The rival Calgary Flames are said to be re-building their roster after a fourth straight season with no playoffs this past season. They traded away star and franchise cornerstone Jarome Iginla and also sent defenseman Jay Bouwmeester packing at last season’s trade deadline signalling that a re-build was on tap.
This was music to the ears of Oilers’ fans, knowing that their provincial rival might struggle for the next few years as they address their needs by allowing their prospects to develop and attempting to get younger in the process.
Throw in the promise by Craig MacTavish that changes will happen with the Oilers that will enable them to fight for a playoff spot and suddenly Edmonton was set to jump ahead of Calgary in terms of being ready for a deep playoff run.
So far this off-season it’s been the opposite in terms of making roster adjustments. Flames GM’ Jay Feaster has been one of the busiest GM’s in the league as he continues to change the look of the Flames by making multiple deals.
Feaster sent Alex Tanguay and Corey Sarich to the Colorado Avalanche for David Jones and Shane O’Brien. While Calgary likely gave up more skill in the deal, they instantly became bigger and tougher with who they received in return. Well played Feaster.
Of course there was the Corban Knight fiasco that saw the Alberta native choose the Flames over the Oilers in a deal with the Florida Panthers. Although Knight hasn’t played a game in the NHL up to this point, his talent ceiling is high and he’s the strong, two-way center that the Oilers lack.
Then last week Feaster pulls the trigger on another deal with the San Jose Sharks, acquiring T.J Galiardi for only a fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft. There goes another young, big bodied forward to the rival Flames while the Oilers remain idle.
Standing at 6’2″ and 195 pounds Galiardi finds himself on his third team in just five NHL seasons. He has stated that he grew up idolizing Theron Fleury and Calgary is his hometown, so a deal with the Flames was only fitting.
But the Galiardi deal aside, Feaster is out performing MacTavish in the battle of GM’s as evidenced by his willingness to pull of deals that have given the Flames roster a dramatic new look.
That was supposed to Craig MacTavish making those deals when he said as many as eight new players could be on the Oilers opening night roster. So far those trades have yet to happen.
With the free-agent market set to open in less than 24-hours, Mac-T still has plenty of opportunities to hold true to his promises of change. But there again, plenty of buzz is surrounding Feaster and the Flames when it comes to free-agent rumors.
The Flames are tied to Tyler Bozak, Mason Raymond, Valterri Filpulla and Jeff Schultz. Meanwhile on the Oilers’ front, it’s been relatively quiet, at least from the reports that the main stream media are providing. We know they’re interested in Nathan Horton but it’s a long shot that they’ll sign him.
Cause for concern? Not yet, but if Feaster is able to land a couple of big fish from the free-agent pond and MacTavish can’t convince a UFA to sign in Edmonton, then maybe at that time it’s worth worrying about.
Of course if Edmonton makes the playoffs before the Flames do then it’s mission accomplished when comparing the re-build efforts of the two rival clubs. But if Calgary gets in before Edmonton, well that would be down right unacceptable.
Who says Oilers’ fans aren’t competitive with what the Flames are doing? It’s only natural isn’t it?
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