Flames 2014-15 Season Preview: Pouring the Foundation

Kent Wilson
October 07 2014 08:30AM

2014-10-06 20.17.25


I am currently in the middle of building a new home. We're at the beginning stage, as pictured above, and it struck me recently just how apt an analogy it is for where the Flames are in their rebuilding efforts.

The first step is to dig a big hole in the dirt. Then, you pour the foundation. If that all goes well, you backfill, frame and finish the structure. Unless, of course, you're the Edmonton Oilers. Then your build goes something like this:

The Flames are now entering the foundation phase. The hole is dug and what remains to be seen is if the organization can build something meaningful now.

The Forwards

In: Mason Raymond, Devin Setoguchi, Brandon Bollig

Out: Mike Cammalleri, TJ Galiardi, Lee Stempniak, Tim Jackman, Kevin Westgarth

The issue here, of course, isn't really the additions and subtractions, which boil down to a series of lateral moves at best. The Flames aren't a squad built to win anything this year. Compete, sure, as they did in their semi-heroic second half last season, but not contend.

The veterans added in Setoguchi and Raymond are more or less placeholders meant to lend some structure and respectability to the roster as the new foundation cures. Setoguchi, a late signing at a bargain basement price, is a decent buy low gamble who may become an asset of note if he's able to recapture his 20-goal, 40-point form. If not, like Raymond, he's another established player who ensures the club isn't forced to install teenagers and hopefuls in roles they can't yet readily handle.

The balancing act for the Flames is twofold this year.

On the one hand, they will need to sift through the existing assets and discover which of them are worth keeping around long term. For the kids, that means sorting through a whole host of bodies ranging from scorers like Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund and Johnny Gaudreau, to support type skaters in Bill Arnold, Max Reinhart, Corban Knight, Michael Ferland, David Wolf, Josh Jooris and Kenny Agostino. Not every youngster is going to be able to break out owing to the numbers, but the goal should be to graduate (or disqualify) at least a handful of these guys so the roster is able to take a step forward in its evolution next year. The reason to watch the Flames in 2014-15 will be to see how the kids fare and if any of them can poke their head above the crowd*

*(ironic veiled reference to Johnny Gaudreau)

The same goes for the veterans, though the process will be different. The Flames will need to identify guys based not only ability, but career arc and salary demands (plus their willingness to endure a rebuild) as well. Curtis Glencross is the most notable of the pending UFA's in question, though Jiri Hudler, Dennis Wideman, David Jones and Mark Giordano are also question marks - either because of their seeming obsolescence in the face of the rebuild or because of contract status by 2016.

On the other hand, the Flames must try to remain at least somewhat competitive despite the fact they are very obviously a favourite in the Connor McDavid race. The ease of icing a loser club is unfortunately doubly matched by the difficulty in building it into a winner again. In addition, even with low expectations, the scent of failure can cling to all involved if it hangs around - the longer the team lingers in the basement, the more difficult it is to both acquire and retain talent. So while the club is free to experiment and tinker in the shade of lowered expectations this year, the goal is to not dig the hole so deep that it's impossible to get back out again. 

The Defense

In: Deryk Engelland, Raphael Diaz, Corey Potter, Sena Acolatse

Out: Chris Butler, Shane O'Brien, Derek Smith, Chris Breen

Like the forward ranks, a few deck chairs were shuffled on the back-end. Deryk Engelland was given too much for too long in part to ensure the club could get over the cap floor and in part because he was apparently the "good character guy" du jour in the UFA frenzy (meaning the Flames had to grossly overpay to land him). The good news is Engelland's contract isn't so long or so expensive ($2.917/year for three years) that it will prove to be an obstacle down the road. For an obvious available example, look no further than the readily buried Shane O'Brien and his $2.0M contract last season.

The names listed above are all depth defenders of varying quality; not enough to move the needle one way or the other for a club like Calgary. It became clear last year that the Flames badly need to improve their depth beyond the surprisingly effective duo of Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie. That remains true today, even if Dennis Wideman manages to somehow bounce back from his hideous season last year.

Goaltending

In: Jonas Hiller

Out: Joey MacDonald, Reto Berra

The one area the Flames made a legitimate improvement this summer is in goal. Calgary has suffered through some of the worst goaltending in the league the last two seasons, but the signing of veteran netminder Jonas Hiller promises to stabilize things closer to league average in the short term. Inked for two years, Hiller may be past his prime at 32 years old, but has an established record of above average save rates in the NHL. His presence - plus a potential step forward by Karri Ramo - could prove to be the one thing that keeps the Flames out of last place in the NHL.

