Flames 5 Early Season Surprises

Kent Wilson
January 29 2013 08:44AM

 


 

Four Games isn't enough for anyone to be engaging in any sort of meaningful analysis unfortunately. Let's put it this way, in the past I had counted 10-game samples where Matthew Lombardi led the team in possession rate. I always had a soft spot for Lombo, but he was never the best forward on this team at any point during his tenure here.

As noted previously, weird stuff is going to happen in small bursts, especially early in the seaason. With that caveat noted, here's some of the surprises that have emerged from the Flames first 10 days of 2013.

1.) Lee Stempniak, Superstar!

He leads the team in points, plus/minus, powerplay goals and is second in shots on net to Jarome Iginla. And it's not just the superficial numbers that are good for Stempniak. Of regular Calgary forwards, he currently has the best corsi rate as well

Stempniak teamed up with Backlund much of the time last year and together they managed similarly good possession rates, so the corsi thing is nothing new. Still. beyond the numbers, Stempniak has passed the eye test as well - he looks like a man who hit the ground running coming out of the lock-out and has become a go-to player under Hartley. Previously a third line option, Stempniak has averaged more than 18 minutes of ice for the Flames new bench boss despite the team's notable depth on the wings.

It's unlikely Stempniak will continue to be a point-per-game player indefinitely given his career to date, but he's certainly looking like a nice value signing at $2.5M per year.

2.) Brodie Overtakes Butler

TJ Brodie established himself as a capable 3rd pairing option last season and after taking against, obvious step forward in the AHL with the Heat scratching him in the Flames season opener seemed like an odd choice. The Flames lost and the kid got a chance the next game where he showcased the mobility and pin-point accurate headman passes that marked his performances in Abbotsford all year.

Since then he has moved up the rotation and landed onto the second pairing with Dennis Wideman.

What's more surprising is his promotion has come at the expesne of Chris Butler, who spent almost all of last season facing the heavies with Jay Bouwmeester.

Now, there was always a sense that Bouwmeester was carrying Butler to a significant degree, in part because of the younger guy's limited experience with toug minutes and in part because Butler visibly struggled to keep up some nights.

That said, it's still unexpected to see him lose his spot in the lineup entriely, particularly to a sophomore. It's a situation that might not persist long-term, although Brodie hasn't stumbled at all in his new role so far.

3.) Flames Powerful PP

Last year the Flames man advantage was actually pretty effective, finishing 13th overall with a 17.7% success rate. The team was only middling in terms of actually getting shots on net and in fact was one of the worst clubs in the league in terms of shots/60 minutes of play through the first few months.

Calgary has scored on 29.4% of their PP's so far this year (4th overall), but even more impressive is the fact they're currently third in the league with an average of 64.6 shots/hour at 5on4. In contrast, they were at just 48.6 last season.

Maybe it's just a nice run over 4 games or maybe the new coaching staff and roster additions really have improved Calgary's man advantage to a significant degree. We'll only know for sure at the end of the year.

4.) Fast Starting Jarome

If I was asked to bet on anything coming out of the work stoppage I would have put my money on Jarome Iginla having a slow start to the season. He didn't play during the lock-out and will be 36 years old come July. It was a pefect recipe for the captain to spend the first 10+ games finding his legs. Add in Alex Tanguay trying to figure out how to play center at the NHL level again and you had a recipe for a problematic first line.

Instead, Iginla has played like a man who shed a few years in the off-season. Some persistently poor habits that had creeped into his game the last few years (skating into coverage in the shallow end of the offensive zone, giving the puck away in the neutral zone, etc.) have been refreshingly absent from his game so far this season. He's never going to be a paragon of defensive acumen, but Iginla has seemed quicker and more involved all over the ice than I remember him under Sutter.

What's more, he's consistently dangerous in the offensive zone again as demonstrated by his 19 shots on goal (4.5/game). Iginla's shot rate has consistently fallen since 2008-09 0 last year his 251 in 82 games (3.01) were the fewest he'd managed since 2000-01. 

