Flames 2012-2013 Season Preview: Battling the Inevitable

Kent Wilson
January 08 2013 09:27AM

 

(This article was originally published in August. However, rather than just re-linking to it I think it makes sense simply to re-publish it now. It has been updated in places to reflect what has happened with some players in the interim)

Despite missing the playoffs in each of the prior two seasons, last year began with a glimmer of hope for Flames fans - the club went on to be one of the hottest teams in the league in the wake of Darryl Sutter's ouster in 2011-12. So although new GM Jay Feaster only made a few nominal changes to the line-up in the summer of 2012, the feeling was the organization would bloom now that it wasn't operating under the dour cloud of Sutter's baleful glare.

Unfortunately, the second half run in 2012 was mostly a mirage. The Flames were (and remain) a fundamentally flawed club who are good enough to compete for a playoff spot, but several steps behind the true contenders in the league. The current construction of the team also makes a real step forward in the near future unlikely; in fact, with an aging core and a lackluster collection of players in or near their prime, the Flames will probably continue to trend downwards.

The Forwards

The Calgary Flames face an interesting conundrum - the top end of their roster can't drive play at even strength anymore. Jarome Iginla is still a dangerous sniper in certain circumstances, but he has become a liability at even strength. The rest of the Flames top-six forwards features players of varying offensive quality, from Alex Tanguay to Mike Cammalleri, but none of them can win the possession battle on most nights. Last year, the only Flames forward who consistently faced top-6 opposition and didn't end up underwater in terms of corsi or scoring chances was sophomore MIkael Backlund. Unfortunately for both the player and the team, Backlund saw only 41 games due to several injuries and his percentages were awful when he was in the line-up (PDO = 94.8, personal SH% = 4.7%), so his offensive impact was limited.

As a result, the club labors under a sort of inverted pyramid, where the highest paid forwards who also play the guys who tend to spend a lot more time in the defensive end of the ice. For example, the Flames two biggest guns - Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla - were double digit negative corsi players last season.

On top of all that, the Flames suffered a swath of injuries to their bottom-end, including Backlund, David Moss, Lee Stempniak and Blair Jones. Their replacements were mostly untested rookies and fringe AHL quality forwards which further sunk Calgary's possession rates. By the end of the season, they finished with the fifth lowest Fenwick tied ratio in the entire league (47.15), only better than Montreal, Toronto, Nashville and Minnesota. Even Columbus, Edmonton and Anaheim finished with marginally better possession rates than the Flames.

Calgary's summer additions didn't do much to firm up this area of weakness. KHL sniper Roman Cervenka will be one of the rare forwards within spitting distance of peak form (26 years old), but is a completely untested commodity on North American ice. It's an open question whether he'll be a 50+ point center or a complete wash-out.

The Flames also signed former Red wing Jiri Hudler, whose career best 27 goal season was based on an unsustainable 19.7% personal shooting percentage, so he's doubtful to repeat that performance. Hudler has been an okay middle tier forward his entire career in Detroit, putting up respectable if unspectacular counting numbers in extremely cushy circumstances. Hudler's possession rates have never been impressive despite mostly facing other second and third liners and starting far more often in the offensive zone, so it's unlikely he'll be able to help the Flames move the puck north (unless he develops some two-way skill at 28 years old). Hudler also won't be playing with a player of Zetterberg's caliber (his frequent line mate last season), which is also likely to have a deleterious effect on his output.

Gone are Olli Jokinen (Calgary de facto "checking center" the last two years) and David Moss (one of the club's best possession forwards), both lost to free agency. Jokinen was marginal at best as a hard minutes option, but was still solid at putting up numbers at both even strength and on the power play. The team is hoping some combination of Cervenka and Hudler will replace his production, no doubt, although who will take his role as the tough match-up option is still in question.

The Flames are replete with soft minutes/PP type scorers: Iginla, Cammalleri, Tanguay, Cervenka, Hudler, Stempniak and (potentially) rookie Sven Baertschi are better served being deployed against a softer underbelly than other high-end players. The list of checking/two-way/Selke type guys on the Flames is much shorter - Mikael Backlund might turn into a Frans Nielsen type option if his percentages rebound and Curtis Glencross has been a high possession player in the past (albeit not last year). Erstwhile Lightning center Blair Jones could develop into a defensive specialist at center, although he's closer to replacement level at this point in his career. Waiver wire addition Blake Comeau had decent possession rates in a third line role last season, but he doesn't forecast to get much better than that.

In short, the Flames top-end up front is over 30-years old and can't quite carry the mail against other team's big guns. They have decent enough depth options, but almost nobody who can thrive in a tough minutes role. Jarome Iginla remains Calgary's primary weapon, but his steady decline into liability territory and the club's inability to effectively protect him means the Flames are again a good bet to spend more time in the defensive zone than anywhere else in the coming year. 

The Defense

 Like the forward corps, Calgary's back-end boasts precisely zero all around elite talents. Much maligned Jay Bouwmeester is a capable shut-down option, despite complaints about his physicality and compete level. Last year Bouwmeester faced some of the toughest minutes available with 25-year old Chris Butler as his frequent defense partner. The pairing didn't excel, but they weren't completely buried either. In fact, when they were on the ice with anyone but Jarome Iginla, they were almost even terms of possession and scoring chances.

Bouwmeetser will continue to draw criticism thanks to his big contract and below average offensive production, but the Flames don't have an adequate replacement in the pipeline. Although the off-season was thick with Jay Bouwmeester trade rumors, the truth is Calgary could only afford to trade the former Panther if they received another hard minute defender in return or if they decided to move him for picks and prospects and jump start a rebuild.

The rest of the blueline is solid, but not particularly above average. Freshly signed Dennis Wideman was added because of his decent offensive numbers and the fact that Calgary had one of the lowest scoring bluelines in the entire league last year. The 28-year old isn't particularly adept in his own end, however, and probably doesn't measurably improve the Flames back-end in terms of defensive prowess, even though his $5.25M contract runs through to 2016-17.

