FN Weekend Open Thread - What are you Looking forward to in 2013-14?

Kent Wilson
August 10 2013 10:47AM

 

 

The Calgary Flames will enter next season as one of the favorites to finish last in the league. The club lacks offensive fire power, will probably be playing kids at key positions and its goaltending is a complete enigma. If everything breaks right, the Flames might be competitive night-to-night, but it's much more likely to be a long, painful winter here in Calgary.

Which doesn't mean there won't be reasons to watch. Ironically, I've found a lot of fans are actually more interested and optimistic about the team than they have been in a long time, if only because this year represents a new dawn which has been too long delayed. The overall record won't matter as much as the development of certain key pieces.

With that, here's what I'm looking forward to this year:

- Watching TJ Brodie

The kid went from possible NHLer to possible top-two NHLer in the space of 40-games last year. His development over the last 12 or so months has been incredibly rapid - in fact, one of the steepest curves we've seen out of a blueline prospect of his age in a long time.

Brodie has his bridge deal and I'm willing to bet he's at least top-3 on the back-end in terms of points and ice time this season. In fact, if he somehow manages to take another step forward, he'll do better than that.

- Mikael Backlund emergence

If he can stay healthy, Backlund is poised to put together a career best season and finally establish himself as a primary contributor. He's already the best two-way center on the team, so all he needs is to stay out of the infirmary and put a few more points on the board. It will be very interesting to see how Bob Hartley deploys him this year.

- Sven Baertschi development

Sven had an up-and-down first season, but it ended with him putting together a seven game point streak and lookin much more comfortable at the NHL level  than he did on his initial foray in January. While the wings will be somewhat crowded in Calgary to start the year (Glencross, Cammalleri, Hudler, Jones, Galiardi, Stempniak), there's no question Baertschi is perhaps the most naturally talented offensive player amongst them.

It's easy to forget that Baertschi hasn't even turned 21 years old yet (he will in October) and that last year was essentially his 19-20 year old season, year most prospects spent in junior hockey. For him to simply make the team and play a regular shift will mean he's ahead of most player's development curve, let alone if he plays a top-six position. Keep in mind Claude Giroux (my personal "hopeful" comparable for Baertschi) played in just 42 games as a 20-21 year old and  scored 27 points (0.64 PPG).

That is my benchmark for Baertschi - if he can match or exceed around 0.60 PPG this year, it will probably be a really good season for the kid (who is still technically a rookie BTW).

- The debut of Corban Knight

I don't really know what to expect from the college stand-out, so I really just want to see how he handles himself against NHL competition. I am assuming he'll make the team out of camp and that he'll play a "two-way" role from the outset, but beyond that, who knows...

- What can Feaster get that the deadline?

The Flames are almost certainly going to be sellers again at the trade deadline. They liquidated all of their "big ticket" items last April, but they still have some guys who might bring in a few useful futures, performance depending. Mike Cammalleri could land another first rounder if he can put together a strong season. With an expiring contract and 25-30 goal pace, Cammalleri should be one of the most sought after rentals on the market.

After him, guys like Lee Stempniak and Matt Stajan may attract some interest. If either guy has another good season the Flames may try to re-sign either or both, but I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to move on to greener pastures. If so, Feaster should put them on the auction block.

What are you looking forward to this year? Share in the comments.

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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#51 coachedpotatoe
August 11 2013, 08:19AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Draft-eligible defensemen almost never make the U20 team. Ryan Murray was a rare and baffling exception (though he had a late birthdate, so he was an old draft-eligible). If it concerns you, Dougie Hamilton didn't make Team Canada in his draft year, either.

If you want international success, Ekblad is the Captain of Canada's current Ivan Hlinka entry.

I choose Ekblad because he's a big, mobile, all-around defenseman. Basically, he could be the cornerstone of the back end for about two decades. The Flames need a cornerstone defenseman at the moment more than they need, say, Sam Reinhart.

Also, the Flames will likely be bad enough in the 2015 season that the best player available will be yet another forward (Connor McDavid or, more likely, Dylan Strome).

I guess what I'm saying is the Flames can probably afford to bite the bullet a bit and draft a defenseman high, rather than creating a surplus at center and later trading one for a defenseman who would probably look exactly like Ekblad except not as good and older.

This is probably the only time you'll ever see me advocate drafting need ahead of the best available prospect. I just like Ekblad that much.