The points haven't really been there for Iginla so far (3 assists in 4 games) but they will if he continues to play like this.

 5.) The Oilers Still Suck

Haha, just kidding. That's not a surprise.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 NateBaldwin
January 29 2013, 09:04AM
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hurray positivity!

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#2 Mamie Jacouns Love Child
January 29 2013, 11:09AM
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Whats good about the Flames is whats bad about them. When Stempniak is a contributor thats a good thing; but when hes the team leader -- well he becomes Matthew Lombardi.

About the Iginla bad start -- its simple. The Oil are Iggys slumpbuster (fat girl). Those games for Iggy are like the guy at 3AM on the Tuesday of the Second Week of Stampede at any Downtown Stampede Event.

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#3 beloch
January 29 2013, 12:04PM
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Kurt wrote:

Should a team in DEAD LAST really be saying that another team sucks? Especially a team that happens to be leading the division. I realize its early, but Flames are 15th. Last. Oilers are 3rd....

On a positive note, so far this season is going pretty much perfect. We still beat the Oilers, but lose to everyone else. Perfect. Another 6 weeks at this pace and we'll be pretty much out of the playoffs and Feaster will have no delusions of success and we can get on with purging the senior citizens off this team and getting a new youth core built up.

I just hope Iggy continues his strong play and drives up his trade value to all time levels while the team continues to lose. My greatest fear is that Iggy continues to play this well, and the team is in the race. Then we won't trade him and will offer him some ridiculous extension ensuring we continue middling for the next decade.

In general, no, but I think the Oilers are worthy of a special exception, especially since the Flames just thrashed them soundly. ;)

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#4 McRib
January 29 2013, 12:32PM
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@Kurt

Did you watch the first four games of the season.... Clearly not!!!!!! The Flames have improved in every game they have been in and have played in two fewer games than most in the conference, if we win the next two we could move up into third.

All of the offseason moves are starting to show great promise of whats ahead (Wideman, Hudler & Červenka) have all looked like they are going to be signifcant contributors. Not to mention (Backlund, Stempniak, Bouwmeester & Glencross) all look to be poised for bounce back or career years under Hartley.

Honestly with the unexpected peformances so far and the new players stepping in seamlessly, I have a very hard time believing that this team isn't going to make the playoffs easily.

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#5 SeanCharles
January 29 2013, 09:11AM
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It is a little surprising Butler isnt at least on the 3rd pairing. But I have high hopes for Brodie so I am glad he is being given an opportunity and is running with it. His ceiling is much higher than any of Butler, Sarich, Smith and Babchuck.

I only wonder what will happen when Babchuk is healthy. Do the pairing stay the same? And more importantly who gets sent down? Or will there be a trade?

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#6 Monaertchi
January 29 2013, 09:17AM
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Oh, Kent. You made me laugh out loud with point #5. Thanks.

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#7 Stockley
January 29 2013, 09:18AM
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@SeanCharles

I think well hope and pray that Babchuk will ride the pine and hopefully the one year left on his contract out of town. I don't care if he sits in the press box, accepts a demotion to Abby for playing time or goes back to Europe. He's a one-trick pony PP specialist with a heavy shot. He's terrible in his own end, his passing is nothing to get excited about, his hockey sense is almost non-existent and for a big guy he's even less physical than Bouwmeester. Given the depth ahead of him there is just no room for Babchuk on this team. If Butler lost his place how do they justify letting Babchuk play?

Given how much talk Feaster and Hartley offer up on the Flames being a meritocracy I don't understand how Sarich keeps getting dressed. His non-existent speed has continued to deteriorate and sometimes it just looks like the game has passed him by. I like the guy and respect his accomplishments but I just don't get where he fits in.

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#8 Parallex
January 29 2013, 09:23AM
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Really good start by Backlund doesn't make the list... or is it that it wasn't much of a surprise?

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#9 SeanCharles
January 29 2013, 09:30AM
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@Stockley

I was so choaked when I heard about Sarich signing for 2 years. I could understand 1 but 2 at 2mill was ridiculous to me.

