Bourque on the block?
Flames winger club's best trade bait
STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
|Flames forward Rene Bourque drives to the net against the Oilers at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Sep. 24, 2011. (DALE MacMILLAN/Getty Images/AFP)
CALGARY - Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster learned his lesson last year when it came to chatter about his captain that it’s best not to publicly address trade rumours, even if they aren’t true.
So Feaster respectfully declines the opportunity to shoot down or discuss some of the ideas bandied about online over the course of a couple of overall disappointing weeks of hockey from his Flames to start the year.
But the former lawyer wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t listen to any offers that may come his way, so you can bet Feaster is picking up the phone if another GM is calling.
He’s said in the past anyone not named Iginla, Kiprusoff, Giordano and perhaps Glencross is fair game if it provides an opportunity to improve the club, so it shouldn’t come as any major surprise Rene Bourque’s name is out there now.
Outside of the untouchables, who has more value than the 29-year-old power winger whose biggest flaw is that he appears capable of scoring around 40 goals in the NHL but ‘only’ managed 27 for two straight seasons?
Bourque has a modified no-trade clause, which means he’s either able to provide the Flames a list of teams he is willing to be traded to, or conversely, a list of those he is not willing to join without written consent.
He’s also young enough with a relatively reasonable cap-hit on his contract that pays him an average of US$3.33 million for this year and for the following four seasons.
But for all those reasons, he may be attractive to other teams — and they are the same reasons the Flames would be better off to keep him, unless the return can both help the team now and in the future.
With the window to win closing for those older, off-limit stars of the Flames, it really is all about winning now without mortgaging the future.
So while Feaster is no doubt entertaining inquiries — which may only increase thanks to the attention — he’s likely not about to pawn Bourque off for a draft pick or a bag of pucks.
Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman and Olli Jokinen have all also been mentioned as possible trade bait over the past few months, but Jokinen has been one of the club’s most consistent forwards so far this season and Hagman has looked determined to change the fans’ opinions of him.
That could mean more looks from other teams, but Hagman’s $3-million salary is a pretty hefty addition.
There are plenty of new faces with the Flames since Feaster took over full-time from former GM Darryl Sutter last December.
Lee Stempniak, Scott Hannan, Chris Butler, Roman Horak, Pierre-Luc Leblond and Derek Smith have all found roles on the team.
Gone are Daymond Langkow, Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik, Steve Staios and Adam Pardy.
Wanting to make his mark as manager, the team will almost certainly look even more different come the trade deadline.
How different will depend on whether the Flames are still in a fight to make the post-season.
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane