July 12 2014 08:30AM
Pages have fallen off the calendar this summer and we're quietly in mid-July. As such, we're transitioning at FlamesNation from picking at the corpse of the 2013-14 Flames towards projecting what the 2014-15 Flames will be. Or do.
So, in the interest of stirring the pot: WILL THE FLAMES FINISH BETTER OR WORSE NEXT SEASON?
Calgary finished with 77 points in 2013-14. Are they better or worse on-paper?
- RETO BERRA for JONAS HILLER [Upgrade]
- CHRIS BUTLER for DERYK ENGELLAND [Lateral move]
- MIKE CAMMALLERI for MASON RAYMOND [Downgrade]
- KEVIN WESTGARTH for BRANDON BOLLIG [Lateral; possible upgrade]
- REGULARS NOT RETURNING: Lee Stempniak, T.J. Galiardi
- POTENTIAL NEWCOMERS: Johnny Gaudreau, Markus Granlund, Tyler Wotherspoon, Max Reinhart
In my mind? The Flames more or less treaded water with their moves. However, the goaltending upgrade has the potential to steal games for them, and if Gaudreau turns out to be a real NHL talent, his addition could easily recoup the loss of Cammalleri (even ignoring Raymond's arrival).
Not a guarantee, though, and Calgary's defense is still pretty thin outside of the top pairing.
So Calgary will probably be about as good/bad as last year. Maybe a tad better, but it's unlikely the bottom will fall out (they still have Backlund, Brodie & Giordano). What about their divisional neighbours?
Anaheim [39 points ahead]: Added Ryan Kesler and some depth. Lost Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. They're about as good, maybe better if Kesler and Heatley gel with their new mates.
San Jose [34 points ahead]: Added some beef (John Scott, Taylor Fedun, Tye McGinn), lost some big defenders (Brad Stuart and Dan Boyle). They're a little better and a little worse, and their core is another year older.
Los Angeles [23 points ahead, won Cup]: Basically made no major changes.
Arizona [12 points ahead]: Added Sam Gagner & B.J. Crombeen, lost Radim Vrbata. They're (at worst) just as good, probably a bit better depending on how Gagner falls into Tippett's system. (Also lost Ribeiro, who scored a lot despite other stuff going on.)
Vancouver [6 points ahead]: Added a lot of bodies (Ryan Miller, Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and a new coach/GM). Lost Ryan Kesler. I'm not wholly convinced that Miller's a big upgrade, and I'm not sure that the addition of Vrbata and some good depth guys makes up for losing Kesler. They definitely under-performed last year, so they should be better just because of competent coaching.
Edmonton [10 points behind]: Added Keith Aulie, Benoit Pouliot & Mark Fayne. And lost Sam Gagner. I have no idea how they finished so far behind Calgary with their roster, and I don't know why I think they'll be about as good next season. On-paper, they're probably a little bit worse than last year.
I think the Flames will probably be a bit further away from the playoff pack next year, as the big guns stayed as good or got bigger. But the Oilers probably aren't catching 'em. Not sure about the Sabres or Panthers yet, though.
FN FACEOFF ON MONDAY
If you have questions or topics you'd like us to discuss, fire away in the comments!