Flames Sign Conroy

DALLAS - NOVEMBER 04:  Center Craig Conroy #24 of the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center on November 4, 2009 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames have signed free agent forward Craig Conroy to a one year, two way contract, basically ensuring Conroy will get to 1000 games in a Flames uniform.  The deal is for the league minimum salary, and with what he brings on and off the ice, there is little downside to it.

His offensive numbers were down last season, but he was good in other areas during the season.  His penalty killing role was strong, and he also was utilized in a defensive role at time last season.  There were times when Conroy was used in a matchup role against some of the opposing teams top forwards, and performed very well.  If Langkow is not good to start the season, his role could be very valuable this coming season.

Overall, Conroy put up his lowest full season totals of his career last year, tallying just three goals and 15 points in 63 games.  But this signing is not an offensive move, it’s a move to bring back the other qualties that made Conroy valuable last season.  He started in the defensive zone 50.9% of the time, one of only three regular Calgary forwards to start more shifts defensively than offensively (Daymond Langkow and Eric Nystrom being the others).

His work in the faceoff circle also makes him valuable, as he won 51.5% of his draws last season; converesly, Langkow won just 43.5% of his tries.  Assuming Langkow returns to the team from his scary injury, you’ve got two players down the middle who can be counted on to play tough minutes against opposing forwards.  However, Conroy can be utilized for key faceoffs deep in Calgary’s zone while not giving up a whole lot when it comes to his play compared to Langkow.

Smart signing in my eyes, but being that it is a two way deal, he’ll have to earn his spot.  But there’s not much downside to it.

  • Robert Cleave

    Good. He’s better than your average 4th liner, likely just as cheap (I’d bet close to the league minimum) and he fits in just fine. If he ends up as the club’s 13th forward at some point, he won’t squawk about it.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    He’s not getting 30 points.

    He’ll probably be around long enough to get his 1000th game silver stick while filling in on the 3rd and 4th lines, and then when Langkow gets back from injury Connie will “get sent to Abbostford” at which point he will retire to TSN.

    I’m glad he’ll finish his career with the Flames.

    • When Langkow gets back from injury Connie will “get sent to Abbostford” at which point he will retire

      I don’t know how accurate that is. I think Conroy helps this team with or without Langkow in the picture, and even if he’s a healthy scratch, he’s making the league minimum. On the ice, he helps though, because he’s a better faceoff guy than Langkow is.

  • Reidja

    I want to see him split time with a youngster (like Sutter). We can’t be counting on him as the defensive forward he once was. Use him as a coach/player and it makes sense. Hoping that he can put us over the top come playoff time… Not buying that – a young guy has a better chance of providing the work required from a depth center come post-season.

    • Hoping that he can put us over the top come playoff time… Not buying that – a young guy has a better chance of providing the work required from a depth center come post-season.

      I don’t think anyone is counting on Conroy to push the Flames over the top. But I think he gives you more flexibility than Sutter does, or Stone does, or anyone that would perhaps fight for his role.

      Now, it is a two way contract, so he’ll have to earn his spot, but I think he helps the team more at this point than other guys do in that role.

      • Reidja

        As for “over the top” Pat, you know as well as I do that during crunch time your 4th line center is every bit as important as you 1st line center.

        Conroy brings more experience perhaps but I’m looking forward to a Flames team that follows a little closer to the formula of the more successful clubs of recent years. Don’t get me wrong, I love Conroy and can’t wait to see him play his 1000th NHL game. I’m more worried about the scenario we may be in if Conroy grinds his way through 60 games, we make the playoffs (please) and we enter with a beat-up 30+ year old roster and have to plug holes. That’s why I say split time, download the knowledge. Sutter, sure. Or maybe Mitch. he would be a quick study I bet and no better teacher. No question. Conroy has kinda defined that role for the flames.

  • MC Hockey

    Hi all, If it’s for 2-way contract, I am certainly in favor as he could be a good player-coach in Abb or play with Flames as needed. With the cap issues, 1-way contract makes little sense. That just my 2 sense (or cents)

  • Reidja

    Congrats Conroy, glad to have you back. Sutter must has something up his sleeve though to get under the cap. I for one REALLY want to know what it is and if it will help us or hurt us in the end.

    What do you think line combos look like (assuming no AHLer makes the forward squad, I’m not counting Backlund as an AHLer, and we can’t Houdini Kotalik anywhere)

    My best guess:
    Press box= Tim Jackman and Ivan the Terrible.

