Over the Next 30 days I will be Previewing each of the National Hockey League Clubs heading into the 2011-12 season starting from the Anaheim Ducks. Day 4 of the series belongs to the official AarifDeenReport Calgary Flames Preview.
Please resort to myhockeybuzz page for previews of teams falling before this team.
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Entering this summer, the Flames had Iginla, Langkow, Bourque, Stajan, Jokinen, Bouwmeester, Sarich, Regehr, and Kiprusoff all signed to contracts that included either a no-trade or a no-movement clause. These very same clauses are handed out only to the star players on other teams.
When this summer began Flames fans and fans all over the hockey world were looking for Feaster to help fix this problem Sutter had put the team in. With this many players locked in to stay in Alberta, it doesn’t give management much room to fiddle with the roster and improve the team. However, he addressed this problem by adding to the list signing Giordano, Babchuck, Tanguay, and Glencross all to contracts with a clause included. The only player the Flames rid themselves of was Robyn Regehr, who many will argue is one of the more important players on that list. At the moment the Flames are heading into the season with just over $1 million in cap space, and 12 players with either a no-trade or no-movement clause. A number that in itself is just ridiculous to think about.
Calgary entered the season with a very similar team to the one that left the ice in 2010. The two players of significance that were signed were Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay. Both former Flames. Calgary started off the season at an extremely slow pace. The team simply played at the level of their captain. Jarome Iginla started off the season scoring 3 times during the first 17 games of the season before recording 40 goals in the 65 games to end his campaign. Impressive stats for a player that once again was the center of trade rumours all season long. Iginla is now 34 and still without a Stanley Cup ring.
While he is an extremely valuable player, Calgary can acquire plenty of assets for Jarome if they throw him on the market. The sooner they accept it’s time for a rebuild, the sooner it’ll be before they become a force in this league once again.
Calgary topped of the season in great fashion finishing off with a 21-8-6 record. However another slow star was the reason the Flames once again could not find their way into the post-season. While Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay had great seasons, Jokinen has yet to eclipse 60 points since leaving Florida, and Kiprusoff as well as Bouwmeester have been on the decline the last few seasons in Calgary. Flames don’t really have anything to look forward to heading into 2012 after finishing 10th in the Western Conference.
Major Players Added:
While Flames fans would want nothing more than to acquire a star player, Feaster and management are unable to do so because of the stranglehold the cap has on them at the moment. Feaster surprised many on Canada day by making a huge bid for Brad Richards, but was unable to pry him away from The Big Apple. Richards will be playing with Gaborik, and Iginla will once again go another year being the lone star forward the Flames have to offer.
Acquired in the Regehr trade, Butler is not a very flashy player. He plays a steady game but realistically he won’t be anything more than a 5-6 defenseman with a possibility of being a #4 on the Flames.
The Flames added 26 year old defenseman Derek Smith on a one year deal. Smith played 9 games with the Senators last year scoring 1 assist and a +3 rating. Pretty good for the limited role he received. Career AHL journeyman Ben Walter agreed upon a 1 year deal with the Flames after playing on the top line of the Avs minor league team.
Who Was Lost:
Robyn Regehr was traded to the Buffalo Sabres
Ales Kotalik was traded to the Buffalo Sabres
Adam Pardy signed on with the Dallas Stars for 2 years worth $4 million
Matt Pelech signed on with the San Jose Sharks for 1 year worth 525k
The Calgary Flames offense will look very similar to last years. They were unable to add an offensive weapon, nor do they have any prospects worthy of making the jump. Their team will once again rely on the play of Jarome Iginla. Alex Tanguay and Curtis Glencross, who are now both signed long-term in Calgary must prove that their contract seasons last year was not a fluke. If they play at a level lower then they are capable of, the Flames will slowly feel the pain of being a team with very little depth. Jokinen will look to break 20 goals in Calgary, which is very unlikely. It’s very hard to try and think of an upside to this offensive roster. Best case scenario, Feaster should let Iginla play his game similar to last year, and shop him at the trade deadline for multiple assets that can point this franchise in the right direction.
Calgary will be without Robyn Regehr on defense this year. This certainly increases the ice-time and responsibilities of Mark Giordano. One player that must turn it around is Jay Bouwmeester. If Jay can turn it around and play like he did in Florida, Flames will be enjoying the play of one of the best #1 blueliners in the NHL. Only problem is, ever since arriving in Calgary Jay has been a bust and has yet to match his game in Florida.
Two word to describe the goaltending of the Calgary Flames. Miikka Kiprusoff. It’s a great achievement for a goaltender to win 37 games, good for second most in the NHL on a non-playoff team. Miikka probably has skipped a step or two in his game lately, but he is still as effective as they come. If the Flames find themselves outside of the top 8 come February, they should really consider shipping out Kiprusoff to a playoff team and acquiring as many picks and prospects as possible to give this team some much needed help. It’s time to rebuild in Calgary. Plain and simple. The fans know it. The media knows it. But does Jay Feaster know it?
Deen’s Projected Lineup:
Alex Tanguay - Brendan Morrison - Jarome Iginla
Rene Bourque - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Curtis Glencross - Daymond Langkow - Matt Stajan
Pierre-Luc Letourneau - Mikael Backlund - Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester - Mark Giordano
Cory Sarich - Anton Babchuk
Chris Butler - Brendan Mikkelson
Unfortunately for the Flames faithful, another season ending in April will be the fate of their beloved Flames. Calgary will finish the season in 14th place in the Western Conference beating only the Edmonton Oilers who will once again receive a high draft pick to help build their squad. Calgary will end the season with a lottery pick and could possibly own many more 1st rounders if they come to the reality that they should trad Iginla, Kiprusoff, and anyone else of value. Similar to the Senators last year, Calgary’s time to rebuild is now!
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