Five things: What does 2013 hold?

Ryan Lambert
January 03 2013 11:51AM

 

1. Another good draft

While you and I may sit here and disagree with the selection of Mark Jankowski all day and night, the fact remains that the Flames have been able to put together goodish drafts under Jay Feaster, at least in terms of early returns.

Just based on the last two drafts — and granted that's not a good sample size — they've pulled five World Junior players, representing three countries, all of them being non-first-round picks. Tyler Wotherspoon has been just fine for Canada, Markus Granlund is second at WJCs in scoring (as of this writing) with nine points, Johnny Gaudreau is an NCAA scoring sensation who has six points in his last two games after a slow start, Patrick Sieloff isn't lighting the world on fire but has been used in four of the team's five games after being held out in the first one thanks to roster complications, and Jon Gillies has been excellent in college but is logjammed behind the best goalie in the tournament.

And that's four players out of 12 draftees, which doesn't take into account Sven Baertschi, who is now too old to compete; Laurent Broissot, who's one of the best goalies in the WHL; and Jankowski, who has reportedly been perfectly alright for Providence College despite having just turned 18 in September. Maybe with another good draft in June, the Flames can finally hit an unequivocal home run again as they did with Baertschi.

2. The emergence of Sven Baertschi

Speaking of whom, Calgary fans haven't had what looks to be this much of a legitimate prospect to actually root for since Dion Phaneuf came of age. He's up to 17 points in 19 games in Abbotsford and was apparently very good in those games.

He's been so good, in fact, that his concussion — which, that's not good — has largely been attributed to the Heat's recent struggles. His having been out a month is also not very good at all. But maybe, just maybe, if he can get over the "upper-body injury," Flames fans might have someone to cheer for on Jarome Iginla's top line by the end of the season.

I know it's easy to get caught up in his completely impossible-to-reproduce three goals in five games last season, but if you're not excited to see this kid at least get some high-quality power play time under Bob Hartley, then you don't have a pulse. 

3. A potential Iginla victory lap

While I don't think it's going to necessarily happen, unless something drastic occurs, you have to think there's at least a possibility that this is Jarome Iginla's last season with the Flames (Not to be too much of a downer.)

His contract is up at the end of this now-abbreviated season and you gotta think there will be some appetite out there to continue paying $7 million a year for his services even if he's not worth it any more. And you gotta think he isn't. I wonder just how committed he is to the "hometown discount" if he can bang out another $2 million per annum over what the Flames offer him, especially against a cap that has the potential to be significantly lowered from last year.

Obviously the Flames will make every effort to retain him as long as he's still capable of skating around out there, and will probably pay more than they should to do it. But again, someone who's close to being a Cup contender and has the cap space could make a very legitimate run at him. Wonder how it all shakes out.

4. So many roster moves

Speaking of expiring contracts, Calgary has nine guys coming off the books at the end of the season, but apart from Iginla and Roman Cervenka, there aren't too many big-money contributors to worry about. Among the remaining guys who will need re-upping are Mikael Backlund (likely available at a cut rate given his point totals the last two seasons); Chris Butler and TJ Brodie will both need to be brought back, and neither should be exceptionally expensive; Blake Comeau is a guy you could probably take or leave, but I wouldn't care one way or the other; Lance Bouma basically who cares; and both Anton Babchuk and Henrik Karlsson can both take a hike.

Plus, with the potential for "compliance" buyouts, the Flames might also wanna 86 Matt Stajan or even Jay Bouwmeester, just because. Or ooh, Cory Sarich. That'd work too.

There's actually rather a lot to think about. For example, Karri Ramo likely comes over to replace Karlsson, or whomever, as Kirpsuoff's backup, and how much does that cost? What about any potentially pro-ready prospects who need signing (maybe Gaudreau, but I wouldn't do it this summer)? There's also the matter of re-signing the aforementioned Cervenka if he works out okay running the pivot for Iginla or the second line.

5. Maybe even the playoffs?

Haha I'm just kidding. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

Although actually, well, it's possible. At least given the shortened season. But only because anything at all is possible if you're only playing 48 games. Hell, the Wild would have been like the best team in the West through 48 games last season, so basically, y'know, yay randomness. Of course, another cold start would mean a top-10 pick for the Flames in the 2013 draft. How's that for optimism?

PS - Go America forever.

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#1 Ed Ward
January 03 2013, 12:27PM
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Couldn't agree with you more about how the short season will really benefit the Flames.

Ideally the best two possible outcomes for the Flames are to make the playoffs (who doesn't love the playoffs), or completely crap out and get a top 10 pick (I'll take Drouin please and thank you).