I have been thinking about the Best Available vs Need and have come to the conclusion that if the two players are close then need otherwise best available. Imagine if the Flames could draft Ekbald and this could be your D pairings for a couple of years: Ekbald/Gio,Wies/Whitherspoon, and TJ/(ah, lost his name kid we took in second round with Janko),the kids will develop nd not be left out to dry with Cundari/Roy/Ramage as your 7th. With the potential coming up front;Monahan, Johny Hockey, Arnold, Porier, Klimchuk and possibly Janko the rebuild might not take forever. Ekbald or someone like him would fit the mold.So lets not be to good this year.

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#52 Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea
August 10 2013, 11:04AM
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I'm looking forward to seeing how our very interesting goaltending situation plays out. Will we see a real starter arise from the crowd? I am also looking forward to seeing Monahan back in junior - this is the best situation long term for both the team and the player.

BTW, has anyone else noticed that the quality of examples in the ads for older women seem to be deteriorating? We've gone from a cougar cheerleader theme to 'hey, check out Madge the truck diner waitress.'

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#53 cunning_linguist
August 10 2013, 02:22PM
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Looking forward to following the Heat and seeing some potential depth players for the Flames take their first steps in pro development.

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#54 Hank Williams
August 10 2013, 04:07PM
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Im looking forward to a year of fulfilled expectations. We just had to lower them. The last 6 0r 7 seasons of mediocrity have been tough to take when prospects of winning looked to be better than reality. May the Flames never disappoint again! Here's to embracing mediocrity!

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#55 Baalzamon
August 10 2013, 04:51PM
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@c

Draft-eligible defensemen almost never make the U20 team. Ryan Murray was a rare and baffling exception (though he had a late birthdate, so he was an old draft-eligible). If it concerns you, Dougie Hamilton didn't make Team Canada in his draft year, either.

If you want international success, Ekblad is the Captain of Canada's current Ivan Hlinka entry.

I choose Ekblad because he's a big, mobile, all-around defenseman. Basically, he could be the cornerstone of the back end for about two decades. The Flames need a cornerstone defenseman at the moment more than they need, say, Sam Reinhart.

Also, the Flames will likely be bad enough in the 2015 season that the best player available will be yet another forward (Connor McDavid or, more likely, Dylan Strome).

I guess what I'm saying is the Flames can probably afford to bite the bullet a bit and draft a defenseman high, rather than creating a surplus at center and later trading one for a defenseman who would probably look exactly like Ekblad except not as good and older.

This is probably the only time you'll ever see me advocate drafting need ahead of the best available prospect. I just like Ekblad that much.

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#56 beloch
August 10 2013, 05:37PM
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Einstein defined insanity as repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results. Feaster has *finally* bought into the 90's infomercial!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur0g-R7ZODY

So, the one thing I've been looking forward to for years has already happened! Any good things that happen this season are just gravy.

Of course, if the Flames can't win, at least our nearby frenemies seem likely to provide ample opportunity for schadenfreude.

P.S. Excellent choice of thread picture.

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#57 ngthagg
August 11 2013, 05:49AM
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I'm looking forward to most is Hartley playing the team in the way most effective for future development, not necessarily current wins. For example, no Baertschi-on-the-4th-line nonsense.

What I'm hoping to see is a low-hype player surprise, something like what Brodie did. The sort of player who had the talent and was just waiting to physically and mentally mature.

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#58 please cancel acct
August 11 2013, 10:00AM
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Iam looking forward to see what kind of game Hartley expects from this group.Last year we started with a quick transition game (nice change) and ended with a defensive game where we apparently required more tough guys,in order to stick up for ourselves.

Will Ward in Abby change his game to suit Hartley or the other way around

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#59 seve927
August 11 2013, 10:22AM
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So much. About 20 prospects of note. Hopefully we see some offense develop in Abby this year. I think Reinhart will get it together after a stint in the show. Granlund will take a while to get accustomed, but by the end of the year will produce. I don't expect anything from Ferland, but if he can get it going, that would be a HUGE plus. Elson is my dark horse. I think he could be a very good 3rd-4th liner.

Hopefully the Flames can place at least one, maybe up to 4 guys on the Canadian World Junior team. That would be the high point of the year to me if our boys could beat Gillies, Sieloff and the rest of the Americans in a tight gold medal game.

