Question, Answer, Discussion (6/24/09)


Calgary FlamesAs comments and questions filter in, I am going to do my best to post my opinions and answers in relation to the question(s) asked. Hopefully I will be able to post on each and every question and/or comment that comes through. Here’s what we have today; Naheed of Calgary, AB writes:

“Do you think that the Olli Jokinen trade was worth it? When Jokinen was acquired Cammelleri’s production faded, as did the team morale. By this, I mean that the team was 0 for 46 on the powerplay at one time, and went below .500 after the trade deadline. A clear arguement also is that Lombardi had close to as many points as Jokinen did on a much weaker Phoenix team. Now is the time to ship him I think. The one clear player I think would be a definite franchise player in Calgary is Derrick Brassard. Colombus is full of young talents, whereby, Nikita Filatov and Jacob Vorcek are their future players; with Colombus having a large salary cap-space and getting a guy like Jokinen would be better for both teams I think.”

My first reaction was excitement when I heard of the news that the Calgary Flames had acquired Olli Jokinen on deadline day. As the details involved in the swap came across the wire, I began to think much harder about the trade. First-round draft picks are valuable assets in today’s salary cap-ruled NHL, so anytime a transaction takes place involving one, the swap is scrutinized from top to bottom. Overall, I think that the trade was a relatively good one for Sutter to make. Matthew Lombardi was a player who was going nowhere fast with the Calgary Flames. Both Daymond Langkow and Craig Conroy were ahead of him on the depth chart, and producing enough to warrant that. In many cases a player needs a change of scenery in order to revitalize his career, and I think this was the case with Lombardi. There were always high expectations for him, and that created a certain pressure for him to produce 50+ pts after he had his first solid campaign (20G, 46pts in 80 GP during the 2006-07 season). Playing in Phoenix, I can imagine that the pressure was much less, especially with how fast the Coyotes dropped out of the playoff picture towards the end of the season. With less pressure, and a larger role on a Coyotes team that is built around speed and skill, Lombardi was refreshed and it showed in his play and production (16pts in 19 GP after being acquired). I always liked Matthew Lombardi and really hoped that he would develop into a solid goal scorer for the Flames, but that just didn’t pan out. For the sake of his career, I think this move will help him to develop into that solid second line center that everyone expected him to be.

As for moving Jokinen to the Blue Jackets for a player like Derrick Brassard, here are two reasons why I don’t see a trade like that materializing:

  1. Derrick Brassard is extremely valuable to the Blue Jackets right now. He posted 25pts in only 31 GP this past Derrick Brassardseason and has the potential to keep on producing at exponential rates over the seasons to come. Not only is Brassard younger, but he is also far cheaper (for the time being) than the fat $5.25m pay cheque that Olli Jokinen stuffs in his wallet.
  2. The Blue Jackets already have some pretty serious depth at center ice, including; RJ Umberger ($3.75m), Antoine Vermette ($2.763m), Andrew Murray ($0.625m), Derek McKenzie ($0.55m), Jiri Novotny (RFA). Not to mention Manny Malholtra, Mike Peca, and Jason Williams are all centers who are pending free agents and could potentially re-sign.

You are very correct in noting that Columbus definitely has the cap space to take on a hit like Olli Jokinen. However, I don’t think that the prospect of giving up someone like Brassard is enough to sway the Blue Jackets towards making a move like this. If Columbus wants to build on it’s success from the past season, they will need to invest that cap space in improving their blueline corps. While Mike Commodore is a solid defenseman, he is not a #1 defenseman. Nor is Rostislav Klesla or Fedor Tyutin. In the first round against Detroit, the Red Wings exploited this weakness and Steve Mason was at the mercy of the Winged Wheel’s strong offense.