However, a realistic look at their talent shows that they are likely a 9-13th place team and the larger sample size of the 82 game season makes that much more likely to occur (see the last three seasons).

As you note, the 48 game season, on the other hand, could lead to some random variance that could make achieving the two above goals way more likely. Add that to the fact 2 compliance buy outs may be part of the new CBA (Bye-bye Stajan!) and this lockout is not all bad for the Flames.

PS. Careful about using the Wild as an example of how sample size works. You don't want to get Bryan "Don't call me Brian" Reynolds all fired up. He may start calling Iggy a second line bust.

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#2 Kent Wilson
January 03 2013, 12:30PM
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@Ed Ward

Im already on the Hockey Wilderness' public enemy list. In fact, it was my look at Dany Heatley (right after he was traded to the Wild) that probably set them against advanced stats.

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#3 Michael
January 03 2013, 12:45PM
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If you take management /owners at their words, they want Iggy to retire in a Flames uniform. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Flames being the ones to offer Iggy the $7 million per year 'golden retirement contract'. Don't think they should, and Iggy may opt not to stay, but Iggy may well be around a few more years. Whats one more bad contract to add to the list...

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#4 Kent Wilson
January 03 2013, 12:52PM
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@Michael

Yeah I think the Flames will opt to try to re-sign Iginla. The issue is if he decides to sign with a contender for another shot at a cup I think.

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#5 Ed Ward
January 03 2013, 12:56PM
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@Kent Wilson

I think they should use Hockey Wilderness' writing as a way to teach the concept of cognitive dissonance to psychology undergrads.

I like Dany Heatley

Advanced stats say Dany Heatley is overrated

Therefore advanced stats are stupid!

or my personal favourite....

I love the Wild!

Advanced stats say the Wild are not actually that good and will probably regress to the mean.

Wild regress to the mean.

Advanced stats are dumb and people who point out that advanced stats predicted that the Wild would suck are meanies.

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#6 Kevin R
January 03 2013, 12:59PM
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That's the beauty of a 48-50 game schedule, even if they add a few extra playoff spots in each conference, the starts are critical. Based on last year, the Oil would be a #1 seed with the Wild & Flames would be a lottery pick(which somewhat excites me). Then look at the last 3 years & the Flames are in big doo doo in a shortened season. In addition, how many have sprinted to Europe to play? Not too many. New coach with a very shortened training camp. That cant bode well for a team that historically likes to coast in the first 20 games. The big trades we all have been begging & pleading and hoping will happen may not be such a hard decision. Also teams that have a low cap but over achieve early & are playoff bound may give up lots for some rental players like Iggy & Kipper & even JBO if we take 1 year of salary back in the deal. Thinking about Rex & Mr. Chambers rebuild proposals, this shortened season will have teams caps at 70 mill but will drop for the 2013-14 season, so this may be the year to unload the salaries & parlay that cap space into gems from desperate teams next year.

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#7 Kent Wilson
January 03 2013, 01:08PM
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@Ed Ward

Haha, yeah. I happens at least once per season with a fanbase (the last big fight was with the Avs fans when COL pulled their Cinderella season), but I've never seen it this sustained or pronounced before. Particularly in the face of such overwhelming evidence.

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#8 Ed Ward
January 03 2013, 01:22PM
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@Kent Wilson

Evidence, schmedivence.

What does evidence really matter when it can't fit into your preconceived world view? Everybody knows that if you don't agree with conclusion that someone makes based on sound data you can just ignore it.

Speaking of regression toward the mean, I'm really hoping all the red flags around Nashville's 2011-2012 season (questionable underlying numbers plus unsustainable shooting percentages) combined with the loss of Suter and a schedule that may by heavy on divisional match ups leads to a down season in the Music City. I have a pretty significant bet I need to win with a buddy of mine.

Here's hoping in Nashville's case the small sample size of the 48 game season doesn't have much of an effect.

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#9 RexLibris
January 03 2013, 01:55PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Im already on the Hockey Wilderness' public enemy list. In fact, it was my look at Dany Heatley (right after he was traded to the Wild) that probably set them against advanced stats.

Have you taken any of this up with DSF? That'd be a conversation I'd pay to sit in on.

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#10 RexLibris
January 03 2013, 02:00PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Haha, yeah. I happens at least once per season with a fanbase (the last big fight was with the Avs fans when COL pulled their Cinderella season), but I've never seen it this sustained or pronounced before. Particularly in the face of such overwhelming evidence.

The Avalanche playoff season is a scenario that scares me a little. I'm concerned that an abbreviated season could mean an exceptional result for the Oilers in spite of their real roster holes, and create a sense of false confidence and expectations amongst management and the fan base.

