Grading Jay Feaster's Moves (Pass / Fail)

So Jay, are we moving up in the draft or what? I don't know Craig, Burke is a hard-ass to deal with but that 5th overall pick would be sweet.

Jay Feaster was hired as Assistant GM on July 8th 2010, 6 months later he was acting GM full time. That title was removed and he was given the full title of GM in the 2011 off-season.

We all know that prior to Feaster's arrival Darryl Sutter was on tilt. Making trades and various moves that had the NHL perplexed. Drunk dialing and doing extreme damage to the team. Flames fans were pulling their hair out in frustration.

It seems like he has been around a lot longer but the fact is the man has had 15 months in the GM chair, if you mark the Dec 28th, 2010 date when Darryl Sutter was quietly shuffled into the sunset by a teary eyed Ken King, clearly oblivious that he had grown far too close to D Sutter personally to judge or rein him in.

Times have changed in Cowtown and one of the things that came out of the firing of Darryl Sutter was the end of the one-man show of decision making. From the get-go the moment Feaster was announced as acting GM it was publicly stated that the Flames were entering into a open door, collaborative process. No more top-down unquestioned hockey dictators but a democratic process if you will with exchange of ideas.

Lets have a quick review what has happened since Jay arrived in July 1, 2010. As of December 2010 we are all Feaster or at least the Feaster collective, for lack of a better term. His arrival marks a line in the sand in the Flames story of retool / not rebuild. Transactions for minor players are not included for brevity here. Waiver acquisitions and drops are graded as neutral as there is no gain or loss to the organization aside from a contract slot.

Trades and signings are graded pass / fail. Really slotting them as A, B, C or so forth is extraneous. The moves either helped or hurt the club. So how does Feaster or the Feaster collective measure up?


Read on, the results may surprise you.

  • On July 1, 2010 - the Flames bought out Nigel Dawes contract (Pass) Edit: Fail
  • On July 1, 2010 - the Flames signed Tim Jackman (Pass)
  • On July 1, 2010 - the Flames signed Ratis Ivanans (Fail)


Jay Feaster is announced as Assistant GM on July 8th, 2010

  • On July 19, 2010 - The Flames sign Brett Sutter (Darryl's son) to a one year contract (Fail)
  • On July 29, 2010 - Ian White signs a one year deal with the Flames minutes before arbitration (Fail)

Note: The Dion Phaneuf trade is on the verge of becoming an unmitigated disaster. If White had been signed to a longer term deal on value the Flames would have gotten a right-handed D man capable of playing the 3-4 pairing. Darryl Sutter's failure to anticipate that White would not re-sign with Calgary under any extended terms turns the Toronto trade from a bad trade into a full blown disaster.

  • Oct 3, 2010 - Brendan Morrison - Signed as Free Agent - one year deal (Pass)

Although an older player at 34, Morrison does go on to fill a roll on the Flames at Center putting up 43 points in 66 games and going +13. At 750,000 it is hard to see this move as not a positive one for the Flames despite Morrison's age.

  • Oct 18, 2010 - Brenden Mikkelson is claimed off waivers (neutral)
  • Oct 28, 2010 - Mark Giordano signs a contract extension for 5 years to commence on 2011/12. His Cap Hit rises from 892,000 to 4.02 million and includes an NMC. (Pass)

The deal is widely applauded on value and the NMC / NTC identifies Gio as part of the Flames core going forward.

The absolute disaster of the Phaneuf trade is clear at this point. The Flames dump Brett Sutter into the trade, a player that no one would claim off waivers in previous weeks and take back a 4th line player and a bottom pairing D man in exchange for Ian White.

_________________

On Dec 28, 2010 Darryl Sutter resigned as GM of the Calgary Flames. Jay Feaster is now interim / acting GM of the Calgary Flames.

