He’s one of the most popular Calgary Flames of all time, and for good reason, both on and off the ice. For the second time, Craig Conroy will see a Flames contract expire; and for the second time, he’ll enter unrestricted free agency with his future with the team uncertain. We’ll start our profiles on Calgary UFA’s with Conroy, who turns 39 in September.
We’ll do these over the next few days, going through Calgary’s free agent forwards, of which there are five. We can skip profiling goaltender Vesa Toskala, as Kent did a great job of already putting a tidy bow on that chapter. Calgary has no free agent blueliners (aside from RFA Ian White, of course – ed.).
Conroy has parts of eight seasons under his belt with the Calgary Flames, being first acquired back in 2001 from the St. Louis Blues. His first full season with the Flames was his best, putting up 75 points and helping linemate Jarome Iginla to his first 50 goal season. He followed that up with 59 points the next year, and was a key contributor in Calgary’s run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2004, posting 17 points in 26 games. Following that year, he signed with the Los Angeles Kings before being re-aquired by Darryl Sutter in 2007.
His second stint in Calgary was less about stats, in my opinion, than it was about all round contributions, especially his last two seasons. Conroy turned into one of Calgary’s more reliable players when it came to matching up with top forwards on the opposing team. It showed in how he was utilized: two seasons ago, he started 52.2% of the time in the offensive zone, lowest among forwards on the team. Last year, it was 49.1% of the time, fourth lowest on the team, and second lowest among forwards (Daymond Langkow was lowest).
In terms of driving the offence, his impact dropped between seasons…that shots directed on net ratio dropped from 15.87 to 2.45. There are reasons that helped contribute to that beyond Craig’s control (zone start, utilization). But it also comes down to the fact that Conroy isn’t going to affect the game as much as he once could. His offensive numbers dropped, and in fact were his lowest full-season totals of his career. I think it’s fair to say that on this Flames team, if Conroy were to come back, he’d be used in the same way he was this past season…as a third or fourth option at centre.
Yet, I’m not totally against re-signing him. Conroy has come right out and said he’d take a pay cut to stay with the team; and it’s a no-brainer he’d sign a one year deal. If the price is right (under a mil), I’d do it. I say that because I believe this Flames team isn’t as far away as some others. Conroy is the type of guy that can help you: good on the penalty kill and will not hurt you 5-on-5. Having a reliable guy like that could be huge for this team, and if he doesn’t, than it’s not that hard to scratch a 39 year old guy making 900K. But if he does, there’s some value in having him around.
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