If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably spent some time playing / being frustrated with EA’s ‘Be a GM’ mode in its NHL video games. There’s maybe nothing as satisfying as managing an Islanders-like team to a conference final on the back of your decision to sign Jaromir Jagr to a one-year, $6MM contract. Similarly, there’s maybe nothing as frustrating as trying to get around the expectations set by in-game ownership algorithms. Pick Calgary, for example. When you’re looking at which team you want to try to rebuild, Calgary’s owners think they’re a contender. You trade off your assets and they fire your ass. So, it’s exactly like real life then. How else do you explain their decision to sign Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman to multi-year, big money contracts? Somewhere in the back room, someone is playing NHL 2013 and it worked out for them.
If you were going to steward a rebuild, why not pick a contender? Well, there’s not much challenge in that. Give me the Vancouver Canucks or Boston Bruins and watch me do nothing but smoke cigars in the owner’s box. How about a team already rebuilding? Columbus traded what assets they had, and their rebuild is now set in motion. You’re committed to those assets brought back in the Nash trade, even if there’s no way in hell I would have traded for Jack Johnson. No thanks. Washington is promising, though it feels like only yesterday they finished their rebuild. I suppose I could fantasize about managing my home team Senators, but that’s pretty much what this blog is all about anyway.
Now Calgary…that’s a team just primed for an explosive rebuild. Take a look at these contracts. You could really put your stamp on that team, a team so ready to be messily and horribly disassembled in the public eye.
Currently Calgary spend more on player salaries than all but nine other teams in the league, and they sit dead last. Let’s have a look.
Jarome Iginla is going to hear his name in trade rumors all the way up to the deadline unless they lock him up to an extension. (Which they shouldn’t.) He alone can get you a package of picks and prospects that you can build on, something enviable to fanbases like ours who saw Ottawa launch their rebuild on the back of a Mike Fisher trade.
Anton Babchuk is also on an expiring contract. He’s your prototypical powerplay specialist and depth defenseman, exactly the kind of player that fetches you a pick at the deadline.
Kiprusoff and Bouwmeester both have a year left on their contracts after this season, but if someone is actually willing to take on a million years of Luongo’s remaining contract, with most of those years paying him close to $7MM per, then you can find a taker for Kipper. Bouwmeester has never played on a good team, and with the right expectations he could flourish. Both of these guys get you at least a pick or prospect, Kipper probably more.
Cammalleri, too, only has a year left. Watch those who miss out on the free agent bonanza next season start looking for top-tier wingers in the off-season. Especially with Calgary able to keep a part of the salary in a trade, they could maximize their return here.
Stepniak, Tanguay, and Stajan are probably only moderately tradeable, if at all. Outside of Stepniak, who sort of sucks, there’s a lot of years and money left on those deals.
Calgary isn’t a large market team, but they sure act like it. If they’re willing to swallow some of the salary on their big contracts, they could essentially buy their competition’s picks and prospects. We have yet to see anyone really take advantage of these provisions in the new CBA. Calgary should be the first. It would be a blast to see. I tried it in NHL 2011 (the last version of the game I bought) and I was fired after the first season because we finished third last.
If you could rebuild any team, who would you want to rebuild most?