April 25 2016 12:00PM
There were many lessons we could take from the 2015-16 season regarding the state of the Calgary Flames. The very first one we learned?
T.J. Brodie is extremely important, and might just so happen to be the team's MVP. The 25-year-old isn't the highest scorer; he doesn't even shoot the puck that much. But he provides a pretty decent offensive game - all the while eating up the most minutes, and being an absolute force defensively.
There's literally one thing lacking to his game; the rest, he excels at, and is genuinely one of the NHL's best. To that end, let's kick off our year-end player evaluations with the guy who started out as, perhaps, the most unsung hero of them all - but certainly isn't anymore.
April 25 2016 10:00AM
With great fanfare, the Calgary Flames added a pair of new players to the roster in the span of about a week last summer. While Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik led the way among new faces for the Flames, they weren't the only ones to spend their first seasons with the organization in 2015-16.
With so many negatives this past season, let's focus on some of Calgary's bright spots. All three new acquisitions we'll touch on here qualify as positive stories for me.
April 25 2016 08:00AM
With the City of Calgary officially calling the CalgaryNEXT proposal untenable, the Flames sports district project as it is currently envisioned seems dead in the water. What's more, this outcome seemed inevitable given how completely CSEC had lost the PR war in the period between their campaign launch and the city's rebuttal.
Regular readers here know I am fundamentally opposed to the public subsidizing major arena projects like this one, because the economics and risk associated them always overtly favour the team and not the taxpayer. Aside from flagrantly transgressing the principle of public dollars for public benefit, the CalgaryNEXT pitch had three fatal flaws that ultimately doomed it:
- It didn't properly consider the city's perspective.
- It didn't sell a comprehensive or inspiring vision.
- It suffered from bad timing and poor political optics.
Let's investigate each of these in more depth.
April 23 2016 02:00PM
Few NHL players have taken a longer and more winding road than Mark Giordano. The Flames captain was undrafted in junior, undrafted in the NHL and played a year in Russia as a 25-year-old. That's the resume of untold numbers of failed pro hockey players - guys who dominated their house and high school leagues but could never quite make it over the hump. Indeed when Gio fled for Europe during his contract dispute, many figured it was the last any of us would see of him on NHL ice.
Not so much.
April 23 2016 08:00AM
This past off-season, a fair number of goalies changed teams. Some of these trades worked out, while some appeared to be more of the footnote variety.
While some teams acquired back-ups, though, around the time of the draft and before free agency, three teams got goalies who projected to be starters:
- The Buffalo Sabres traded a first round pick (21st overall) for David Legwand and Robin Lehner.
- The Edmonton Oilers traded three picks for Cam Talbot (and another pick).
- The San Jose Sharks traded their 2016 first round pick and a prospect for Martin Jones.
Lehner ended up spending a fair amount of the season on the shelf. Talbot's numbers dropped, but remained respectable enough as he nearly doubled his NHL games played (57 with the Rangers; 56 with the Oilers) and ultimately won the starter's job in Edmonton. And Jones went on to 65 games with the Sharks in a single season as their starter (with a .918 SV% on a team that's won at least one playoff round).
Three teams got creative to solve their goaltending woes, and while the jury is still out on two of them, the Sharks appear to have made a successful gamble with a 26-year-old goalie that had only played 34 NHL games before getting traded. In him, they found their starter.
So... how about Calvin Pickard?