The formerly undrafted Mark Giordano had his first generally unimpressive season since jumping into the league as a regular. Giordano battled through a significant leg injury mid-season and was also saddled with a doddering Scott Hannan, a burden which proved to be overbearing: with Hannan, Giordano's corsi ratio was .454. Without him, it ballooned to .548. Hannan, in contrast, fell down to .434 absent Giordano.

The good news for the younger man and the Flames in general is Hannan was allowed to walk as a free agent, so Gio should be partnered with a superior option this season, be it Wideman or Butler.

On the bottom-end, Calgary has a host of options, including Derek Smith, TJ Brodie, Anton Babchuk and veteran Cory Sarich. Babchuk was an ill-considered signing from the previous summer, a pure PP specialist with a booming shot, lackluster hockey sense and slow feet. He could be a third pairing option for new coach Bob Hartley, although with Brodie primed to take a step forward after some big strides forward the last few years and Smith/Sarich ready to provide capable enough play at even strength, Babchuk is again unlikely to crack the roster on a nightly basis. In fact, he may end up staying in the KHL or being demoted to the farm.

Sarich was a curious re-signing by the team this off-season. Although he is still more or less functional in a bottom-pairing role, Sarich has battled chronic injury issues for several years and spent the last two seasons in and out of the line-up, either because he was in the infirmary or simply as a healthy scratch. Not the most mobile defender at the best of times, Sarich doesn't have much ability in the offensive zone and can struggle mightily at moving the puck or defending against anyone with above average speed.

While Sarich certainly brings a physical edge to a blueline somewhat lacking in size and aggressiveness, it's debatable whether the 34-year old will be able to adequately keep pace with the game over the course of his new two-year deal given his native abilities and penchant for getting hurt.

In Net

Against long odds, Miikka Kiprusoff had a bit of renaissance last season. His .921 overall SV% was the 9th best in the league and his best personal save rate since 2005-06 when he won the Vezina Trophy. Kiprusoff stopped 92.8% of the shots he faced at even strength, again one of the top save percentages in the NHL and a number he has only matched once in the last five years. Indeed, it's safe to say the only reason the Flames were in the playoff race by March was Kipper's top notch performance, particularly given how consistently the club was outshot.

Of course, that means the 36-year old is in line for some regression this year. Kiprusoff has bounced around the goaltending ranks in terms of save percentage since about 2006 - at times flirting with replacement level rates like in 2008-09 (.907 ES SV%) and again in 2010-11 (.916 ES SV%). Post 2006-07, Kiprusoff has more or less settled into a league average tender (around .920 ES SV%) albeit with wild swings between extremes.

On the bad end of things, that means Kiprusoff is on schedule to have a below average season, particularly if time and wear-and-tear start to catch up to him. Realistically, though, fans and management should expect him to finish a lot closer to his average ES SV% (.921) rather than the top-10 rate he managed in 2011-12. If that happens, the club should expect to give up another 13 goals at five-on-five assuming a similar work load for Kipper; bad news for a team that finished with a -24 goal differential.

As always, there are significant question marks surrounding the Flames back-up position. Henrik Karlsson's second turn as Kiprusoff's stand-in last year didn't go very well (.900 SV% and one win in nine starts) and by the end of the year the tall Swede had lost the coaching staff's confidence. He was eventually benched in favor of rookie Leland Irving, who had to be called up from the minors to shunt Karlsson to the sidelines.

Irving alternated between great and average performances during his time in the NHL, but nevertheless struggled to outplay free agent signing Danny Taylor in Abbotsford. Taylor was the Heat's established starter by the time the AHL playoffs rolled around, with Irving relegated to back-up duty. Perhaps as a result, RFA Irving suffered through an extended contract negotiation with the Flames this summer, finally settling on a one-year, two-way contract which signals neither the player nor the team is terribly certain about his future in the organization. 

Irving's stint in the AHL to start this season hasn't likely erased any of the club's doubts nor improved his stock. Both Barry Brust and the returning Taylor have managed superior records and save rates, bumping Irving to third in the rotation. He will have to a mighty awakening in training camp in order to seriously press for an NHL job.

With Karri Ramo spending one more season in the KHL and no other Flames prospect anywhere on the horizon, Irving will likely get a shot to prove he can be a worthwhile back-up at the NHL level in 2012-13. If he doesn't excel, however, there's a good chance he won't be retained by the Flames going forward.

Future Hope and Expectations

 

The best Calgary management and fans can hope for in the short term is for the team to run in place and remain a going concern in the 7-10 range in the West. Many of their key pieces are still functional, but are drawing paychecks for peaks that have come and gone. Their roster has a sizable hole in the middle of it in terms of age range - almost everyone on the club is either over 28 years old or under 23. Mikael Backlund (23) and Roman Cervenka (26) are the only two bodies up front who will play more than a supporting role and who are also in that sweet spot in their career arc.

The risk for the Flames is guys like Iginla and Kiprusoff taking a step backwards at 35+ years old. Jarome's play has already begun to tail off and the team has no one in the organization ready to take over for the sniper should he drop off completely or decide to flee to greener pastures once his contract expires at the end of the year. Calgary's uncertain net commodities behind Kiprusoff also means the team can't afford to see the previously unflappable Fin give in to the ravages of time. The Flames are in tough even if Kipper getsinjured or returns to average - if he struggles further, Calgary could be entering draft lotto territory and the chances of one of Irving or Karlsson stepping in and providing even league average netminding is slim.

There are a few reasons for optimism, however. Backlund and Comeau should be in line for rebounds given their below average PDO's of 94.8 and 97.4 respectively. Sophomore defender TJ Brodie has excelled in Abbotsford this year and may be ready to take a step forward into the team's top-4. Mike Cammalleri suffered injuries as a Flame and a dry patch in Montreal, but still remains a crafty offensive zone presence with a quick release, so he should put up better totals as well. Roman Cervenka's NHL equivalence coming from the KHL is about 51 points, so if he fulfills his promise the Czech born player will add much needed offense to the Flames top-6. Finally, Dennis Wideman and a Hannanless/healthy Mark Giordano should mean a better blueline for the Flames, particularly in terms of generating offense. 