That being said I think he has played well in a third pairing role. He is slow, that much is true, but I think he is earning his keep as of right now.

My love/hate for him is leaning more to love right now, that could change after a couple errant passes or being caught out-of-position and too slow to get back situations arise.

In all honesty the only players I don't like on this team right now are Stajan (I'll take heat for this but I just cant get the bad taste out of my mouth that is the last 2years of having him here) and arguably Comeau.

If Stajan and Comeau were on the fourth line together with Jones I wouldnt mind the make-up of this team at all.

Sorry to all Stajan lovers but he is not a second line player, he is a third liner at best, and over the course of the next month I hope he gets moved down and Baertschi moved up (Cervenka moved to center).

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#10 the-wolf
January 29 2013, 09:31AM
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Stockley wrote:

I think well hope and pray that Babchuk will ride the pine and hopefully the one year left on his contract out of town. I don't care if he sits in the press box, accepts a demotion to Abby for playing time or goes back to Europe. He's a one-trick pony PP specialist with a heavy shot. He's terrible in his own end, his passing is nothing to get excited about, his hockey sense is almost non-existent and for a big guy he's even less physical than Bouwmeester. Given the depth ahead of him there is just no room for Babchuk on this team. If Butler lost his place how do they justify letting Babchuk play?

Given how much talk Feaster and Hartley offer up on the Flames being a meritocracy I don't understand how Sarich keeps getting dressed. His non-existent speed has continued to deteriorate and sometimes it just looks like the game has passed him by. I like the guy and respect his accomplishments but I just don't get where he fits in.

Yes and yes.

Butler should be a 3rd pairing D and should be able to thrive there as well, especially with last season under his belt.

I do agree with the theory that not playing with Butler anymore has freed up JBo to play more offensively.

Sarich signing was as bad as the Babchuk signing.

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#11 Stockley
January 29 2013, 09:31AM
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@Parallex

I think we would have been more surprised and disappointed if Backlund had a bad start. There was a lot of talk about his play in Sweden and in training camp so there was an anticipation that he was finally going to take that next step we've all been waiting for.

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#12 Stockley
January 29 2013, 09:37AM
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@the-wolf

Anyone else curious what a Butler/Smith pairing would look like? I understand that Sarich brings some needed grit and sandpaper to the back end but as was mentioned above it's just a matter of time before he's caught out of position and his lack of foot speed burns the team. The team seems to be going for a free-wheeling and fast game; he's one of the guys who just doesn't seem to fit in. Go all or nothing, having one pylon of a defenceman when the rest are all over the ice and aiding the transition seems counter productive.

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#13 T&A4Flames
January 29 2013, 09:56AM
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Hey Kent, are we getting a weekend prospect update?

Re: Butler; perhaps Hartley had a look at him or Smith playing the right side (both left shots)and it just didn't work. Hence, making Sarich the best choice. I have a hard time believing that Butler has been passed by both Smith & Sarich. There has to be something, an injury, trade talk, something.

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#14 T&A4Flames
January 29 2013, 10:01AM
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If we were going to try and move Babchuk we should be eyeing up teams that are hurting on the PP; Detroit, NYR, LAK, Philly are all hurting in that department and are rumored to be shopping for D. Maybe Darryl can convince Lombardi that Babchuk is a great offensive Dman and we can get a 2nd for him. :)

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#15 the-wolf
January 29 2013, 10:12AM
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Stockley wrote:

Anyone else curious what a Butler/Smith pairing would look like? I understand that Sarich brings some needed grit and sandpaper to the back end but as was mentioned above it's just a matter of time before he's caught out of position and his lack of foot speed burns the team. The team seems to be going for a free-wheeling and fast game; he's one of the guys who just doesn't seem to fit in. Go all or nothing, having one pylon of a defenceman when the rest are all over the ice and aiding the transition seems counter productive.

My theory is that if the team doesn't have a true first line or #1 stud D, then they should focus on demolishing everyone else's 2nd/3rd/4th lines and 2nd/3rd D pairings.

