Sutter Under fire – Flames a mess

Mike Brophy

When the NHL trade deadline arrives March 3, there will be no GM under greater pressure to make significant changes to his team than Calgary’s Darryl Sutter.

Frankly speaking, his team is a mess. It looks much more like a club that was built for pre-lockout hockey rather than being able to compete in what has now become a very highly-skilled Western Conference. Take a look at the teams competing for the conference title – Chicago, San Jose, and to a lesser degree Detroit and Vancouver – they are all built around skill.

Not so for the Flames.

With five straight losses, the Flames have spiraled out of the playoffs and now sit in ninth place in the Western Conference with a 26-19-6 record. They have scored the same number of goals they have allowed, 132, and the players that were supposed to be leading them to glory are all slumping.

Captain Jarome Iginla, the team’s only legitimate star forward, has no goals in his last 10 games and just one in 14. It’s an old story, but the team has not provided him with sufficient talent up front to exploit his scoring ability. And if Sutter doesn’t do something to change this, the Flames could miss the playoffs.

Sutter made the decision to bring in Olli Jokinen last season and even though his impact was minimal, he elected to allow Michael Cammalleri walk as an unrestricted free agent to keep the Finn who has been awful this season. While Cammalleri has played superbly for the Montreal Canadiens, scoring 23 goals (four game-winners) and 41 points in 51 games, Jokinen has just 10 goals and 32 points in 51 outings. He has been simply dreadful at home scoring just three goals and nine points (minus-5) in 26 games.

He’d probably never admit it, but you’d have to think Sutter would love to have a do-over on that decision. Iginla and Jokinen have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever. If the Flames think this duo will carry the team past the likes of the Blackhawks (Toews-Kane), Sharks (Thornton-Marleau-Heatley), Red Wings (Datsyuk-Zetterberg) or Vancouver (the Sedins), they are dreaming.

Or maybe they think the Big Three on defence will be able to shut down the opposition’s lethal scorers? Hmmm, how’s that been working out?

The Flames have put a lot of faith in their D, in particular Dion Phaneuf, Jay Bouwmeester and Robin Regehr, and they have not played particularly well at either end of the ice. Together the trio has combined for 11 goals, one fewer than NHL defenceman points leader Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, and 51 points. Green has 50.

Not only that, they all got snubbed by the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team.

Phaneuf was supposed to prosper under new coach Brent Sutter, but that obviously hasn’t happened. After seasons of 20, 17 and 17 goals in his first three NHL seasons, Phaneuf slipped to 11 last season. He’s on pace to score 13 this season.

32 Responses to Sutter Under fire – Flames a mess

  1. reinjosh says:

    This team is a mess and Sutter better do something soon.
    Its time to look at the season as possibly lost. Trade away the spare parts, and look at trading Phanuef. With that one move you could potentially fix the team for a couple years and make it more balanced.

  2. leafy says:

    My take is the Flames defence is overrated and they need a backup goalie before Kiprusoff collapses from fatigue. And Kipper's going to play in the Olympics too!!!  Get a backup goalie damn it!

  3. reinjosh says:

    Apparently Bob Mackenzie is reporting that Kovalchuk will be moved and that the race is unofficially on for him.
    He is sighting the Flames, Hawks and Bruins as potential suitors.

  4. albertateams says:

    The Flames need a big shake up. I think they should look at moving out Olli and Phaneuf before the deadline.

    Phaneuf would get them a good return and free up some cap space. Some interesting options would be to New Jersey, NYI, Buffalo, Phoenix or Pittsburgh.

    Pittsburgh: Phaneuf
    Calgary: Jordan Staal, Eric Tangradi, and a pick

    Pittsburg gets a high end defensman with a lot of potential signed long term to help replace Gonchar should he retire or leave via freeagency. Calgary gets a good young two way center maybe 1st line but probably second line I think Staal and Bourque on the PK with Jbo and Reggie on the back end would be great and a prospect and a pick.

    Pheonix: Phaneuf
    Calgary: Eckman-Larson, Kyle Turris, and Peter Mueller

    I think reinjosh proposed this and I like it Pheonix gets a guy they can market as their franchise dman for new ownership. Calgary gets two young forwards that need a change of scenery and a great defense prospect.

