Monday, May 2, 2011

Craig Conroy: Common Denominator for Tanguay and Glencross

Might be high fiving in different uniforms next fall...
A couple of notes on the Calgary Flames as the post season chugs on without them. The two players that rank as the highest priority for the Flames are obviously Alex Tanguay and Curtis Glencross. Both are UFA’s on July 1 and both players had very good seasons, albeit in quite different circumstances.

Tanguay had a huge bounce back season, while Glencross had a career breakout season.

In thinking about these two players, I think there is a player who recently retired who might be able to give these two players some wise counsel.

I’m talking about Craig Conroy.

Conroy thrived in Calgary upon his arrival in 2001. He put up 75 points in 81 games in his first full season – demolishing his previous career high of 43 points in 1998. He was instrumental in Iginla’s 52 goal campaign in 2002 and was crucial in the Flames 04’ cup run putting up 17 points in 26 games.

Conroy then took his payday, and rightfully so. He signed a 4 year, $10.3 million dollar deal with the Kings. He took advantage of his good play with the Flames to cash in and secure his future for his family. In the end hockey is a business, and Conroy had to make his move.

His play, however, didn’t live up to the billing. Despite putting up decent numbers in his first season with the Kings (22 goals and 44 assists), the following year Conroy couldn’t find the net scoring only five goals in 52 games. He was subsequently traded back to the Flames.

Now think about Curtis Glencross. He is 28 years old and coming off a career year where he scored 24 goals and added 19 assists. He is scheduled to be a UFA on July 1. This is Glencross’ chance to score big – off the ice. He currently makes $1.2 million a year. On the open market he will fetch close to the $3 million a year.

Compare him to a guy like Jarret Stoll. Stoll signed a 4 year $14.4 million deal in 2008 with the Kings. Granted, the Kings might have overpaid a tad but Stoll put up the same points at Glencross and Stoll sees a lot more PP time.

He is comfortable playing in Calgary. He thrives on the 2nd/3rd line. But a professional athlete is never satisfied with being just ok. He believes he can play a bigger role. But, is there more to Glencross than meets the eye? Is he capable of being a big line player?

He is good, but he is not that good. He is quite streaky (See: 15 game goalless drought in December) and I don’t think he is worth over $2.3 a season and that’s why I don’t think the Flames should, or to a greater extent can’t, sign him. I believe he will take his chance on the open market and he will cash in.

With Tanguay, he knows Calgary is where he plays best. He knows he plays great with Iginla. He has tried other markets and subsequently failed – more so in Tampa than Montreal as injuries forced him to miss 30+ games in Habs colours. What’s it going to take to sign him? I’d venture to guess a two, maybe three, year deal at about $3 million per year would probably suffice. He has proven chemistry with the best player on the team. Just like Conroy did in the early part of the 2000’s, Tangs has thrived alongside Iginla. He is the Garth Algar to Iginla’s Wayne Campbell. He is the Doc Brown to Iginla’s Marty McFly. It would be a mistake not to sign him and I believe Feaster and the rest of the Flames will make whatever moves they must to have Tanguay wearing he Flaming C next fall.

If these two players are looking for some sage advice on what to do this offseason, I think Conroy might be able to impart some wisdom. He has experienced aspects of what both these guys are going through right now – albeit he was a little older when he made his “Cash” decision than Glencross is now.

If Glencross believes he is going to play a bigger role in the NHL, then he must leave as he won’t get that chance in Calgary.

So sign Tanguay and let Glencross walk. Management professes that signing both is doable, but that’s only true if Glencross will take a home town discount, which won’t happen.

What do you think?

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