With the flames kicking off their pre-season with a doubleheader against the Canucks tonight, the flames faithful are out and about showing off the team colors. The season is knocking on the door, but the question is will the flames answer early or will it be the usual early season woes.
The flames find themselves with a lot of options to play in the middle going into the season.Even by trading away Langkow, the flames are stacked at centre. With Morrison, Stajan, Jokinen, Backlund and Moss capable of handling top 9 minutes who will be playing where?
One of the most ridiculed signings last off-season, Jokinen had a rebirth of sorts playing on the second line for the flames. Jokinen was able to cross 50 points which put him at value or better for the 3 million he earned. In the second year of his two year contract, the fans hope that he continues to improve his play and be productive. Playing on a line with Bourque and Glencross/Stempniak, Jokinen should be able to eclipse the 60 point barrier this year. I put him at 24 goals and 38 assists to end the season with 62 points
One of the centre returning pieces of the Phaneuf trade, Stajan didn't live up to his 3.5 million contract extension Darryl had signed him to. With just 31 points in the season, Stajan found himself on the fourth line towards the end of the year. Having started the year well playing with Iginla and Tanguay, Stajan was not able to regain his form once injured. Stajan was always a player considered to be a good 2nd and 3rd line player and is paid as one. The only knack is that the length of his contract which makes him untradeable and hence a negative asset. If Stajan is unable to cross 50 points this season, the flames fans would be out with pitchforks which I believe is a tad unfair. When compared to other 3.5ish million dollar players this is where Stajan shows up
Matt Cullen 78 12 27 39
Matt Stajan 76 6 25 31
Jochen Hect 67 12 17 29
Antoine Vermette 82 19 28 47
RJ Umberger 82 25 32 57
Scottie Upshall 82 22 12 37 (signed to a 3.5 million dollar contract by Florida this offseason)
Jarret Stoll 82 20 23 43
Looking at all these numbers most players are around 40-50 points or they are lower but provide some more tangibles. Stajan played well below his pay last season since he is more of a playmaker but 6 goals in 76 games just doesn't cut it, but any unreasonable expectations of him getting 60 points should also be thrown out the window (If he does that I will be more than happy to eat my own words) I expect Stajan to improve on his previous year and end with 12 goals and 32 assists to end the season with 44 points.
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