    Calgary: Derek Roy, Luke Adam and a 1st

    Buffalo gets a dman to play with Tyler Myers that would be a fantastic duo. I would like the flames to try to get Myers but I don't think its possible. Calgary gets a center to play with JI and a pick and prospect.

    NYI: Phaneuf
    Calgary: Okposo, Kiril Petrov and 1st round 2010

    NYI gets a franchise dman. Calgary gets a pick and a prospect plus a guy who could replace JI in a few years.

    New Jersey: Phaneuf
    Calgary: Zajac, josefson, and 1st round pick.

    Devils get a player in the mold of Scott Stevens. Calgary gets a Center and a draft pick.

    Olli the flames should move to the highest bidder as it is clear to everyone hes not going to be with the flames after this year. You can probaly still get a 1st plus a mid round pick or prospect for him.

  5. albertateams says:

    They should move Olli and Phaneuf. There's not really a lot of spare parts that are going to get you much in return, they could move Nystrom or Conroy for some mid round picks. The other issue that they need to address is to see what it will take to resign Bourque, if they can sign him for 3.0-4.0 million then keep him if he wants over 4 then move him. he could get a lot of interest at the deadline.

  6. reinjosh says:

    Unfortunately I don't think Pittsburgh can afford to add almost 2 million dollars in salary to get Phaneuf.
    I also don't think that New Jersey moves Zajac. He has good chemistry with Parise. They might if they believe the Josefson could take over but I doubt it.
    Id would love both Staal or Zajac but I just don't see it happening.

  7. dizon says:

    oh my, if i were calgary, id jump on that phoenix deal 

    and okposo=future JI. he's so dirty
  8. reinjosh says:

    oh definitely
    I think its time for Sutter to look at this season and count it as a building season. Use assets to get younger and maybe cheaper (Trade Phaneuf, Jokinen, Conroy, maybe Sarich) and then look at the RFA's and UFA's and decide who too keep, offer them money and see what they are looking for. If they want to much trade them.
    GO after some young players like maybe John Mitchell from TO to replace Conroy. Harding as a backup.
    Do kind of what Anaheim did last year. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

    Say they get a top prospect, 1st rounder and a roster player for Phanuef. A first rounder for Jokinen. A true backup. A number three center to replace Conroy.

    Its just time for Sutter to look at this team, cut his loses for the season and improve it for the next couple. Kind of like a one step back and three forward type deal. Phaneuf and Jokinen could be used to help get some forward and goalie prospects to strengthen the cupboards.

  9. reinjosh says:

    I would love Okposo but I think he might be considered untouchable. But who knows, he may be available to get a guy like Phaneuf.

  10. albertateams says:

    Both trades are obviously hypothetical but would probably be more suited to the off season.
    What you think of a variation of Phaneuf+ for Kovalchuk? If Calgary were giving up an asset like Phaneuf I would think they would want a contract extension.

  11. albertateams says:

    No ones going to completely replace Iginla but Okposo could be a 30-40 goal guy. I like how Okposo plays he has an edge would love to have him on the flames.

  12. reinjosh says:

    yeah its not out of the question
    I think that it works for both teams
    The FLames get another superstar scorer that really helps the offense and the Thrashers get something that they can show the fans back home right away.
    Phaneuf would make their defense one of the leagues most potent with Bogosian, Enstrom, Phaneuf and Kubina. Plus they wouldn't have just picks and prospects that would need time to develop.
    But the whole deal would rest on Kovalchuk signing an agreement. Sutter wouldn't let his most trade able asset go for nothing.Maybe Phanuef plus for Kovy and conditional picks?
    I wouldn't be surprised if they had a deal and the Thrashers gave a team like 2 hours to sit down with Kovy's agent to talk about Contract extension opputunity.
    Its possible but I doubt it.
    It would really harm the team more than help it.

  13. leafstime says:

    Kessel, Kaberle and Poni for Phaneuf and Iginla. Do it now.

  14. reinjosh says:

    never going to happen
    why would the leafs trade a guy they just trade and signed?
    and Phaneuf would be traded for a number one center or goaltending and forward prospects.
    Kaberle would be used to get a top 6 forward (a young one) or picks and prospects.
    Iggy isn't moving.

