For the Calgary Flames to make anything of this season, they’re going to have to make the playoffs, win at least one round, then do some deft accounting in the off-season. If that doesn’t happen, 2010-11 will one day be looked upon as a year of lost opportunity.
Because of Calgary’s terrific surge the past two months, acting GM Jay Feaster really had no choice but to keep his aging, but unified team together and convert from expected seller to dollar-store buyer at the NHL’s trade deadline.
Had the Flames even hovered around the .500 mark, Feaster would have considered trading defenseman Robyn Regehr, whose market value will never again be as high as it was Feb. 28, and even fielded offers for Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff.
If Calgary wasn’t in the playoff hunt, you can be sure pending unrestricted free agents Curtis Glencross, Alex Tanguay, Brendan Morrison, Anton Babchuk and Steve Staios would have been on the market to the highest bidders. And considering how each of them has played lately, they would have fetched decent return in the form of much-needed prospects or draft picks.
But it’s because those players are playing so well that made them indispensible heading into the stretch run. That’s why it will be interesting to see just what kind of a finish the team and the city will deem a success this season. Playoff berth and first-round exit? Probably disappointment. Playoff berth and second-round exit? Probably a sigh, but overall satisfaction because of the depths from which the team rose.
Beyond that is too much to expect, much less anticipate.
Just missing out on the playoffs would be the worst of both worlds for the Flames. Not only did their run get snuffed out, but the second-oldest team is still old with scant prospects in the system, just one draft pick in the top 100 in June and not enough money in the kitty to keep their UFAs. Sounds like the Toronto Maple Leafs of a couple years ago.
Make it to the playoffs or not, Feaster has some tough decisions to make this summer. He’s already made some compelling ones regarding Ales Kotalik and Niklas Hagman. Matt Stajan can’t be too far behind.
In the meantime, it’s playoffs or bust for the Flames. Because missing the playoffs would be a tough pill to swallow in Calgary for more reasons than just this one season.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.