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Flames Watch: Planning Calgary's off-season

With each passing, heart-breaking overtime/shootout loss the Flames incur, the spectre Calgary will miss the playoffs becomes more and more of a reality.

So in all likelihood, by the time April hits, the team will have to make a decision on acting GM Jay Feaster. It would be a shock if the Flames didn’t give Feaster the gig. He’s been a strong, personable advocate for the organization, has the business acumen to handle the job and is wise enough to seek advice on matters that warrant sober second opinion.

So come off-season, what is Feaster going to do with the league’s oldest roster almost already at next year’s salary cap? It (probably) wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs and has four or five of its best players due to become unrestricted free agents. How can he make this outfit better?

Though I’ve had friendly dealings with Feaster in the past, he’s not asking my opinion in this regard. But I’ll offer it anyway and let him take care of the heavy lifting.
 
Every effort will be made to retain Alex Tanguay, Curtis Glencross, Brendan Morrison and Anton Babchuk. These UFAs got prime minutes in Calgary’s lineup and could be sold on the idea playing for the Flames is in their best interests. It’s unlikely they’d get the same playing time elsewhere. For that reason, hometown discounts are in order, but even with that, all deserve healthy raises.

I’d also make an effort to retain UFAs Adam Pardy and Henrik Karlsson if they can be kept at a low price tag. Steve Staios is coming off the books at $2.7 million, but he’d be nice to keep around for $700,000 or so.

The only way Feaster can keep his productive UFAs is by making hard decisions on dead weight, namely Darryl’s Duds. Former GM Darryl Sutter should have been fired on the spot for signing fringe center Matt Stajan for four years at $3.5 million per. Stajan needs the Ales Kotalik treatment, getting demoted to the American League next season. No one’s going to want three more seasons of a soft, slow center who scores about eight goals a year.

Kotalik and Niklas Hagman each make $3 million next season and will be bought out. That will cost Calgary $2 million into the cap each of the next two seasons.

All this will leave Calgary’s payroll at $61.5 million next season, which will be close to the next cap figure. It also opens the door for Daymond Langkow’s return and a new young face or two.

This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.

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