    If Backlund is in the AHL then it gets clearer, just replace Backlund with Moss and add Jackman to the 4th line.

    Injury call ups would be:
    1-Backlund (if not on the team already)
    3-Armstrong (if not injured)

    Our cap is a disaster. YIKES!


    • Jay Feaster said two weeks ago the Flames have a plan in place to get themselves under the cap. What that plan is, or if everyone will agree with said plan, is still up to decide I guess.

      As for Backlund starting in the minors, I don’t think he will…but it may be a question of if he plays center or the wing.

      • Backburner

        Hi there Steiner.
        I wasn’t saying they don’t have a plan I was just say I would like to know what that plan is. I still have faith in Darryl Sutter and Brent Sutter, I just am curious is all as to what moves are out there.

        I said Backlund isn’t an AHLer, meaning he will be on the Flames roster this year, as he should be. He was one of our best players after the deadline last year.

        Still love the Conroy deal, he’s one of the good guys for sure, in person and on the ice. No risk signing for sure.

  • marty

    i read on another board that cause of connie’s age and games played there are complication with the 2 way contract. i do not know looking for an explanation. also i still think kot and moss wont be on the roster come the start of the season. glad connie will be back tho agree with everyones thoughts on great 4th line role.

  • dustin642

    1 year 2 way deal. There is not a better player on the market for that price. Conroy and Jackman(Tim, not Ric, Kent 😉 ) will be a great pair on the 4th line. This signing probably guarantees that Kotalik will be at least one of the ones to go. Hopefully Moss joins Kotalik on the out of town express. It’s sad but I kind of wanted to see what Kotalik was going to bring this season. I must be a die hard Flames fan when I am interested in what our $9.5M 3rd line can do. Now with Conroy back and *IF* Langkow comes back healthy as a horse in October, then my oh my will we ever be deep down the middle.

  • dustin642

    I don’t intend to be the party crasher here, but as much as I like the guy and think his dressing room flair is needed on this team, his time has passed. He has a career ahead of him so I wish him well in all of his endeavors. I would thank him for the great entertainment and dedication over the years. 2004 was truly memorable and he helped Iginla to his first 50 goal campaign.

    Back to 2010/11: His back checking ability is poor because he is always cheating to gain the edge on offense. As a veteran he knows how to cheat but his legs get him burned more than he/we would prefer.

    I counted at least 3 games last year that he missed assignments where goals went in and games were lost. a handful of other directly attributable goals against too.

    -6 after being quite stellar defensively the past 3 years is not playing in his favor.

    He can’t score and can’t defend. It’s Stone vs Sutter with Armstrong in the mix somewhere.

    Odds are against him and if he leaps these 3 youngsters, there is nothing other than nepotism to blame here.

    Some may think settle down Marcus… he’s just a 4th line energy guy…. The only 40 year old players are the modano’s sakic’s and Selanne’s who can still produce and they don’t provide energy on the 4th line because they just can’t.

    Some people think this is the best move Sutter

    @kent I’ll wager you a wooden nickle that Conroy is not the 13th forward. This is closer to a Fleury tryout, only difference is Conroy might get a taste of player coaching in Abbotsford as opposed to walking away. TSN might pay more than Abby though.

    • Dude, I can’t disagree any more. Other than Langkow, he was the only center the coaching staff could put out confidently against top forwards on a consistent basis. Guys like Jokinen and Iginla and were thrashed at times in those type of matchups.

      If you’ve got a key defensive zone faceoff, Conroy is your guy, because he’s strong in his own end and in the circle. If you want to give more offensive guys better matchups, especially at home, a guy like Conroy gives you that flexibility.

      He helps you on the ice, no question. And maybe he takes a massive step back this season and doesn’t help you on the ice…oh well…he’s on a one year deal at the league min. For what he COULD bring the team, it’s an easy “risk” to take.

      • Backburner

        Going head on with the chiefs of F.N. is getting me all bruised up LOL!!

        I agree he is a low risk option financially but his deterioration was part of the reason for the Flames downfall last season. He’s done.

        Reality is… If Langkow is out…. Stajan needs to fill that role plain and simple. His incapability of tough defensive minutes puts him in a tough spot, but having him offset for defensive starts with defensive specialists is the only answer if Conroy has fallen off as many are suspecting.

        Defence can be taught so let’s hope our players’ ears are perked come September.