That said, everything will have to fall in place for Calgary to realistically battle for a playoff spot this coming season. Without at least modest puck luck, consistent performances from every key player, a big uptick in possession stats and at least one or two surprise seasons from other guys, Calgary will be in line for a 10th place or lower finish. Some may hope that new coach Bob Hartley will be able to squeeze more out of the roster than the deposed Brent Sutter, but that remains to be seen.

In the far flung future, the Flames might have a bit more to look forward to. Former 13th overall pick Sven Baertschi tore the cover off the ball in the WHL last year, averaging a CHL high 2.0 PPG pace over the regular season. He turns 20 in October and is poised to make the Flames out of camp. While he probably isn't ready to make a truly significant contribution at the NHL level quite yet, Baertschi is the organization's first blue chip forward prospect in recent memory and represents the organization's best chance to finally pick and develop a homegrown star.

In addition, youngsters Johnny Gaudreau and Max Reinhart could be decent NHLers a few years down the road. The former was picked in the 4th round in 2012 owing to his small stature (5'7", 150 pounds), but nevertheless went on to score at a PPG pace as a freshman for Boston College and capture numerous awards, including the "Bill Flynn" trophy as Hockey East's most valuable player. This year, Gaudreau is leading BC in scoring, is a Hobey baker finalist and recently helped the US capture gold at the World junior championships. Although there will always be questions because of his size, Gaudreau's results as an 18-19 year old in College are difficult to ignore.

Reinhart is a former 3rd rounder who doesn't have quite the offensive credentials of either Baertschi or Gaudreau. The eldest son of former Flame Paul Reinhart is nevertheless highly regarded in the Flames organization for his high hockey IQ and ability to contribute in all areas of the ice. It's unlikely he will jump directly into the big league like Baertschi, but he is expected to be an impact centerman for the team somewhere down the road. He has struggled to put up points in Abbotsford during his rookie season thus far (5 in 33 games), but Troy Ward is already deploying the 20 year old in a defense-first, tough minutes role.

Outlook

After three years out of the playoffs, the Flames are nevertheless a team who will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a rebuild. The point at which management has no choice but to start selling hope in Edmontonian fashion could come this year as the key players age and the gap between the top end of the roster and the Flames next generation widens. The club possesses zero all around elite talents anywhere in the line-up, the vast majority of their money players is more likely to decline rather than improve and they boast the third most expensive roster in the league.

With a majority of the West's playoff spots spoken for (LAK, DET, VAN, SJS, STL, CHI) and their NW rivals in Minnesota, Edmonton and Colorado in line to improve this coming year, the Flames will have to roll a lot of 7's to make a go of things in the short term. 

If Calgary once again fails to make the post-season, hard questions about the futures of key cogs like Iginla, Kiprusoff and Bouwmeester will have to be faced. With four years of expensive payrolls and limited success, "status quo" will become an untenable strategy, both on the ice and at the ticket office.

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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 icedawg_42
January 08 2013, 09:57AM
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you make it sound so rosy ;)

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#2 mcculb
January 08 2013, 10:11AM
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Great prespective on the team Kent. Management will keep playing the expensive older roster card and end up "kicking and screaming" about starting the rebuild we all know we need now. It is frustrating. Get ready for the same old same old, or hopefully worse to drive change sooner.

I am excited about the future once the new talent develops and more is hopefully put into the cupboard. The old contracts are going away. I just hope we have seen the end of signings like the Wideman deal. We need to be smarter than that going forward.

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#3 mattyc
January 08 2013, 10:12AM
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I'm not so sure the Wings have a playoff seed booked. Their D is pretty shallow now that Lidstrom is retired.

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#6 the-wolf
January 08 2013, 10:41AM
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- Kipper to regress slightly.

- Top players another year older.

- Very few players played elsewhere during lockout.

- Our best possession players gone.

- No cushy middle season to take advantage of. The shortened season will mean the teams that pick it up a notch or two in the last two months of the season will be playing that hard for most of the shortened season.

No playoffs and I stand by my assertion that the end of this season will be the tumble off over the edge of the cliff.

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#7 icedawg_42
January 08 2013, 10:48AM
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the-wolf wrote:

- Kipper to regress slightly.

- Top players another year older.

- Very few players played elsewhere during lockout.

- Our best possession players gone.

- No cushy middle season to take advantage of. The shortened season will mean the teams that pick it up a notch or two in the last two months of the season will be playing that hard for most of the shortened season.

No playoffs and I stand by my assertion that the end of this season will be the tumble off over the edge of the cliff.

Yup - with every team going for it..this should expose this roster for what it really is.

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#8 the-wolf
January 08 2013, 10:50AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

True. That said, they have two of the best all around forwards in the game still on their roster, which still goes a long way.

If you look at Detroit, SJ and Vancouver as all being too old (stars are in their 30's) it sure looks good for either LA or St Louis to go all the way this year from the West and the Pens, Flyers or maybe NYR from the East.

Which is what I find so amusing. If the window has closed on the Canucks and Wings, what the heck is ownership and management thinking about?

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#9 the-wolf
January 08 2013, 10:50AM
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* Calgary management* that is

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#10 beloch
January 08 2013, 10:53AM
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The Flames have enough wildcards in their hand that they really could surprise and make it into the playoffs, which is what I've traditionally hoped for the last few seasons.


-Maybe Cervenka's secret training sessions with Chuck Norris will be allow him to score goals by sheer animal charisma alone.
-Maybe Baertschi's mojo will explode all over his hapless opponents immediately.
-Maybe Cammalleri's scaled up his workouts and is tossing around tires from the Cat 797 heavy haulers they use up in Fort Mac instead of those piddly little tractor tires!
-Maybe Kipper's been sleeping in an oxygen tank and his best has yet to come.
-Maybe Foothills will be able to close down the wing they have dedicated to injured Flames players this year!
-Maybe Iginla was just foolin' these last few years to lull the Flames' opponents into a false sense of security, and he really is the same ol' Iggy waiting for his chance to strike!

Yeah. All of that happening is pretty unlikely. I'm converting to the rebuild camp this year.

My hope is that, for this *one* season alone, the Flames will be clearly out of playoff contention by the trade-deadline. That will allow Feaster to make the moves he needs to make in order to get the rebuild done.


