April 2 News and Notes

Robert Cleave
April 02 2011 12:50PM

              

 

The NHL has reached the penultimate weekend of what's been an very interesting season. The on-ice product has been competitive for most of the games that didn't include the Oilers, and the off-ice events have had their moments as well. It's made the round-up a pretty easy feature to find material for, when my own sloth hasn't gotten in the way, and this week is no different. 

This week's installment looks at an historic night for the Captain, a return of a well-regarded figure to Calgary's lineup, the triumph of the Dys, and the first glimmers of hope for the league's best player.

 

 

Flames:

 

Last night's affair in St. Louis was enjoyable on a couple of levels. I doubt that the win itself will signify anything much nine days from now, but Jarome Iginla's 1000th point and Daymond Langkow's return from the back of beyond should still demonstrate that not everything has gone to hell this year.

 

Iginla's milestone had the benefit of being timely, of course, as his 480th NHL goal was the game-winner at Scottrade. Jarome has had his issues this season at EV, being outchanced a few too many times for anyone's liking, but last night was a bit of a flashback, particularly over the last period and a half. There'll be a few cries from the deeply dim about his lack of post-season success, but he's a stone lock for the HHOF, and deservedly so. Congrats, sir.

 

One of his linemates over the final 30 minutes last night has authored a fairly compelling tale of his own. Daymond Langkow was considered to be finito by most, including me, for the majority of the winter, so his return last night was a most welcome event. The fact that he appeared more or less functional is a tribute to the man's work ethic and gumption, and after the Jackman cross-check, I think people can quit holding their breath reagrding his health. He's now just another player trying to find his fitness and game edge, and that's a straight shot of good news.

 

I suspect Langkow's actually been ready for a few days now, which might make a person wonder why the Flames didn't consider this move earlier in the week. Lord knows he would have been better than the waste of time that Ales Kotalik turned out to be, and with no disrespect to Bouma and Nemisz, he's currently a better player than either of them at half speed. His presence Wednesday would have been welcome in a game that the Flames absolutely needed.

 

Oh, and I won't speak for anyone else, but Cory Sarich spent the entirety of last night away from Mark Giordano, and I didn't miss him at all. Brett Carson may not be any sort of answer, but Gio needs a better partner for next season than Sarich, full stop.

 

Next up is a date with the Avs Sunday evening in Denver as the Flames complete the road portion of their season's schedule. Colorado did absolutely nothing at all last night in the third period, being outshot 16-1 by the Coyotes. Of course, the "1" went in the net courtesy of Ryan O' Reilly, and he finished the deal in the shootout. The play of O' Reilly and Daniel Winnik has been the one significant bright spot in a lost season on the Front Range. Both are in the Corsi black despite some difficult ZS numbers, and the two of them should form the heart of a solid third line over the next few years. They might end up being Colorado's Moss/Glencross, which isn't a bad thing for a team to have in it's pocket.

 

                   

 

On the farm, T.J. Brodie had a couple of assists last night in Abbotsford's 4-2 win over Grand Rapids. He's tied for the team lead in scoring, and is +3 for an outfit with more than a few minus players. I hope for his sake and a few of the other kids that they can make a last push for the AHL post-season so he can continue his development, but he's had a fine year by any measure. 

 

In Sweden, Tim Erixon's season is also moving along. SAIK came back from 0-2 to win their series vs. Lulea in 6, with Erixon providing the winner in Thursday's 4-3 clincher. I'd love to say it was a rocket, but the video evidence from that game compels me to note that Lulea got some god-awful goaltending in game 6. That aside, Erixon leads his team in icetime at just over 24 minutes an outing, and that's not an insignificant item given that he plays on a team with David Rundblad and Adam Larsson. 

 

The Flames might not appear have a forward prospect worthy of the word, at least at the minor pro level, but Brodie and Erixon give the impression that they could be actual, live, legitimate defenders, and both of them can skate faster than 2.3 MPH, which would be a welcome change for the club. Young defencemen don't always proceed in an orderly fashion en route to becoming finished products, but the arrows are pointing in the right direction for these two so far. 

