Following the Calgary Flames’ disappointing finish last season - missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year - anticipation of a significant roster overhaul abounded in the Stampede City.
Would they finally trade franchise player Jarome Iginla? Would he agree to be dealt to a Stanley Cup contender?
Though on the downside of his long career, some observers felt the 35-year-old Iginla - whose 32 goals this past season marked the 11th consecutive year he’s reached the 30-goal plateau - would still fetch the Flames a solid return.
Would they shop goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff? His no-movement clause expired July 1, providing GM Jay Feaster with a number of trade options.
At season’s end, there was suggestion Feaster might listen to offers for ‘Kipper,’ but it would take a significant one to convince him to move the former Vezina winner.
Would defenseman Jay Bouwmeester hit the trade block? Of the three, Bouwmeester was most often mentioned in trade rumors since the end of the regular season.
Recent reports linked him to the Detroit Red Wings, who are apparently seeking a replacement for the retired Nicklas Lidstrom.
As it turns out, Feaster had no intention of engaging in a significant roster rebuild this summer.
The Iginla and Kiprusoff rumors quickly faded, as reports emerged management wouldn’t consider trade scenarios involving the pair.
Iginla obviously hasn’t requested a trade, nor has Feaster approached him about one. Trading Kiprusoff, meanwhile, would’ve left the Flames without an experienced starting goaltender and finding a replacement when there’s a dearth of available quality goalies this summer would’ve been extremely difficult.
While Bouwmeester’s name is still kicking around the off-season rumor mill, one gets the sense that if Feaster intended to move the 28-year-old blueliner, he would’ve done it earlier this summer, when teams had more cap space and a willingness to make deals.
Of course, that was prior to the Philadelphia Flyers losing Andrej Meszaros and Andreas Lilja to off-season surgeries; Matt Carle to Tampa Bay via free agency; and Chris Pronger to potential retirement as he continues to struggle through post-concussion symptoms.
It’s possible the Flyers or Red Wings will make a tantalizing offer for Bouwmeester (provided he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause), but Feaster would be hard-pressed to find a replacement who plays as many minutes as ‘J-Bo.’
If the Flames were rebuilding, there’s no question Bouwmeester would be a trade candidate. Given Feaster’s apparent reluctance to overhaul his roster, it now appears he’ll retain Bouwmeester, at least for one more season.
Rather than rebuild, Feaster instead made moves this summer to bolster his lineup, acquiring Dennis Wideman from the Washington Capitals and re-signing him to a long-term extension and inking free agent right winger Jiri Hudler to a four-year contract.
He also brought in former Kontinental League center Roman Cervenka as a replacement for the departed Olli Jokinen, plus there’s talk of trying Mike Cammalleri at center.
Feaster believes the Flames lineup merely needs to be tweaked, not overhauled. It remains to be seen if those tweaks are really what the Flames need. If not, Feaster won’t be able to postpone the inevitable through another off-season.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.