1. Einstein's definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results. It's time we got sane.
2. There's a good draft this year, so it's a good year to pick high.
3. Veterans sell best at the trade deadline, and if Iggy can't bear to leave town permanently, he could at least bring some return as a rental for the playoffs and then resign with Calgary next season.
4. It's a short season. Let's rip the bandaid off damnit!

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#11 Smitty
January 08 2013, 11:04AM
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I got into a conversation this winter with my cousin in regards to the Red Sox. While the Blue Jays are making a push to make the playoffs NOW, it appears as though the Red Sox are looking at a rebuild. As a Red Sox fan, I can accept missing the playoffs for a few years if it means that there are good things on the horizon.

My problem is; as a Flames fan, I've watched the team repeatedly miss the playoffs but not because we're rebuilding but because management seems happy with the status quo. The few acquisitions we made in the off-season don't fill me with a lot of confidence. There are some decent names but as you mentioned, Kent, there's still a lot of places where we seem to be lacking.

Now, that being said; I'm not going to start rooting for a last place finish to try and get a first over all pick like the Oilers fans did. I'd rather make a push for the playoffs. At some point, however, we need to make a decision: are we going to get the big players in their prime that we really need or are we going to firesale and start from scratch? I don't care which we do, I just want to see something happen. If we started a rebuild around some of our young prospects, I'd be okay with missing the playoffs while we rebuilt - at least it would be leading to something better, in theory...

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#12 negrilcowboy
January 08 2013, 11:50AM
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wow. i was optimistic until the reality of a new cba and season sunk in. blow the thing up now jaybuff. the torrid pace of the sprint to stanley is beginning to look downright scary. ship iglatowski south for some much needed youth. also, whats the over under on yapapov actually passing the puck to a linemate this season?

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#13 @Gingras34
January 08 2013, 11:55AM
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Should have signed Semin.

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#14 Walter Sobchak
January 08 2013, 11:56AM
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The Flames are in a tough way now. With the new lottery system the Flames are not even guaranteed a top five lottery position, which is where they will most likely finish.

What's worse, is that a team like Edmonton who has had the last 3 first round picks and could challenge for a payoff spot this year, may still pick ahead of the Flames.

The Flames need as many picks in a very good draft as they can get. I can't see how the Flames (Feaster) isnt forced into a re-build now? Only problem is its two years to late.

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#15 Kevin R
January 08 2013, 12:06PM
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Ahhhh reality sometimes needs to be ingested with a good bottle of wine or very old scotch. It was just a little early in the morning for this to happen. But in reality, is trading Iggy really a blow it up scenario. Is trading JBO & Iggy a real blow it up scenario? Something tells me Kipper wont be moved, he's still a winner & still a highly regarded bonafide NHL netminder & until someone (Ramo?)shows they can provide the team with consistent NHL calibre netminding. I am sure Feaster will be more careful if he's learnt anything from his Tampa days. So back to Iggy & JBO. We jettison almost 14mill of salary, we get as much as possible in picks(1st's) & prospects. I personally dont see this as a tear it down rebuild. I see it as Cap management & youth movement. I do predict one thing, if by end of Feb Flames are like 4-5 games under .500 Kents picture will be a rebuild snowball rolling downhill with many Flames fans jumping on.

I would love to see great things, fun hockey, playoff fun out of our group, but the logic doesnt give this much of a probable scenario. The other thing you missed Kent is the impact of a shortened training camp & new coach. I wouldnt discount that factor any as well.

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#16 Kurt
January 08 2013, 12:14PM
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For 2 years I've been talking about blowing it all up and starting to properly get this thing on the rails. Most people on this site blasted me and said no thanks to an Edmonton style rebuild although I wasn't suggesting suckery of that magnitude, just smart moves. Iggy should have been traded Feb 2011 or at worst last trade deadline.

Instead fans (and Feaster) insisted on hanging onto a faint hope and stamping our feet proclaiming we will never suck like the Oilers. Now its 2 years later, we are older, slower and are hoping to "roll a lot of 7s" and squeek in the playoffs.

Sure it sucks to rebuild, but if we had started 2 years ago we would be 2 years in and maybe already on the upswing. Instead we are just starting and have some ugly years ahead.

The positive is this short season is that its easier to cheer for a tank job. Instead of having to cheer for loses for a full season we really only have to tank until March or so. If we are 10+ points out of the playoffs come March 1 then we can FINALLY sell of the chaff, properly rebuild this thing and just pray that we don't get screwed by the new draft lottery system. I still believe you can only drop 1 spot, so as long as we get 29-30th we'll get a top 3 pick.

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#17 Charleston Kingsley
January 08 2013, 12:38PM
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I'm interested to see how Bob Hartley changes the dynamic of the team, for one it will be more offensive and puck-moving. Brent Sutter's system benefited players such as Glencross or Jokinen but it obviously also brought cons to certain players games, roles that a certain player shouldn't have an obvious example being Jay Bouwmeester playing shutdown defence.

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#18 SmellOfVictory
January 08 2013, 01:36PM
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mattyc wrote:

I'm not so sure the Wings have a playoff seed booked. Their D is pretty shallow now that Lidstrom is retired.

Lidstrom and Stuart both gone. Holmstrom's absence, uh, will make their PP potentailly worse, as well. It really depends on the newcomers. Thing with Detroit is their kids ripen so long on the vine that it's entirely possible that the absence of a couple of top-4 dmen and a forward or two may be substantially offset by the additions of guys like Smith and Nyquist.

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#19 RexLibris
January 08 2013, 01:48PM
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The best thing for the Flames would be to rebuild their entire roster.

Glencross, Cammalleri, Giordano, Iginla, Bouwmeester, Kiprusoff, and a few other pieces could all fetch the team a great many draft picks, and not all necessarily from a single year. Were the team to load up on picks to a maximum of 10 in 2013 and 2014, they could add considerable depth to their system and the drop in manpower and quality would ensure a significant improvement in draft position. By varying the picks between CHL, NCAA and European players you can also space out the necessity of signing all of those prospects as they enter the Flames system and thereby avoid another Erixon signing crunch.

They could have done it last year. They should have done it last year.

I don't think the Flames are necessarily a bad enough team to drop down to the bottom five in the league this year. I also think that they could get a playoff position depending on the play of some other conference teams (San Jose, for example, could be due for a significant decline).

What I do believe is that the can has been kicked so far down the road that the collapse will acutally be pretty dramatic. I suspect that once it happens there will be quite a few people asking the question "how could it have gotten so bad"? To which regular readers of this site will likely have an answer.

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#20 RexLibris
January 08 2013, 01:50PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

Lidstrom and Stuart both gone. Holmstrom's absence, uh, will make their PP potentailly worse, as well. It really depends on the newcomers. Thing with Detroit is their kids ripen so long on the vine that it's entirely possible that the absence of a couple of top-4 dmen and a forward or two may be substantially offset by the additions of guys like Smith and Nyquist.

So let's imagine for a minute that the Red Wings miss the playoffs by a single point.

Then let us imagine that they win the draft lottery and take McKinnon.

How would the world of hockey fans react to that scenario?

Probably with slightly less vitriol than if the Oilers finished 10th in the West and won the lottery, but still...

;-)

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#21 kurt
January 08 2013, 02:02PM
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RexLibris wrote:

The best thing for the Flames would be to rebuild their entire roster.

Glencross, Cammalleri, Giordano, Iginla, Bouwmeester, Kiprusoff, and a few other pieces could all fetch the team a great many draft picks, and not all necessarily from a single year. Were the team to load up on picks to a maximum of 10 in 2013 and 2014, they could add considerable depth to their system and the drop in manpower and quality would ensure a significant improvement in draft position. By varying the picks between CHL, NCAA and European players you can also space out the necessity of signing all of those prospects as they enter the Flames system and thereby avoid another Erixon signing crunch.

They could have done it last year. They should have done it last year.

I don't think the Flames are necessarily a bad enough team to drop down to the bottom five in the league this year. I also think that they could get a playoff position depending on the play of some other conference teams (San Jose, for example, could be due for a significant decline).

What I do believe is that the can has been kicked so far down the road that the collapse will acutally be pretty dramatic. I suspect that once it happens there will be quite a few people asking the question "how could it have gotten so bad"? To which regular readers of this site will likely have an answer.

^^^ THIS***

Key point : They could have done it last year. They should have done it last year.

But thats the past. SELL Glencross, Cammalleri, Giordano, Iginla, Bouwmeester, Kiprusoff NOW!

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#22 T&A4Flames
January 08 2013, 02:04PM
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RexLibris wrote:

The best thing for the Flames would be to rebuild their entire roster.

Glencross, Cammalleri, Giordano, Iginla, Bouwmeester, Kiprusoff, and a few other pieces could all fetch the team a great many draft picks, and not all necessarily from a single year. Were the team to load up on picks to a maximum of 10 in 2013 and 2014, they could add considerable depth to their system and the drop in manpower and quality would ensure a significant improvement in draft position. By varying the picks between CHL, NCAA and European players you can also space out the necessity of signing all of those prospects as they enter the Flames system and thereby avoid another Erixon signing crunch.

They could have done it last year. They should have done it last year.

I don't think the Flames are necessarily a bad enough team to drop down to the bottom five in the league this year. I also think that they could get a playoff position depending on the play of some other conference teams (San Jose, for example, could be due for a significant decline).

What I do believe is that the can has been kicked so far down the road that the collapse will acutally be pretty dramatic. I suspect that once it happens there will be quite a few people asking the question "how could it have gotten so bad"? To which regular readers of this site will likely have an answer.

I wouldn't be shocked to hear that they wanted to do this last year. The unfortunate part is that a lot of the players that coulda/shoulda/woulda been traded were injured; Sarich, Hannan, Jokinen, Moss, Stempniak..... That's where I think we were really hurt.

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#23 RexLibris
January 08 2013, 02:28PM
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@T&A4Flames

I remember laughing when Stempniak got injured. He was an easy 2nd round pick at the deadline and they really couldn't move him. Or wouldn't.

I think that Feaster thought that the lineup, healthy, was enough to get into at least 8th place.

~and as we all know, the team that got into 8th place won the cup, therefore, logically it stands to reason that had the Flames gotten that playoff spot, they would have won the cup!~

They could have moved Jokinen for a delayed 2013 pick, Stempniak for a 3rd rounder, Moss for the same or even less, Sarich and Hannan maybe only a 6th round pick each, but you can't draft when you don't have the picks.

Missed opportunites should be the mantra for the Flames from 2003 to 2013.

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#24 T&A4Flames
January 08 2013, 02:32PM
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Hey everyone, go to this link to vote up our boy Johnny "hockey" Gaudreau for the Hobey Baker award. http://www.hobeybakeraward.com/page/show/715460-vote-for-hobey-2013-phase-i

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#25 backburner
January 08 2013, 02:36PM
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I think at the very least... Gelinas back in town has to be good Karma...

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#26 DangleSnipeCelly
January 08 2013, 02:40PM
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How far into the season do you think we go before it's decision time? I say ten games into the season we get our answer... if the Flames fall off the pace then Feaster has to start unloading.

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#27 mikeH
January 08 2013, 02:41PM
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@KW

With the shortened season, do you expect to have sample size related outliers? I haven't looked at numbers, but examples would be the Wild's early season run or the Flames slow start last season.

It just looks ripe for someone to ride their luck into the playoffs, but maybe 48 games is enough to even things out. I guess if it happens we can always just hope that it's Calgary.

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#28 Kurt
January 08 2013, 02:47PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

I wouldn't be shocked to hear that they wanted to do this last year. The unfortunate part is that a lot of the players that coulda/shoulda/woulda been traded were injured; Sarich, Hannan, Jokinen, Moss, Stempniak..... That's where I think we were really hurt.

This comment was/is the exactly problem... People seem to be giving into the idea of rebuilding, but still talk about a half a&&ed rebuild. Trading Sarich, Joker, Moss, Stepniak isn't getting you a rebuild. You can't trade away the players you don't want. Why would anyone else want them, or be willing to give anything of value? Basically if we don't mind losing a player, you can rest assured that he won't fetch much. Fans always value their own players higher. I'm not even sure trading Iggy/Kipper would get us anything near to what we need.... But the names listed above are spare parts to most contending teams.