The second question/comment that I have today is also from Naheed. He writes;

“Trading Dion Phanuef has been brought up by many analysts’, does this make any sense if your the GM of Calgary? I think so. A team like the San Jose Sharks have a guy better suited in a Calgary Flames uniform with a much lower salary, t’m talkin’ about Marc Vlasic. The Flames I think have over-invested in Phanuef. If you compare Phanuef’s defensive play compared to (even) second rounder defenseman such as: Vlasic, Keith, or even Shea Weber, you know he’s over rated. Phanuef was drafted more than 5 years ago, and still doesn’t have the defensive side IQ as most defenseman getting paid over 6 million dollars. I love your comment about Adam Pardy, I think Keenan didn’t have enough belief in him. Pardy definitly does have a high IQ in the back end. As for John Negrin: WOW! He is already I think a Stud. He plays so smart (as seen in his small stint with Calgary). I think Matt Pelech however is looking less and less like a first round draft pick. I think he could be involved in trade bait to lure a young becoming star in a Jokinen trade such as a: Claude Giroux, Derrick Brassard, or even a player like Kyle Okposo. I think these guy’s are all availble in a trade that involves Olli Jokinen. Though Jokinen played in the Island, if they take Taveras, Jokinen is a better fit in the Island than Okposo. Okposo is worthy of becoming a franchise player, playing under the wings of Iginla, he can learn the ropes to becoming that player.”

I understand the argument that many analysts make when they say Sutter should ship out Phaneuf while he still has some value. I completely disagree with everyone who says Phaneuf should be traded right now. Phaneuf has played four seasons in the league and in each of his first three his numbers improved, as did his game. He has shown the ability to be a quality player at both ends of the rink, and I believe that he will be that quality player consistently this season. No player walks into the NHL and plays perfectly sound defensive hockey. There is a learning curve there, and with Regehr and Sarich injured amongst others, Phaneuf was pressured into playing more high quality minutes in 2008-09. Just because his play dropped off this season does not mean that the organization or it’s fans should be giving up on Phaneuf. While $6.5m is a huge salary to be paying a player like Phaneuf, I believe it’s important that the Flames have him locked down for as long as they do. Dion Phaneuf will be a consistent impact player in the NHL, there is no doubt there.

To speak on a trade to the San Jose Sharks, I can tell you that in acquiring Phaneuf, the Sharks would immediately be pressed far too close to the cap. On defense they already have a large contingency of high-priced talent including; Dan Boyle ($6.67m), Christian Ehrhoff ($3.1m), M-E Vlasic ($3.1m),  Doug Murray ($2.5m). Not to mention, it has been rumoured that Rob Blake will re-sign with the Sharks, and you can expect him to pull in a salary in the $5m range. If you were to include Blake in the equation, that would put the Sharks just above $50m of cap hit for 2009-10. With Phaneuf’s cap hit being $6.5m and the NHL cap more than likely to drop from $56.7m for 2009-10, this would more or less completely bind the Sharks and leave them no wiggle room for roster moves over the course of the season.

As for a trade involving Olli Jokinen to the Island for Okposo, I cannot see the Islanders giving up Okposo for anyone right now. Okposo was aKyle Okposo major bright spot on a dismal team on Long Island this past season. It seems that many GMs are quickly learning that trading young potential stars for current high priced talent does not always work out in the positive. While I would love to see a player like Okposo in a Flames uniform, I don’t see it happening through a trade anytime soon.

Agree? Disagree? Want to discuss any of this further? Post your comments and opinions to let me know what you think!

-m.o.b.

~ by manovrboard on June 24, 2009.

One Response to “Question, Answer, Discussion (6/24/09)”

  1. hey m.o.b:

    I had messaged you a long time ago about Olli Jokien being potential trade bate or at least should be considered. After 21 games into this year, what is your assessment of Jokinen and his lackluster play with the Flames? Looking at Calgary’s situation and other teams around the league that would lead to a potential trade, I would offer Olli Jokinen and Matt Pelech to the Carolina Hurricanes for Brandon Sutter. Sutter would be the future of the Flames playing under his dad and uncle. Carolina has a history of giving up on their young players, especially if they got a solid 1-2 line center in Jokinen. Not to mention a track-record of consistently drafting future forwards such as: Philippe Paradis, Zach Boychuck, as well as Drayson Bowman. Carolina’s lack-of-defense could be benefited with Pelech, who is on an over-crowded defense-filled team. Calgary’s future problem of salary-cap issue would also be resolved for next year, where they would then have the cash to re-sign Bourque (easily Calgary’s hardest-working player), Boyd, and last but not least, Erick Nystrom.

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