SUN Hockey Pool

Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster admits his team is rebuilding

Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster at a press conference June 14. (JIM WELLS/Calgary Sun)

Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster at a press conference June 14. (JIM WELLS/Calgary Sun)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:56 AM ET

CALGARY - It doesn’t matter whether it was Dr. Phil, Dr. Freud, Dr. Dre or Dr. Seuss who helped out.

The Calgary Flames are willing to admit they’ve seen the light and have reached acceptance of their current state.

“I’ve been to therapy since the end of the season, and it is a rebuild,” Flames GM Jay Feaster said Friday. “We are rebuilding.”

It’s just a word – ‘rebuild.’

But for far too long, it was a four-letter word around the Saddledome. And even though the Flames obviously kicked off the first stages of rebuilding when they traded away Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester to add first-round draft choices, the club kept wanting to phrase the stage it’s in with such other words as ‘retooling’ and ‘reloading,’ even though the tool box was lacking and the reloading is based on the assumption there were bullets in the chamber at some point.

Time has shown the Flames are best served by an all-out, start-from-the-ground rebuild, which, in turn, will require years and planning.

For what it’s worth, the club which finished 25th overall this season has spent the last couple of months planning its next stage and knows a fast turnaround is just as likely to happen going forward as adding Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman last summer would push the aging club into a Stanley Cup contender.

“We actually went back and critiqued the plan from last season and the year before and looked at strengths and weaknesses from what we said we were going to do and what we were able to do,” Feaster said.

And the resulting assessment?

“I don’t think there’s a quick fix,” Feaster admitted. “The fact of the matter is we have to do a better job as an organization in drafting. We think over the last three years or so that we’ve done a better job. But not enough players are pushing through right now.

“We have to do a better job developing players, making sure once we draft them we do the right thing to develop them.

“And we have to continue to add assets. We can’t keep trading away high draft picks and trying for that solution that gets us through and gets us into the playoffs at the expense of the foundation.”

The next step for the the Flames is the June 30 NHL Draft, during which the team sports the sixth, 22nd and 28th choices in the first round and nine selections overall.

Feaster says the plan is to select the “best player available” with an eye on centres. But that’s only a part of the plan and an obvious portion of the rebuild to stay on-course.

What’s important is the Flames don’t deviate from their much-needed plan going forward.

That means not making any foolish free-agent signings — big bucks for big years to fading talents won’t help the cause over the next four or five years.

That means not making any foolish short-term trades. For example, a belief out there is the Flames should capitulate to the Los Angeles Kings request for a first-round draft pick for goalie Jonathan Bernier, but it makes no sense to trade for an asset who will be past his prime by the time the club is strong enough to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

Instead, it’s paramount the Flames keep every decision with an eye to the future beyond the next couple of seasons, even though that means they’ll likely be a lottery-pick club through the 2014-15 campaign.

That may mean acquiring players with bad contracts for draft choices. (Think of how the Flames gave the Buffalo Sabres a second-round draft choice to take Ales Kotalik off their hands) or even to use a compliance buyout on an acquired player.

For his part, Feaster says the Flames won’t buy out any players they currently have under contract but will be looking at players let go by other clubs, which must happen within 48 hours of the Cup final clinching game.

“We’re anxious to see what some other teams do,” Feaster said. “Right now, teams that we think may avail themselves of that option, they’re still at the point where they’d rather make a trade.”

Ultimately, it’s great the Flames have come to the realization they’re in for a rebuild, which takes time.

What’s important is they make the right plan and adhere to it through thick and thin.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNRandySportak


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