The other problem is that contending teams are the ones who are willing to trade high draft picks or young prospects as they make a push for the cup. These contending teams 1st rounders are usually way down at the end of the draft (although maybe we could find another high school hockey gem). So we'll never get an elite player by trading for draft picks, unless we fluke it off (see Jordan Eberle... damn Oilers). Nobody trades top 5 picks which is what we NEED. Not more middling late round picks.

We should have traded Iggy and Kipper last year for as many 1st and 2nd rounders as they'd fetch. They likely would have been low 1st rounder picks, but losing those 2 guys could have helped secure a top 5 pick by finishing 25th or lower. Its the only way. Until we accept that, we'll perpetually suck.

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#29 sincity1976
January 08 2013, 02:48PM
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Bodog has us at 50/1 to win the cup. The only team with worse odds are the Islander's and the Blue Jackets. That is sad.

I don't understand how every media outlet, blogging site, odds maker, hockey magazine, hockey fan outside of Calgary, and reasonable hockey fan in Calgary can recognize the dire position the Flames are in but the Flame hockey management cannot.

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#30 T&A4Flames
January 08 2013, 03:19PM
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Kurt wrote:

This comment was/is the exactly problem... People seem to be giving into the idea of rebuilding, but still talk about a half a&&ed rebuild. Trading Sarich, Joker, Moss, Stepniak isn't getting you a rebuild. You can't trade away the players you don't want. Why would anyone else want them, or be willing to give anything of value? Basically if we don't mind losing a player, you can rest assured that he won't fetch much. Fans always value their own players higher. I'm not even sure trading Iggy/Kipper would get us anything near to what we need.... But the names listed above are spare parts to most contending teams.

The other problem is that contending teams are the ones who are willing to trade high draft picks or young prospects as they make a push for the cup. These contending teams 1st rounders are usually way down at the end of the draft (although maybe we could find another high school hockey gem). So we'll never get an elite player by trading for draft picks, unless we fluke it off (see Jordan Eberle... damn Oilers). Nobody trades top 5 picks which is what we NEED. Not more middling late round picks.

We should have traded Iggy and Kipper last year for as many 1st and 2nd rounders as they'd fetch. They likely would have been low 1st rounder picks, but losing those 2 guys could have helped secure a top 5 pick by finishing 25th or lower. Its the only way. Until we accept that, we'll perpetually suck.

I didn't say these guys were going to garner 1st round picks. Neither was I suggesting that they would be the start of a total rebuild. However, they are depth guys that help win championships. Remember that Gaustad brought in a 1st for BUF. Any of these guys could of brought in a 2nd or 3rd from a desperate club. From there, maybe you can bundle a few to get a late 1st pick. As it was said earlier, you don't have the chance to pick a diamond in the rough if you don't have the picks.

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#31 Kurt
January 08 2013, 03:22PM
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mikeH wrote:

@KW

With the shortened season, do you expect to have sample size related outliers? I haven't looked at numbers, but examples would be the Wild's early season run or the Flames slow start last season.

It just looks ripe for someone to ride their luck into the playoffs, but maybe 48 games is enough to even things out. I guess if it happens we can always just hope that it's Calgary.

Oh boy.... Luck into the playoffs, thats the last thing we need.....

1 last post, I'm almost done ranting.... Lets imagine a dream world where Feaster wasn't a stubborn fool. Here is the scenario.... These are pure false made up on the spot trades. i don't even know if these players existed at the time, but it makes my point:

2011 we traded Iggy for Jonathan Blum & Nashville's 2011 1st rounder.

2011 we traded Kipper for Van Riemsdyke & Philly's 2nd rounder in 2011

2011 we traded JBo for Bernier & LAs 2nd rounder in 2011

2011 we tanked and got down to 24th. Since we unloaded at the deadline we wouldn't have enough time to tank further. But we secure 7th overall.

2012 we did nothing but suck. Finished 27th, got 3rd overall.

***

Ok so thats 2 years of pain, which looking back really aren't that much worse than we endured. But lets look at the end result if this dream world had happened. We'd be starting today with:

LESS - Iggy - Kipper - JBo - Baertschi (cause we would have got a higher pick)

ADD + Mark Schiefle (2011 7th overall) + Another late 2011 1st rounder from Nashville trade + Another 2nd rounder from Philly trade + Another 2nd rounder from LA trade + Jonathan Blum + Bernier + James Van Reimsdyk + Alex Galchenyuk (2012 3rd overall)

Of course this is pure dream fiction and all those trades are probably impossible. But my point is that we SHOULD have unloaded 2 years ago. If we had, the last 2 years would have sucked pretty much about the same as they did, the only difference is that we'd be excited today not talking about 50:1 odds and blowing things up and starting from scratch.

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#32 Bean-counting cowboy
January 08 2013, 04:00PM
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I love my Flames but am tiring of watching perpetual mediocrity. Each season of the same brings less and less excitement for me. WAKE UP ownership. A good chunk of your fanbase is languishing and the rest will be soon.

I kept waiting for the lockout to be over but now that it is, I thought I would be more excited but am reminded what I will be watching (or maybe I won't) here in the next little bit.

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#33 Kevin R
January 08 2013, 04:03PM
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@Kurt

I see where you were going & wouldnt debate the scenarios, in fact, if we acted when we should have(after the Phaneuf fiasco) we may have had even better returns.

Problem is Feaster's boss is Ken King & that man does not like to lose. Hence, I very much doubt Feaster would have had upper management on side to go this route. In fact, Feaster has done exactly what any normal person would to keep his job. I just wish Iggy would just come out & say I love Calgary but I want to win a cup & not interested in a big rebuild. Once Iggy moves on, if that is his wish, then the way is paved for Feaster to rebuild. Again, I dont see him trading Kipper this year. We may get top 8 picks the next few years but breaking in kids like Brodie/Sven, there needs to be some team success or you get stuck like the Oilers where they have phenomenal talent but no team success will result in a lack of winning swagger at the NHL level. That gets you 3 1st overalls in a row. Kipper will give the kids a chance when we should have been blown out of games. If there is a goalie laid back enough to do that, it's Kipper. In fact, I think he may be resigned before Iggy will. We have good goalie prospects coming but they are 2-3 years away from getting a sniff, unless Ramo turns out to be the real deal & having Kipper with him for 1 or 2 years certainly couldnt hurt. Rebuild or not.

