The Calgary Flames don’t look like a Stanley Cup contender and it doesn’t look like they’re heading in that direction.
The acquisition and signing of Dennis Wideman doesn’t change that, but it is a strong indication that they were being genuine all those times they insisted that they weren’t about to enter a rebuilding phase.
“We’re not tearing it down,” Flames GM Jay Feaster told ESPN.com.
The Calgary Flames might trade away Jay Bouwmeester to off-set the cap burden of Wideman’s five-year, $26.25 million contract. After all, despite their insistence that they want to compete, they reportedly have no intention of spending anywhere close to the salary cap. Bouwmeester comes with a very unappealing $6.68 million annual cap hit through 2013-14, but with the free agent market so thin, Calgary should be able to find a couple potential suitors.
Beyond that, it doesn’t look like they’ll be shopping any noteworthy veterans. In particularly, they’re expected to stick with Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff rather than trade one or both of their aging superstars in the hopes of acquiring the prospects that might eventually contribute to getting Calgary out of their rut.
To be fair, this won’t be their last opportunity to trade either superstar. Iginla’s contract expires in the summer of 2013 and, if the Calgary Flames aren’t competitive by the deadline, they will have the option to trade Iginla to a squad making a Stanley Cup run. If nothing else, his $7 million annual cap hit will be less of a factor at that point.
If nothing else, the province of Alberta can be seen as a case study. One team has taken the idea of rebuilding through the draft to its extreme while the other has tried to push themselves above mediocre by adding on more veterans via trades and the free agent market. We’ll see which strategy breeds better results in Western Canada.