A couple days ago LW Curtis Glencross signed a new contract with the Calgary Flames as GM Jay Feaster's first official move as non-Acting GM, which is news we'll get to later. In the meantime, we've got a nice round up of everyone's opinions on this. Read on after the jump.
I've decided that I can't evaluate the Glencross contract while still fuming over nasty deals like Hagman's and Kotalik's. On its own, I really like the Glencross signing. He has proven to be a guy capable of playing on the 2nd or 3rd line while while chipping in 15-25 goals and being a key man on the penalty kill. In 4 seasons, he has contributed in the 2-pts-per-60 range and has proven that he can face the best forwards on the opposition. More than anything, Glencross has been a consistently above-average possession player. He dominates 3rd and 4th lines while playing top lines to a stalemate or a slight advantage. Calgary needs more of these players, and $2.55m isn't too much to pay for that ability. I'm also not bothered by the NMC. What bothers me about NMCs are unproven players getting them when they're on big contracts. The Flames obviously have a few bad NTC/NMCs on their roster, but I'm pretty sure Feaster knows exactly what he's getting with Glencross at this point. And for those worried that Curtis doesn't fit a team planning on rebuilding, you're flat out wrong. The mistake a lot of teams make is depleteing their roster of all NHL-calibre players. When there are roster players capable of playing the opposition's top 2 lines, young players can learn against lesser competition. All told, I'm pretty happy to have ScoreFace back in the fold.
While I think under any other circumstances that this signing should be considered a homerun considering the value and the type of character player that is returning—I always felt that the more Flames signed to other teams, the better off the Flames would be. The fact of the matter is, the Flames are continuing down the path of the forest enchanted by Darryl, they’re recycling the same players they’ve lost with for years and then they’re tying them up longterm. Eventually that cycle has to change, and eventually this team is going to have to test its prospect pool. Congratulations to Curtis, he deserved this deal, and I hope it turns out well for both sides.
The fact that the Flames have re-signed Glencross and awarded him a significant raise after a career season obviously presents Flames fans with a reason to worry. He likely won't shoot 16.1% again next season and has always been somewhat inconsistent, but his 24 goals and 43 points this past season were not all luck--at 5 v. 5, the team shot 9% with Glencross on the ice and had an SV% of .906, good for an average PDO of 99.6, lower than that of fellow UFA Alex Tanguay. He didn't face the toughest opposition of all regular forwards and had a favourable ZoneStart ratio (51.4%), but Glencross had very good underlying numbers (+5.99 Corsi/60) this past season and Brent Sutter seems to know how to use him to his advantage against similar competition and which players compliment him. At $2.55M/year for four seasons, Glencross' cap hit is probably reasonable for a 20-goal scorer and quite manageable; the deal will also expire when Glencross is 32-years old, meaning that the Flames will have him under contract for the remainder of his prime years as a hockey player. The no-movement clause isn't ideal, but then again it wouldn't be a Flames contract without one.
In and of itself, this deal is pretty okay. It's an alright dollar amount for an alright term length. I am bothered by the NMC, since we have like 453052 already, and while I can't foresee wanting to trade Glencross, you never know what'll come up or what'll happen. Still, that's not the issue I have with the deal.
No, my issue is the fact that it happened at all. The Flames failed to make the playoffs this past season, and in fact failed to really get close (as far as the season as a whole is concerned. Obviously there were times where they were "in"). And yet New Management seems intent on icing the exact same team as last year, provided Alex Tanguay signs for a reasonable price. That's great and all if you expect Tim Erixon and Mikael Backlund and T.J. Brodie and whoever else pleases you to suddenly become blue chip prospects, but they're not. They're legit NHL prospects, but nothing more. They'll be slightly above replacement level players at best.
What I'm saying is, the Glencross signing shows a refusal to truly improve the team, which you basically have to do if you're not a contender and not rebuilding. And that means a lot of middling years ahead.
I would completely endorse this signing, term and dollars, even a few more dollars if it did not include the NMC. Certainly Glencross could have gotten more on the open market as a UFA, no doubt about that but the NMC casts a shadow on the deal for me. It is also indicative of what Feaster plans to do in the coming years.
Why is the NMC a problem? I don't have a problem with NMCs / NTCs for your core, your star players, often they help get an elite player into a price point you can handle but I do not agree with NMCs for non-core players. It limits the team's ability to adjust the roster for years going forward.
The Flames have a plethora of NTCs / NMCs at this point, the most in the NHL. With Feaster starting his tenure with yet another NMC contract the Flames are setting precedent again with all future contract negotiations.
Did the Flames get good value? Yes they did. Did Curtis Glencross get what he wanted, security and stability for his family? Yes he did. Did the Calgary Flames get flexibility going into the next 4 key years for what may be, or some would say, should be a time of transition as the current core ages, no they did not.
In the beginning rarely is one troubled by the NMC or NTC. You don't sign a player after all if you intend to trade him but the fact is the future performance and needs of the team can dramatically change and now you can't do anything about it. You are stuck for years.
The Flames will remain one of the most inflexible teams when the trade deadline comes along. Handcuffing of the team years into the future simply has to stop at some point.