 

                                         

 

Northwest:

 

Congratulations to the Canucks for winning the Presidents' Trophy. They may have the dimmest wannabe troll in the history of Flames Nation on their side, but that really shouldn't be allowed to diminish the quality season they've authored. Ryan Kesler, the Sedins and Luongo are as good as anyone at their positions, which might hint that it's really the health of their defence that could determine the success of their post-season. Dan Hamhuis is down again via concussion, and Alex Edler is just beginning to skate after a lengthy absence, so their presence or lack thereof might be an item of interest come the middle of the month. 

 

As good as they've been, the Canucks aren't quite as far ahead of the pack at EV as the standings might suggest, and Gabe Desjardins opines that the Hawks might be a tough matchup again for Vancouver. I'm not so sure about that. The Hawks are beat up at the moment, and the team that escaped Columbus with an undeserved two points last night gave no impression of being capable of beating any of the top three or the Ducks in a best of seven, IMO. Joel Quennville admitted on the Versus broadcast the other night that he's riding Toews, Kane and Hossa as hard as he can due to his short bench, so if they don't have Bolland and Sharp at full power, Chicago is likely in trouble when the playoffs roll around. 

 

Up Highway Two, the Oilers can cap another fine season tonight should they lose to the Canucks. 30th two seasons running is nothing to sneeze at, since a team really has to work to be that bad, so kudos are in order for Tambo and KLowe. Long may they reign. I'll just note that as unhappy as we might be around these parts from time to time, the terrible, horrible, useless, utterly no good Flames are currently 32 points ahead of said Oilers. I'll have a look at the Oilers later this week, including some sincere advice on the path that they should consider this summer.

 

The Wild could use some direction as well. They're in a bit of a mess, with not enough NHL forwards and Mikko Koivu is about to go from being a value contract to a top of the market player next season. Todd Richards gets a lot of stick, and he might be on the hot seat, but Chuck Fletcher should be getting more scrutiny than he's currently under. Minnesota needs to move an expensive body or two this summer, and as the Flames could tell you, good luck with that.  

 

                  

 

Elsewhere:

 

Speaking of teams that look like hot garbage, the Flyers are showing what a difference maker Chris Pronger is, because even with a roster full of good forwards, they're an iffy proposition with him on IR. Philly won a pretty meaningful game versus Pittsburgh early in the week and immediately built on that win with two bad losses to Atlanta and New Jersey. I don't doubt that the return of CFP will make them a better team, but the three losses to the Thrashers this month shouldn't have happened even with him absent. We'll see if it's just a bit of malaise than gets wiped away come mid-April.

 

A team that has managed adversity beyond any reasonable expectation might get some good news in the next couple of weeks. Sidney Crosby is travelling with the Penguins again, and although the Pens are being sensibly cautious regarding a timetable for his return, he's seemingly making progress in a mostly linear fashion these days. The Penguins have made an admirable run in his absence, but adding him moves them from potentailly out in the first round to decent favourites in the conference. There's been plenty of talk regarding the muddled picture regarding the Hart Trophy race as of late, but I'm mindful of the fact that before Crosby's injury, it was a one man race with no one else even within hailing distance.

 

At the bottom of the Eastern Conference, a player that has gotten pretty much no attention in the rookie race is Travis Hamonic. The Islanders called up the St. Malo, MB native in late November and immediately placed him in the top pairing with Andrew MacDonald. Hamonic is currently +7 against that top comp, with a ZS number around 46%, and has the best RelCorsi number amongst the Islander defencemen as well. He got a late start to his NHL season and his boxcars aren't as flashy as the young forwards out there, but he's playing a tougher position on an inferior team. He really should be getting more pub, because most 20 year olds would have been overwhelmed in that scenario.

 

Finally this week, Dirk Hoag on On the Forecheck plots the shot locations that the Predator defence has faced, with particular emphasis on shots from the danger area of the slot. It's an interesting exercise, and if anything it makes me wish that more teams had people as diligent as our fearless leader has been in recording scoring chances. The nuts and bolts of the game really come down to which team can control that area of the ice. 

 

That's all for this time around.

