Now obviously it would be at least semi-reasonable to throw a blanket over everything with something like a D+ grade for everyone, and I’d probably get very little in the way of argument from anyone who watched this team for 82 games. It wasn’t, to put it lightly, a pretty season.
But not EVERYONE had a bad year. No, no, it’s true. Not everyone did. Odd though that may seem. So now, let’s go through the forwards to make sure each and every performance is given its due, good OR bad (almost entirely bad).
(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, relative to expectations. 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.)
Player: Mikael Backlund
Stats: 73 games played, 10-15-25, plus-4
Summary: Well, maybe you wanted to see a little bit more out of him but he was often put on lines where he probably shouldn’t have been, asked to play roles that he probably shouldn’t have been. He was fine this year. That’s all. I’d expect to see his offensive role upgraded next year, but this was just kind of a forgettable development season. (Although maybe I’m just saying that because the only real standout game I can remember for him was in October at Detroit.)
Player: Rene Bourque
Stats: 80 GP, 27-23-50, minus-17
Summary: Well you can say one good thing about Bourque during this whole first-year-of-the-big-contract situation: you could always count on him for a really stupid penalty at the least opportune time, and really play terribly in his own zone. This contract looks like an albatross already, and that’s despite his having scored 27 goddamn goals! You have to work really hard to score 27 times in a season and still be considered largely unsuccessful. I just wish Bourque would put all that hard work into not being a moron.
Player: Curtis Glencross
Stats: 79 GP, 24-19-43, plus-6
Summary: A very strong season out of this guy, and probably (hopefully?) his last in a Flames uniform. He had the third-highest shooting percentage on the team, and actually didn’t take an alarmingly high number of shots, which is odd. I think this season was almost certainly an aberration given the previous fact and that his career high in goals before this was 15, but still, all credit where it’s due. Glencross had a fine, fine season.
Player: Niklas Hagman
Stats: 71 GP, 11-16-27, minus-2
Summary: Not good by any stretch of the imagination. Paying someone $3 million for 11 goals is not acceptable. That was the lowest total in his career since before the lockout by a fairly healthy margin, and either he was playing hurt most of the year (possible) or he can’t adapt to Western Conference hockey (probable). In 98 games for Calgary, Hagman has 16 goals and 22 assists. What a waste.
Player: Jarome Iginla
Stats: 82 GP, 43-43-86, even
Summary: What more praise can be heaped on Calgary’s captain? He’s the best player in franchise history who had a season filled with milestones, but he can’t do it all himself. He had a truly rough start to the season but the fact that he got to better than a point a game and still scored 43 friggin goals tells you reports of Jarome Iginla’s demise were monumentally exaggerated.
Player: Tim Jackman
Stats: 82 GP, 10-13-23
Summary: A fairly strong season outta Timmy Jackman, relative to expectations, at least. He nearly doubled his career high for points, despite getting very little power play time (not surprisingly), and really filled a role that Calgary needed very badly. All for $550,000. I love that that was only the first year of a two-year deal. What a fun player to watch.
Player: Olli Jokinen
Stats: 79 GP, 17-37-54, minus-17
Summary: I’m sure I’m gonna get killed for this but I really thought Jokinen was fine, especially given the half-decent contract. Everyone expected this to be one of the worst contracts in the league and it wasn’t. Getting 54 points from what amounts to a 1B-line center is really pretty reasonable, especially given how the forward talent dropped off a cliff after Iginla and Tanguay. He wasn’t at his most effective between those two, but he was occasionally capable of perfectly competent things. Admit it: That’s more than you let yourself hope for.
Player: Tom Kostopoulos
Stats: 59 GP, 7-7-14, minus-3
Summary: A guy Calgary basically had to take to make the White trade work, capwise and he wasn’t very good. He wasn’t bad. He just wasn’t good. He was thoroughly just-barely-submediocre. No one cares about Tom Kostopoulos, and no one would even notice he played this season if he hadn’t broken Brad Stuart’s jaw.
Player: Brendan Morrison
Stats: 66 GP, 9-34-43, plus-13
Summary: I really thought B-Mo, who Calgary picked up for nothing right before the season started, was the best center they ever found for Iginla and Tanguay. He just kind of gets in good defensive position and lets the good players be good while he stood back and remained 36 years old. That’s fine for a guy making as little as he did, and a great way for other centers on this team (Matt Stajan) to start acting.
Player: Dave Moss
Stats: 58 GP, 17-13-30, plus-9
Summary: Poor Dave Moss. Always getting hurt at the most inopportune times. Every time it seems like he’s getting it together, he goes and gets injured in the oddest way, and completely derails. I thought he was having a very good season when he wasn’t in the press box, and I guess I should come to expect the latter far more often than the former. In the end, he contributed about exactly the way I would have guessed in October — maybe slightly better — but that’s about it.
Player: Matt Stajan
Stats: 76 GP, 6-25-31, plus-1
Summary: The Worst Flame. And only three more years at $3.5 million. Kill me.
Player: Alex Tanguay
Stats: 79 GP, 22-47-69, even
Summary: What a renaissance season. The perfect compliment to Jarome Iginla. Their chemistry is always obvious and immediate and he needs to be re-signed. I don’t care if they push Stajan down a flight of stairs to make it happen. It needs to. No one makes Iginla go like Tanguay does. There’s no way he should be allowed to walk.
Player: The rest
Summary: I like Craig Conroy. I do not like Ales Kotalik. I do not have much of an opinion on the other forwards apart from the fact that they are mostly young, except for Freddy Modin, who no one even remembered existed until Calgary traded for him.
(Sometime in the indeterminate future: Coaches and GMs)