I think it is time for one of my patented glass half-full articles of positivity.
One that focuses on how this Erixon trade is not a terrible thing and actually may be a good thing for the Flames in the long run. Impossible you say? I had a night to sleep on this and to shake off the initial shock.
I usually stay away from commenting on the prospect area. Hayley and Arik are much better in covering it and I had my taste of following picks and prospects in the 90s. The experience left me, how shall we say, extremely disappointed.
I only casually follow prospects now because my previous experience has taught me that until you see them hit NHL ice, it is all very theoretical. I am not going to dwell on the Flames scouting and drafting history of this time period, everyone is aware of it.
I want to try and shift the tone and broaden the perspective. Is Erixongate an ideal situation? No. Can it be seen as the best of all possible worlds given the circumstance of a player with an attitude? Yes, I believe it can be...
Like everyone else I was blindsided by this trade. Signing Erixon was something I just assumed was going to happen, even up until the final days when Hayley's Red Flag article was published, I was still nonchalantly thinking to myself these signings are on cruise control. Everyone today, under the new CBA, signs their first round picks (feel free to correct me if you know of an exception since the lock-out).
BUT If a player does not want to sign, you have to deal with it. That is a bad situation you have to make the best of.
Quality for Quantity
Jay Feaster did a good job given the situation he was in. Yes, Jay gets a pass from me. He was up the creek without a paddle and he got the canoe to the river bank without capsizing it.
The alternative here was letting Erixon walk and getting a single 2nd round pick for him. That would have been moving quality for lower quality. What Jay brought back, in a bad situation, was trading quality for quantity and that is a win. A high quality prospect for Roman Horak, who is playing well above his overall draft order, and two second round picks for a team that didn't have much past the first round pick this year.
That is three players to replenish a bare prospect cupboard, in a situation where your hand is forced.
Good Riddance Erixon
Tim Erixon did not want to play for the Calgary Flames from the very second he was drafted. Several people have commented on his body language at the draft and for how a player who is realizing his dream was very negative. Hardly a positive attitude.
Tim Erixon is a very good hockey player but he has also clearly illustrated that he is a Diva. He has not taken a single shift on NHL ice and feels he can dictate the NHL team that he plays for? In fact he successfully did just that but you know what? I don't want that type of player and that type of attitude, especially one that hasn't even touched NHL ice, never mind proven himself on it.
It can be toxic in the locker room and a sense of 'holier than though' is not a player I want in a Flames uniform, especially at such a young age. Good riddance.
Born a New York Ranger
Jan Erixon, Tim's father only played for the Rangers. It is hard to overlook that factor in this situation. If you have lived in New York you understand the draw of that city well. Having lived there I still consider it the best city in the world, even with its drawbacks. From Day 1 either Erixon himself or his family were probably intending for little Tim to play there. Not much the Flames organization can do about that.
If I am to find an issue in the situation to place on the Flames organization, it is to go way back to 2009 and ask the question why they drafted him in the first place? That is the one thing that appears to be the slip in the situation, but a young player you really like, the thought process was likely that we will sell the player on playing for the Flames.
The Father Factor was probably something that just could not be overcome. Daddy's boys exist, sometimes they never become their own man and I have no doubt of the strong role Jan Erixon played in this saga as Tim's dad and as a former Ranger.
The other question I initially had on this late trade was why did the Flames not trade Erixon sooner? They must have been aware of his desire to not play for them. I am thinking of other teams here, not the Rangers. A team like the Edmonton Oilers with a thick prospect roster of forwards, looking for young D, would they likely not have made a deal for a top D prospect?
Of course this would have left Edmonton holding the bag if Erixon was insisting on only the New York Rangers, which is likely the case. Not sure if there is any unwritten rules amongst GMs about doing such a thing but I suspect word was on the street, so to speak via some channels, about Erixon wanting the Rangers only. Not hard to connect the dots given his Father's history with them.
So again, Feaster's hands are tied, he can't shop Erixon on the market and is forced into dealing with only the Rangers and at that point plays the only card he has left. Waiting till the last minute and threatening to let him go back into the draft where at least little Timmy would likely not get his wish and would be taken by another team anyway.
The Temptation of Attacking Flames Management
I think there is a risk here of doing what we so often do, which is to go at the Flame organization. In this particular case I believe it would be a mistake. There is a tempation here to over-analyze. To think to oneself, "Oh, no young players want to play on the Flames, they have a bad reputation, they stifle their prospects etc."
I completley disagree with this angle in this particular case. In this case I don't think it was a matter of Erixon not wanting to play for the Flames as much as it was him wanting to play only for the Rangers. I don't think he would have wanted to sign with any other team, except the Rangers.
In the Feaster interview, Jay very clearly states they put everything on the table to the max. Dollars, option to go to Europe etc. Erixon will not get a better dollar deal or option for Europe. Our slant is often to go at Flames management but in this case it is not warranted.
It is very immature of a young player at this stage in his career to pull a stunt like the Erixon family has. Jay Bouwmeester was not thrilled about playing for Florida but he went, signed a contract and played it out, you pay your dues. You give the organization who drafts you a chance to prove themselves to you or not. The Bouwmeester family took the high road, the same can not be said of the Erixon's.
You just can not assume these young men are not under tremendous influence from their family at this stage in their careers.
Most young players do not go to their ideal teams but the class acts take the high road. Again, good riddance Erixon.
There is a part of me, that is probably in all fans when their team gets manipulated by a player, that says send the little snot back into the draft and force him to play elsewhere. Don't give the self-entitled little baby what he wants. Teach him a lesson.
That is emotion talking and after the fire has subsided your team is not better off with just a single second round pick. The Flames now have 3 players and my initial check found that we have one with an excellent attitude. Roman Horak is over the moon to be playing for the Flames.
He is not a European with an attitude about playing in Europe, he is not a Daddy's boy. He is a kid on his way to being his own man and he is excited and postive about being with the Flames, I'll take that and I prefer it.
So we sent a Daddy's boy to New York, a skilled hockey player but a boy who wants to step, shoe print for shoe print in his father's footsteps. In exchange the Flames received a young man who is improving and is on the rise and showing some of the key features of a professional in attitude.
Yeah, I'll take that.
Jay Feaster, you get my thumbs up for making the best of of a bad situation.