Well the good news is Calgary’s season has come to a merciful close, and the better news is I’m almost done having to think about it. But until that wonderful, sunny day comes, I am here considering what has become of one of the better franchises in the Western Conference.
It’s fair (and incredibly easy) to say that Calgary had an absolutely terrible season by any standard. In a league where more than half the teams in each conference makes the playoffs, not making the playoffs, especially for a team like the Flames, is totally inexcusable.
But it’s unfair to say everyone had a bad season. Sure, there were the obvious stinkers, but several players were excellent and deserve recognition for their play.
(Please note that all players are listed alphabetically, and that each had to have played 33 games, or 40 percent of the season, to get what I consider a fair grade. Except in the case of goaltenders and players traded to the team, in which case they’re all getting a grade because I don’t care.)
A warning: most grades are either mediocre or poor.
Player: Rene Bourque
Stats: 73 GP, 28-30-50, plus-7
Summary: Bourque was, simply put, the Flames’ best forward, and oftentimes was the only one that seemed particularly interested in turning in a full effort. He was one of the few Flames that had a campaign that’s more or less unassailable. Now if only he could stay healthy.
Player: Dustin Boyd
Stats: 60 GP, 8-11-19, plus-5
Summary: He was just about average as far as his time with the Flames went. Never good or bad or even really all that noticeable. The sad thing is this was the best season of his brief career.
Player: Craig Conroy
Stats: 63 GP, 3-12-15, minus-6
Summary: Sure it took him until Dec. 30 to score his first goal, and his next goal came the night after that, and the one following that was another two and a half months away, but dang it, Connie was.. well, sub-average for an NHL guy. He was barely better than replacement-level thanks to his poor offensive season, but he’s a great leader and I’m sure that counts for something. I just don’t know what.
Player: Nigel Dawes
Stats: 66 GP, 14-18-32, plus-1
Summary: He sure wasn’t bad for a third-line guy. Correction: a dirt cheap third-line guy the Flames got for nothing. This is one of those guys you’re happy to have on your hockey club, because he’s a solid defensive forward that can chip in more than his fair share of offense (this was his best statistical season ever). It was a very rare night indeed where you found yourself cursing Dawes’ name. This was, perhaps, Sutter’s most understated and shrewdest move in a while.
Player: Curtis Glencross
Stats: 67 GP, 15-18-33, plus-11
Summary: Fairly mediocre offensive stats but Glencross’ value isn’t necessarily in what he brings to the offense from a goals-and-assists point of view. Rather, he drives possession and dominates in all your favorite CORSI stats and is phenomenal at killing penalties. He’s really very good for what Calgary is paying him, even if his numbers did drop slightly from last season.
Player: Niklas Hagman
Stats: 27 GP, 5-6-11, minus-1
Summary: Well he’s not bad. He’s not good, and he’s certainly not good for $3 million over the next two seasons. But he’s not bad. I will grudgingly take him on this team given what we saw in his 27 games with Calgary. I’d happily take him on this team if he could reproduce what we saw in his 55 games with Toronto (20-13-33). Big if, though.
Player: Chris Higgins
Stats: 12 GP, 2-1-3, even
Summary: Theoretically, he’s talented and fast. Not so good on the CORSI numbers though, and not so good in the stats department, and not so good in the not-getting-injured department. An uninspiring couple months in a Flames uniform. Don’t think anyone in Calgary will miss him when he signs elsewhere as a free agent.
Player: Jarome Iginla
Stats: 82 GP, 32-37-69, minus-2
Summary: Kent is going to go into this in far greater detail than I over the next couple days, but any way you slice it, this was one of Iggy’s worst seasons as a pro, and certainly his worst since he started pulling down $7 million a year. He was often meek and easily dissuaded from playing a physical game, and was held without a point in 39(!) games this year. Tough crowd, I know.
Player: Olli Jokinen
Stats: 56 GP, 11-24-35, plus-2
Summary: Isn’t it sad that the much-maligned Mr. Jokinen had a better season than almost every Flames forward save for Bourque and Glencross, and he was the one that got chased to the city limits with pitchforks and torches? Granted, his salary was the second-highest among Flames forwards and he was absolutely worthy of any railroading he received, but still, he was pretty much the sole scapegoat until the season ended.
Player: Ales Kotalik
Stats: 26 GP, 3-2-5, plus-1.
Summary: He actively hurt the team this season. And he’ll do it again next season as well. And the one after that. For $3 million. He sucks and is awful.
Player: Daymond Langkow
Stats: 72 GP, 14-23-37, plus-2
Summary: The good news is he was Calgary’s third-best point-getter, and fourth-best goalscorer. The bad news is he had 37 points, 14 goals and was still more valuable defensively than offensively. All for the low, low price of $4.5 million. I don’t want to say this contract, like several others, is an albatross, but Darryl Sutter was last seen wearing it around his neck and begging people for some drinkable water.
Player: Jamal Mayers
Stats: 27 GP, 1-5-6, plus-2
Summary: Despite what you may think, he was far from the most worthless player for whom Sutter traded. I still have no idea why he’s on the team.
Player: Brian McGrattan
Stats: 34 GP, 1-3-4, plus-3
Summary: I don’t know how this guy finished a plus-3, but there ya go. He fights people somewhat effectively, and that’s all that’s really asked of him.
Player: David Moss
Stats: 64 GP, 8-9-17, minus-nine
Summary: Eight goals. He had 20 last year, right? I didn’t make that up? From 20 to eight. So much of the Flames’ problems can be symbolized by this stunning drop in production and usefulness. By just about any metric imaginable, he was downright awful.
Player: Eric Nystrom
Stats: 82 GP, 11-8-19, even
Summary: Not good, not bad. You’re never going to get a season that registers above "Meh" from the kid, so as far as that goes, I guess you take 11 goals and be glad you got it even if almost all of his CORSI stats are among the worst on the team.
Player: Brandon Prust
Stats: 43 GP, 1-4-5, plus-6
Summary: He is as statistically average as you can possibly get. I would imagine Sutter is actively seeking to reacquire him from the New York Rangers.
Player: Freddy Sjostrom
Stats: 45 GP, 1-4-5, plus-2
Summary: Well there was no way two patented Darryl Sutter Bargain Basement Pickups were going to work out. Sjostrom is mediocre at best and not especially detrimental at worst; the kind of player that plagued the Flames all season long by simply playing to already-meager expectations.
Player: Matt Stajan
Stats: 27 GP, 3-13-16, minus-3
Summary: Well if this was the centerpiece return from the Dion Phaneuf trade, you can go ahead and mark me down as being slightly down on the whole situation. As I’ve said before, I can’t imagine Sutter did much shopping if Stajan was the best return he could wrangle, and while 3-13-16 in 27 games is a decent output, Calgary already had about four No. 2-or-3 centers either right now or in the pipeline. Stajan is redundant and, with his new contract, oddly pricey. But that doesn’t diminish that he was fairly okay in his 27 games here.
Tomorrow or like Monday or something: Grades for the defense and goaltenders!