FN Weekend Open Thread – Projected Standings

 

 

Although there are a few wrinkles to iron out still – the back-up goalie and the overly crowded blueline – what you see is probably what you’re going to get once the season starts when it comes to the Flames roster. We’ve built the depth chart previously, but now it’s time to project where you think this team will land in standings this season (assuming there is a season at all, of course). 

Subtractions, Additions and the Competition

The Flames weren’t overly active this summer, but they did make a move or two. Gone are Hannan, Jokinen, Moss and Kostopolous. In their stead, Calgary signed Wideman, Hudler and Cervenka. Jones, Backlund, Comeau and Sarich were able to stick around, while Sven Baertchi is expected to make the club out of camp.

It looks like there’s a bit more offense in the line-up this time around, but Calgary’s greatest weakness – possession – wasn’t really addressed (unless Cervenka turns out to be Pavel Datsyuk). Every single Flame not named "Backlund" who played in the top-6 last year got his head beat in terms of driving the play and scoring chance differentials. In fact, the club lost one of it’s top-3 players by this measure in David Moss, so there’s a good chance the team will continue to be outshot and outchanced by good teams more often than not. Particularly with key guys Iginla, Cammalleri and Tanguay one year older and one more year past their peak.

Also, keep in mind Kipper is not likely to repeat his performance from last year. His ES SV% has hovered around league average (.920) over the the last 5 seasons with some wild swings above and below. Last year was his best performance in a long time (.928) which usually means he’s in line for some regression. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but even a 0.008 drop in SV% equates to about a 14 goal difference over a full season, assuming he plays about 70 games again.

It’s not impossible for a 36-year old goalie to replicate an excellent performance, of course…it’s just not the best bet in the world.

Finally, the stats of the NW division and Wetsern Conference as a whole is something to keep in mind.

Teams I expect to improve include:

  • Anaheim Ducks (Hiller, Getzlaf and Perry rebound)
  • Minnesota Wild (big additions in Parise, Suter and Granlund)
  • Edmonton Oilers (kids are growing up, added Shultz to the back-end)
  • Colorado Avalanche (Landeskog, Duchene, Parenteau, Downie, O’Reilly and Jones in their top-6. Added Zanon to a decent blueline as well. They have 16M in cap space too)
  • Los Angeles Kings (as long as pucks go in for them at even a middling rate, they will be near the top of the conference)

Teams I expect to take a step back:

  • Detroit Red Wings (lost Hudler, Stuart and Lidstrom. I doubt Jimmy Howard manages a .920 SV% again as well)
  • Nashville Predators (Lost Suter, Weber (maybe), Radulov and their success last year was percentages/special teams based anyways)
  • Phoenix Coyotes (lost Whitney, Mike Smith won’t repeat his performance from last year)

Right now, there seems to be more risers than sinkers in the WC. Bad news for the Flames is three of their NW division rivals are trending upwards (COL, EDM, MIN) at a time when Calgary is doing it’s very best just to tread water.It’s going to be a very crowded middle-class in the WC again this year, so a lot of things are going to have go the Flames way if they are to make the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Projected Standings

I think there will be some bounce backs on Calgary this year (Backlund, Comeau, Cammalleri) and some guys will regress a bit (Kipper, Glencross, Hudler). The Flames should score a bit more, but will probably continue to give up more shots and chances than they generate. Wild cards include the performance of kids and rookies (Baertschi, Cervenka, Brodie) as well as the degree to which older guys like Iginla, Kiprusoff, Sarich and Tanguay fall off the pace.

I have placed the Flames in the "7-10" bucket for each of the last two seasons, but looking at them this year and considering the WC overall, I have to bump them down a notch to 8-11 or even 9-12. It’s possible the Flames rides the percentages for awhile (think Minnesota or Nashville last year) because every year some club rolls sevens for an extended period. Absent a nice bout of luck like that, however, I think the best we can hope for is running in place.

That’s just how things seem to me from where I sit. Your mileage may vary.

Of course, this is an open thread, so please add your own projections and justifications in the comments.

  • RexLibris

    Rex, I have to disagree with you with Anaheim. 2010-2011 they were a playoff team and came close to knocking off Nashville. They were a major disappointment last year as many had projected them to be a top 8 team & they crapped the bed last year, I know had Getlaff & Perry in my hockeys pools last:(.
    Thing is, they are young & hitting their peaks, just because they have a bad year I find fans of teams that are currently rebuilding are quick to get on the blow up & rebuild. Misery likes company?:) Perry & Getzlaff were homeruns in the draft, you just dont bail on them like that. In fact, Anaheim should be watching what happened to Nashville & should be trying to aggressively extend them both. So, like, if Hall & Eberle & Nuge have a bad year 4 years from now, do you you trade them for picks & prospects?

  • RexLibris

    @KevinR

    Good points and I absolutely understand your point there. A small setback shouldn’t necessitate a massive roster change.

    From my perspective (and I realize it seems like, as an Oiler fan, I’m riding some sort of rebuilding high), I see a team that has steadily declined since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. They have a half-decent prospect group, but I have to wonder if this might be an opportunity for them to “sell-high”. The Ducks have had some success at the draft in the past, indicating a decent scouting corps.

    I don’t think they will actually try to trade these players away, but if neither signs, I suspect that Anaheim will be loathe to relive the experiences of Nashville from this season past.

  • McRib

    1) St. Louis 2) Los Angeles 3) Vancouver 4) Chicago 5) Minnesota 6) Calgary (More offense same goaltending) 7) Detroit (Lidstrom/ Stuart gone) 8) Colorado 9) San Jose (Same team as last year, all getting older) 10) Nashville ( Losing Suter and Weber means they went from a good defense to a weak defense, very little offense to back it up) 11) Edmonton (still not enough Defense to be competitive) 12) Dallas (Jagr is done, Roy is already going through surgery, Riberio/ Ott huge losses) 13) Phoenix ( Losing Whitney and most likely Doan means overachievers will have hard time competing. Lost heart and Soul this off season) 14) Anaheim 15) Columbus

    Call me crazy but the Flames significantly improved their offense this off season and I think with our regular goaltending will easily make the playoffs. Adding Wideman, Hudler, Cervenka, Bartschi, and a bounce back year from Cammalleri.

    Considering Detroit, Nashville, Phoenix, & Dallas all regressed think a lot would have to go wrong for the Flames to miss the playoffs.

  • RexLibris

    @ Rex: Now that makes sense. If they get a hint of them not wanting to extend then they need to make a hockey trade, not a rebuild trade. Ive been preaching that with Iggy as well. But in the Flames case, picks & prospects would be fine:)