There is a legitimate numbers game going on with the current Flames lineup, no one thinks Sutter is done making some moves but it's hard to tell where he'd move from and what he'd want back. Aside from Cap restrictions the positions are all out of whack if you consider that players are most proficient when playing from their comfort position.
Jokinen, Langkow, Stajan, Backlund, Sutter, Macmillon, Stone.
Jokinen- Will be given a chance at the #1 center position, I personally feel that he is certainly capable of 60-75 points this year playing with Jarome and Tanguay.
Langkow- Could (and should) be trade bait however his neck injury and his salary compared to his performance will limit that option. When healthy will play with Bourque as they had good chemistry last year.
Stajan- While Langkow is hurt, Stajan will be the number two to start the year, this will be his time to earn his contract and prove his worth. Should he fail to prove that he is a 2nd line guy Sutter will have this contract around his neck like a noose.
Backlund- In most fans eyes a guy that should have Jokinen's shot or at least a chance at the second line however with Jokinen at 2 years, Langkow with another couple, Stajan with 4 more it seems that Backlund at centre is not a viable option for this team any time soon. Too skilled to be a checker, too young to get a legit chance.
Sutter and Stone with Jackman would be hilarious to watch, I hope that is a line because nothing is safe if it moves. Please let tis be the checking line!
Macmillon will either be in the press box or in the minors.
Iginla- a player that you may not be familiar with, has a terrific release, probably will be the first line right wing.
Kotalik- actually is pretty consistent with his 15-20 goals and does hit a lot, you heard it here first, 2nd line right wing to start the season.
Ivanans- usually a left wing but when you don't actually shoot or pass the puck does it matter? A press box casualty to start the season but will be used when there's a toughie on the other side.
Jackman- Might get Nystrom like numbers but is unafraid and also very tough. Pretty decent size too!
Tanguay- As per La Frere Sutter, Here is your first line left wing, a guy who is going to be counted on to pass pass and more pass...which works out because he has a shooteritis a little know psychologic disorder that hampers men from shooting a puck towards a net.
Bourque- Really the best left winger on the team with size, decent hands and blinding speed.
Has good chemistry with Langkow and is counted on to provide much needed second line scoring punch.
Hagman- Interesting with Hagman because he is actually pretty good for finding the net in recent seasons with 25-30 goals, it seems weird to have him slotted as the #3 left wing but there you have it.
Moss/ Glencross- They both offer something, both could also play the right if needed, more so for moss who has been there already. Glencross as a 4th line guy seems to be wasting him though, his skill and speed make him a perfect 3rd liner. Moss is a power forward with average hands and an average shot.
SO... If you agree with my assessment and you probably don't:
Bourque- Langkow- Kotalik
Glencross- Backlund- Jackman
Sutter and Stone likely on the bench.
Listen, Backlund is not a checker, if that is the spot for him then he will be in the AHL getting 1st line time or, part of a trade package. The ramification of adding in a Backlund mean that teams would take a bad contract off of your hands. Food for thought.
Also the right wing is kind of dodgy. Kotalik?? We hope not but these Flames and their crazy moves... The Flames need him gone to get his cap space...unless a crazy trade comes...
Too may left wings!! Even with Dawes bought out there is a tone of them! all pretty good too!
To recap: The Flames have too many skilled centers to possibly play. They are a little weak on the right and have too many left wings and they also have 8 D on one way contracts. If Eklund wanted to find a team ripe for trades we have a winner!!
The cap is the other major factor here. Kotalik and Langkow could be buried in various ways, Langkow could return half way through the season and be a lot less of a cap hit from the IR. ..IF that is the case then the Flames are REALLY weak on the right side, have enough centers UNTIL Langkow comes back and still have too many D.
What this tells us is that, pending what White signs for we will see at least three defencemen shipped out at some point this season. Probably at least one that we as fans don't want to lose.
We will see a trade that ships out a center, as Stajan just signed long term, Langkow is Sutter's boy and hard to move and injured. Jokinen has a no move clause for two years... it will likely be Backlund or Sutter. As much as it would rip my heart out to see Backlund moved. Unless you've seen some of the passing he's done... The Flames could very will be shipping out a young Adam Oates.
So tell me what you think if I said to you, "I'll give you Regehr, Hagman and Backlund for X, your first round pick and a great prospect?
What would a top pairing defencemen, a 25-30 goal guy and a prime prospect get?? We might find out in the next couple months.