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#16 kittensandcookies
January 29 2013, 10:16AM
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Iggy has looked good. He's gotten points and that's fine.

Oh look, Baertshi played and didn't even need his booster seat tightened. And hey, what do you know, Duhatschek agreed with me this morning - keep him up here, take a long look at him (fer crying out loud, give him 10 games, right? At least that's something resembling a plan) and have him play a few minutes. And believe it or not, it doesn't ruin players. Or maybe it really was the Flames' coaches that ruined Rico Fata.

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#17 Jeff In Lethbridge
January 29 2013, 10:21AM
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I've never been real huge on Butler being top 4 - third pairing fine, but not top 4. Broadie's tape to tape passes are amazing - something this team has seen precious little of over the past year or two.

If these "pieces" start actually clicking, and this coach turns them into a cohesive unit and has some success, we will have to pause to give Feaster some credit... now that would be eating crow, for all the hate he gets!

I agree with Backlund being a surprise... I hope he keeps his swagger and actually grows it a bit... I mean, I don't expect him to be a first line power forward, but if he grows into a solid full time 2nd line contributor, what more could we ask for... and he will then be the "veteran" to mentor Johny Hockey and that skinny center they drafted this year from high school

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#18 exsanguinator
January 29 2013, 10:30AM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

I've never been real huge on Butler being top 4 - third pairing fine, but not top 4. Broadie's tape to tape passes are amazing - something this team has seen precious little of over the past year or two.

If these "pieces" start actually clicking, and this coach turns them into a cohesive unit and has some success, we will have to pause to give Feaster some credit... now that would be eating crow, for all the hate he gets!

I agree with Backlund being a surprise... I hope he keeps his swagger and actually grows it a bit... I mean, I don't expect him to be a first line power forward, but if he grows into a solid full time 2nd line contributor, what more could we ask for... and he will then be the "veteran" to mentor Johny Hockey and that skinny center they drafted this year from high school

I would have no problem giving Feaster the credit he is due. So far his moves have been generally positive and if the Flames keep playing like they are then by the time they regress to the mean they are going to make Feaster look like a pretty smart dude.

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#19 seve927
January 29 2013, 10:56AM
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Stockley wrote:

Anyone else curious what a Butler/Smith pairing would look like? I understand that Sarich brings some needed grit and sandpaper to the back end but as was mentioned above it's just a matter of time before he's caught out of position and his lack of foot speed burns the team. The team seems to be going for a free-wheeling and fast game; he's one of the guys who just doesn't seem to fit in. Go all or nothing, having one pylon of a defenceman when the rest are all over the ice and aiding the transition seems counter productive.

Balance is certainly not counter-productive. All or nothing approach to anything usually results in nothing. The Smith-Sarich combo has scared me, but they haven't been that bad. Butler-Sarich seems much better to me though. Maybe they're trying to showcase Smith for a trade?

I can't say anything has truly surprised me yet. 4 games. Anything can happen in 4 games. Closest thing to a surprise is that Wideman seems to be a better defender than I was expecting. I really like our top 4 the way it is right now.

If Backlund can keep up a reasonable scoring pace, Iginla chooses to play the way he's capable of, this team can set it's sights higher than squeaking into 8th.

My biggest worry right now is probably a backup for Kipper. It'll be interesting to see if a backup can actually have success if the team in front of him is putting in a respectable effort.

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#21 Baalzamon
January 29 2013, 11:03AM
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It's starting to look to me like they're going to try to move Butler once Babchuk is healthy (and can take over the #7 spot)

Or maybe it's Smith they're looking at moving, since he's the one they're showcasing.

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#22 Kevin R
January 29 2013, 11:12AM
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I think many forget that last was Butlers real 1st fulltime stint in the bigs. He started in the 5-6 pairing & then the injuries hit, especially Gio & he went up to the top 4 pairing & considering everything, he survived OK. No one expected top 4 minutes out of him last year. To see him in the press box just isnt right. I hope for the sake of Butler & the apparent demand for defence Feaster can parlay Butler into at least a 2nd rounder. Anything short of that will not be worth making the trade as it seems having the depth in a schedule like this one has a value, even if it's a crappy deal for the player.

