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.