How Good is Mikael Backlund?

Kent Wilson
May 28 2016 02:00PM

Twenty-six-year-old centreman Mikael Backlund is easily the most controversial player to be profiled in this series, and maybe one of the most divisive Flames players in recent memory.

In the other articles so far, the title prefix of "how good is..." was entirely rhetorical. From Gaudreau to Giordano, each skater is undeniably a star or cornerstone player. Almost all fans would agree they are "core guys". The question is a legitimate this time around.

Backlund is still considered largely expandable in most corners of Flames Nation. The popular sentiment is that he is a pretty good third line centre - a "nice to have", but a guy you could leverage or package to fill another roster hole if possible. Third line C's aren't exactly rare after all. Even good ones.

The perception is understandable. Backlund is not a compelling player by most traditional measures. He's not big or physical. He's doesn't boast a booming snapshot and he can't really dangle through the bad guys at the blueline. His counting stats are mostly mediocre.

But there's a reason myself and other writers at this site tirelessly defended Backlund. Even though he doesn't wow the eyeballs crowd or win scoring races, what he does do - consistently, imperceptibly - is the one thing that wins hockey games. 

Drive goal differential. 

Read Article | 55 Comments

Calgary's Goaltending Options: Free Agency

Kent Wilson
May 25 2016 10:00AM

As established in previous articles, there are a lot of goalie options on the trade market for the Flames this summer. Whether it's big fish like Marc-Andre Fleury and Ben Bishop or moderate options like Jimmy Howard or Frederik Andersen, Brad Treliving will have more than a few new potential starters to choose from. 

Of course, making a trade can be complicated. It involves matching wants, needs and cap situations between two teams. Not to mention the fact that many of the possible trade targets are less than ideal. 

The final avenue to explore is free agency. Aside from the obvious (re-signing Karri Ramo), there are a couple of UFA's who might fit the bill. 

Read Article | 36 Comments

Calgary's Goaltending Options: The Moderate Trade

Kent Wilson
May 22 2016 08:00AM

We've already looked at some of the potential blockbuster trade targets the Flames may have this offseason, but in truth there may be other, less "big name" puckstoppers on the market. 

While both Pittsburgh and Tampa may be looking to deal one of their established goaltenders, the truth is both Ben Bishop and Marc-Andre Fleury come with big price tags and noteworthy risks. Both will be expensive to acquire and expensive to retain. The double whammy may force Brad Treliving to look elsewhere.

So who else might be out there? Potential trade partners include the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Arizona Coyotes, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins.

Read Article | 57 Comments

Calgary's Goaltending Options - A Big Trade

Kent Wilson
May 16 2016 08:00AM

Aside from a new coach, Brad Treliving's biggest acquisition this offseason will be finding the team a goaltender. Not only does the organization have no established NHL netminders signed for next year, Calgary also suffered from some of the worst goaltending in the league this past season. It's fair to say that lacklustre puck stopping was a primary factor in the club's disappointing. 

The good news is goaltenders are relatively plentiful. Every year a handful of decent goalies is available via trade or free agency because the demand for them is relatively low.

The bad news is the Flames have a few obstacles to overcome: firstly, their cap situation is restrictive given pending raises to Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. Secondly, they have to be cognizant of the development of Jon Gillies, who is still considered a high-level goaltending prospect despite losing his first pro year to injury. Grabbing an aging and relatively expensive incumbent might make things difficult down the road if Gillies proves to be NHL capable. 

So what are the Flames' options? To start, they could make a blockbuster trade.

Read Article | 33 Comments

How Good is Sean Monahan?

Kent Wilson
May 12 2016 10:00AM

When he was drafted in 2013, Sean Monahan was the Flames' highest pick since the team selected Rico Fata at sixth overall in 1998. He was also symbolic of the organization's fresh commitment to the post-Iginla rebuild.

There was also little doubt that Monahan would be picked by the Flames at the time. The club searched in vain for a prototypical top-line centre for nearly Iginla's entire tenure in Calgary (Olli Jokinen doesn't count), so it was a no-brainer when the 6'3, 200 pound pivot fell to them at sixth. 

Read Article | 36 Comments