Conclusion

This year isn't about wins for the Flames. The goal of the season, however, should be to make it the last such season in Calgary's current rebuild. The club has a short window to move some kids from rookie to difference makers while a few of the pillar skaters like Backlund, Brodie and Giordano are still around in reasonably close to prime condition.

In addition, the last time the organization made the playoffs was 2008-09, already five years in the rearview mirror. The previous and most notorious spate of ineptitude for the Flames was the young guns era, which stretched from 1997 to the Cinderella run in 2004 - seven years that seemed like an eternity for those who lived through it. Keep in mind, that version of the franchise was battling much longer odds in the form of a 65 cent Canadian dollar and Satherian spending by big money teams in the league.

So this club has both practical and reputational motivations to start climbing out of the basement after this season. For now, Flames fans are left to watch Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and TJ Brodie and dream of a success filled future, however far away it may be.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
Avatar
#51 redricardo
October 07 2014, 01:32PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
1
props

@Kevin R

The two takeaways according to Google Translate

"His psychological stress was great". That's bad.

"Several clubs were interested in a trade. But the Flames wanted Baertschi did not let them go. Not yet?" That's... mostly good? I think. Sounds like other teams were asking and we said no, which is good.

Avatar
#52 Bean-counting cowboy
October 07 2014, 01:33PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
1
props
Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

Can you send Bob Cob there with him?

Sorry. I thought you were actually saying Bob Cole the announcer actually was in prison! However after searching online... it appears you probably meant Bob Cob to begin with.... I feel sheepish.

Avatar
#53 Konniek
October 07 2014, 01:37PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
2
props

Granlund sent down to Addy

Avatar
#54 icedawg_42
October 07 2014, 01:49PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
0
props

Anyone catch the presser re: Bennett's shoulder? I didn't. In any case, im far more disappointed that he likely wont make WJC than I am in him not playing for the Flames. Wanted to see his 9 games, but given all the bumps and bruises in preseason, it was evident that the OHL was the right place for him this year. Wonder if the final straw was when he crashed the Vancouver net that game here in Calgary. I was particularly impressed by that play but remember thinking "Gah - that had to hurt"

Avatar
#55 McRib
October 07 2014, 01:56PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
8
props

@redricardo

Treliving on Baerschi "Sven left town a couple days ago. He was very close... Do I think he's on the cusp? Yeah, He's very close". By the sounds of it Baerschi if he plays well in the AHL will be the first call-up. I don't agree with keeping Seto over him, but maybe they were afraid Seto would get picked up (if placed on waivers) and be off our cap? Regardless doesn't sound like there is much to worry on this front sounds like he will play most of the season with the Flames regardless....

Avatar
#56 Konniek
October 07 2014, 01:56PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
11
props

Also, get your #13 jerseys ready for Johnny Gaudreau. he gets the number

Avatar
#57 beloch
October 07 2014, 02:04PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
6
props

@icedawg_42

They wheeled out Bennett at the end, and he confirmed what Treliving said:

  1. The shoulder injury happened last year and Bennett played through it.
  2. He was focused on making the team and didn't think it was a big deal.
  3. It might be a big deal, but they're still not sure what the treatment is.
  4. Treliving says Bennett needs to take care of the shoulder and needs to build more strength, but that goes for any 18 year old. The future is bright for Bennett, etc..
Avatar
#58 Byron Bader
October 07 2014, 02:07PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Props
1
props

@Kent Wilson

Chestermere?

Avatar
#59 RexLibris
October 07 2014, 02:11PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
3
props
the-wolf wrote:

Hopefully SB is ready for the WJC.

I see Draisatl made the Oilers. I'm stunned.

Yeah. Not really a jaw-dropping development.

He did play well the last few games and showed some good defensive reads.

The lines they are running at practice right now are:

Hall-RNH-Eberle

Pouliot-Drasaitl-Yakupov

Perron-Arcobello-Purcel

Hendricks-Gordon-Joensuu

Which makes sense and potentially gives them three scoring lines.

The fly in the ointment is the defense. Sending down Marincin in favour of Klefbom just doesn't make sense to me.

Hunt is a temporary fill in for Nikitin on the powerplay, but Marincin belongs on the team.

