Steinberg's Slant: Trade Deadline Thoughts
For the first time since 1985, the Calgary Flames opted not to execute a trade on the final day before the NHL’s trading deadline. They weren’t the only team to stay idle on Monday, but with how us media folk have blown up deadline day in recent years, there’s always anticipation to see what the home team is going to do. So was Calgary’s lack of action a bad thing? I don’t necessarily think so.
I know some criticized the Flames on our postgame call-in show on Monday night for their lack of action, asserting the team didn’t make any moves by design. I don’t buy that myself, as General Manager Jay Feaster was very open with us at Sportsnet 960 about just how close the team was to pulling the trigger on a few things.
Riding up the Saddledome elevator with Jay on Monday night, the GM had mentioned how the Flames were close to pulling the trigger on a few deals, both very close to the 1 pm deadline. On our second intermission program that same night, he revealed the team was ready to accept a deal with one squad before they opted against it 20 minutes prior to the deadline; Calgary ran into a similar situation even close to the mark, with around five minutes to go prior to the trade deadline.
I know the Flames came away with no trades to show for on Monday, and that may be disappointing to some. But it’s not like Jay Feaster and company entered their offices this week, kicked their feet up on their desks and watched the day play out on television. The team had plenty of evaluating and weighing to do which led to some important decision. It just so happens those decisions don’t show up on a trade tracker.
Sometimes, trading a pending unrestricted free agent for a draft pick or younger prospect is a smart way to go about things. We saw plenty of that on Monday, with names like Paul Gaustad, Andrej Kostitsyn, Sami Pahlsson, and Johnny Oduya all dealt to contending teams for draft picks. But does that mean that all pending UFA’s must be traded in the same fashion?
The Calgary Flames had six players in that category that could have entered the discussion Monday. The fact they’re all still wearing the Flaming C isn’t the worst thing in the world, however. There’s a few reasons for this including the desire to re-sign certain players to new contracts (covered below), but there’s also an asset management part that goes along with it.
A good value deal for one or more of Calgary’s pending unrestricted players would have made sense in theory, especially knowing where Feaster wants to take this team. However, what if there were no good value deals to be had? That’s what I wonder more than anything. A low round draft pick in return doesn’t strike me as the best way to manage your assets as a team, and that assertion is amplified knowing the Flames are in the midst of a tough-and-nail Western Conference playoff race.
I’ve never been of the opinion trading for the sake of trading is the avenue to go down. That can get you into as much trouble as staying too loyal can, and we’ve seen examples of both in recent years in the NHL. Sometimes maximizing your asset sees you make a trade pointed at the future. Sometimes, though, electing not to make a deal can end up giving you the maximum return.
Tim Jackman’s two year contract extension signed on Monday was very intriguing to watch play out. Now, I’ll admit, us media can tend to lean a little too far to the “conspiracy theorist” side of the spectrum, especially when late February comes around. With that in mind, you can understand why some of us were a little curious when we saw Jackman walking around on his cell phone while the rest of the team made their way onto the ice that morning.
Naturally, everyone wanted to know if Calgary’s tough-as-nails forward had been involved in a deadline day deal, or if something else was brewing. What would that something else be? Well, even us thick headed talking heads were aware Jackman’s contract was ready to expire on July 1st, so maybe, just maybe he was on his cell phone to finalize something with the Flames instead?
That’s what it ended up being, and I don’t really know how you can argue it personally. For a very affordable cap hit, Calgary re-upped Jackman for another two years hoping to get more of what they’ve seen in his first (soon to be) two years of service. #15’s goal totals may be down from a year ago, but Jackman gives this team value for a few different reasons.
First, he has always done a consistent job of driving the play against his matchups. Having players like that on your depth chart is an important piece of any successful team. Secondly, and maybe more important, is what you expect every single shift from Jackman. There is no off switch with the guy, and Head Coach Brent Sutter knows exactly what he’s going to get when he throws him over the boards, and it’s always in line with what the coach is preaching. The value in that is immense.