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#35 T&A4Flames
January 08 2013, 04:25PM
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Kurt wrote:

Oh boy.... Luck into the playoffs, thats the last thing we need.....

1 last post, I'm almost done ranting.... Lets imagine a dream world where Feaster wasn't a stubborn fool. Here is the scenario.... These are pure false made up on the spot trades. i don't even know if these players existed at the time, but it makes my point:

2011 we traded Iggy for Jonathan Blum & Nashville's 2011 1st rounder.

2011 we traded Kipper for Van Riemsdyke & Philly's 2nd rounder in 2011

2011 we traded JBo for Bernier & LAs 2nd rounder in 2011

2011 we tanked and got down to 24th. Since we unloaded at the deadline we wouldn't have enough time to tank further. But we secure 7th overall.

2012 we did nothing but suck. Finished 27th, got 3rd overall.

***

Ok so thats 2 years of pain, which looking back really aren't that much worse than we endured. But lets look at the end result if this dream world had happened. We'd be starting today with:

LESS - Iggy - Kipper - JBo - Baertschi (cause we would have got a higher pick)

ADD + Mark Schiefle (2011 7th overall) + Another late 2011 1st rounder from Nashville trade + Another 2nd rounder from Philly trade + Another 2nd rounder from LA trade + Jonathan Blum + Bernier + James Van Reimsdyk + Alex Galchenyuk (2012 3rd overall)

Of course this is pure dream fiction and all those trades are probably impossible. But my point is that we SHOULD have unloaded 2 years ago. If we had, the last 2 years would have sucked pretty much about the same as they did, the only difference is that we'd be excited today not talking about 50:1 odds and blowing things up and starting from scratch.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda......... you're living in the past. No GM has the ability to look into the future and even if we made those trades, there is no gaurantee that we draft and develop those players. Feaster/Sutter rolled the dice and came out snake eyes. What do we do now is what's important.

Bean-counting cowboy, I here ya'. I think I'm more excited about yet another possible trade deadline that gets us a kick start into the future. Please, Jarome, ask to go somewhere for a cup opportunity. I'm sure all Flames fans and especially Iggy fans want to see that. You deserve it. Feaster, don't f*&^* it up!!!

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#37 T&A4Flames
January 08 2013, 04:38PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

We'll be doing a power ranking at NHLNumbers as well. It'll be an aggregated score across all the stats guys there. First guy to rank the teams had the Flames...30th. And he's not a Canucks or Oilers fan :(.

Awesome!!!

So, we win 1st overall, MacKinnon or Jones or do we trade down to 3rd or 4th overall and take Drouin & .....?

By the way, that Awesome!!! was sarcasm.

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#38 the-wolf
January 08 2013, 04:45PM
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@RexLibris

"~and as we all know, the team that got into 8th place won the cup, therefore, logically it stands to reason that had the Flames gotten that playoff spot, they would have won the cup!~" RexLibris

You jest, but this is the exact guiding principle in team strategy that the club has been using for years.

2004 was one of the best/worst things to happen to the club.

Team was never truly elite, but fooled themselves into thinking they were for a decade after.

YG era still has them scared and that's the bottom line: too chicken to do a rebuild.

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#39 Kurt
January 08 2013, 04:45PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Coulda, shoulda, woulda......... you're living in the past. No GM has the ability to look into the future and even if we made those trades, there is no gaurantee that we draft and develop those players. Feaster/Sutter rolled the dice and came out snake eyes. What do we do now is what's important.

Bean-counting cowboy, I here ya'. I think I'm more excited about yet another possible trade deadline that gets us a kick start into the future. Please, Jarome, ask to go somewhere for a cup opportunity. I'm sure all Flames fans and especially Iggy fans want to see that. You deserve it. Feaster, don't f*&^* it up!!!

I completely agree, there is no point at looking back in the past. As you put it, we shoulda/coulda/woulda done it 2 years ago. Then right now we'd be happier.

What is relevant is that Feaster should do it NOW so that in 2 years I'm not writing the same comment. Hanging on hoping for a diamond in the rough draft pick or miracle 8th spot finish is just kicking the can down the road, which the Flames seem pretty good at.

Iggy should politely ask for a trade to a contending team. He deserves it, and it'll help us if he forced mgmts hand by asking to get out. I'm actually really disappointed in his comments about wanting to stay in Calgary after this year. I understand that's the honourable thing to say and all that. But if he really means it, that sucks. He can't be that blind to see he has virtually zero chance of winning a cup if he stays. Most players his age would want nothing to do with a rebuild or a bottom feeder team. To me that shows he is comfortable raising his family, collecting his huge pay check and is generally happy to ride off into the sunset without ever winning anything. Sad on so many levels.

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#40 the-wolf
January 08 2013, 04:47PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Coulda, shoulda, woulda......... you're living in the past. No GM has the ability to look into the future and even if we made those trades, there is no gaurantee that we draft and develop those players. Feaster/Sutter rolled the dice and came out snake eyes. What do we do now is what's important.

Bean-counting cowboy, I here ya'. I think I'm more excited about yet another possible trade deadline that gets us a kick start into the future. Please, Jarome, ask to go somewhere for a cup opportunity. I'm sure all Flames fans and especially Iggy fans want to see that. You deserve it. Feaster, don't f*&^* it up!!!

The important thing to note there is that the vast majority of unbiased observers told the team they would roll snake eyes before they even picked up the dice.

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#41 T&A4Flames
January 08 2013, 04:51PM
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Kurt wrote:

I completely agree, there is no point at looking back in the past. As you put it, we shoulda/coulda/woulda done it 2 years ago. Then right now we'd be happier.