Avatar
#60 Kevin R
October 07 2014, 02:16PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Props
4
props
McRib wrote:

Treliving on Baerschi "Sven left town a couple days ago. He was very close... Do I think he's on the cusp? Yeah, He's very close". By the sounds of it Baerschi if he plays well in the AHL will be the first call-up. I don't agree with keeping Seto over him, but maybe they were afraid Seto would get picked up (if placed on waivers) and be off our cap? Regardless doesn't sound like there is much to worry on this front sounds like he will play most of the season with the Flames regardless....

I agree with you but, I sense an entitlement coming out of him & frustration not understanding why he isn't a lock on the team.

If there are teams & I do believe there are, I would have no problem swapping a Sven for Gormerly or Sven & Max Reinhart to Buffalo for Rousteleinen(sp?) Would be a deal that works for both teams. I would take nothing less for a prospect like Sven, otherwise proceed on normal course of what is felt is proper development & progress for him & he stays a Flame. Might make his next contract negotiations a little difficult next summer mind you.

Avatar
#61 icedawg_42
October 07 2014, 02:24PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
1
props
beloch wrote:

They wheeled out Bennett at the end, and he confirmed what Treliving said:

  1. The shoulder injury happened last year and Bennett played through it.
  2. He was focused on making the team and didn't think it was a big deal.
  3. It might be a big deal, but they're still not sure what the treatment is.
  4. Treliving says Bennett needs to take care of the shoulder and needs to build more strength, but that goes for any 18 year old. The future is bright for Bennett, etc..

Pretty much what I thought/feared.

Avatar
#62 icedawg_42
October 07 2014, 02:30PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
5
props
Kevin R wrote:

I agree with you but, I sense an entitlement coming out of him & frustration not understanding why he isn't a lock on the team.

If there are teams & I do believe there are, I would have no problem swapping a Sven for Gormerly or Sven & Max Reinhart to Buffalo for Rousteleinen(sp?) Would be a deal that works for both teams. I would take nothing less for a prospect like Sven, otherwise proceed on normal course of what is felt is proper development & progress for him & he stays a Flame. Might make his next contract negotiations a little difficult next summer mind you.

Not sure I understand you here - I've never gotten a sense of entitlement out of Sven. I think he played well enough in preseason to earn a spot. He wasn't spectacular, but he was good. Far better than Seto. Granted Seto is a veteran, and has another speed or two when regular season hits, but I disagree with anyone who says Sven has any kind of attitude problem. At least in public he's said and done all the right things. I'm still rooting for him to become a big part of the future here.

Avatar
#64 cf89
October 07 2014, 02:33PM
Trash it!
14
trashes
Props
5
props

sorry cowtown, looks like y'all may have caught what's been plaguing the oilers the last few years -- injury bug to their young star players...part of the rebuild folks! don't kid yourself, the rebuild is going to SUCK!!!

Avatar
#65 icedawg_42
October 07 2014, 02:37PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
7
props
cf89 wrote:

sorry cowtown, looks like y'all may have caught what's been plaguing the oilers the last few years -- injury bug to their young star players...part of the rebuild folks! don't kid yourself, the rebuild is going to SUCK!!!

Kyuk Kyuk Kyuk - thanks hoss!

Avatar
#66 icedawg_42
October 07 2014, 02:37PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Props
0
props

@Kent Wilson

NICE! Come to Chestermere - we have beer!

Avatar
#67 Avalain
October 07 2014, 02:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
11
props
beloch wrote:

They wheeled out Bennett at the end, and he confirmed what Treliving said:

  1. The shoulder injury happened last year and Bennett played through it.
  2. He was focused on making the team and didn't think it was a big deal.
  3. It might be a big deal, but they're still not sure what the treatment is.
  4. Treliving says Bennett needs to take care of the shoulder and needs to build more strength, but that goes for any 18 year old. The future is bright for Bennett, etc..

Suddenly I wonder if his issue with doing pull-ups may not have actually been a strength issue.

Avatar
#68 Stan
October 07 2014, 03:13PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
4
props

Re Bennett Injury

Sucks. Really sucks. Only bright side i see is that if he played through his shoulder injury last season and still managed to put up 36 goals and 55 assists for 91 points in 57 games, then what would he have put up if he wasn't injured?

Also evident that this had an impact on the whole 0 pull ups fiasco.

Brutal that he will likely miss the WJC now. That was likely the best development opportunity for him this season. As far as the injury goes, does anyone know if he will stay in Calgary and rehab it with the team? Or will he return to Kingston? I am unfamiliar with what "non-roster IR" means...

Avatar
#69 Byron Bader
October 07 2014, 03:28PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
1
props

@icedawg_42

Do we? Where is this beer you speak of?

