June 30, 2012
Feaster double checking to-do list
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Jay Feaster insists he still has plans for Canada Day.
And he means plans beyond what most in this country feel July 1 is best for — firing up the barbecue for a burger or steak and enjoying a frosty beverage or two.
Even though the Calgary Flames GM appears to have locked up a complete roster for the coming season this week by bringing in defenceman Dennis Wideman from the Washington Capitals and re-signing defenceman Cory Sarich and forwards Lee Stempniak and Blair Jones, he insists there will be targets when the NHL’s free-agency season opens.
“We still have some things we want to accomplish,” Feaster said Friday. “We still need to be tougher to play against and we’re going to try to address that grit element in what we do on Sunday.
“And there’s still an opportunity for us to try and bring in a top-six forward.
“It’s about creating depth and creating competition. We’ll see what we can do.”
Currently, the Flames could have a roster with 12 forwards, counting top prospect Sven Baertschi, eight defencemen and two goalies and a salary cap hit of $63.4 million.
The only sure-fire NHLer among the list of restricted free-agents is Mikael Backlund.
Meaning, Feaster, who could save salary cap space by trading away a defenceman or two, says he can take aim at players when the gun sounds on the free-agent frenzy.
“I would describe the approach now on Sunday that it’s much more of a rifle-approach, as opposed to a shotgun,” he said. “It’s not about making 50 different phone calls to 50 different people. We’re going to be very, very targeted in terms of what we try to accomplish.”
Take your guess who Feaster plans to aim for a top-six forward. Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils is the big-name out there. Maybe he wants to bring in Shane Doan, a close friend of captain Jarome Iginla.
As for gritty forwards, players such as Brandon Prust, who’s had two stints with the Flames, Zenon Konopka and Jordin Tootoo could be in the sights.
“We don’t have to trade salary, dump salary. We still the ability to target what we want to accomplish Sunday,” Feaster said.
It would seem Feaster’s first order of business was to identify which Flames players he wanted to keep and re-sign them, a trend around the league. That appears to be concluded.
“We have our own intelligence and sources around the league and expected teams would (sign their own players),” he said. “There are not a lot of high-profile names out there, not a lot of guys where you’d say, ‘This player or that player makes us that much better.’ And with your own guys, you know them, their strength and weaknesses and how they fit in the room.
“There are still players you believe can help. It’s just going to be a lot of guys going after the same guys.”
After the free-agency frenzy settles down, though, expect to see Feaster trying to make some trades, especially with his overflowing defence corps.
“I think there’s going to be phone calls made and trade market options,” Feaster said. “If the puck dropped tomorrow, we wouldn’t be keeping nine or 10 defencemen, but we don’t view it as a problem.
“Right now, certainly, we think it’s a good problem to have. It’s a position where you can never have enough depth.”
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak