Curtis Glencross: Trade value vs. team value

It’s times like these when we should all be happy we’re not a GM of an NHL team. Sure, we all have ideas on how our favorite team could be run better—and depending on the GM, sometimes we may have a point. But as the trade deadline approaches, some very difficult decisions are made that are bound to draw the ire of fans regardless of which path is traveled.

Nothing exemplifies the point better than interim-GM Jay Feaster’s quandary in Calgary. After starting the season as flag bearers for the Lose for Larsson neighborhood of the NHL, the Flames have caught fire in 2011 and are currently on the bubble for the last playoff spot in the West (nevermind the entire Western Conference is seemingly on the bubble for the playoffs and everyone has games in hand). So what do they do when they have a pending Unrestricted Free Agent who may walk at the end of the year for nothing? It’s no secret Curtis Glencross has shown signs of being a productive NHL player during stretches of time in Calgary. On the flip-side, he’s also shown the knack for falling out of favor with management and ended up sitting next to the walking wounded in the press box as a healthy scratch.

Inconsistencies aside, Glencross is currently sitting with 19 goals and 31 points on the year. His 19 goals are good for 2nd on a team that depends on scoring by committee to get the job done. Not too bad for a guy who went undrafted and signed as a free agent out of Alaska-Anchorage.

Here’s a self-assessment of where he stands:

“In the last two or three years, I’ve wanted to hit 20 goals and 20 assists for 40 points… that’s kind of been my goal. I’ve had injury problems and missed 20 games every year and this is the first year — knock on wood — that I haven’t missed too many games. Right now, I’m going to set myself a new goal and push for 25 or 30.”

Here’s the rub: Do the Flames keep red-hot Glencross on the team as they make a push towards the playoffs? Or do they move him at the deadline for a higher draft pick to prepare for the future? With Chris Kellys of the world fetching 2nd rounders, there are those in Alberta who have visions of 1st rounders dancing through their heads. Make no mistake about it—if a pending UFA who has periodically been a healthy scratch over the last 2 years can get a 1st rounder, you do it and run as fast as you can. But that’s probably not realistic.

While people might want to compare Glencross to guys like Kris Versteeg and Mike Fisher, it’s important to remember that both of those players have years remaining on their contracts. Not only do they help the Flyers and Predators in their drive towards the playoffs, but they’ll be around next year as they compete, as well. There’s long-term value to take into consideration.

Realistically, he’s much more like Chris Kelly on the ice. Like Kelly, the team that requires Glencross is getting a rental player who will be free to walk away for nothing on July 1. Glencross scores more points, Kelly is a better 2-way player who plays the pivot. It’s like comparing apples and oranges; but at the end of the day, they’re both fruit.

This brings us to Jay Feaster. Since the Flames are neither in the Canucks’ penthouse, nor the Oilers’ outhouse, Feaster will have to weigh Glencross’s value to the Flames versus his value on the open market. In this case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Feaster hold onto his tradable asset past the February 28th deadline. Any player coming back in a trade would have to be able to step in immediately and fill the shoes of the 2nd leading scorer. For a team that is built much more for the present than they are for the future, it’s hard to believe Feaster would trade a player who has become an important part of the team. Unless he’s presented with an outstanding offer beyond his expectations, the Flames will realize he’s more valuable on the ice than he is as an asset.

Jason Zucker takes a puck to the head (video)

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How in the world did he get up?

Too many players have been getting drilled in the head lately by slap shots. It’s an ugly site to behold whenever it happens

Somehow, however, Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild was able to pop right back up and head directly to the dressing room. No passing GO on this one.

The puck hit him so squarely in the helmet that it ricocheted back toward the Thomas Chabot, who uncorked the shot in the first place.

Even more insane is that Zucker was able to return to the game.

Talk about hard-headed.

Who could take Taylor Hall’s place if he has to miss the All-Star Game?

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With Taylor Hall set to miss the next couple of games due to a hand injury, and with that injury putting his All-Star Game prospects in jeopardy, we look at the players who are worthy of replacing the New Jersey Devils forward if he has to miss this weekend’s festivities.

Two names that immediately come to mind are Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel and Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier.

There was already an argument that Kessel deserved to be at the ASG over Sidney Crosby. He was leading the Penguins in points then and two weeks later, he continues to pace Pittsburgh with 21 goals (tied with Evgeni Malkin) and 54 points, three more points than Crosby.