  • On Jan 24th, 2011- Craig Conroy is placed on waivers - no one claims him. (Neutral)
  • On Feb 3, 2011 - Craig Conroy retires.
  • On Feb 20 2011 - Niklas Hagman is waived - no one claims him. (Neutral)
  • On Feb 27, 2011 - Brett Carson is claimed off waivers (Neutral)
  • On Feb 27, 2011 - Fredrik Modin is traded for a 7th round pick (Fail)

Modin ia a liability on-ice and Feaster wastes a 7th round pick for nothing.

  • On May 15th, 2011 - Curtis Glencross is resigned for 4 years on a 2.55 million Cap hit (Pass)

While the deal is applauded as very good value from the onset, the addition of yet another NMC raises eyebrows. Nonetheless Glencross goes on to have an excellent season and the signing is a good one at this point.

Feaster faces his first significant challenge as GM. Darryl Sutter has left a mess on his desk. Tim Erixon, Calgary's 1st round pick in 2009, refuses to sign with the Flames forcing the Flames into a corner and a 11th hour showdown. The Flames will lose him with paltry compensation or move him for the best they can. Early signs show the deal as a successful one from a very bad situation. Roman Horak makes the Flames roster and plays 61 games. Feaster gets a pass because this problem is clearly rooted with Sutter and he comes in to clean up.

  • June 19, 2011 - Henrik Karlsson is resigned on a two year deal with a 863,000 Cap Hit (Fail)

Karlsson, like many Flames back-ups before him, fails to impress or to even take a significant workload of games in the following season.

The trade invokes outrage in Flames circles when announced but proves to be a successful move. A trade they are on the right side of by moving a depreciating Regehr just in time.

Ales Kotalik is pure negative value and never plays a game for Buffalo and after being put on waivers by them on Sept 24, 2011 and being unclaimed, he briefly reports to their farm team and then returns home to the Czech Republic.

Chris Butler is challenged immediately by the Flames and moved into the top 4 D pairing. His season is a bumpy one with some terrible games, he tied a NHL record for worst minus in a game with a -7 against the Bruins and despite an injury in the season finished up on the top pairing with Jbo.

His play improved throughout the year and at the age of 24 he is headed in the right direction. Paul Byron is a small C who may or may not break through into the NHL but barring the emergence of the Flames 2nd round pick this draft into a impact NHL player. The Flames are on the winning side of this trade for not only the huge Cap dump but also the youth injection.

Butler may be Regehr lite but he has a future in the top 4 in Calgary.

  • June 24, 2011 - Alex Tanguay is resigned on a 5 year deal for a 3.5 million Cap hit, again an NTC is included. (Pass)

The deal is lauded for good value again and now the NTC is becoming almost expected.

  • June 30, 2012 - Chris Butler is signed on a two year, 1.25 million Cap hit. (Pass)
  • July 3, 2011 - Anton Babchuk is signed on a two year, 2.5 million Cap hit with a NTC in the 1st year of the deal. (Fail)
  • July 3, 2011 - Sven Baertschi signs 3 year entry level deal at 925,000 with his NHL bonus he will be a Cap Hit of 1.425 million on the Flames next year. (Pass)

Feaster was probably still stinging from the Tim Erixon debacle and anxious to get Baertschi signed quickly to avoid any complications in the future. Little did he realize that Baertschi would go on to have a fantastic year with the Winterhawks.

  • July 5, 2011 - Leland Irving resigns a one year deal at 600,000 (Pass)

  • July 12, 2011 - Derek Smith is signed as a Free Agent at 700,000. (Pass)

Smith goes on to have a solid season in the bottom pairing until taking an injury. Upon his return he looks less solid but still this pick-up was a good one.

  • July 13, 2011 - PL3 is traded for a 5th round pick. (Fail)
  • July 14, 2011 - Brendan Morrison is signed for 850,000 plus a 400,000 bonus on a one year deal. (Fail)

Bmo gets a raise despite being a year older and despite a decent performance in the previous year for value he had taken a tough knee injury at the end of the previous season, signing him again was foolish. The only way this may lead to something is if the upcoming trade Feaster makes with Bmo turns out to be a bottom pairing D man.