Question anyone: If Sven gets sent down to Abby, does he still burn a year of his ELC?

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#23 T&A4Flames
January 29 2013, 11:32AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Talk to Piker. That's his department.

PIKER!!!

Lets get on that, eh.

Just kidding, but I do really enjoy the updates so if you would be so kind........

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#25 the-wolf
January 29 2013, 11:52AM
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kittensandcookies wrote:

Iggy has looked good. He's gotten points and that's fine.

Oh look, Baertshi played and didn't even need his booster seat tightened. And hey, what do you know, Duhatschek agreed with me this morning - keep him up here, take a long look at him (fer crying out loud, give him 10 games, right? At least that's something resembling a plan) and have him play a few minutes. And believe it or not, it doesn't ruin players. Or maybe it really was the Flames' coaches that ruined Rico Fata.

It's the few minutes part that people had a problem with.

You don't develop scorers on the 4th line.

If he plays meaningful minutes then keep him up, fine. Not sure why that's so difficult to grasp.

Also, nice example, a guy who played 27 games for the Flames in total. Of course, by your logic, had the Flames just kept him up he would've turned into a superstar. They stunted his development by leaving him down. See how I turned that around?

Check and mate.

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#26 Kurt
January 29 2013, 11:56AM
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Should a team in DEAD LAST really be saying that another team sucks? Especially a team that happens to be leading the division. I realize its early, but Flames are 15th. Last. Oilers are 3rd....

On a positive note, so far this season is going pretty much perfect. We still beat the Oilers, but lose to everyone else. Perfect. Another 6 weeks at this pace and we'll be pretty much out of the playoffs and Feaster will have no delusions of success and we can get on with purging the senior citizens off this team and getting a new youth core built up.

I just hope Iggy continues his strong play and drives up his trade value to all time levels while the team continues to lose. My greatest fear is that Iggy continues to play this well, and the team is in the race. Then we won't trade him and will offer him some ridiculous extension ensuring we continue middling for the next decade.

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#27 beloch
January 29 2013, 11:58AM
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Last year, it was terrifying whenever Bouwmeester wasn't on the ice. The Flames simply didn't have any other defencemen that they could trust against top competition. That's probably why Bouwmeester averaged 26 minutes a game!

So far this season, the second pairing has pulled more weight except for the game against Vancouver when Bouwmeester put in a whopping 28 minutes! This suggests Hartley has more trust in Wideman+Brodie/Butler than Butter had in Giordano+whoever last year, which isn't a huge surprise given that Giordano wasn't very good last season and whoever he was partnered with was *worse*.

Even a bad Giordano is probably better than Butler, which, along with more reasonable ice-time, might explain why Bouwmeester is starting to look like a badass out there. Here's hoping Wideman+Brodie/Butler can keep it up!

The other thing I find *really* surprising is that this year's team has matched or outshot the competition *every* game so far, and that was with Cammalleri in a slump and Hudler/Cervenka MIA for 3 out of 4 games. Last year the Flames did that in just 1/3 of their games. If the Flames keep this up and Kipper's Sv% returns closer to his career average things might start going rather well.

Ah... The warm fuzzy glow of insufficient sample sizes! Enjoy it while it lasts!

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#28 Jibmeister
January 29 2013, 12:04PM
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I'm actually enjoying Sarich this year. He's no all star by any means, but as a third pairing defenseman he's solid. I've never like Butler, so having him sit pleases me greatly.

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#29 Shep
January 29 2013, 12:13PM
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44 is good insurance when injuries hit. Not comfortable pushing 6/27/33 up to top 4 duties

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#30 FireOnIce
January 29 2013, 12:31PM
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@T&A4Flames

Knowing Darryl, we'd get their best D-man, a 2nd, and a spare part, and all we'd have to give up is a crate of rolling tobacco and some used farm equipment.