 

 

 

1a1030a8151ca7a0d81aea58f0fb1dbc
Robert Cleave is a perpetually grumpy Winnipegger.
Avatar
#1 Brent G.
April 02 2011, 02:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Iggy is #6 on the list of top scorers with 80 points. That's truly awesome for him and makes me happy because he really has taken a lot of flack this year, particularly for his early season performance. I think last night provided more reasoning than anything else that they need to resign Tanguay first, then see what they can sign players like Glencross or Morrison for. Maybe Langkow isn't a true #1 center but I think, if nothing else, he can fill that role very capably next year and rightfully moves BMo down the depth chart.

On a side note, is it just me or do individual player stats seem a little off this year. Iggy is #6 with 80 points. Sedin is #1 with 100 points. It just seems lower than what we have seen in seasons past where the leader was up around the 120 point mark. If Crosby didnt get injured he surely would have been there but I'm surprised other players didnt rise to that level.

Avatar
#2 Pat Steinberg
April 02 2011, 03:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Brent G.

Morrison won't be here if Langkow is Brent. It just doesn't make sense. If Tanguay returns at or around the same cap hit, they might be able to bring back a Glencross or Babchuk, that's IF they find a way to clear some salary space.

With Giordano's money and Langkow's money coming on the cap, it's almost $8 million more for next season.

Avatar
#3 otto
April 02 2011, 03:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

I've changed my avatar to make our new troll friends feel welcome:)Now,on to business. First,congrats to Iggy,whatever his final career numbers are they will be the franchise records for a VERY long time. Second,great to see Langkow back.He may not be the biggest,fastest or most skilled guy in the league but he is definitely one of the smartest.After a season of 3 Stooges hockey he's a pleasure to watch. Finally as much as I hate to say it,this is pretty much the same team we will be watching next year.Nobody is going to take Hagman or any of our other bad contracts and unless ownership is willing to bury a few in the minors we'll be lucky if we can keep one of Tanguay or Glencross.With Langkow back and Gio's new deal we don't have enough cap room to re-sine these guys for the money they make this year let alone offer them a raise.Look to see some young guys make the team,not because they earned it but because we cant afford anything else.

Avatar
#4 JF
April 02 2011, 10:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Pat Steinberg wrote:

Morrison won't be here if Langkow is Brent. It just doesn't make sense. If Tanguay returns at or around the same cap hit, they might be able to bring back a Glencross or Babchuk, that's IF they find a way to clear some salary space.

With Giordano's money and Langkow's money coming on the cap, it's almost $8 million more for next season.

I don't see why Morrison couldn't be here. It wouldn't be as a center but I don't see why he couldn't play wing. Ultimately I think that Tanguay won't sign for around the same Cap Hit (hard to say that he hasn't earned a raise) and I also think that resigning him is priority numero uno for whomever is running the Flames... I do think he'd sign for somewhere in the vicinity of 3M-3.5M which means that we're likely going to have to bid adieu to Glencross at least (and probably Babchuk as well).

The Flames do need to do something about one of Hagman or Stajan. Simply put the Flames cannot afford to pay 3rd line guys 3M plus per season.

The D is going to be interesting to figure out... you have to figure that one of Brodie or Erixon is going to make the team next year (and you have to figure that the team isn't going to want two rookies on the everyday blueline) I also figure that they're (the team) going to want a vet to hold the new kids hand on the bottom pairing. I figure the team is going to sign some older grit guy (like Jim Vandermeer or Garnet Exelby for example) to a one an' doner for as cheap as they can get him in the off-season.

Avatar
#5 Sincity1976
April 03 2011, 12:43AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@JF

Overall I don't think the Flames are going to do a whole bunch until the 2012/2013 season when they have have 7 or so contracts coming to an end. Even if you take Kotalik out of the line up the Flames only have 7 million or so to sign 5 players.

They will sign a few of their free agents. I agree they will keep Tanguay, but I think they can get him for 2.5 to 3 million. Morrison could be a depth signing depending on how the roster looks. Glencross and Babchuck are gone. They probably keep Karlson. I hope they don't get another aging D. They have four vets and a bunch of NHL ready prospects. I am hoping Brodie and Erixon make the lineup.

Beyond that it will be tweaking. Iginla isn't going. They can't move Kipper. Regher is more valuable as a Flame then what they probably get in return. I don't think they can get much for Bouwmeester. Hagman is going to get more garbage in return. Same story with Sarich. You can't move Stajan. Etc.