Couturier has already smashed his previous career highs in both goals (26) and points (47). He’s been part of the reason that Claude Giroux is already headed to the ASG and deserves to be there himself.

At third would have to be Sebastian Aho. The talent in the Metropolitan is evident with his snub. He’s clearly the best player on the Carolina Hurricanes this season (no disrespect to Teuvo Teravainen).

Aho is well on his way to eclipsing his rookie-season totals and a big reason why the Hurricanes are three points back of a playoff spot.

Beyond those three guys, there’s a few that certainly deserve the honor:

  • Anders Lee has 27 goals this season, seven off the pace he set last season with half the season to go.
  • Jakub Voracek leads the NHL with 45 assists, four more than teammate Giroux.
  • Evgeni Malkin. Not having a bad year.

It’s important to remember that the at-least-one-player-per-team rule goes out the window when it comes to replacing another All-Star.

There are certainly some very deserving names that didn’t get the first call.

But life’s about second chances.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Chicago Blackhawks

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Projected Lines

Tampa Bay Lightning

Nikita KucherovBrayden PointTyler Johnson

Vladislav NamestnikovSteven StamkosChris Kunitz

Alex Killorn — Matthew Peca — Yanni Gourde

Michael Bournival — Cedric PaquetteRyan Callahan

Jake DotchinAnton Stralman

Mikhail SergachevDan Girardi

Braydon CoburnAndrej Sustr

Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy

NHL on NBCSN: ‘Out of sync’ Lightning look to end three-game losing skid against ‘Hawks

Chicago Blackhawks

Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsAnthony Duclair

Patrick SharpNick SchmaltzPatrick Kane

Alex DeBrincatArtem AnisimovRyan Hartman

Tomas Jurco — David Kampf — Vinnie Hinostroza

Duncan KeithJordan Oesterle

Erik Gustafsson — Brent Seabrook

Michal KempnyConnor Murphy

Starting goalie: Jeff Glass

Are Penguins making the right call with Sprong demotion?

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After being a healthy scratch for two games and seemingly being in the doghouse since at least Jan. 17, Daniel Sprong is headed back to the AHL.

To some degree, the move was made because it seems like Bryan Rust is getting ready to return to the mix after being sidelined since Dec. 27. Still, it’s a frustrating development for those who believe in Sprong’s potential as the 46th pick of the 2015 NHL Draft.

All of the 20-year-old’s points came in one game, as Sprong scored two goals and one assist against the Islanders on Jan. 5. He went without a point in his other seven appearances in the NHL this season, with six coming during his latest stint.

Sprong was in the double digits in ice time each night until the Penguins’ loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 17, when he was glued to the bench from the second period on. Considering his lack of production in general, it’s understandable that head coach Mike Sullivan is more reactive to mistakes.

Certain details make the move more debatable, though.

For those who believe that Ryan Reaves‘ role is antiquated, it must be frustrating to see Sprong get demoted. Reaves has been averaging less than seven minutes per game (6:41) despite taking a spot in the lineup for 49 contests. Pittsburgh is in a life-or-death battle for a playoff spot, and many believe that his presence (and the first rounder they gave up to acquire him) is a waste for the Penguins.

The Pens also seem like they’re taking a questionable all-or-nothing approach with Sprong.

Sprong’s most common even-strength linemates (by far) were Sidney Crosby and Dominik Simon, via Natural Stat Trick. Maybe Sprong isn’t quite the right fit for Crosby at this point in his career, but there has to be at least a chance that he could provide more punch for the Penguins’ lineup than someone like Reaves lower in the lineup?

His possession stats have been solid in a small sample size and he hasn’t been shy, firing just less than three shots on goal per game (22 SOG in eight games). Couldn’t the Penguins find room for Rust and Sprong?

These are questions at least some Penguins media members and fans are asking right now, but the bottom line is that the team clearly believes that Reaves is a difference-maker. If Sprong is going to rank as one as well, it sounds like he’ll need to earn his next chance first.

We’ll see how the Sprong-less Penguins fare against the Carolina Hurricanes in a pretty important game on Tuesday. In other Penguins news, Matt Murray was overwhelmed by the support he received from his team and teammates following his father’s death.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.