  15. pezzz123 says:

    This summer :

    To Florida : Iginla, Sarich

    To Calgary : Horton, Stillman, Ellerby, 1rst round pick

    To Washington : Regehr

    To Calgary : 1rst round pick, 2nd round pick

    To Nashville : Kiprusoff, Boyd, 2nd round pick

    To Calgary : Erat, Suter, rights to Rinne

    Resign Bourque 4 years, 16 million
    Resign Jokinen 2 years, 7.5 million
    Resign Rinne 2 years, 6 million
    Resign Nystrom 3 years, 3 million
    Resign Prust 3 years, 2.25 million
    Resign Johnson 2 years, 1.4 million

    Sign Brian Pothier 2 years, 3 million

    Let Conroy, McGrattan and Lundmark go.

    Dump McElhinney.

    Stillman – Jokinen – Horton
    Erat – Langkow – Bourque
    Glencross – Backlund – Moss
    Nystrom – Prust – Sjostrom

    Bouwmeester – Giordano
    Phaneuf – Suter
    Pardy – Pothier


    Cap hit : approx. 55.5 million

    A young, but very competitive team. Stillman is gone in the summer, Langkow and Jokinen the year after, leaving the team a lot of cap space. We also got 2-3 1rst rounders in the next 2 drafts. So basically, this team can sneak in the playoffs for 2-3 years, and then compete for the Stanley Cup when the 1rst rounders are ready, with Bouwmeester, Phaneuf, Bourque and Horton in their primes.  

  16. broc says:

    What's with that Florida trade- it's like you're making trades just for the sake of making trades. Are Florida buyers all of a sudden? They're still in rebuild phase.

    FLA have a small young core they need to BUILD around.. they're not going to tear it down for 1 guy, even if it's Iginla. That makes zero sense.

    It would be like the Leafs trading Kadri, Schenn, Stalberg, 2011 2nd,  for Iginla + Sarcich. What's the sense in that?

    I like your other trades though.

  17. pezzz123 says:

    The Panthers need to make the playoffs as soon as possible. They're losing a lot of money every year. No playoffs next year might mean moving the franchise for them. Iginla could get them in the playoffs by himslef. Not Horton. And anwyays, Horton's already on the market.

  18. cam7777 says:

    At the Deadline:

    To DAL: Phaneuf, Jokinen
    To CGY: Richards, Daley, 1st in 2010, 3rd in 2010

    To CAR: Nemisz
    To CGY: Whitney

    -resign Rene Bourque, 4 years, 14 million (3.5 cap hit)

    L1: Ray Whitney, Brad Richards, Jarome Iginla
    L2: Rene Bourque, Daymond Langkow, Nigel Dawes
    L3: Curtis Glencross, Craig Conroy, David Moss
    L4: Eric Nystrom, Dustin Boyd, Fredrik Sjostrom

    EX: Brandon Prust, Brian McGrattan

    D1: Jay Bouwmeester, Trevor Daley
    D2: Robyn Regehr, Cory Sarich
    D3: Mark Giordano, Adam Pardy

    EX: Staffon Kronwall, Aaron Johnson

    GT: Mikka Kipprusoff, Curtis McElhinney

    Leaves the team only 10 million dollars to sign six forwards in the summer.  Maybe Jarome can talk Whitney into taking a discount, or a bonus laden resign (although it's rumored he'll return to CAR after the season).  Most of the rest would be cheap guys like Boyd, Nystrom, Sjostrom, Johnson, McGrattan, and Prust, but Bourque could be pricey.  They could take the summer to think about moving out Sarich or Regehr to make it all work.

  19. reinjosh says:

    Horton was on the market before he picked up his play.
    They are not going to move him now. And Iggy isn't going to be moved. Sutter isn't going to just move the teams player (and Iggy is the teams player). He may be struggling, but trading him would hurt the franchise. What does that tell potential UFA's? Yeah, we traded our best player because he had an off season.
    And it's not like he is old. He is 32 and still has 3 or 4 seasons left in him. That would take him to the end of his contract where the team could agree to a career ending contract with a low cap hit. Iggy is like Yzerman, Lidstrom, Sakic, Modano, Stevens etc. They are players that play with the team for their entire careers. You don't just trade those guys. Its about respect by the player and the team.