The Flames are still one Roy and one Kovalchuk away from a Cup, there's no kidding ourselves. Doesn't matter if they beat the Oilers - I don't think the Oilers care about the BoA anymore. That's a remnant from a bygone era where both our teams used to be good and when the Dubnyks and Stempniaks of the world were sitting on the bench, giving water to the other players.

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#31 SeanCharles
January 29 2013, 12:36PM
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Shep wrote:

44 is good insurance when injuries hit. Not comfortable pushing 6/27/33 up to top 4 duties

Thats why one of #33/27 should be shipped out for a pick. But if you can get a 2nd for Butler I think you do it.

We still need to re-aquire a 2nd for the upcoming draft...

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#32 csc_89
January 29 2013, 12:38PM
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Just as a general comment, I heard via @RogMillions Twitter that the KHL season ends Feb. 17 plus playoffs. Any chance Flames could get Karri Ramo signed before the deadline?

Maybe thats why they traded Karlsson...

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#33 McRib
January 29 2013, 12:41PM
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@Kent Wilson

"The points haven't really been there for Iginla so far (3 assists in 4 games) but they will if he continues to play like this."

Honestly great point on Iginla, as he hasn't been lighting the world on fire statistically speaking but watching the first four games if it weren't for a few big saves or a couple bad bounces everyone would already be talking about him in the media. Especially in the Vancouver game he had two in his wheelhouse jump over his stick. He could have singlehandedly put that game out of reach.

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#34 T&A4Flames
January 29 2013, 12:41PM
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Shep wrote:

44 is good insurance when injuries hit. Not comfortable pushing 6/27/33 up to top 4 duties

If this is the fear, then it should be clear that CGY needs to be looking to pick up prospects and picks and rebuild this team around a younger core. Depth is a big part of an organization so when the inevitable injuries happen, it is a true sign of where the team is.

I personally like Butler and give him good value. With him in the line up with JBo, Gio, Wides & TJ, we have a pretty good top 5. If Butler gets traded, I hope it is a solid return because Butler has a cap friendly contract, is mid-20's and is a pretty good, not flashy but good defender.

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#35 T&A4Flames
January 29 2013, 12:46PM
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csc_89 wrote:

Just as a general comment, I heard via @RogMillions Twitter that the KHL season ends Feb. 17 plus playoffs. Any chance Flames could get Karri Ramo signed before the deadline?

Maybe thats why they traded Karlsson...

I think I asked this before but didn't get a response (that I can recall), but, will Ramo have to pass through waivers before we can sign/play him? Wasn't that the issue with Nabokov a couple of years ago? DET tried to sign him and then he was claimed by the NYI.

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#36 McRib
January 29 2013, 12:49PM
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I think Butler could net a solid return for us, as his play in the World Championships last year really increased his value around the league. But I would only trade him for a good return to a desperate team that could fall off in the standings, for at least a second rounder or prospect, which could be a 31-35 pick. In this years draft that is basically a first rounder, due to the depth.

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#37 negrilcowboy
January 29 2013, 01:04PM
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feaster has gotta make a pitch to st louis, their wealth of young capable forwards is ripe for the picking. the blues would be a helluva alot more lethal if the flames were to unload jaybo,gio or the like in a multi player swap. a package of youthful forwards maybe the tonic for the organization.

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#38 Kevin R
January 29 2013, 01:06PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

The first year of ELC is burned either way I believe.

Thx Kent! So if we are going to burn 1 year of his ELC, I would rather see him with the Flames, we just need to find a way to get him on the 2nd or 3rd line. I truly do see the need for depth because injuries are going to plague everyone this year but man, we have way too many @#%* forwards on 1 ways. I see this kind of depth for a team like Vanc or Chic but a team trying to rebuild on the fly, I think you are better off having the confidence that kids in the AHL will thrive with the injury callups knowing they will be sent back down after so many games unless they perform spectacular. Kind of happened with Brodie & I thought it has worked perfect for this kids development. Where the forwards, we have too many 3rd & 4th line guys & kids like Horak dont get the chance they deserve.

