Jay Feaster is itching to make moves at the NHL draft this weekend, and with plenty of cap space and the No. 6 pick the Calgary Flames are in position to be busy.
Amid a total overhaul following the deadline trade of Jarome Iginla and the uncertain future of Miikka Kiprusoff, the Flames have over $18-million in salary-cap space and their general manager wants to make some more moves.
“Obviously we’ve been trying to work on some things, trying to make some deals,” Feaster said Friday. “We’re going to continue to work the phones.”
Feaster said he has had discussions with all 29 of his colleagues around the NHL, some even involving the sixth overall pick in Sunday’s draft. He has made no secret of the Flames’ desire to move into the top five, but a trade down in the first round could fill multiple holes on the roster.
There are plenty of those but also room to add this summer. Forecasts that the salary cap – which is going down to $64.3-million for next season – will be back over $70-million in the not-too-distant future gives the Flames some flexibility.
“What’s unique about our situation is that we do have cap space and, unlike some teams that have cap space but don’t necessarily have an ownership committed to spending that money, that’s not the case in Calgary,” Feaster said. “Our owners are committed to winning, and they’re committed to putting the financial resources there if that’s what we’re recommending. I do think we’re in a good situation.”
General managers around the NHL know the Flames are in a situation where they’re selling off veterans, but that doesn’t necessarily mean calls are coming for older players. Feaster said there’s plenty of interest in prospects and not much for centre Michael Cammalleri. His message to other GM’s on Cammalleri is: “My number is in the directory. Give me a call.”
The Flames have already made one trade this week, sending Alex Tanguay and Corey Sarich to the Colorado Avalanche for David Jones and Shane O’Brien. That move was made with realignment in mind, as the Flames are moving into a division with some bigger teams like the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
“We have to get bigger,” Feaster said. “It’s something we’ve talked about for quite a while now, and no question that moving into that division, we recognize the size of some of those teams.”
Size is a priority for the Flames, but Feaster won’t go out of his way to draft a bigger player just for the sake of it. Nor will he insist the No. 6 pick is able to contribute at the NHL level right away, though the team did ask prospects it interviewed at the scouting combine whether they’d be willing to join the Flames for the 2013-14 season.
“We think that at six that there will be options for guys who can come in and compete,” Feaster said. “What we would hope is, drafting in a draft that is as good as we perceive this one to be, that with that pick at six it’ll be a player who can come to camp and legitimately have an opportunity, given the holes on our hockey club, to step in.”
One hole that could exist when training camp opens is in goal, as Kiprusoff hasn’t told the Flames whether he’s coming back or retiring. But Feaster is “confident” the team will have a deal with goalie Karri Ramo and isn’t putting pressure on Kiprusoff to make a decision.
“I’ve not put him in a spot yet to say, ‘I need a definitive answer.’ If that’s something that we felt we had to do, we would do it,” Feaster said. “If when camp opens on September the 10th or 11th or whatever it is, if Kipper’s there for his medical and we have four guys on the ice, that’s a good problem to have.”