    Honestly the best approach is to move Phaneuf, Jokinen and any RFA's/UFA's who might be too expensive. Trade Jokinen for a first rounder or a good prospect. Trade Conroy, Nystrom to playoff teams wanting player depth (maybe keep Nystrom). Look into trading Sarich but only if the return is better than what he can provide the team with. Hell trade him anyway to provide the team with cap space and a good prospect. Trade Phaneuf for a top line center or a good center prospect, a good goaltending prospect or backup and a 1st rounder (well the best possible package). Maybe take Boyd and trade him for another RFA (like the Latendresse trade, or Ladd and Ruutu trade a couple years back), someone like Mitchell or Downie or use him plus some of the stuff you got in other trades and trade for a guy like Ryan or Neal if they would be available. IF Bourque can be resigned for cheap then resign him, if not trade him. He would get a good return.

    Lets say Bourque, Sarich, Conroy, Jokinen and Phaneuf get traded.

    Phaneuf can be replaced by Girdano and Bouwmeester. Regehr rounds out the top three. Pardy and Kronwall get to fight with a couple of younger guys for the 5th, 6th and 7th spots.  Then try and sign someone like Hamhuis or Martin or Willie Mitchell to fill the number 4 spot.  17

    So after trading Phaneuf and Sarich the team has an extra 10.1 million in cap space. That leaves 34.76 million committed to 13 players. Sign Hamhuis to a 3 year 12 million dollar deal . Boyd is resigned to a 1 year 1 million dollar deal. Say we get a player like Okposo in a Phaneuf deal. He adds 1.7 million. Sign Nittymaki to a one year 1.5 million dollar deal. Prust resigns to a two year 1.5 million dollar deal. Bring Aulie up and he makes 1 million with bonuses. Nemisz gets 1.5 with bonuses. Thats 20 players for 46.31 million dollars. The lineup looks like this.

    Nemisz       —–     Iginla
    Moss        Langkow   Okposo
    Glencross    Boyd     Dawes
    —–          Prust      Sjostrom

    Bouwmeester – Giordano
    Hamhuis – Regehr
    Pardy – Aulie


    That leaves almost 10 million dollars for 3 roster spots.

    Sign Arthuykuin to a 3 year, 4.5 million dollar deal.
    Sign Steve Ott to a 2 year, 3 million dollar deal.
    Offer Marleau a 3 year, 21 million dollar deal.

    That leaves the team with a payroll of 56.31 million dollars. Rookie bonuses are included so there would be a little room to play around. If Marleau doesn't sign then bring up Backlund or use, any first rounders we acrue, Backlund, a defense prospect and Boyd to go after a someone like Kesler (haha i wish), Pavelski, Staal, or someone under contract. Obviously we wouldn't need to use all the above mentioned trade assets.

    This would leave the team younger, with more cap flexibility, a better more balanced team, a backup goalie and more scoring.

    I realize lines might not work properly but I just kind of tossed them together. The key would be Okposo, Nemisz and whoever we acquire as our top line or second line center (Jordan Staal), Bouwmeester, Giordano, Hamhuis and Regehr would make up the core of the team for years to come. It would be far cheaper than before, younger and better balanced.

  20. reinjosh says:

    i think the Flames need to approach it differently. I think they need to trade Phaneuf and other random parts (like Jokinen, Conroy, Nystrom, Sarich, maybe Bourque) in an effort to retool. Something like what the Ducks did last season. Get some younger pieces to build the future core around. Maybe let this season be an in between season. Forget about the playoffs (if you get in you can be an underdog with no aspirations for the cup, if not no big deal) and look to next season.

  21. FlamingHomer says:

    You are right but that's only a small part of the problem.

  22. leafmeister says:

    Garnett Exelby for Shea Weber. Do it now.

  23. leafy says:

    Come on Calgary. Take Toskala PLEEEESSSSE!!!!

  24. tacitus says:

    Kipper is currently 5th in minutes player behind Olympian Brodeur, Olympian Lundqvist, Olympian Nabokov and Quick… so calgary needs a better back up but none of these other teams whose goalies should be more fatigued?

  25. tacitus says:

    heres a big secret none of the hockey world has figured out yet apparently…. Cuz there were a bunch of guys named sutter who played 4th lines roles in the NHL people think they are like all knowing cuz they were gritty 4th liners and like 47 of them….

    they were a bunch of guys who barely made there one has a kid in the league good lord….but they are tough guys so lets make a tough talentless team… a good grinding team…

    these guys were barely good enough to play in the NHL… that shouldnt qualify then to coach or manage anything in the NHL

    Sh*t patrick roy probably had more points then them and hes only coaching Jr…

  26. albertateams says:

    This is the dumbest post I've seen on htr.