        • Backburner

          Defence wasn’t our main issue last year, scoring goals was our main issue. Conroy and Langkow were two of our best defensive forwards, IMO. Also, Conroy at 500,000 doesn’t hurt our cap. Staios and Kotalik at 2.7 and 3 million do hurt but I have faith Darryl and Jay will figure it out after training camp.

          Looking forward to the pre-season to see how the youngsters are playing and developing.

          GO FLAMES GO!

        • Reality is… If Langkow is out…. Stajan needs to fill that role plain and simple. His incapability of tough defensive minutes puts him in a tough spot

          But Stajan has yet to show that he can do that. Maybe he does this year.

  • @marcus

    You honestly think that Conroy is going to fight with the likes of Sutter and Armstrong for a place on the team? He’s old, but he’s also an established, Selke nominated NHL centerman. He scored 48 points in 2008-09 from the Flames third line. He started more often in the defensive zone than any other center on the club not named “Langkow” last year. He also played more on the PK than anyone but Langkow. He had the best F/0 % of any regular Flame to boot. I’d bet money that he’s still a better player than Raitis Ivanans or Tim Jackman.

    Brent Sutter, who coached more conservatively than anyone since his brother was at the helm, trusted Conroy explicitly. By end of the year, Conroy was taking on the other teams best players again…so Iginla didn’t have to. I disagree with the Sutters on a lot of things (a lot of things), but they’re right on this one. At 500k for one year, there’s no downside here. If one of the kids actually steps up and usurps him…so be it. But it’s going to take a very real step back by Craig and very real step forward by one of the pups for that to happen.

    • Hi Kent, great work keeping flames talk alive in the summer. thanks.

      Conroy: Highest defensive zone starts on the team is admirable but the back check is where he got killed last year. F/O% and PK are agreeably the intangibles that got him signed.

      Still I think its between him and the pups and my prediction is that he is not the 12th or 13th man.

      Looks like we have a friendly wager.

  • Back to 2010/11: His back checking ability is poor because he is always cheating to gain the edge on offense. As a veteran he knows how to cheat but his legs get him burned more than he/we would prefer.

    This is both irrelevant (a guy as good at Conroy at determining the zone can probably be forgiven three missed backchecks) but also patently false (cheating for offense? the guy was wearing #24 not #21).

    Our best centre on opening night may be making 500K. Terrif.

      • People may think it’s naive of me, but I think Backs might just take a jump forward this year and your hope isn’t particularly far-fetched.

        I don’t think it’s naive…to me, it’s all about how he’s used. Brent Sutter did a good job protecting him last season, and you’d imagine (if he starts in the NHL) he’d do that to start the season.

        How he performs in managed ice time will determine how much you manage him going forward…it’ll be something to watch, without question.

  • Reidja

    I have no issues with the signing as long as Conroy is used properly AND they give Sutter, Stone, and Armstrong real opportunities to make the team.

    I am hoping with Stajan, Backlund, Jokinen, and possibly Langkow in the line-up B. Sutter isn’t tempted to put him on that number one line. He looked horrible when put on the top line last season. That said, the temptation to rekindle the Tanguay-Conroy-Iggy magic may prove too much. Especially if Jokinen and Stajan don’t work out of the gate (and wouldn’t that be a surprise ….)

    I am also on the fence about whether Stone, Sutter, and Armstrong have been given a fair crack. Its pretty tough for these guys to compete with a guy like Conroy day 1 at camp. They need an opportunity in the NHL.

    D. Sutter has a history of putting up barriers like Conroy that prevent our prospects from making the team. At some point the motivation of making the line-up must turn to absolute frustration.

    An injection of youth and energy, as well as a change up of a core player like Conroy, may be more beneficial to this team then the minor upgrade that Conroy may add.

    That said, if Langkow is out Conroy’s defensive play will be welcome. If Langkow does make it then Conroy’s face off will also be welcome. Especially with Langkow and Jokinen taking 60% of the draws. It also gives Armstrong and Stone a chance to heal up (not to mention Langkow).

    This is also zero risk as long as the Sutter’s pull the plug if it needs pulling (though them failing to do so is my primary concern)

    • Well said.

      Conroy comes in as a guy most likely set to play a bottom six forward role, and he’ll be able to do that without question.

      To me, if used properly, he gives added flexibility with how you’re using other players.

  • Bob

    Anyone remember the last time the Flames had a popular player that just wanted one more year? That was Dave Lowry and he signed for the league minimum for the 2003-2004 season.

