Jay’s Gems or Feaster’s Follies: A Look at 13 Months as Flames GM

Jay Feaster's trades
Roman Horak was one of Jay Feaster’s key acquisitions since becoming Flames general manager. (Icon SMI)

Back in December of 2010, there were a lot of questions and furrowed brows around Cowtown as long-time general manager Darryl Sutter resigned his position. His place was taken by his assistant, Jay Feaster, first on an interim basis and promoted to full-time in the spring.

So how has Jay Feaster’s performance been over the past 13 months? To provide a broad answer to that question, and leave open for future analysis, let us present 13 moves that Feaster has made over the past 13 months.

  • February 28, 2011: Calgary trades a 2011 seventh round draft pick to the Atlanta Thrashers for LW Fredrik Modin.
    Flames give up: A late, late round draft pick. The Thrashers traded it to San Jose, who used it to pick American high schooler Colin Blackwell.
    Flames got: Functionally, not much. Modin played 4 games with Calgary, missing time due to injury and retired in the off-season.
    Verdict: Bad trade, but at least Calgary didn’t give up much.
  • June 1, 2011: Calgary trades the rights to D Tim Erixon and a 2011 fifth round draft pick to the New York Rangers for C Roman Horak and two 2011 second round draft picks.
    Flames give up: Erixon, a former first round pick that didn’t seem to want to sign in Calgary. Also, a mid-round draft pick, which the Rangers used to draft Kelowna forward Shane McColgan.
    Flames got: Horak, a junior line-mate of Flames prospect Ryan Howse who ended up making the Flames roster out of training camp. The club also got a pair of second round picks (at the time Calgary only had one pick in the first two rounds) and used them to grab Portland defender Tyler Wotherspoon and Finnish forward Markus Granlund.
    Verdict: Erixon has spent much of this year in the minors, while Horak made the Flames roster. This is an easy win for the Flames, and could become moreso if either Wotherspoon or Granlund pan out.
  • June 25, 2011: Calgary trades D Robyn Regehr, LW Ales Kotalik and a 2012 second round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres for C Paul Byron and D Chris Butler.
    Flames give up: A veteran defender (and an alternate captain), an AHLer with a terrible contract and a second round pick in what’s been characterized as a deep draft.
    Flames get: A younger defenseman with upside and a speedy (if undersized) young forward. And a lot of cap space.
    Verdict: Well, the Flames sure are loving the cap space this deal opened up. Butler has been perfectly fine for Calgary (and Byron has been good in short NHL stints), while Regehr (and the Sabres) have struggled. For the long-term, it’s definitely too soon to tell, but the trade got the Flames out of what Feaster called “salary cap jail.”
  • July 4, 2011: Calgary re-signs free agent D Anton Babchuk.
    Flames give up: Cap space ($3 million a year) and a roster spot.
    Flames get: A very specialized defender who’s a power-play specialist, but no great shakes 5-on-5.
    Verdict: Too early to really tell, but he’s been outplayed by Derek Smith and T.J. Brodie this season and is often the team’s healthy scratch on the blueline.
  • July 9, 2011: Calgary trades D Keith Seabrook to the Florida Panthers for D Jordan Henry.
    Flames give up: A defender they acquired for a song a couple years prior that wasn’t in their plans.
    Flames get: A defender playing in the KHL that wasn’t going to sign with the Panthers.
    Verdict: At worst, a marginal improvement. Henry has played fairly well in the AHL for the Heat, which is more than can be said for what Seabrook was doing before he left.
  • July 12, 2011: Calgary trades a 2012 fifth round draft pick to the New Jersey Devils for RW Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond.
    Flames give up: A mid-round pick (basically, a chance to roll the dice).
    Flames get: A checker that sat more than he played in Calgary, but has been a pretty valuable veteran presence by all accounts in Abbotsford.
    Verdict: As an NHL transaction, this didn’t exactly pan out. That said, fifth round picks are gambles anyhow and the Flames got a steady veteran for the minor league club.
  • July 13, 2011: Calgary signs free agent D Derek Smith.
    Flames give up: Some cap space and a roster spot.
    Flames get: A very savvy puck-moving defender.
    Verdict: Smith was one of Calgary’s big first-half surprises, arguably becoming the team’s best defender during Mark Giordano’s injury. Considering that all NHL clubs theoretically had a crack at him and didn’t snap him up, this is an easy win.
  • August 13, 2011: Calgary signs free agent D Scott Hannan.
    Flames give up: Some cap space and a roster spot.
    Flames get: A steady veteran in the locker room and on the back-end.
    Verdict: Hannan has been exactly as advertised, the personification of a steady veteran.
  • August 29, 2011: Calgary trades C Daymond Langkow to the Phoenix Coyotes for RW Lee Stempniak.
    Flames give up: A top-six forward with some injury troubles, which are hopefully behind him.
    Flames get: Another top-six forward, arguably one with slightly more speed and grit but possibly slightly less skill.
    Verdict: Stempniak has been fairly good for Calgary, playing a crucial top-six role with an ever-rotating cast of characters. He’s also done third line duty and been effective. Considering that the Flames had a bushel of centres, turning one of them into Stempniak (and clearing some salary in the process) is a good move.
  • November 25, 2011: Calgary claims LW Blake Comeau off waivers from the New York Islanders.
    Flames give up: A roster spot and the waiver fee.
    Flames get: A speedy winger who has goal-scoring ability, but just hasn’t put it together on Long Island.
    Verdict: Low-risk transaction. Comeau hasn’t been terribly good or terribly bad in Calgary, but the Flames didn’t give anything up to get him, really.
  • January 6, 2012: Calgary trades D Brendan Mikkelson to the Tampa Bay Lightning for C Blair Jones.
    Flames give up: Mikkelson, who they got off waivers, but didn’t really meet expectations and has been made expendable by the emergence of T.J. Brodie and Derek Smith. (And arguably Clay Wilson.)
    Flames get: Jones, who becomes the team’s only right-handed centreman, and has a good deal of size.
    Verdict: A good deal. Flames give up someone that they had no plans for and get an NHL roster player that fills a hole in their line-up.
  • January 13, 2012: Calgary trades LW Rene Bourque, the rights to RW Patrick Holland and a 2013 second round draft pick to the Montreal Canadiens for LW Michael Cammalleri, the rights to G Karri Ramo and a 2012 fifth round draft pick.
    Flames give up: A strong, if inconsistent, top-six winger. A WHL prospect that may (or may not) pan out. A second round pick…next year, as the team has already parted ways with its 2012 second rounder.
    Flames get: A speedy, if undersized, top-six winger (who has existing chemistry with Jarome Iginla). A KHL goaltender who was okay in the NHL a few years back. A late-round pick in this year’s draft.
    Verdict: Way too soon to tell. But if Cammalleri is more consistent than Bourque, this could be sold as a win for the Flames.
  • January 27, 2012: Calgary trades C Brendan Morrison to the Chicago Blackhawks for D Brian Connelly.
    Flames give up: A veteran centre with some recent injury troubles (who has also been a healthy scratch many times this season).
    Flames get: A minor-league defense prospect who has been an AHL All-Star, but has no NHL experience.
    Verdict: Way too soon to tell, but the Flames had no real plans for Morrison beyond this season and managed to turn a pending UFA into a prospect. Not bad.

In short, it may be too soon to tell how good a job Feaster is doing. A lot of the moves have yet to fully manifest their impacts. That said, he has been very active. Whether “active” transforms into “good” is a question that’s still left to be fully answered.