    Brent played 1111 games in the NHL getting 829 points and was also captain of the NYI. Coaching record 97-56-11 in the nhl. 12-0-0 two gold medals at WJC.
    Darryl played 406 games in the NHl getting 279 points. Coaching record 409-320-101-30.
    I don't see a lot of people questioning the Sutters knowledge of hockey. Their playing and coaching records speak for themselves.
    I would hardly say that they have assembled a talentless team. The team doesn't have the chemistry but nobody is doubting the talent Sutter has assembled. Its the equivalent of saying the Flyers had a talentless team a month ago when they were going through a rough patch. Some times the pieces just don't fit.
    you don't play 400 plus games in the NHL if your barely good enough let alone 1000. 
  27. cam7777 says:

    I wonder if they'd do a trade somewhat similar to the Morris trade between Phoenix and the Rangers last year.  The Yotes got a bunch of cheaper players that the Rangers had no intention of resigning(Prucha, Dawes, etc..), and the Rangers took the more expensive player.  Problem is, I don't really know who is expendable like that in Calgary – Prust? McGrattan? Lundmark?

    It would really be the kind of trade that would just give the Leafs enough options to try and stay out of the bottom 5 after they drop Poni, Stajan, Stempniak, etc…

  28. cam7777 says:

    Conroy's not worth anything though, and although Sarich and Bourque would probably bring in decent returns, it's not like that would be the start of a massive rebuild.  I hardly think that Rene Bourque is the problem with the Flames.  Address the real problem – find Jarome Iginla a center! 

    I guess drop Sarich as well if you really need to, but I would hold onto Bourque.  No sense in dropping Nystrom or Conroy though.  Just sit them, or bury them, and call up youth.  You have Backlund sitting there thinking he can probalby come in and try to make a difference.  Jamie Lundmark could take more ice-time.  Brandon Prust couldn't possibly provide less offense than Conroy.

  29. blaze says:

    but Brent has the perfect scowl down pat, that's what makes a good coach.

  30. reinjosh says:

    oh, im not suggesting a massive rebuil
    just trade away (or demote) lose pieces including Phaneuf (maybe Bourque depending on what he wants) and then use that cap space for the summer.

  31. cam7777 says:

    Being a fan of both teams, would you do Hagman, Stajan and Beauchemin for Phaneuf.  Hagman addresses secondary scoring, and gives Jokinen a country-men winger.  Stajan gives Iginla another center option, and as of now, Beauchemin is doing everything that Phaneuf is anyways, so it's a fair replacement.  For the Leafs, they get a longer term solution on the back-end, and an excuse to trade Kaberle (finally).

    But if they didn't trade Kaberle, I like the look of this defense crew:

    Kaberle / Schenn
    Phaneuf / White
    Komisarek / Gunnarsson

    Mobility and power on each pair.

  32. reinjosh says:

    heres a big secret that you probably already know
    Tacitus has no idea what is talking about and thinks he does. By saying what he just said he proved himself to be an ignorant buffoon.

    First of all you obviously have no idea about the Sutters. Look above to albertateams comment.

    Second of all, that tough talentless team has more points than those Bruins of yours, despite losing the last 5 games. They also happen to be in the playoffs in the tougher western conference, something the Bruins can't claim in the weaker conference. Oh yeah, and the Flames have more goals for than the Bruins.

    Plus the Flames have two players with more points than any player on your team, and two players who have more points than your second highest scorer. Oh and the Flames have two players who have scored more goals than your top goal scorer.

    Oh yeah, and the GM (who himself also coached) has won more playoff series than your GM, and made it a Stanley Cup final (something your GM can't seem to do). Plus he found one of the leagues top 5 goaltenders (Kipper), and found other offensive talents (Bourque, Huselias, Langkow to name a few). Oh and the Flames GM isn't stupid enough to hand a 4.083 million dollar a year contract to a guy who has never scored more than 17 goals or 42 points.

    Next time, just don't talk. You obviously have no clue as to what your saying.

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