    It’s highly optimistic of me, but maybe Conroy can be the rallying cry this team needs. Lowry was not the sole reason for our play-off push in 2004, but you can bet the further we got the more some of the guys were thinking that it would be real sweet for Dave to win that cup before he retired.

    As unlikely as it seems now…who wouldn’t want to see the team make that push so Connie can go out on top (it would also shut-up some of the Iginla haters our there for awhile too).

    Welcome back Craig…I can’t wait to see game #1000!

  • AJ89

    “Assuming Langkow returns to the team from his scary injury,” we’re in cap hell and adding another forward, even at league min, isn’t helping this situation.

    If Langkow doesn’t start the season on LTIR, I hope you people realize that even without a demoted Kotalik, we’re still over the cap.

    This is a terrible signing and it’s another glaring indication of Darryl’s ineptitude in a cap era. This isn’t 2004 anymore.

    • If Langkow doesn’t start the season on LTIR, I hope you people realize that even without a demoted Kotalik, we’re still over the cap.

      When Conroy was on with us Wednesday afternoon, he mentioned that this has been in the works for a number of weeks, and was only finalized at the announcement.

      That leads me to believe the Flames were game planning with the notion that Conroy’s money would be part of the equation.

      I’ll take the Flames at face value when they say they have a plan already in place.

  • AJ89

    I fail to see how this signing improves team speed, skill and goal scoring. All this move does is take away hope of a younger, faster prospect, possibly, making the club. Where there is give there is take, I guess.
    Regardless of how good he is in the dressing room or with the media, you can’t score or set up goals in either situation.

    • What younger prospect is going to help the team in THIS ROLE better than Conroy?

      It’s a bottom six role. It’s a role where he plays against top six forwards on the other team at times, and plays well against them defensively. He performs well on the penalty kill.

      At this point, I don’t see one of these guys you talk about doing that job better. However, IF somebody really comes to play at training camp, and proves they are worthy of a spot over Conroy, he’s on a league minimum salary and a two way deal.

      I don’t see the problem.

  • Backburner

    I think everyone wants Conroy to be a part of Calgary’s success this year. Isn’t that part of the reason that we support the Flames? Let’s face it, there are some teams that we won’t cheer for just because we don’t like some of players on the team (Philly; Pronger).. I’m not saying that likable personalities win you hockey games, but it is effective, and it is sportsman like.. (Remember Iginla shaking Trevor Linden’s hand in his last game..) I know Conroy may not be the most talented 4th line Center in the league.. but the fans like him.. the league likes him.. and most importantley the TEAM wants him. Welcome back Conroy, I know you’ll play with Heart.. the other thing that wins you hockey games!

  • Backburner

    he’s shown faith in the Flames and seriously, holding faith in this train wreck is hard. After his playing career, the Flames might want to groom him for some type of position with in the org. 30 points would be nice from him, although i think it might be a stretch.

  • Don’t mind this signing but it makes me question why money is still being added to the Cap when we’re already over it.

    Conroy is great and will play well in a 4th line center & PK role, also can help with some youngsters on the farm if and when he’s down there.

    Why is everyone complaining about how this is going to hold back our prospects? The signings of Jokinen & Stajan (declining centers) are going to get in the way of Backlund, not Conroy in his 4th line role.

    Part of me wishes Darryl would have infused some young guys into the lineup, we would have saved cap and given them the experience we need, it worked for Colorado last year.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    What’s going through Backlunds head these days?

    Joker’s signed for the next 2 seasons, Stajan and Langkow are on for more than 2 years each. That’s 3 C’s ahead of him on the depth chart, and since no one thinks he’s going to play on the 4th line, when does he get to play?

    Maybe the Flames plan to get under the cap means trading one of the 3 C’s ahead of Backlund.

    If so, I certainly hope it’s Joker. He’s older than Stajan and not as good as Langkow. Or maybe Backlund is going to move to RW.

  • They aren’t going to trade Stajan or Joker until the trade deadline at the VERY least. They were both just signed and won’t garner enough return unless they start producing at a higher level.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      Yes, I’d be shocked and amazed, perhaps even slack-jawed with awe, if Darryl traded Stajan or Joker before the 2012 trade deadline, not to mention the 2011 deadline.

      I’m just thinking that if I’m Backlund, I’m pissed that I’m not going to get a decent chance to play for the Flames unless Langkow is injured for the long term.