August 24 2013 11:20AM
This came up in the Fan Ask from yesterday and it's a tough one. The Flames are currently at the onset of the rebuild and from where they're standing the desert seems to stretch out infinitely in all directions. "Forever" is the reflexive response of some, I think.
But things can turn around relatively quickly with some luck, some managerial competence and with the sort of budget the organization wields. Calgary is a potential cap team, meaning they can pick, groom and keep their stars when/if they manage to find them.
Personally, I think the team should be on the ascent in three seasons, with the next two being the most painful. Which isn't to say I think Calgary should be cup contenders by year three, only that they should back to challenging for a playoff spot rather than languishing in the basement.
In three years, Backlund and Brodie will be in the prime of their careers, while Baertschi should have his NHL legs fully under him. Monhahan will at least be a sophomore and, god willing, Gaudreau may be on the team terrorizing opposition defenders by then as well.Those are decent building blocks and depending on what veterans they are able to retain or attract and what other prospects emerge down the road, it is at least a basis for a strong squad.
In five years, my expectation is the Flames will be better than average, if not Western Conference contenders. The raison d'etre for a rebuild (aside from it being unavoidable due to past misakes) is to fabricate an elite squad, not to simply rise back up to mediocrity. Being top-5 in the West by 2017-18 should be the goal of the current front office.
It's impossible to precisely predict what will happen over the next 3 to 5 years. Maybe Karri Ramo arrives and is excellent, which would speed things up significantly. On the other hand, maybe he's terrible, setting the team back indefinitely. Maybe none of the current crop of prospects turns out to be better than average at the NHL level...or maybe the Flames have finally hit a few homeruns after a decade of strike outs and singles.
I guess we'll see. Share your expected timeline for the rebuild in the comments.