June 22 2015 09:00AM
It's finally here!
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to many hockey peoples' favourite time of the year: NHL Draft week!
Last season, the Calgary Flames didn't have a lot of mystery surrounding their first round pick. They selected Sam Bennett at fourth overall, while the hockey world figured they would draft Bennett or Sam Reinhart. This season? The Flames draft in the middle of the first round, and they could draft any number of possible players at that pick.
Last season, the Flames were trying to jump-start their rebuild. Mission accomplished. The big question now is whether or not the Flames can add to their prospect pool and keep the rebuild moving along the tracks towards where they want to be - consistent playoff appearances, and eventually becoming contenders.
A strong 2015 Draft and useful players selected with their nine picks would be a big step in that direction.
June 22 2015 08:00AM
Photo Credit: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports
The outcome of the Stanley Cup Final will, in many ways, vindicate Stan Bowman's decisions at the trade deadline this year. He spent big to get Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen (a combined cost of two second-round picks, a first, and a decent prospect) and hadn't, for most of the playoffs, gotten much out of them.
There wasn't much of a surprise there with Timonen, because the guy is like 112 years old and coming off a very serious health concern that almost ended his career. But the performance of Vermette, which has only began to sort itself out late in the run, long seemed a point of concern to say the least.
We're obviously working with a very limited data set here (just 39 games from the regular season through the end of the playoffs) but 4-6-10 in all situations and a sub-50 percent possession number on a team as good as Chicago is deeply problematic. Which goes a long way toward explaining his getting just 13:35 per game from Joel Quenneville; he hasn't averaged that few since he was a sophomore in the league, back in 2005-06.
At best, Bowman was "vindicated" with a Cup win (in much the same way the Tomas Kaberle trade once didn't-matter after the Bruins won the Cup), but at worst, the Vermette and Timonen trades could look like terrible decisions.
And though he came on late, the fact that scoring two goals in six games was a coup probably throws Vermette's price in the UFA market into serious doubt, if nothing else.
June 21 2015 01:00PM
Today's Father's Day, and the start of the final full week before the 2015 NHL Draft, so let's spend a little bit of time talking about fathers and sons. The Calgary Flames are a team nestled snugly in hockey history; Alberta's a traditional hockey market and tons of western Canadian fathers and sons have played the game together.
In terms of the Flames franchise, there are three established prominent pairs of fathers and sons, as well as a couple former Flames that could see their off-spring join the organization next weekend in Florida.
June 21 2015 11:00AM
The sun is shining, the snow has melted and the Stanley Cup has been awarded (to the Chicago Blackhawks...again), so that must mean it's NHL entry draft time. That also means it's time to resurrect the FN weekly mailbag feature for a little while, starting today.
Topics of interest are...well the draft, free agency and trades of course. Oh, and the Flames strange interest in changing their goaltending situation, of course.
June 20 2015 01:00PM
As it stands right now, at this exact moment, without a single trade or signing, the Flames' goaltending for next season will consist of Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio. Hiller, the proven veteran, would be the team's starter. Ortio, the unproven rookie, the backup.
That's without a single change to the lineup. We all know Hiller, with his 350 NHL starts, can handle what an 82 game season will throw at him.
We don't really know what Ortio's 15 starts mean for him, though.