Sorting Out the Flames Blueline

Kent Wilson
January 31 2013 11:02AM



When Calgary signed Dennis Wideman in the off-season, it resulted in a lot of buzz around a potential Jay Bouwmeester trade. Not only because JayBo is much maligned for not being worth his contract since arriving, but also because it meant the Flames had a lot of defensemen.

With the addition of Wideman, the retention of Sarich and the promotion of TJ Brodie, Calgary has no less than 9 NHL ready bodies, eight of whom also boast one way contracts. Brett Carson is one of them and currently plying his trade for Abbotsford, but with the news that Anton Babchuk is rapidly nearing a return, the club is facing the possibility of having 8 NHLers on the parent club.

Complicating things is the emergence of TJ Brodie as a viable option on the back-end. Hartley has run the kid in the top-4 rotation the last two games and Brodie hasn't looked out of place, which in turn has bumped Chris Butler into the battle for the third pairing. A battle that will soon involve Sarich, Smith and Babchuk as well.

There are worse problems to have of course. Teams the the Red Wings and Flyers are already running out of useful bodies on the blueline. Their resultant urgency has caused an increase in demand, and, likely, the asking price, for proven NHL defenders around the league. 

Two Choices

So the Flames clearly have a couple of options:

1.) Hang on to all of their bottom-end depth in case injuries hit them later in the year. Having 8 or 9 guys around seems excessive now, but it would only take a long-term malady to Dennis Wideman or Mark Giordano to make those apparently extraneous bodies suddenly vital.

2.) Start shopping one or two of the extra guys around.

The first option obviously holds some appeal. Calgary isn't any kind of cap crunch, so the only issue would be the logistics of sliding guys in and out of the pressbox now and then. Hardly ideal for the people in question, but welcome to pro hockey.

The second option should therefore only be engaged if the return is worthwhile. With demand currently spiking for rearguards, Jay Feaster might be able to parlay his club's excess in defenders to address one of its deficiencies: promising young prospects, high-ish draft picks, etc.

In closing, there isn't any particular impetus to trade away a Chris Butler, Derek Smith or Anton Babchuk right now, but the climate around the league suggests it makes sense to at least make a few calls to a few desperate GM's. 

Tilted Kilt Viewing Party Tonight

Remeber to swing by the Tilted Kilt tonight on 17th and 4th to watch the Flames take on the Avs and get some free stuff. Let them know you're there because of FlamesNation and get $10 towards your tab. You'll also be eligible to win other prizes once you're there.

Beer, hockey and free stuff. Doesn't get much better.

Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.