On the Flames, a few more career first goals this year for Monahan, Gaudreau, Granlund - maybe even Agostino and Arnold. A rebound from Gio and Butler, and another first round pick come from a Cammalleri trade.

I think with a good draft this year (2014) which would have to include getting a top end D (spelled E-k-b-l-a-d), and good showings from a number of prospects the focus could shift back to the NHL level by 2015, and looking for trades to get some young potential on RW.

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#60 coachedpotatoe
August 11 2013, 11:29AM
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please cancel acct wrote:

Iam looking forward to see what kind of game Hartley expects from this group.Last year we started with a quick transition game (nice change) and ended with a defensive game where we apparently required more tough guys,in order to stick up for ourselves.

Will Ward in Abby change his game to suit Hartley or the other way around

According to Connie they have met and are supposed to in the same page. However with the offensive talent pool going to thin down there it might be difficult to maintain. According to all I've heard this summer Hartley would prefer an uptempo transition game; this could be why they selected Porier instead of Hunter. Maybe finally the coach, GM and scouts are all on the same page. They went went with quicker D in their acquisitions so you would think that is the plan.

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#61 suba steve
August 11 2013, 01:59PM
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@Robear

"I fear that people underestimate how much it sucks to lose regularly, as this team will over the next 3-4 yrs before the kids get enough game to compete at the NHL level."

I've been watching the team since 1980. I have seen them lose...a lot. I know exactly what it is like and I say...bring it on!

Not like we are coming off a string of strong years lately and are suddenly in the basement. We haven't seen a play-off win since the cup run in 2004, and before that the cup win in 1989.

So yeah, will be real tough for me to adjust to seeing the Calgary Flames near the bottom of league standings. (Read that last sentence with sarcasm)

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#62 Willi P
August 11 2013, 10:23PM
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chillout wrote:

lol you're hilarious!

Chillout, I think you meant censor not sensor

"Just looking for a reason to complain and twist the meaning of things so that you can sensor it."

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#63 theartfuldodger
August 12 2013, 06:40PM
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@coachedpotatoe

THe photo is from a MOnty Python movie. During the scene thay sing a song "always look on the bright side of life"

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#64 MC Hockey
August 11 2013, 11:26AM
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Skeittari wrote:

I regret waking up 3:30 AM to watch the Flames play and then going to work. But the regret stops at 4:00PM as I get back home to my wife and dog and realize it's only hockey. Repeat.

Where do you live if its 330am when games start?

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#65 please cancel acct
August 11 2013, 02:14PM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

According to Connie they have met and are supposed to in the same page. However with the offensive talent pool going to thin down there it might be difficult to maintain. According to all I've heard this summer Hartley would prefer an uptempo transition game; this could be why they selected Porier instead of Hunter. Maybe finally the coach, GM and scouts are all on the same page. They went went with quicker D in their acquisitions so you would think that is the plan.

Hopefully they are on the same page.

Also looking forward to Ward moving up to Calgary after he makes Pro's out of a few more prospects' .Most likely next year.

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#66 beloch
August 11 2013, 04:25PM
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I think it's too early to start talking about what we're going to do with a top pick next summer. The Flames may prove to be counterproductively mediocre this season, especially if Ramo turns out to be good.

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#67 seve927
August 11 2013, 04:56PM
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Robear wrote:

Getting Ekblad would be awesome, and an outcome that I think is entirely plausible given the makeup of this team. Unless Ramo comes in and steals games regularly, this team will struggle mightily to string wins together.

I do have to say that I'm surprised at the thread of optimism that seems to be surging through the FN threads. Even with all the hope and potential placed on our suddenly more prosperous farm system and prospects, they haven't proven a lick in the Show. I would still much rather be having the debate about Iginla re-signing after another close playoff miss at the end of season.

I fear that people underestimate how much it sucks to lose regularly, as this team will over the next 3-4 yrs before the kids get enough game to compete at the NHL level.

I'm also a believer that success breeds success. Being brought up in a losing culture like that up North, extends out the losing seasons for several years, as a "winning" attitude gets re-learned. Hopefully those people who are excited for the 2013-14 season are still "excited" in 2015-16 for anther season where we will be out of the playoff discussion before the beginning of March.

