With the regular season on our doorstep my goal of profiling every single player on the Flames roster came up a little short. But with that being said I will run down, quickly, those players I missed and share my thoughts on the signing of Brendan Morrison.
The Rest of the Healthy Forward Core:
Bourque, Glencross, Conroy, and Meyer
Bourque is coming off a career year and has looked great in camp. I liked the line combination of him Hagman and Backlund but it looks as if the newcomer BM will take Backlund’s spot up the middle. I’m not extremely pleased with this, but I will get to that later. As for Bourque, he is the key to the ‘secondary scoring’ for the Flames. With Stajan and Langkow riding the ambulance for now, Bourque, along with Hagman, really have to provide that next wave of scoring behind the big three.
Glencross and Conroy make up parts of the third and fourth line respectively. With all the injuries now, Conroy is needed due to lack of bodies. He has however shed 17 pounds this off-season and dropped that savoury wheat ale known as beer to do so. If nothing else, Conroy does provide a reliable man in the dot and the extra leadership in the dressing room. Glencross brings speed and a lot of it. I know a lot of Oiler fans that are quite angry that he doesn’t still play in the ‘Chuck’ and that’s because he is the prototypical Oiler; fast, tough, and scores once every couple of weeks. He, much like the departed Eric Nystrom, is a third line player and nothing more.
Stefan Meyer is one of the big surprises in this year’s camp beating out Brett Sutter for that 4th line center role. A little background information on Meyer: he was drafted 2nd round in 2003 by Florida; played four games with the Panthers but spent most of time with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. He is 25 years old and grew up in Saskatchewan. Basically, he fits the ideal Sutter player profile (i.e. loves to bale hay). Not sure how long he will stick with the club once Moss, Kotalik and Stajan return from injury, but good to see some young-ish blood inserted onto the roster.
The Rest of the D
Sarich and Staios: Out of these two, I thought, well I hoped, that one of them might not make it through training camp if some of the young guys challenged for a spot. Well, TJ Brodie did the challenging but both Sarich and Staios, for now, remain Flames. There have been some rumours that Sutter was looking to deal, but nothing as of yet. These two guys are expendable and provide nothing that the flames don’t already have on the back end.
White and Gio: Two of the defencemen that make up the front four and two thirds of the D that will be relied upon for offensive output. Along with Bouw, these two will be on the PP and bringing the puck up the ice in key offensive situations. Gio was the Flames best player outside of Kipper last season and he has looked even better in the pre-season. Ian White, who will forever be compared to Phaneuf as long as he is in Calgary, is a safer version of the Leafs Captain. He scores about the same amount (13 Goals to Dion’s 12) but is much more reliable on the back end. He probably doesn’t have the game-changing ability that Dion has but he does his job quite well, and as a Flames fan that is all I want.
TJ ‘Freakin’ Brodie: The story out of training camp by far has been the play of this 20 year-old defenceman. He un-seated Matt Pelech as the next in line and might soon displace some of the veterans’ on this team as an everyday defenceman. His junior stats are decent as he scored seven goals and added 49 assists in 65 games in-between Saginaw and Barrie of the OHL. He will be the first Flames player since Phaneuf to jump straight from the junior ranks to the NHL. This is something the Flames organization desperately needed in my opinion as it gives not only management hope but those million other managers watching on TV hope too. I hope he stays up for the entire season, and the Flames trade away one of those over-paid veterans in the process, but I have come to expect that my wishes are rarely granted when I talk about the Flames.
So now we come to yesterdays signing of the former nemesis Brendan Morrison. Do you remember game six in 2004 against Vancouver and how you wanted to beat the living crud out of Morrison after he scored the winner in triple overtime? Well, six years later, not only is Morrison a Flame but we have already seen Bertuzzi run through this town as well. Oh how times have changed.
The signing pisses me off in one regard that it, yet again, bumps Backlund down a peg. Feaster was saying how it will be good for Backlund because now he can develop better and at the right pace. Hold the phone! Hasn’t he developed slowly enough? How many times have the Flames inserted one useless over-the-hill player ahead of a young up and coming player? Backlund was looking great with Hagman and Bourque and he looked even better with Iginla and Tanguay. When will Sutter realize that youth IS the answer and that veterans can only get as far as their oxygen tank can carry them.
I think the saddest part of this whole thing is that Morrison is cut by the Canucks and subsequently becomes a top-6 forward on the Flames. I know there are a lot of ‘ins, outs and whathaveyous’ mixed into the decision of both teams but it still hurts the pride just a bit.
The Flames season starts Thursday on the road against the Edmonton Oilers.
Perfect in the Pre-season = perfect in the regular season?
One can hope, right?