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#39 Kurt
January 29 2013, 01:07PM
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McRib wrote:

Did you watch the first four games of the season.... Clearly not!!!!!! The Flames have improved in every game they have been in and have played in two fewer games than most in the conference, if we win the next two we could move up into third.

All of the offseason moves are starting to show great promise of whats ahead (Wideman, Hudler & Červenka) have all looked like they are going to be signifcant contributors. Not to mention (Backlund, Stempniak, Bouwmeester & Glencross) all look to be poised for bounce back or career years under Hartley.

Honestly with the unexpected peformances so far and the new players stepping in seamlessly, I have a very hard time believing that this team isn't going to make the playoffs easily.

Sigh.... Ah yes, I watched the games. Your comment could have been written in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and now in 2013. False hope. Same core. 1 piece away. A few castoff fringe offensive players stepping up to lead us to the promised land (guys who would be on the 3rd line at best on a real team...)

The fact that Baertschi is being demoted so that 35 year old players on the decline can eat up top line minutes just shows the direction this team is headed. There is ZERO thought put into development or the future. Its all just about this year and trying to grind into a miracle playoff chance.

PS - I laughed when you said this team will make the playoffs EASILY. Seriously? Easily? Maybe you should look up the definition of the word easily. Last year

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#40 SeanCharles
January 29 2013, 01:15PM
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Baertschi injured in practice..twists knee and leave to locker room - via Roger Millions twitter.

Last guy on the team I want to see injured..

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#41 seve927
January 29 2013, 01:19PM
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I just don't see how Hartley can have Smith ranked higher than Butler. I think we'll see Butler playing again, and maybe Smith could recoup us the 5th rounder that we gave up for Wideman. I think Breen is actually at the point that he could play if necessary. If I go strictly from what I've seen from him in the AHL and training camp, and not a preconceived notion, I'm more comfortable with him than Babchuk. Probably better than Carson too.

If Smith were gone and Babchuk comes back I'd most like to see him sent to Abbotsford, Carson come up to sit in the press box, and if there's an injury, bring Breen up for longer term duty.

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#42 RexLibris
January 29 2013, 01:40PM
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SeanCharles wrote:

Baertschi injured in practice..twists knee and leave to locker room - via Roger Millions twitter.

Last guy on the team I want to see injured..

Second last. Kiprusoff is the last one you want to see injured.

Unless you've already purchased a Nathan McKinnon Flames jersey.

;-)

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#43 beloch
January 29 2013, 01:54PM
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@T&A4Flames

I'd be surprised if this were true. If Ramo has to clear waivers to play in the NHL, why did the Flames trade for his NHL rights in the first place? They'd be totally worthless if that were the case!

That being said, Ramo's season is unlikely to end in February. Last year, Avangard Omsk went to the Gagarin cup finals and were still playing hockey right up until the end of April. AO is currently #2 in the KHL standings, so another deep playoff run is very likely.

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#44 Kevin R
January 29 2013, 01:54PM
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SeanCharles wrote:

Baertschi injured in practice..twists knee and leave to locker room - via Roger Millions twitter.

Last guy on the team I want to see injured..

Well, this might conclude the debate for a little while & by the time he gets back healthy, the answer will be obvious. :(

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#45 Vintage Flame
January 29 2013, 02:15PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

I think I asked this before but didn't get a response (that I can recall), but, will Ramo have to pass through waivers before we can sign/play him? Wasn't that the issue with Nabokov a couple of years ago? DET tried to sign him and then he was claimed by the NYI.

I think Ramo is a different circumstance than Nabakov was.

Nabby played in enough NHL games that he was waiver eligible. Pretty sure Ramo hasn't played in enough games yet, so he is still waiver exempt. I believe anyways.

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#46 kittensandcookies
January 29 2013, 02:22PM
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the-wolf wrote:

It's the few minutes part that people had a problem with.

You don't develop scorers on the 4th line.

If he plays meaningful minutes then keep him up, fine. Not sure why that's so difficult to grasp.