What is relevant is that Feaster should do it NOW so that in 2 years I'm not writing the same comment. Hanging on hoping for a diamond in the rough draft pick or miracle 8th spot finish is just kicking the can down the road, which the Flames seem pretty good at.

Iggy should politely ask for a trade to a contending team. He deserves it, and it'll help us if he forced mgmts hand by asking to get out. I'm actually really disappointed in his comments about wanting to stay in Calgary after this year. I understand that's the honourable thing to say and all that. But if he really means it, that sucks. He can't be that blind to see he has virtually zero chance of winning a cup if he stays. Most players his age would want nothing to do with a rebuild or a bottom feeder team. To me that shows he is comfortable raising his family, collecting his huge pay check and is generally happy to ride off into the sunset without ever winning anything. Sad on so many levels.

Amen brotha'!!

Iggy has to say those things. I'm sure his family has already decided what to do 'if' the Flames are out by the deadline. And hopefully that is to go get a cup.

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#42 RKD
January 08 2013, 05:05PM
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I think the Flames making the playoffs is a toss-up, Hartley is a different coach than Brent Sutter.

Hopefully, Jarome and the other offensive players on this team are given much higher offensive zone starts with sheltered minutes against soft competition.

Jarome shouldn't be taking face-offs and I'm leery about Cammy being the #1 center but it could work.

The reality is that the team is more likely to get worse before they can get better. Wideman is a big improvement over Butler. They are two different types of players, but anyone and I mean anyone would take Wideman in their top 2 over Chris Butler any day of the week. The Butler-Jay-Bo pairing was really soft. Hudler is a big upgrade on David Moss, Moss was a big body in front of the net and has strong possession numbers but had too many injuries.

They didn't really replace Jokinen because Cervenka is unproven, Baertschi is still cutting his teeth and Backlund is a work in progress. One thing I didn't see mentioned was the fact the Flames lost 382 man games to injury. If this team is healthy, they would have a better shot to make the post-season. I remember a part of the season where Blake Comeau and Krys Kolanos were playing on the 2nd line due to injuries. Those two guys had no business being there, but that speaks volumes to how poor the depth of the organization is.

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#43 SmellOfVictory
January 08 2013, 05:53PM
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Why shouldn't Iginla take faceoffs? He's possibly the best faceoff guy on the team. If they're going to have a top line of him and two terrible faceoff guys, he should take the lion's share of the faceoffs and then switch out to his wing once the faceoff is complete.

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#44 Baalzamon
January 08 2013, 07:02PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

Why shouldn't Iginla take faceoffs? He's possibly the best faceoff guy on the team. If they're going to have a top line of him and two terrible faceoff guys, he should take the lion's share of the faceoffs and then switch out to his wing once the faceoff is complete.

that's pretty much what they do anyway. In the offensive zone, at any rate.

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#45 Dave
January 08 2013, 07:12PM
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Now that 14 teams have the chance to draft first overall i doubt teams will be as willing to trade those pics. The flames may have already lost there chance to collect first round picks.

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#46 Alt
January 08 2013, 07:37PM
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IMO Management is well aware of the potential or lack thereof of this team,and have a plan in hand that will be prolonged as long as possible.The organization has so few prospects in the minors,and that is what is holding them back.If we had 4or5 solid prospects that were one to two years away they probably would pull the trigger and start a rebuid ,with the hope that they could climb back into the mix within 2 years.If they pull the trigger now we will be 5 to 6 years away of having a competitive team.Crappy drafting has really hurt us

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#47 Alt
January 08 2013, 07:55PM
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@RexLibris

I,am guessing the change to draft lotto,s involved the perception that teams sitting on the bottom of the list year after year were being unfairly rewarded.I agree with that perception and would have no problem seeing a mid-ranked team win that pick.I,d go a step further and not allow any team who has won 1st overall picks in consecutive years to draft any lower than 5 for the following 2 years

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#48 Kevin R
January 08 2013, 07:57PM
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Alt wrote:

IMO Management is well aware of the potential or lack thereof of this team,and have a plan in hand that will be prolonged as long as possible.The organization has so few prospects in the minors,and that is what is holding them back.If we had 4or5 solid prospects that were one to two years away they probably would pull the trigger and start a rebuid ,with the hope that they could climb back into the mix within 2 years.If they pull the trigger now we will be 5 to 6 years away of having a competitive team.Crappy drafting has really hurt us

I dont neccessarily agree. Pulling the trigger on some of these trades isnt going to set us back that long at all. Do the numbers, Flames stars based on production & $$$ paid is one of the worst in the league. Cap space can be used to acquire the right free agents as we do begin to get our new kids in the lineup. I really dont see how the team will be much worse. Especially if we fall out contention early, why would we want to keep the star players that have missed the playoffs for the last 4 years & making big $$$. The 1 guy who is worth the money & will be even a better deal next year is Kipper.

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#49 Franko J
January 09 2013, 01:45AM
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The Flames will tease and give a false sense of playoff aspirations once again this season. I just don't see enough players on this team with the blend of mental fortitude along with the skill set needed to fight the adversity of which it will face in a shortened season. Even with infusion of a new coach and a sprinkling of some youth and new players added to the roster, the reality is the core leadership hasn't change. The leadership in the dressing room and on the ice is basically the same as has been for the past three seasons. We all know how those past seasons ended.

As a fan, what I will be watching this season is the development of TJ Brodie, Sven Bärtschi, Mikael Backlund, and Dennis Wideman. As much as Iginla, Bouwmeester, Kipper,{ they are no longer the future Flames management} and others on this team are fodder for trade speculation, the truth of it all is in a couple of seasons those players will be ghosts on this team if not sooner. I want to see and proven to me that this team actually has some pieces in place for the future. A place where finishing anywhere from 7- 12 will not be acceptable and not be tolerated. In any case I want to see if the Flames do have a few players who can actually make the games more exciting once again. the games more enjoyable to watch.

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#50 Scary Gary
January 09 2013, 09:41AM
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@beloch

Haha this was hilarious! I totally agree with points 1 through 4. If Iggy wants to stay a flames then great; negotiate a deal in private, shelf it, trade him at the deadline for prospects, then reassign him in the offseason for said contract. Those Carolina boys do it all the time!

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