The Calgary Flames have, for better or worse, decided to stay the ship. And staying the ship means keeping Daryl Sutter. They have decided that radical changes are not needed. In their infinite wisdom, they are not going to trade any of the top players or prospects to get a number one pick. Unless, of course, Mr. Sutter can hypnotize one of the general managers into taking crap for the number one pick.
This policy could make it very hard for the Flames to clear salary, as the Flames are in cap hell. So basically, this tells me that the Flames are going to have the same team, or most of the same components, as they did last year. Or does it? This obviously limits the free agent market for the Flames. Langkow, Sarich, and of course, Kotalik come to mind. How many teams would be willing to take those contracts on for cheaper talent? The Flames signed centerman Matt Stajan for five years at $3.5 million. Again, this really limits the chances of the Flames getting a number one center for their captain Iginla.
The other major problem is, how are the Flames going to be able to sign Ian White or Eric Nystrom without clearing some room? Ian White deserves a huge pay raise based on his play in Calgary last season. And Eric Nystrom is coming off of a career year. You'd think he deserves a hefty pay raise. Both of these players deserve top priority to keeping them here in Calgary. So how do we do this without cutting some salary? Basic math says someone has to go.
What can been done about the locker room issues? What really bothers me about it is that this issue, supposed to be fixed with the departure of Dion. So maybe Dion was not the only problem. Could it be that there is a much deeper problem? Maybe these players do not fit the system. Normally, if it's a choice between the players or the coaches, the coaches lose. But this is not the case in Calgary. It appears that management has chosen the coach over the players. It is not unheard of, but it is rare, and it speaks volumes about what the Flames think of the players. The Flames can change coaches, the philosophy, or the players start adapting to the system.
Coach Sutter has come to the defence of his players and his coaches, so whom does he blame? Whether Sutter believes what he says, or it's propaganda is immaterial. Either way, the Flames are staying the same. Which leads me to the question: Can the Flames win with this team? Only time will tell.
So let's play General Manager and go through the roster and see where we can make the changes to fit everyone under the cap.
The Calgary Flames have a pretty solid defence. The first four spots are pretty much taken by Regehr, Jbo, Whyte, and Gio. Where it gets cloudy is the fifth and sixth spots in the defence. The incumbents are Adam Pardy and Cory Sarich. The young guns are more than eager to take the last two spots. Negrin, Pelech, and Balwin are ready to fill in at a moment's notice. The problem is that Pardy and Sarich have one way contracts, and it can be expensive to send them to the minors.
The Flames really don't have too many overloaded contracts to trade. Simply put: there is Langkow at $4.5 million per season. Don't get me wrong, he is a very good, solid center. Again, this is a business decision, not based on his play. The Flames have three solid centers in Backlund, Stajan, and Langkow. The main concern is that none of them seems to be a first-line center. Given time, Backlund can mature into a first-line center, but the Flames do not have time to wait for him to develop.
The Calgary Flames' top wingers are Jarome Iginla, Nicolas Hagman, and Rene Bourque. The Flames have a fast cheap forward in Rene, one who can score with the best of them. He is coming off a career year, and I do not think the Flames would be so eager to trade him. The Flames have a solid second line winger in Nicolas Hagman. He can supply support to the first line scoring. Both of these forwards are equipped with an offensive punch. David Moss must be held accountable this season, or he could be used as trade bait. Curtis Glencross could also be used as trade bait, along with Nigel Dawes.
The Calgary Flames have plenty of options, the two biggest ones being Langkow and Sariach. The main problem is trying to find a team to take on those contracts. The Flames will have to sweeten the pot. This is where Nigel Dawes, David Moss, and Curtis Glencross will come into play. The Flames' major trade has to be getting a number-one center for the captain Jarome Ignila.
Until next time, take care.