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.

  • loudogYYC

    I think the team has improved itself, even if Iginla, Sarich, and Kipper are all still getting older. Wideman is better than Hannan, Hudler can replace Moss not in terms of driving possession but hopefully in points. Wild cars for me are Cervenka, Backlund, Baertschi, and Brodie. Backlund SHOULD have a rebound hopefully.

    Like I said, I think our team got a little bit better, but other teams in our division did more things than we did.

    Edmonton: Still a very young team with the likes of Eberle Hall RNH Yakupov and now Schults…. Look out!

    Colorado: They won’t blow anybody out of the water but they’ll be fighting for that 8-10 range.

    Minnesota: They’ll be definately in the top 8, probably in the 4-6 range with the additions of Parise and Suter. Not to mention Granlund turning pro. They have some other good young talent that could help them as well.

    Vancouver: Haven’t really changed much so I don’t see any reason for them to slide from where they are.

    The teams that I do see falling are Phoenix, Nashville, and Detroit. I don’t see Detroit falling out of the top 8, but if Nashville loses Weber, it will be hard for them to stay a top 5 team. Phoenix will likely lose Doan now so they’ll be fighting for that 7-10 range. Dallas got a bit better and Anaheim was pretty unlucky. So all in all the 6-12 will probably be extremely crowded…..

  • loudogYYC

    Still a mediocre team like in the past 5 seasons. The difference this year is that they’re taking a risk with an overall smaller, more “skilled” team and a new offensive minded coach.

    I think this could turn out like 06-07, heavy on offense with no defense except I can’t see them making the playoffs this time around. I say somewhere between 12th and 9th.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I wouldn’t be surprised by anything between 6th and 12th. The team may well have improved (at the very least, Wideman is an upgrade over Hannan). Although Moss was one of the better possession forwards on the team, you can’t possess the puck while you’re on the IR, so his loss may not be as noticeable as it otherwise would be.

    Whatever happens, I’m hoping for either playoffs or a bottoming out. I know it’s sacreligious to hope for losses, but if the Flames are going to screw up hard, this is the season/draft in which to do it.

  • supra steve

    In keeping with recent history, Flames finish out of the playoffs as the 9th place team (thus drafting 12th-14th). Was my prediction/fear last year, I see no reason for this year to be any different. Sucks.

    I think Feaster is doing a good (not great) job, under the circumstances (my assumption being: that he has been told he can’t trade Iggy/full rebuild). Those that warn of a long 5 years if we trade Iggy seem blind to the long 4th year we are about to endure.

    Enjoy your honeymoon Kent.