I've been following prospects more than the big team for a few years now, I think since Reinhart had his big playoff performance. Iginla re-signing would have quite honestly turned me off the Flames for good. I'm not looking forward to 3 or 4 years of sucking. This year is pretty much a given, but the cupboards should be pretty well stocked with another 6 to 10 prospects this year. If the kids are progressing well, I think you become a free agent destination and you start re-signing the Stempniak Glencross types and look to get back in the hunt in 14-15. Not to say we won't suck again that year, but I want to be actively pursuing playoffs again by then, not waiting for 6 top five picks by gutting the roster, then trying to fill in 10 gaping holes.

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#68 Pete
August 11 2013, 11:40PM
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MC Hockey wrote:

Where do you live if its 330am when games start?

Skettari sounds finnish to me. I watch games from Finland early in the morning 3.30-5.00, depends. Good way to start your morning coffee with speedy game.

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#69 Skeittari
August 12 2013, 03:07AM
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MC Hockey wrote:

Where do you live if its 330am when games start?

Finland. My pet polar grizzly is a die hard-oil fan. We debate a lot during the season. Then we wrestle.

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#70 c
August 12 2013, 08:04AM
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suba steve wrote:

"I fear that people underestimate how much it sucks to lose regularly, as this team will over the next 3-4 yrs before the kids get enough game to compete at the NHL level."

I've been watching the team since 1980. I have seen them lose...a lot. I know exactly what it is like and I say...bring it on!

Not like we are coming off a string of strong years lately and are suddenly in the basement. We haven't seen a play-off win since the cup run in 2004, and before that the cup win in 1989.

So yeah, will be real tough for me to adjust to seeing the Calgary Flames near the bottom of league standings. (Read that last sentence with sarcasm)

I even cheered for them some in Atlanta as I liked the logo and liked all the expansion teams. If we were honest the great eraaa in Flames history could be about 1983-1991 when our team was regularly near the top of the heap, 2004-2007 we had a bit of good luck and a sound core. The key to this rebuild must be looking forward rebuilding a solid core over the next few years and then maintaining it; if we finish bottom the next two years I can live with that. We need to trade some of the vets and in my mind resign a couple to extensions(players I think would be good role models,( Glen+, and Gio)

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#71 Burnward
August 12 2013, 09:40AM
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Skeittari wrote:

Finland. My pet polar grizzly is a die hard-oil fan. We debate a lot during the season. Then we wrestle.

Miikka?

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#72 SmellOfVictory
August 12 2013, 09:46AM
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In addition to all the stuff Kent listed, the prospects are going to be a great thing to watch. This is the first year where I have actual expectations of Jankowski, and additionally the Heat should be interesting to pay attention to for the first non-lockout period since forever.

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#73 Jeff Lebowski
August 12 2013, 09:53AM
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The Flames are in the rebuild cycle so the only thing of interest to me is the acquisition and progression of youth.

Baertschi,Brodie, Backlund, Horak, Knight and Monahan's (my assumption is he plays in NHL this year)development and usage will have my scrutiny this upcoming year.

It's my hope that Hartley utilizes his vets in a way that gives these young guys a chance to have success(doesn't punish them for mistakes-unless they're repeated mistakes).

I think that the coaches and vet players have to establish the work ethic and accountability culture...play hard, play loose, constantly improve. Keep vets who have impeccable habits (on and off ice) and who push each other to compete as hard as possible.

It's all about process now...results will come after. These young guys will become the future 'structure' of the process. When new players come in, they will have to show what 'Flames Hockey' is all about.

Finally, I want to see them (young guys) have a ton of fun and show it on the ice. Acknowledge it big time when things go well.

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#74 bezer
August 12 2013, 05:31PM
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The 3 "B's" Brodie Backlund and Bart. This is the year for them to shine.

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#75 Franko J
August 13 2013, 03:38AM
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On the bright side I'm optimistic about the future of this franchise once again. No doubt this team will have it "ups and downs" again this season, the challenge this year is to see if Hartley and the coaching staff can actually exceed expectations (lowest in years) from the players on this roster.

Like most fans I'm looking forward to seeing which player on the roster becomes a fan favorite and which goaltender will try and replace Kiprusoff between the pipes.

Also, I look forward to watching the Flames play against all the teams in the league again and seeing how the new alignment will effect the playoff positioning in the league.

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#76 coachedpotatoe
August 13 2013, 08:48AM
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theartfuldodger wrote:

THe photo is from a MOnty Python movie. During the scene thay sing a song "always look on the bright side of life"

Dear Dodger: this has been hashed to death if you have read all the comments; I get and have moved on.

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