Why so sad Flames fans?
The Flames have been reflecting on their season, hitting the golf course and lamenting on what could have been. It’s obvious to most Flames fans the Flames would have run rough shod over the playoff competition, especially the Canucks. Especially them.
Now we look forward on the next season but I sense from most of you a pessimism in lieu of optimism. I believe this is because we look at the team from last year, where they finished, seeing only one major deduction and no substantial additions and wonder what the plan was?? How is this better?
There are a few things to consider here, addition by subtraction for one. Ales Kotalik is not on the team anymore and forget he was super expensive for what he gave there are other more subtle factors to consider, the team’s on ice goals for were negative per 60 minutes with him on the ice and positive with him off it five on five. His minus 7 probably indicated that he was not giving as good as he got but the underlying stats also underscore that the team did better with him off the ice five on five. This is no surprise to anybody who watched a game last year with Kotalik but the numbers back it up. There are other factors here as well, Steve Staios is gone and is being replaced with a more mobile Brett Carson. In fact the entire defence will look different this year. This is scary because it’s change but there may be a great upside, Regehr was a solid rock on the defence and will continue to be for the Sabres however how much longer is Rocket Robyn going to be able to keep up? His legs have been noticeably slower the last couple of years and one has to wonder if having a few young quick defensemen who can move the puck as well might not actually be an improvement. Carson was targeted by Sutter as the big young puck mover he wanted, along with Giordano, Brodie and Bouwmeester gives the Flames a few options for moving the puck. Mikkelson, Butler and Sarich make up the more defensive side of things.
The one guy fans want to see gone is Hagman but no one really hates the guy, he works hard, he just has had some bad luck here. Hagman had very consistent scoring seasons prior to Calgary and scored 20 or more goals for the prior three seasons, in fact this was his worst year for scoring since 05/06. Most of the unconfirmed rumours surround Hagman and a price tag of a third round pick. If he gets traded I would suggest it’s during the pre-season if another team has a top six go down and needs a replacement. It obviously could go down prior but I would assume if it hasn’t yet the market is probably aware of him and just not moved.
So really if the big deal is that we lost an aging defenseman for a younger mobile two way defenseman and we have too many scoring wingers then we are not really in a position to be that pessimistic are we? I think the big question remains if there was a plan? Was this all willy nilly? Well prior to the draft I blogged about Feaster’s to-do list and he accomplished those things. They were getting more top 100 picks (as was the case with the Erixon debacle), Draft a very solid prospect which Beartschi is, and acquire a number one center which he tried to do. He also moved salary in Regehr and gave this team room for when trade deadline comes.
If the Flames find themselves well out of the playoffs at trade deadline sit back and watch all of those UFA’s go. Langkow (if healthy), Hagman, Moss, Jackman, Nonstopolous, and Sarich could all go. This could be more of a fun season than anyone thinks!