Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hired and Fired

While watching the Buf/Cal game last night, one thought kept popping intrusively into my mind: David Moss is playing far too well to send him back to the minors if/when Chuck Kobasew is able to return. Chuck Kobasew has officially lost his job.

Clearly Darryl Sutter's thoughts had mirrored mine, but he was ahead of me by several steps, as apparently, the trade that sent Kobasew (and disappointingly Andrew Ference) to the Bruins has been in the works for several weeks. To me, Andrew Ference provided the steady depth defenceman that made the deal possible from the Bruins perspective, but David Moss stepping in and providing consistent 2nd line grit and touch made Chuck Kobasew a very overrated, expensive and redundant piece of the puzzle.

In return Calgary gets two players that Darryl Sutter is very familiar with: Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau, both of whom he coached in San Jose. I like that Sutter is familiar with both players and clearly Sutter feels he knows what type of play he can expect from his most recent acquisitions. They took him to the Western Conference finals in 2004, and although Stuart has never turned into the franchise defenceman everyone expected, Darryl obvious believes he can play a complimentary role in Calgary. Wayne Primeau is a depth forward who brings a physical edge, something the Flames do lack a bit. While guys like Ritchie, Yelle, Lombardi/Conroy, and Nilson are all smart hockey players, its extremely rare you see a big time hit from them. I think the precedent was set last year when Sutter traded Reinprecht for Leclerc for his physical presence late in the season.

Regular readers will know that I have absolutely no sadness to see Chuck Kobasew off this team. He represented the last of the dissapointing 90s draft lot that saw the Flames go with underperformers like Daniel Tkachuk, Rico Fata, Oleg Saprykin and finally, Chuck Kobasew. Andew Ference however, is a different story.

I have a very high regard for Andrew Ference, and if you consider it a one for one deal (Kobasew->Primeau, Ference->Stuart), I don't think we got value in return. Although I hate Michael Farber, I agree with his assesment today: I would not trade Andew Ference for Brad Stuart straight up, especially considering Ference is underpaid and Stuart isn't even signed. Its disappointing to lose a guy who I considered to be a leader of the team, and who seemed to be a true stand up guy on and off the ice. Emotionally, HG sums it up here and here. Really difficult to hear how Ference was pulled off the bus.

I'm a bit confused as to where Stuart fits in on our depth chart. Hamrlik and Phaneuf will be staying together, so will Warrener and Regehr be broken up, or will Stuart be slotted in with Giordano for the 3rd pairing? To me, Stuart is probably a top 4 guy, but I'm not sure he's strong enough defensively to make a good shutdown defensive pairing with Regehr. So either he's not going to be getting enough ice time but will be paired with someone who fits his style, or he's paired with someone who is stylistically different but will be getting appropriate ice time.

Of course there now even more of a crush of centres on this team (Langkow, Conroy, Lombardi, Yelle, (Nilson), and Primeau so its possible that this deal could lead to another couple of minor deals.

You have to give credit to Sutter though, he obviously recognizes this is one of two years we have to go for the Cup. He's identified areas where the team needs improvement, and has acted on it. His timing is right for the push, the only question now is; will it be enough?


walkinvisible said...

it's clear this trade has shaken up the lockerroom, and i would presume it's more ference than kobasew. again, i like to think sutter is a man with a plan, but suddenly uprooting one of your most popular players is gonna have an effect, i don't care how many people call it "a business." one of the things i like about the greasers (which is HUGE praise, please understand) is that Klowe has allowed the core group to stay together. i imagined sutter doing the same --with guys who would train together in the offseason just cause they wanted to (iggy/ference)... guess not. iggy will suffer most, i fear...

Kyle said...

I agree, I think growing a core together is of the utmost importance. The Flames have a lot of talent but there seems to be very little gel right now. Champions tend to be more than the sum of their parts, and unfortunately right now, the Flames are much less.