.... You read it here first: Iginla and Kipper will start the season in Calgary.
A few more crystal ball gazing ideas come to you when you absorb this information.
The first being that Olli Jokinen will probably be re-signed. I know this flies in the face of what Eric Francis thinks but there are a few factors here to consider when discussing Jokinen. He was the best Flames center last year until the very end, his chemistry with Glencross is apparent and not something to be thrown away. He would be affordable for the points he brings and the Flames are not in cap trouble. It is kind of exciting to realize that the flames are not in cap trouble for the first time in a very long while. Sarich not being re-upped is basically paying for Cervenka this year. Even if Sarich does sign it will be in the 1 million range, money is fine. Another reason Jokinen will fit is that there is heavy speculation that there will be a one time amnesty buyout in this most recent CBA, it would be prudent for the Flames to payout Stajan at 2/3 of his contract and not take a cap hit. It would leave the Flames with Jokinen, Cervenka, Backlund and _____ as a center group and while not earth shattering, not horrible either.
Some might argue buying out Bouwmeester is a better investment and there is some aspect of it which may make sense but despite his dollar to point ratio Bouwmeester is a good defenseman, just expensive. Stajan is not very good and expensive.
This opens up the Flames to have this year to make some noise. The management can easily justify moving Kiprusoff at the deadline if the Flames are out at that point. Kiprusof is interesting in that he has a huge value right now, Darren Dreger has said probably more than Iginla. The issue, as always, is if the team could stay in the hunt without him. Usually when you’re team has to rely that heavily on your goalie you need to look at other issues but for some reason the Flames just keep leaning on him. The return could be great for Kipper but if the pattern holds we will see 34 in the net on opening night. Initially when Ramo was acquired in the same trade that brought Cammalleri here my initial thought was that Kipper could be moved and a Halak/Elliot scenario could happen in Calgary involving Ramo and Irving. I was not aware that Ramo was signed in the KHL for next year as well, this is another reason I see Kipper staying this season. Ramo put up incredible numbers in the KHL over the last two years and they actually got better from the season prior. He can now call Omsk team mate Cervanka to find out what NHL life in Calgary is like.
Cervenka is an interesting signing for a myriad of reasons. Most have been discussed, the fact the Flames are looking in new areas like the KHL and college, the fact he’s 27 and when playing with Jagr was really good, his salary hit and more. What I find interesting is that it’s an admission that the UFA crop this year is weak, that addressing their center ice issues was not likely via trade or any of the “normal” routes. It says the Flames did not want to part with their first overall pick for a center and recognize the value there. Cervenka is so low risk and high reward it’s hard not to like it, a line of Tanguay, Cervanka and Iginla where Tanguay plays the set up man is actually pretty enticing. A second line of Jokinen, Glencross and Cammellari is equally nice. This would set up a third line of Backlund, Beartschi and perhaps Stempniak. That is half decent in my opinion.
Click the link below to read the full blog including the draft and UFA thoughts as well as the coaching search and direction of the team.