Avatar
#70 Stubblejumper
October 07 2014, 03:30PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Props
1
props

@Kent Wilson

Hmmm perhaps a little further north than east? After looking at the picture I immediately thought like an area near Crossiron...

Avatar
#71 Greg
October 07 2014, 03:32PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
1
props

@Stan

I think missing significant time will be a bigger problem for his development than missing the world juniors.

But man, was I ever looking forward to watching him play in that! Can't remember the last time flames had seine on team canada, let alone two (Klimchuk this year?).

Avatar
#72 PP
October 07 2014, 03:35PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
9
props
Kevin R wrote:

Cant argue that but on the flip side teams like Phoenix couldn't afford to move kids like Turris but had to if the kid soured his attitude with coach & management. Everyone has been up in arms about how Sven has been singled out but maybe there is more to this. Up until now, Svens only wow factor has been at the WHL level, that does not entitle him to a top 6 position in the NHL He has potential but if it came down to JG & Sven for that LW position, I would pick JG all day long & twice on Sunday. I don't know why but that Herald interview has really been picking away at me. It is not a reaction I would want to see from a kid on the cusp of playing in the best league in the world & about to make money 92% of people only dream of.

I'd be cautious about rushing into conclusions of Sven souring his attitude beyond repair based on just few interviews and articles. I'm sure the management both in Adirondack and Flames keeps a close eye on the prospects and tries to resolve any serious problems should they arise.

I disagree with your assessment of Sven's only wow factor having been at WHL level. Sven is still a 0.47 ppg player at NHL level while his average ice time has been ranging from 11 to 14 min per game (for comparison, Monahan had a 0.45 ppg season with 15.58 min avg icetime). Nothing is more difficult than foreseeing the future. We really don't know yet whether Sven is going to prosper or not when he eventually gets his call up, few goals and his confidence back. Time will tell.

Avatar
#73 McRib
October 07 2014, 03:55PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
7
props

@Kevin R

Honestly I was frustrated Sven was sent down last season and can only imagine someone who has worked as hard as him to get to that point would be even more so.

Considering he had 0.42 PPG he was on pace for 34 points which would have been good for fifth in team scoring (tied with Sean Monahan) and Top. 10 in NHL Rookie Scoring if he played all year... He was also getting limited PP time, so those numbers could have looked even better....

I would rather a kid that cares too much, rather than someone who doesn't care at all and I am just not willing to give up on the kid that had an NHLE of 49.2 in his +1 season.

I understand there were "offers", but I highly doubt any of them were that good and likely teams just trying to buy low (see Nino Niederreiter).

Avatar
#74 mk
October 07 2014, 04:07PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
1
props
Kent Wilson wrote:

That's a closer guess.

The problem with guessing given the picture is that most of the newer houses in Calgary LOOK THE EXACT SAME. The stealth architectural controls that some new communities have are killer. :S

[I grew up in the suburbs where a new row of houses went up every month: the city limits were a block away when we moved in and several kilometers out when I left. Developers really don't spend much on architects these days.]

-----

That being said, its always exciting moving to a new place, especially a new house! Yay Kent!

Avatar
#75 SavardianSpinorama
October 07 2014, 04:20PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
0
props
McRib wrote:

Treliving on Baerschi "Sven left town a couple days ago. He was very close... Do I think he's on the cusp? Yeah, He's very close". By the sounds of it Baerschi if he plays well in the AHL will be the first call-up. I don't agree with keeping Seto over him, but maybe they were afraid Seto would get picked up (if placed on waivers) and be off our cap? Regardless doesn't sound like there is much to worry on this front sounds like he will play most of the season with the Flames regardless....

Taking Seto off the roster would have no bearing on the cap. He's small potatoes cap-wise.

Avatar
#76 Kevin R
October 07 2014, 04:50PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
2
props
PP wrote:

I'd be cautious about rushing into conclusions of Sven souring his attitude beyond repair based on just few interviews and articles. I'm sure the management both in Adirondack and Flames keeps a close eye on the prospects and tries to resolve any serious problems should they arise.

I disagree with your assessment of Sven's only wow factor having been at WHL level. Sven is still a 0.47 ppg player at NHL level while his average ice time has been ranging from 11 to 14 min per game (for comparison, Monahan had a 0.45 ppg season with 15.58 min avg icetime). Nothing is more difficult than foreseeing the future. We really don't know yet whether Sven is going to prosper or not when he eventually gets his call up, few goals and his confidence back. Time will tell.

