What a start to the weekend we’ve had surrounding the Calgary Flames, with so many different discussion topics it’s tough to formulate things on all of them. Friday brang us news about Mark Giordano, Daymond Langkow and the Abbotsford Heat. Throw that in with the impending return of David Moss, and there’s a lot buzzing in Flameland.
The Main Attraction
The discussion continues regarding the contract extension of defenceman Mark Giordano. Having taken phone calls all throughout the summer and through ten games this season, it was definitely a topic on the minds of Flames fans. For good reason, of course. Here’s a guy who has emerged as one of the top players on the team over the last 92 games, and shows no sign of slowing down in terms of his progression. He put up a season high in points last year, and noticeably grew with more responsibility slided his way. Even with a not-so-great outing Thursday against the Avalanche, he’s been one of the top players for Calgary to start this season.
However, looking at the reported dollar figure ($4.02 million per season), a few things become clear. First, there’s no hometown discount here. Giordano’s camp got right in line with what he’d probably be able to pull on the open market come July, and he puts himself as one of the top paid players on the team when the deal kicks in next season. No one is saying he’s not deserving of the sizeable raise (from a cap hit of $892,000), but there was no scaling back in terms of dollars to stay in Calgary. Knowing he could have gone elsewhere, and hearing from a few people inside the organization prior, it’s clear he wanted to stay in this city. But he also seemingly got most of what he would have been looking for in unrestricted free agency.
Second, as our good friend walkinvisible pointed out, it’s the exact same cap number as Robyn Regehr. And to steal from her…if that’s not a good indication of where he fits in on this team, I don’t know what is. Regehr has been positioned as a "core member" of this team for years, and now Giordano certainly fits the bill of being in that group going forward.
Finally…uh…that’s a lot of coin in the Flames back end for next season, as was first pointed out by R O. In fact, that’s $18.32 million tied up in four defenceman when cap hits are calculated for the season after this one. That number includes Giordano, Regehr, Cory Sarich and Jay Bouwmeester; the only four defencemen under contract for next season. Things could get quite interesting when you factor in Ian White’s UFA status for the coming summer. On the bright side…$2.7 million in Steve Staios disappears at the end of the season!
When Flames Assistant General Manager Jay Feaster delivered the news Friday regarding Daymond Langkow, it was extremely disappointing. That news: Langkow had suffered a setback in his recovery from a neck injury and was going to need some rest time, after resuming skating earlier this month. This is disappointing not only from a hockey standpoint, because it’s certainly disappointing in that regard, but also from a personal standpoint. We reported during the summer Langkow had taken significant steps forward in his recovery and was looking good for a return sooner than anticipated. That was 100% legit at the time, coming from two well placed people inside the organization, but two seperate steps backward have seemingly derailed that recovery.
It was actually a bit of a surprise on Sunday when Langkow was skating in a yellow no-contact jersey, and certainly good reason for a small amount of excitement regarding his recovery. Hopefully we see this recovery continue to progress, even with another step back.
At this point, most aren’t even concerned about him resuming his career. It would just be nice to know the guy will be able to be healthy to live an ordinary life with his family. Obviously we’d all love to see him back in a Flames jersey, and there’s no question a healthy Langkow is a huge boost for this team, but let’s get the important stuff squared away first before worrying about hockey.
There is some good news on the injury front, as forward David Moss seems poised to return to game action at any point. He resumed skating with the main group, minus a yellow jersey, on Monday, and has been taking part in full practice ever since. He has yet to take any real full practice reps with a set line, but it seems like he is getting more and more into the swing of things. The speculation among the media is that he’s probable to make his regular season debut any game now, possibly tonight at home to Washington.
The real question is, where do you slot him in? Well, that’s where there are differing opinions. Mine? In a perfect world, I’d put him on the line with Brendan Morrison and Curtis Glencross, and let them wreak havoc against opposing third lines. I think that could be a deadly combination. However, it would push Mikael Backlund off that line, leaving him with no suitable place to play. In my eyes, it’s like this for Backlund: Current spot? Perfect. Top six forwards? Not ready. Fourth line? Does him no good. So, if Moss does move into the top nine forwards at some point, I’d very much advocate a return to the American Hockey League for Backlund.
However, I’m not sure the scenario I threw out is going to happen necessarily, at least not right away. I think there’s a possibility Moss starts things in a "fourth line role" as he gets back into the groove, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I just don’t think it’s the best utilization of Moss in the long run.
As in, in the minor leagues. The Abbotsford Heat have been hit with the injury bug again, after dealing with it all last season, especially later on. Well, now a number of notable players have been struck with different ailments, ranging from seemingly minor to a little more severe.
In net, Leland Irving tweaked something in his right leg on Monday against Rochester and will sit out this weekend, as Matt Keetley will get both starts between the pipes. While Irving sits, J.P. Lamoureux has been recalled from the ECHL and will serve as backup.
On the blueline, the Heat will be without Matt Pelech indefinetely with a shoulder injury while John Negrin continues to recover from knee surgery. It’s the second operation on Negrin’s knee in 2010, and he’ll be gone between two and three months. Finally, Kris Chucko is out an indefinite period of time after suffering what’s being called an "upper body injury", however it’s being speculated he’s suffered a concussion.