  • Aug 12, 2011 - Scott Hannan - Signed as Free Agent on a 1 million - one year deal. (Pass)

Hannan fills a top 4 role in a passable way for good value for the season.

The Flames move a 35 year old Langkow on a 4.5 million Cap hit coming off a neck injury for a 28 year old Lee Stempniak on a 1.9 million Cap hit. From a Cap perspective the team gains significant cap room and removes an older player with question marks.

The trade at this point is seen as mutually beneficial. Langkow starts the season slow with the Coyotes but gains steam as the season goes on. The Coyotes are in the playoffs and Langkow is contributing and was a factor late in the season as the pushed to clinch a playoff berth.

Stempniak is a smart player with a decent two-way game. He performed as expected and ff the Flames can resign him on decent value it may prove to be a win in the long run by virtue of the additional miles Stempniak may provide.

Mikkelson played 19 forgettable games total for the Flames. Blair Jones immediately was noticeable on the ice and played 21 games before taking an ankle injury. A big physical Center he made his presence known.

This is a clear win for Feaster, even with the loss of another 2nd round pick.

Cammalleri is clearly a superior player over Rene Bourque and despite being more expensive, he is on a shorter term contract of two years. Bourque is already under heavy fire in the Montreal media for a lack of production.

Despite injury Cammy in 28 games put in 11G and 19 pts. Bourque in 35 games with the Habs put in 5G and 8 pts. A dramatic differential. Karri Ramo has performed well in the KHL and will certainly get a chance in Calgary to take a starting position in a post-Kipper era. Patrick Holland is a career AHLer with about as much chance of seeing NHL ice as the 5th round pick the Flames acquired.

The Flames got the better player, flexibility for the Cap into the future, an additional strong G prospect to throw into their mix and a 5th round pick. The Habs got an extremely inconsistent player who will have little to no value at the end of his contract, a 2nd round pick and a career AHLer. Hands down win for Feaster on this one.

Realizing at this point the error of signing Bmo, Feaster deals him for a AHL all-star D man in Brian Connelly. There is a chance that Connelly will compete for a bottom pairing spot on the Flames but regardless, removing Bmo for any return at all was a win. It at least negates his error to some degree in re-signing him in the first place.

  • Feb 7, 2012 - Derek Smith is extended on a two year contract for 775,000. (Undetermined)

Smith did not come back from his injury in the same form he left in. The wisdom of this move will be determined next season.

  • Feb 26, 2012 - Tim Jackman signs two year contract extension at 613,000 Cap hit. (Pass)

Jackman has performed well in Calgary and has a 4th line role to play. At the age of 29 he has niche established on the Flames and was one of the few players on the Flames that Feaster mentioned had interest at the trade deadline.

  • Apr 12, 2012 - Brent Sutter is fired / parts ways with the Flames (Pass)

Conclusion:

It actually surprised me when I counted these grades up. They account for 25 signings on players and trades and the results are clearly an endorsement of Feaster.

Passes: 17

Fails: 8

Whether he is making the decisions collectively or not the team is batting about 70% on the right side of the coin. The mistakes or fails for the most part have been on the smaller moves, the more insiginificant ones with less impact.
The trades are all wins for the Flames or at least even. No trade has gone through since Darryl Sutter left which can be considered a loss at this point.

The Flames have been getting younger and are picking out or up players as FA who are cracking the roster. Derek Smith and Blake Comeau may be risks, projects or experiments but they have cost the Flames nothing. The Flames are still picking up Vet players but they are doing it on good prices. Scott Hannan was good value, even if Bmo was a mistake the 2nd time around he was not an expensive one and he did garner a reasonable prospect back.

As the Flames head into what some are speculating may be their most active off-season in a long time, Flames fans may want to take some comfort in the fact that since Feaster has arrived the hand on the trade and signing switch seems to have steadied.

Good decisions appear to have been made, with or without, interference from Ownership.

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