Will Flames playoff push pay off?
NHL club postponed rebuild to chase spring invite
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
|The Calgary Flames decided to keep this season's lineup intact for a push to make the playoffs and not try to trade players, including pending unrestricted free agent Curtis Glencross, for draft picks or prospects. LYLE ASPINALL/CALGARY SUN
CALGARY - Sometimes, the best of intentions backfire.
The Calgary Flames organization must be hoping its trade deadline decision doesn’t fall into that category.
Should the Flames miss the playoffs — and their two-game losing skid has them in a precarious position with less than four weeks remaining in the regular season — the disappointment would be made even worse considering what could have been.
When the clock struck on deadline day, the Flames made the bold decision to not deal away any assets.
Rightfully, it was a call made because a team that appeared dead in the water as late as mid-January had rebounded for an incredible playoff push.
The players who went on a torrid spree for more than two months deserved the chance to see it through and try riding that success into the playoffs.
In return, they won five of six games immediately after the deadline, but losses to the Phoenix Coyotes and the Vancouver Canucks once again put them on the bubble in a Western Conference field that has become as tight as a straight-jacket.
If the Flames can’t pull out of their skid — they have
11 games remaining and probably need 14 points just to make the playoffs — it will smack of a lost opportunity.
Think of the return given around trade deadline just involving pending UFAs, the proverbial rental players. Third-round draft choices were the currency for players who couldn’t offer anything to the level Curtis Glencross, Alex Tanguay (if he would have been willing to waive his no-trade clause) and Brendan Morrison have provided.
Consider that Brad Winchester, Maxim Lapierre and Christopher Higgins, the oft-injured former Flames forward whose scoring touch seems to have disappeared, all fall into that category.
Wouldn’t you rather have Glencross or Tanguay over any of those players? You must think the 29 GMs around the league would, too.
The Flames currently don’t have a second- or third-round pick at the 2011 draft. Had they auctioned those players, as well as Anton Babchuk and possibly even Steve Staios and Adam Pardy from their blueline, they’d have a boatload of picks to use come draft day.
They didn’t, and now the Flames hierarchy — Murray Edwards, the chairman of the ownership group, president Ken King and GM Jay Feaster — is hoping and praying it made the right decision by banking on a playoff berth this season.
Face facts, the Flames are still one of the NHL’s oldest teams and don’t have a cast of players in the system ready to take over the impact positions.
They have no guarantee next season will even bring about a shot at the playoffs.
Which is why that rebuild must eventually happen.
The good news is the Flames still hold their fate in their hands.
Sure, other teams have games in hand, but seven of those 11 remaining games are against teams outside the West’s top eight prior to last night’s action.
The players kept together for this run know all too well the time to step forward is right now.
Otherwise, a major opportunity to rebuild this organization through the draft went down the drain.