Long story short is it will be a long off season filled with rumors but little in the way of actual trades.

Avatar
#6 SmellOfVictory
April 03 2011, 12:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Sincity1976

I don't agree on Regehr. His contract is solid value, and it's possible that he could get a solid return. Unless the Flames find their third wind next season, there's not a ton of reason to keep both him and Iginla; while I like Regehr and realize how useful he is to a competitive team, I like Iggy more.

Avatar
#7 RKD
April 03 2011, 12:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

The Flames have gone through a multitude of coaches: Sutter, Playfair, Keenan, etc. They've gone through a multitude of different supporting casts. Finally after seven years, the only constant was the G.M. who was ousted after much outcry. The three core players Iggy, Kipper and Regehr have never been traded. This leads me to believe a core play will be moved this offseason.

Avatar
#8 FireOnIce
April 03 2011, 01:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

My bet would be that Regehr is the one traded. The ownership and entire city itself seem hellbent on preserving Jarome and Miikka as our supposed "saviours". I love Regehr, he plays with heart (most nights), and is mostly defensively responsible.

The simple fact is that he is aging, rarely scores or assists, and is primarily a shutdown defender. His reputation in the league is pretty good and I feel his value is on the high end of moderate, and may fetch a nice return. Certainly not a superstar (depending on the package I guess) but definitely a solid 2nd liner.

Sore Itch, Stajan, Hagman, and Kotalik are expensive wastes of cap space and roster spots. The three forwards have had a season and a half to find "chemistry" and have failed to do so. Our only hope is that some GMs would see potential reclamation projects and take a gamble (hopefully out East, I don't want these guys burning us 6 times a year).

Avatar
#9 Sincity1976
April 03 2011, 01:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

The Flames have Regher for two more seasons and they can move him at the deadline or the following off season so I don't think they are in any rush.

Since they have so many 1-season immovable contracts and limited flexibility (cap/assets) they can't do a bunch so will probably try and be competitive with what they have for another season.

They can't replace Regher and are probably not competitive without him. The organization probably wants to see prospects like Erixon play before committing a deal like Regher as well.

Regher also has a NMC and may not be ready to move if the Flames are taking another go of it.

All that adds up to the Flames needing a pretty serious offer from a contending team to make this deal happen. I don't think that type of offer will come.

But who knows. There were a ton of rumors last season about him being moved and I think there was some truth to them so I guess it could happen.

Avatar
#10 CP is GARBAGE
April 03 2011, 01:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

I agree with the general sentiment here that the Flames will look very similar next year.

-If Langkow is back, There just won't be room for Morrison. At C the Flames will ice Langkow/Backlund/Jokinen/Stajan

-what might be interesting is to see how Kotalik's contract is handeled. if the Flames can find a team in Europe to take him I believe they can simply remove his contract without having any penalty applied to the cap. If that happens sending Hagman to the AHL or a buy out might become apart of the conversation. I don't think we'll see Flames ownership scratch million dollar cheques to buy out a couple undesireable contracts.

-With Staios's contract coming off the books and presumably a spot on the roster opening up I'm sure the Flames would love to see Erixon/Brodie win a spot in camp. Both, however, apparently need to add strength. Hopefully they can, but that doesn't happen overnight with many 19-21 year olds. Both may still be one year away. Will also be interesting to see if Pardy is re-signed or walks. I would expect Babchuck will be able to garner more than what the Flames will be able to offer.

-I strongly doubt Tanguay would be willing to accept anything less than a 2 year 7 million dollar contract. no way he's going to sign for less than 3-3.5 per when this team has handed out/aquired similar deals to the likes of Hagman, Stajan, Kotalik, Jokinen. As such, with out a significant move I would think Glencross will be playing somewhere else next year.

Avatar
#11 SmellOfVictory
April 03 2011, 11:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@CP is GARBAGE

re: Tanguay: They didn't hand out the deals to Hagman and Kotalik, and the other two deals were given out by a different GM. In addition, Calgary was the only franchise willing to take a chance on Tanguay after his off year last season, he has always said he loves Calgary, and he absolutely loves playing with Iginla. If there was ever a player who I firmly believed would be willing to take a significant pay cut to play in Calgary, he's the one by a wide margin.

Comments are closed for this article.