The strong start to the 2013-2014 campaign for the Calgary Flames is but a distant memory now and I think even the most fervent of Flames fans are coming to terms with the calibre of club that Harry Jay left behind.
I've been preaching for most of the year that it is going to get worse for the team and that they haven't yet hit rock bottom - well, we're getting pretty dang close now, but I can assure you the worst is yet to come. But...
The Future Could be Bright
With what will likely be a top 3 pick staring the Flames in the face at the end of this season the chances of the team adding a stud prospect are very high. Aaron Ekblad would be great, Sam Reinhart too - a big D or big C would be right up anyone's alley.
But, because of Feaster's penchant for trading picks; some good moves - well lateral, anyway - and some bad moves (did you know that if Joe Colborne uses his favorable - and incredibly questionable - powerplay time and turns that into 6 more goals this year that the 4th rounder the Flames traded to the Leafs to get the local kid turns into a 3rd rounder, which of course will be in the low 60s?), the Flames will only have 3 picks in the first 5 rounds.
Fortunately, there are some pieces to move and they are players that would look really good on clubs looking to make runs. So, easing back those lost picks shouldn't be that hard for Burke - and I'll argue that if he plays his cards right, the Flames could equal the returns they got for Iggy and J-Bo ... let me explain.
I've been planning a piece for a while now that outlines just how many lost opportunities that Flames have had in the past 5 or so seasons and the wealth of young prospects and picks they should, but don't, have.
Two of the biggest whiff's came just last year when Harry Jay traded the teams best two assets for what ended up amounting to a late 1st-round prospect (Morgan Klimchuk) and a projected mid-to-late 2nd rounder (Emile Poirier) and a bunch of spare prospect parts who will more than likely never provide the team with an actual return. Add to that the wasted 3rd rounder in Kanzig and Feaster lost a lot of overall value.
Yes, this is why he was fired. I mean, among many other laughable offenses, but let's just rank that part as the biggest.
Available to the Highest Bidder
So, in order to equal that return for the Flames, all Burke needs to do is turn the likes of Mike Cammalleri, Matt Stajan and Lee Stempniak (possibly Jiri Hudler and less likely Dennis Wideman) into a late 1st rounder and a 2nd rounder.
I'd say that should be easy and I do hope that those 3 are all moved for prospects/picks but we'll see what Burke has up his sleeve. In fact, for fun, you can include the trade of Robyn Regehr and the non-trade of Miikka Kiprusoff and Burke could equal Feaster's return for the Flames best assets of the last several seasons with one trade deadline and a trio of useful pieces.
Yes, indeed. The rebuild is really beginning. And with that will truly come-
With that trio of forwards potentially gone, the Flames will cement their spot at the bottom of the league. Couple that with below average goaltending and curious coaching and Ken King will have Kevin Lowe on the phone to discuss lottery party planning.
Perhaps the two clubs could meet in the middle and throw a Battle of Alberta themed lottery party in Red Deer!
Should all of this happen, or something close to it, we could see the Flames go into the 2014 draft with up to 6 picks in the top 60-70, giving them an excellent opportunity to grab 3 or 4 really nice prospects.
Although the overall tone of this piece is negative, I assure you that all of this is a positive. Westgarth and MacDermid aside, at least the Flames now have someone in charge who looks to find value in trades and won't sell all of the assets for pennies on the dollar.
Now, let's just hope the rumours of Joe Nieuwendyk being at the top of the GM list aren't true...