Also, nice example, a guy who played 27 games for the Flames in total. Of course, by your logic, had the Flames just kept him up he would've turned into a superstar. They stunted his development by leaving him down. See how I turned that around?

Check and mate.

You're the one that asserts that "sheltering" prospects makes them "better", whatever "better" means.

You're a funny guy. You bitch and whine about how much the team sucks year after year (which, hey, it's true - they suck), and when someone finally shows up that has some potential, you want to play the losers over him. Good job.

And maybe you've totally forgotten about Iginla's history, but he played junior, came up for some Flames playoff games, and never went back down. He was obviously ruined.

How about you listen to what the Hat said? He made some good points.

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#47 ChinookArch
January 29 2013, 02:22PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

It's starting to look to me like they're going to try to move Butler once Babchuk is healthy (and can take over the #7 spot)

Or maybe it's Smith they're looking at moving, since he's the one they're showcasing.

No offense, but that would be a terrible move.

I know a lot of fans were not happy with Butler last year. Replacing a popular Robin Reghr would have been tough enough, if he didn't struggle in role on the top pairing. As bad as he appeared at times, imagine the carnage if Sarich or god-forbid Babchuk was put in as the Flames #2 defensemen.

I liked Sarich 4 years ago, but the game has passed him by. Babchuk on the other hand is likely the worst defensemen with a current NHL contract in hand.

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#48 T&A4Flames
January 29 2013, 02:30PM
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Kurt wrote:

Sigh.... Ah yes, I watched the games. Your comment could have been written in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and now in 2013. False hope. Same core. 1 piece away. A few castoff fringe offensive players stepping up to lead us to the promised land (guys who would be on the 3rd line at best on a real team...)

The fact that Baertschi is being demoted so that 35 year old players on the decline can eat up top line minutes just shows the direction this team is headed. There is ZERO thought put into development or the future. Its all just about this year and trying to grind into a miracle playoff chance.

PS - I laughed when you said this team will make the playoffs EASILY. Seriously? Easily? Maybe you should look up the definition of the word easily. Last year

I agree, I don't want to make the same mistake Oiler fans were making after their big OT win over LAK. Talk shows in Edmonton were predicting a turning moment for them and they would handily beat CGY; predicted scores were as bad as 6-2 EDM. Well, we all know how that turned out.

We have one win. One. We should really temper our owm enthusiasm for this team until they show similar performances against some of the heavies; CHI, STL etc.

Hopefully it has already happened but I hope Feaster is working the phones and getting options on Cammi, JBo, Butler etc. We need to open up space and get some solid returns to push the rebuild to take shape quickly. WSH, I think, could really use 2nd line scoring like Cammi. I would trade Cammi for Galiev, Orlov & a 1st. I would love to get Johansson. Other options would be Forsberg, Wilson...

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#49 Sincity1976
January 29 2013, 02:39PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

No offense, but that would be a terrible move.

I know a lot of fans were not happy with Butler last year. Replacing a popular Robin Reghr would have been tough enough, if he didn't struggle in role on the top pairing. As bad as he appeared at times, imagine the carnage if Sarich or god-forbid Babchuk was put in as the Flames #2 defensemen.

I liked Sarich 4 years ago, but the game has passed him by. Babchuk on the other hand is likely the worst defensemen with a current NHL contract in hand.

It depends on the return. Keeping him on the bench isn't good for us or him. If you get something decent in return I would rather have that then a bit of extra depth devaluing on the bench.

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#50 Vintage Flame
January 29 2013, 02:49PM
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Looking into the the issue with Ramo and waivers, came across this.

Return waivers
Players who play ice hockey outside of North America during a regular season and who are not on loan from a NHL club must also be placed on waivers if they are signed to play in the NHL. If the player is picked up by another NHL club on waivers, the player must be placed on waivers again before a further trade or loan can take place.

Not sure what the deal is under the new CBA, but this kinda entails that Ramo would ahve to clear waivers before signing with the Flames.

Sort of disturbing if this is true. I hope I'm missing something here

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