This conversation popped up on Twitter yesterday with Pat Steinberg asking, "Why the hurry to trade [Curtis] Glencross, even if he could net a 1st? He helps the team and who's to say you can't re-sign him? #Flames" I responded quickly, and we had a brief discussion (by which I mean he responded to me and I fell asleep because it was late in my time zone), but I wanted to address the idea in full.
I’m going to make one assumption though (which is provided in Steinberg’s original tweet): Glencross would return a first round pick. This isn’t really a bad assumption either- given that Chris Kelly was deemed worth a second round pick.
So, operating under the assumption that Curtis Glencross is worth a 1st this year, and given that he’ll be a UFA after the end of the season- should the Flames trade him?
Absolutely- and here’s why.
Just Because We Get To The Playoffs…
Look, the Flames might make the playoffs. It wouldn’t surprise me. But does anyone really look at this team and think "Wowzers! That’s a Stanley Cup team right thurr!"? Aside from our clap-harder fans, no. This makes a lot of the players expendable. Send Glencross to a contending team, get that first round pick. Sure, it won’t be a top 5 pick, but it’s still a first, and the more first round picks you accumulate, the better chance you have of one panning out in the future.
A Career Year Is Just That…
Furthermore, to those who argue that Glencross is providing first line value right now- you’re absolutely right. 100% correct. Right now. We’re talking about a 28 year old undrafted winger having a career year. Career years by definition are an aberration. Coupled with his knack for untimely penalties, Glencross isn’t quite as valuable as you’d hope going forward. He’ll never be a 30 goal scorer, he’ll never outperform an entry level deal, and so on. And that’s how championships are won. Look at the last few teams winning championships- how many of them had players on their entry level deals or first RFA deals out-performing those contracts? Glencross might be good value, but he’s not going to give us that. He doesn’t have the long term potential that a first rounder could.
But Jay Feaster Has A Poor Drafting Record!
Sort of. In his six years as the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, he had exactly 4 first round picks. One of which was Steven Stamkos. Two of which were the 30th overall picks (Andy Rogers and Vladimir Mihalik), and one of which (at 15th overall) was a goalie (Riku Helenius). Hardly primo draft positions, and hardly the same sin as taking Kris Chucko at 24th overall only to see him play a total of two NHL games. Moreover, he’s had several of his late round draft picks pan out as depth players- Dana Tyrell, Blair Jones, Mike Lundin, Nick Tarnasky just to name a few. None of them are top players in the league, but they’ve all put their time in- and at least one (Dana Tyrell) is becoming known as a solid 4th line player.
But really, the drafting record- or lack thereof- only partly rests on Feaster’s shoulders. As I’ve argued before, he’s not a "hockey" guy. He’s a contract/lawyer guy. He’ll make the final decisions, but ultimately he relies on amateur scouts for information on prospects. So if you want to call his record a "poor drafting record", by all means, do so. But know that it’s not just his poor drafting record, it’s also the scout’s too. Not that this bodes well at all, given the Flames' drafting history...
But Glencross could sign with the Flames for cheap!
Maybe? Glencross, as I pointed out above, is having a career year. As a UFA who was undrafted this is his best chance to sign for good money. And why wouldn’t he? But if he decides that he’d really like to stick around with the Flames- even at a "discount", why shouldn’t Jay Feaster call him into his office, say "Hey Glennie, I’ve got a great offer for you, but I’d really like you back next year. Would you resign with us in the offseason if we traded you to X?" It seems like just being asked that would mean a lot to a player.
Really though, it all comes down to value. Long-term, Glencross is not worth a first round pick to the receiving team. If the Flames can get one for him- they absolutely should.
On a sidenote- the newest episode of Matchsticks and Microphones will be posted around 5 EST, or whatever that is for you folks out west.