Interesting that there is a split amongst the commenters here about whether a short season either favours or hinders the Flames. I tend towards the latter, based on age, rust and the record from previous seasons. But I can understand that it does create a greater opportunity for chance to impact the standings.

From where I stand, the worst thing that could happen to the Flames would be a playoff appearance. Wrong message to send to the management and likely very counterproductive in the long-term.

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#11 Kent Wilson
January 03 2013, 02:33PM
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@Ed Ward

Nashville is in line for a big time fall. Their results were all goaltender and SH% last year (including a league best PP that probably won't repeat).

Even if Rinne continues to be vry good, I can't imagine them continuing to enjoy some league best SH%. In addition, they are set to yield even more shots against now that Suter is out of town.

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#12 Baalzamon
January 03 2013, 02:39PM
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@RexLibris

"From where I stand, the worst thing that could happen to the Flames would be a playoff appearance. Wrong message to send to the management and likely very counterproductive in the long-term."

Just the idea makes me cringe. What would they do if that happened?

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#13 schevvy
January 03 2013, 02:56PM
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@RexLibris

I would not be so concerned if they snuck in and then got swept out in the 1st round. Management at that point should see that they're nowhere near elite status (which they should've seen a long time ago). My worry is if they go on a Phoenix-esque run and somehow pull out a couple series. Highly unlikely, but if it does happen I fear that then management goes out and tries to make moves for the immediate future, and trade some prospects/picks. But as a fan I want them to do well and make playoffs and win! Damnit this is a no-win scenario.

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#14 BurningSensation
January 03 2013, 05:41PM
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Oh no! We might make the playoffs! Dear God what if we win a round?!?!?

Cuz, you know, losing often and not making the playoffs is the real goal. Ask Edmontonians.

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#15 xis10ce
January 04 2013, 08:08AM
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Simmer down on the Canada Sucks and the USA is great stuff now. Checking the last 4 years of WJC (including this one) assuming USA gets 1st and Can 4th that puts each team on the following:

USA: 2013-1 2012-7 2011-3 2010-1 Can: 2013-4 2012-3 2011-2 2010-2

You sum that up: USA: 1+7+3+1 = 12 Can: 4+3+2+2 = 11

That being said I would prefer the two gold medals, but just saying, strickly speaking position-wise Canada hasn't done poorly.

And in this 4yr span you speak of there have been 6 games between Can-USA of which Can is 4W-2L despite not winning a gold.

And finally as we all know being stat type people at the nations 1 game series and go either way. On any day of the week the worst team can beat the best team. (01/07/2012 CBJ 1 @ LAK 0). By no means am I calling USA or Can - CBJ or LAK respectively but just goes to show what can happen in a one off situation. Realistically speaking Canada no longer "Owns hockey" like they did 40yrs ago, the rest of the world has caught up and it's very fair to say that between the two countries they are fairly evenly matched, so there's no need to poop all over Canada for one bad game (albeit a terrible one). And to call any round robin game "meaningless" is also sillyness. One of those "meaningless" games last year could have given the USA a shot at a medal potentially vs going into relegation games.

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#16 McRib
January 04 2013, 01:34PM
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After Gaudreau's emergence at the World Junior's and Baerchi's play in his first 19 AHL games you would think the total trade everything rebuild crap would be gone, nope apparently all the TSN Kool-Aid drinkers are still around. Brutal!!!

YOU DONT NEED THE FIRST OVERALL PICK TO REBUILD!!!!! YOU DONT NEED THREE FIRST ROUND PICKS EVERY YEAR TO REBUILD!!! Gaudreau blew away Yakupov in this year’s World Junior's!!! John Weisbrod has shown he is very capable of drafting talent, let him and lets be at least Competitive while he does.

Only the idiots at TSN agree with these people on here and the Flames, see nothing worth trading away two Hall of Famers for a few "more picks", except to get them talent on this team as quickly as possible. You can always replace a few more picks or prospects you cannot replace HOF like Iginla or Kipper.

Anaheim won the Stanley Cup with Teemu Selanne not without him!!!

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#17 McRib
January 04 2013, 01:53PM
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Its funny last summer everyone on here was saying it wiil be four or five years for Mark Jankowski to make the Flames. Then he goes straight to college instead, puts up decent points his first season, if he puts on some weight in the offseason lights it up with Providence next year, then he is with the Flames in less than two years.

The same can be said about Gaurdeau, because he was supposed to take four or five years and unless he is smoking serious BC dope, he isn't going back for a third season. Because he will have already won two national championships and The Hobey after scoring 60+ points.

In less than two years the Flames could have five/six top young players on their roster.... Would you rather have some veterans like Iginla showing them the ropes and to play with or have them running around like Edmonton has the last two years with no leaders and no guidance.

