It's no secret Calgary has center lust. Anytime any center who theoretically has elite skills becomes even remotely rumored to be available, the message boards and local media (and much to my own sadness, blogs) work themselves into a lather, frothing at the mouths.
It's hardly a wonder either: the Flames are currently alternating between a shell of the player once known as Brendan Morrison and David Moss as the center between Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. And that's not to mention the occasional usage of rookie C Roman Horak or the terrifying possibility of Olli Jokinen and Iggy playing together once again.
So when former 3rd overall pick Kyle Turris was linked with Calgary (as well as Ottawa, who seem to have a taste for first round prospects that steadfastly refuse to develop properly) in sign and trade rumors, it's hardly shocking that even this esteemed website felt the need to write on the topic yesterday.
But is Kyle Turris really the answer? Is he a better fit than, say, the aforementioned David Moss? Or how about Sam Gagner who's rumored to be available as well?
Everyone loves a former top ten pick- to say nothing of the fevered worship top 3 picks receive. Regardless of how good they are in the NHL (in Turris' case- not very), they have POTENTIAL. At some point in their junior career or college career, they did something special enough to be noticed. In Turris' case, it was scoring 121 points in 53 BCHL games during his draft year (2006-2007). He followed that up with 35 points in 36 games for UW Madison in the WCHA as a freshman.
Both of those seasons are solid, if somewhat unspectacular. His time in the NHL, however, has been somewhat less so. In 131 NHL games, he has 19 goals and 27 assists. He's played on the top line in Phoenix. He's been sent to the San Antonio Rampage- the Coyote's AHL affiliate- multiple times. And it's not like he wasn't given a chance to succeed: with the Coyotes he spent the majority of his time lining up with Scottie Upshall and Shane Doan. Not exactly Sedin-Sedin, but hardly a fourth line either.
At the end of the day, for some reason Kyle Turris feels like he isn't being given a chance to succeed in Phoenix- which is simply not true. What's worse, is the advanced metrics back this up: he started in the offensive zone 66% of the time. Those are Sedin numbers, and for a young player they show two things: the first being that the coach simply wants him to score, the second that the coach doesn't trust him on defense.
That latter issue is a rather large one, since as I pointed out in my "Elite Number One Center" article last season, defensive capability is key for a number one center. And from watching his brief time playing at the Kohl Center, I can assure you, it's not simply something Dave Tippet chose not to trust Turris with.
Clearly, Turris isn't the solution for the Flames. What about a familiar foe? One Mr. Sam Gagner?
Picked three places after Turris, Gagner has already had a pretty good career. In 296 games he has 59 goals, 115 assists, for 174 points. And while this numbers hardly wow you, it's worth noting that he's been on some terrible Oilers teams with terrible linemates. Last he year most frequently played between Linus Omark and Magnus Paajarvi. Not exactly the ideal place to succeed. This season? MPS again, but with Eric Belanger.
With a career high of 49 points (his rookie season), even accounting for said horrible linemates, Gagner isn't a player who will set scoring charts on fire. But four seasons of 40+ points at the age of 22 speak of at least some offensive ability.
Am I saying the Flames need to run out and acquire Sam Gagner? Not at all. There's a lot of issues with Calgary that acquiring one center won't fix. But if Jay Feaster feels the urge to acquire a center who's suddenly finding himself without a place on his team (Turris because he's a fool and Gagner due to the rise of Nugent-Hopkins and the fact that Horcoff isn't going anywhere), I'd suggest he look within the province before the Flames make another poor deal with the desert dwellers for an overrated center.