August 10 2015 01:30PM
Well, Citizens, we’re into August, which is a wonderful time to be alive as a human. But if you're a hockey fan, every day is grueling fresh hell until AT LEAST mid-September, as those last wretched few days before training camp begins slowly wilt away, a fading memory aptly correspondent to a season that encourages fading memories.
As far as the blog game goes, it is THE PITS. Content is at a premium (you may have noticed all the pieces inviting you to re-live prior seasons in which your Calgary Flames toiled in over the past decade. Don’t worry, I didn’t read those either). But fear not, fellow work procrastinators, the mighty Flames Nation has you covered, as today we begin our fabled Top 20 Prospect Profile, where we go deep on the best young talent this organization has to offer.
Your boy Flooby is up first. I’ll be profiling young Rushan Rafikov in the number 20 spot. If there's anything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Russian defender, well boy howdy, uh, you’re still going to have to wait, because the goods on Rafikov are so tightly under wrap that I felt like I was going back under the Iron Curtain to obtain it.
August 10 2015 11:00AM
To build on a previous post: the Flames came from humble beginnings in regards to centres, which is to say, they had none. At all. For years, cries of "Please get Iggy a number one centre!" went unfulfilled, and instead, the Flames tried different strategies.
Remember Alex Tanguay the centre? What the hell was that?
It goes without saying that these different strategies never worked. Craig Conroy was one of the best Jarome Iginla ever played with (and all love and respect to Connie, but...), and it was only once Iginla was traded away the Flames were able to draft a future potential number one in Sean Monahan.
And then Sam Bennett a year later.
Too late for Iggy, but one thing's for sure: Calgary is no longer asking wingers to play down the middle.
August 09 2015 11:00AM
The Calgary Flames did two impressive things in 2014-15. In the second season of the rebuild, the team built upon the establishment of a style of play in the later stages of 2013-14. They also managed to bring some young skill players into their team and allowed them to be effective within the constraints of Bob Hartley's system - such a thing didn't really occur under the watch of Brent Sutter, for instance.
What resulted was the Johnny Gaudreau show, as the mite-sized rookie dazzled Flames fans all season long with his speed and skill. Sean Monahan built upon an effective rookie season with a mature, composed sophomore effort. And Mark Giordano had another Norris-caliber campaign.
Overall, 2014-15 was a perfect storm of a lot of factors that conspired for the Flames rather than against them. The result? They made a return to the post-season for the first time in six years.
August 08 2015 02:00PM
It wasn't too long ago the Flames weren't looking so great on defence. Not in regards to the quality of their play, specifically, but in regards to the future of the blueline. TJ Brodie was 24 years old last season, and... that was about it for guys in their mid-early 20s.
Of course, Calgary addressed this situation very recently. Not only did they draft both Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington in the second round to bolster their defence prospect base - which really wasn't looking particularly great - but they acquired Dougie Hamilton at little cost to themselves.
But what if they'd done something a few years before that? In the 2012 NHL draft, the Flames traded down to the 21st overall pick and used it to select Mark Jankowski, a player still developing in college who may or may not turn out to be great. At 22nd overall, the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Olli Maatta: now a 20-year-old who, despite a barrage of injury and health problems, is already almost at 100 NHL games, and has taken on a role in the top four of a perennial playoff team.
What if Maatta had gone 21st overall, rather than 22nd?
August 08 2015 11:00AM
The 2013-14 campaign was the first season of the Calgary Flames first full-fledged, unabashed rebuild. It featured a full training camp for coach Bob Hartley, a brand new captain in Mark Giordano, and more unknown roster players than you could shake a stick at.
It also featured a crackerjack line brawl in Vancouver that seemed to catapult the Flames towards second-half success - albeit way too late to make a difference in the standings.