked Teuvo Teravainen who was expected to be a top 10 pick by the time June 22nd rolled around, it was a gift!
But even when Jay had traded back, he still had Olli Maatta there for the steal at 21. Maatta would have been a solid pick had he just stayed at 14, but now he had picked up a 2nd round pick that he didn’t have previous and could still get a great prospect. Could have been the shrewdest move of the draft. But no, he took the project who even if he pans out is at least 4 years away from playing in the league.
Ok so he messed up the draft (I did give him credit for solid picks in the 4th and 6th round in Brett Kulak and Coda Gordon). That’s one thing, but maybe he would redeem himself with a good free agency period. Nope. Dennis Wideman got one of the most ridiculous contracts of this offseason thus far (though not as bad as the new Matt Carle deal!). 5 years and a 5.25 cap hit for a 1 dimensional player is horrific. He can improve their PP I don’t doubt that, but he is a train wreck in his own zone.
Also, Wideman’s 2 biggest seasons are pretty self explanatory. His 1st big one came playing alongside Zdeno Chara, something that seems to happen to all of Big Z’s D partners. The 2nd big season came playing in the Southeast division. Jay Bouwmeester put up big numbers playing in the SouthLeast too. In fact many players put up big numbers in that division and flop after leaving it. Add to this misery, Wideman got to dish the puck on the PP last season to Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, and Carlson/Green. The Flames should have a decent PP next season but it doesn’t rival that kind of artillery. Finally, Wideman was on the Caps 3rd D pairing in the playoffs…the Caps don’t have THAT good of a blueline.
So have I trashed Wideman enough? Ok good, now I’m moving on to Jiri Hudler. 4 x 4 for a guy who lived off Henrik Zetterberg last season, is tiny (they need size in that top 6), soft, and has had big questions about his work ethic in the past. Ouch! Again, a kid that was brought into improve their PP and it should be pretty good. But it is looking more and more like a 1 dimensional team. In the top 6 now, Tanguay, Cammalleri, Hudler, Baertschi and one of Backlund or Cervenka. So 1 guy (Iginla) that has size and grit. They were already a rather easy team to play against, now they’re soft as butter.
But some fans at the end of the day will ask “who cares, isn’t it about getting in the playoffs?” Well, not really. This team won’t win a Cup anytime soon and they won’t be anywhere close until they start rebuilding it which in doing these moves is going to take longer and longer to do. 3 of the last 4 Stanley Cup champions are teams that went to the bottom, built their teams through the draft, and added the necessary pieces when the time was right. This is what the Oilers are currently attempting to do and even a team like Minnesota while they haven’t gone right to the bottom they’ve stock piled assets and drafted extremely well which played a big part in Parise and Suter signing with them.
The Flames system is bare and they’ve missed the playoffs for 3 years in a row. They’re desperate to rebuild and what committing 9 mil to a couple of complementary pieces really does is likely set them back even further. I’m not some Oiler fan trying to dump on the Flames. I’m a hockey fan who can’t stand seeing piss poor management. Feaster lived off what Rick Dudley put together in Tampa Bay and what he should have been judged on was what happened to that team after the 04 season, not prior to it.
I could be wrong Flames fans, and then you can throw it in my face. But to me even if they make the playoffs it’s just delaying the inevitable. The Flames need to rebuild desperately, and it isn’t happening anytime soon.