On the weekend I was advocating keeping Sven up to work through the confidence issues & get his swagger back. Last year I watched him at the games before he got sent down & he was lost out there. The confidence thing is huge & forces people to not always make the right decisions & not play to their peak abilities. I don't think we have seen the best of Sven by a longshot. This camp & preseason he has made huge improvements in ways that Hartley notices. I hope most here are right & not to react & write this off to Svens need to achieve levels, which isn't that bad of a thing. I think the kid is part of our future too but sometimes I tune into other things & his interview bothered me. But I guess we can speculate all we want but I know where there is smoke there is fire. The telling is when we don't have a bridge contract signed with him because he is holding out for a 1 way deal. Meantime, I hope he gets multi point games in Addy, vents some frustration by kicking someone ass & gets back to Calgary in short order. A good year here in Calgary & this blip goes away.

Avatar
#77 PP
October 07 2014, 05:23PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
0
props

@Kevin R

Yes, confidence makes a world of difference, lets hope the prospects sent down will get a good starts into season. I too would have liked to see Flames line up more prospects, Sven included, on the starting day roster based both on their performances and the organisational need to evaluate prospects, but given the number of veterans on contracts, that clearly wasn't going to happen.

Avatar
#78 TRAV
October 07 2014, 06:19PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
2
props

@Kent Wilson

Kent- Some while back you posted an article outlining your vision for the rebuild. I think that it involved slowly bringing in young guys but having vets to provide shelter while they learned. I think an interesting read might be the rebuild as it is versus the vision that you prescribed... Generally I'm curious if we are on the right path and what you think we should do differently based on the numbers. I see that Toronto has moved to "functional toughness" instead of carrying two heavyweights. Apparently Boston and Flyers are following suit. Maybe they are listening...

Avatar
#79 the-wolf
October 07 2014, 06:22PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
2
props

Every situation is different, but shoulder surgery is usually 6 weeks in length to recover plus physio. Given that the team will obviously use a private clinic, he should be able to go under the knife in short order and have access to the best treatment. WJC should be do-able.

Avatar
#80 the-wolf
October 07 2014, 06:23PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
1
props
TRAV wrote:

Kent- Some while back you posted an article outlining your vision for the rebuild. I think that it involved slowly bringing in young guys but having vets to provide shelter while they learned. I think an interesting read might be the rebuild as it is versus the vision that you prescribed... Generally I'm curious if we are on the right path and what you think we should do differently based on the numbers. I see that Toronto has moved to "functional toughness" instead of carrying two heavyweights. Apparently Boston and Flyers are following suit. Maybe they are listening...

Why won't Calgary?

Avatar
#81 Willi P
October 07 2014, 06:44PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Props
2
props
Kent Wilson wrote:

That's a closer guess.

Langdon. If so, you have to check out IL Bricco. Andreas is a great cook.

Avatar
#82 Willi P
October 07 2014, 06:51PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Props
5
props

Sven needs to use his frustration to up his game, just like Backlund did. If he can do this, he will make this team. I don't think telling the media "I don't know what else I can do" will help his cause. I am sure they told him what he needs to do, he needs to suck it up and do it; however it would likely be moot had they not signed Seto.

Avatar
#83 Just a Fan
October 07 2014, 10:03PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Props
1
props
the-wolf wrote:

Every situation is different, but shoulder surgery is usually 6 weeks in length to recover plus physio. Given that the team will obviously use a private clinic, he should be able to go under the knife in short order and have access to the best treatment. WJC should be do-able.

I think you should rethink your timeframe. My shoulder was 12 weeks before I was back at work and no one at my job was trying to knock my head off. SB will be lucky to be skating in 6weeks. Sadly there will be no WJC and a seasons lost development.

Avatar
#84 Burnward
October 08 2014, 05:09AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Ahhhhhh, the hockey season must be almost here. I feel pity for those sad, delusional Oiler fans already. Came a lot sooner this year though.

Avatar
#85 Burnward
October 08 2014, 05:14AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Too bad for Bennett, but they'll do all they can to ensure he'll be fine. His shot looked off in preseason, so this makes sense.

Also... MORE GAUDFATHER SHIRTS!!!! (Or some version anyways)

Avatar
#86 the-wolf
October 08 2014, 07:59AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Just a Fan wrote:

I think you should rethink your timeframe. My shoulder was 12 weeks before I was back at work and no one at my job was trying to knock my head off. SB will be lucky to be skating in 6weeks. Sadly there will be no WJC and a seasons lost development.

Every situation is different. Mine was 6 weeks. Trying to be optimistic.

Comments are closed for this article.