Sam Gangner's leadership has been great for Edmonton... I bet he's shown all the young guys where to party!! haha.

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#18 McRib
January 04 2013, 02:06PM
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@RexLibris

"From where I stand, the worst thing that could happen to the Flames would be a playoff appearance. Wrong message to send to the management and likely very counterproductive in the long-term."

Establishing a winnning culture in a program is counter productive...... Hahahahahahahah. John Weisbrod has young talent coming in faster than the Flames franchise has in decades, "so lets make sure that when they get to Calgary, we are pitiful and no one on the team knows what it takes to win"!!!

Case in point the Edmonton Oilers!!! Only a fan of the Oilers fiasco would think winning sucks. The Oilers culture of winning is so bleak, the Billionaire owner is unwilling to put up 100 Million for a new rink and secure the franchise. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid.

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#19 Vintage Flame
January 04 2013, 02:59PM
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Reading through McRib's comments, I have to agree with the last post.

I think it is a ludicrous notion to lose on purpose to gain a higher draft spot, it creates a culture that you just don't want or need in your dressing room. I tried to tank my last 4 games in Fantasy Football for a higher draft spot, but that is not the same thing in any way.

Weisbrod is just NOT wired that way, so it becomes a moot point immediately.

I also agree that, to a certain extent, the Oilers fans have gotten settled into that culture of losing. So much that they actually joke about it themselves now. [Don't even TRY to deny that Rex.]

This was my biggest relief when the Flames traded Bourque to Mtl. You could tell by the interviews of the other players, ie. Sarich, that this guy was a cancer in the dressing room.

That's just not something you want or again, need, in the dressing room when you have guys like Reinhart, Baertschi and Gaudreau coming up in the ranks.

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#20 Kevin R
January 04 2013, 07:02PM
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McRib wrote:

After Gaudreau's emergence at the World Junior's and Baerchi's play in his first 19 AHL games you would think the total trade everything rebuild crap would be gone, nope apparently all the TSN Kool-Aid drinkers are still around. Brutal!!!

YOU DONT NEED THE FIRST OVERALL PICK TO REBUILD!!!!! YOU DONT NEED THREE FIRST ROUND PICKS EVERY YEAR TO REBUILD!!! Gaudreau blew away Yakupov in this year’s World Junior's!!! John Weisbrod has shown he is very capable of drafting talent, let him and lets be at least Competitive while he does.

Only the idiots at TSN agree with these people on here and the Flames, see nothing worth trading away two Hall of Famers for a few "more picks", except to get them talent on this team as quickly as possible. You can always replace a few more picks or prospects you cannot replace HOF like Iginla or Kipper.

Anaheim won the Stanley Cup with Teemu Selanne not without him!!!

Give your freaking head a shake. Jerome Iginla & Mikka Kippersoff have been fabulous fan favorite players for Calgary Flames fans. They have given proud moments except winning us a Stanley Cup. Know what, I was a big Flames fan before Iggy & Kipper came to Calgary & I will be a big Flames fan after they finnish their careers. In return, Kipper & Iggy have made millions & millions of $$$$, more than I could ever dream to spend in my lifetime. The City has treated these players well back. But I want Calgary to win a Stanley Cup, these guys didnt do it. So keep drinking your Koolaid and keep worshipping Iggy & Kipper idols in your basement but dont tell me I'm foolish for wanting to better the future of my favorite team with these great players that may give us the chance to idolize our next future star Flames player. How do you think we got the likes of Iggy & Regehr. From what I remember, they were obtained from trading older fan favorite Flames players. Hasnt this lockout taught you anything, its about the money for the players & teams & about the Stanley Cup for the fans.

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#21 Steve
January 07 2013, 09:01AM
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@Kevin R

If Kipper and Iggy are 'irreplaceable', do the Flames fold in two years? These guys can't play forever. If Iginla doesn't get a kick in the ass out of the new coaching staff and having a bit more youthful exuberance in the lineup (read Baertschi), he is not a great player anymore. He's not a good example for the young players either, because he never goes all out. He can't be a first line guy. I don't think there's a guy in this system (outside Baertschi) that will be a first line guy in the next three years. I don't know Kipper personally, but I've heard he may retire after this year. I think it's obvious that these guys have to be replaceable, otherwise the franchise can't go on. This year's draft is the best place to find some replacements. Even just adding one first rounder would be huge. We have enough good prospects out of the last two drafts that we already have a decent base, it's just a matter of adding some top end talent, which will allow you to fill out your roster with quality free agents.

I don't think the Flames are that bad this year, but I can't see this roster that's played about half the man games of most other rosters (okay, I'm guessing) being competitive quickly enough to stay close.

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