(check out the Vancouver Canucks’ best and worst case scenarios here)
Let’s start with this: of course the best case scenario is the Flames winning the Stanley Cup. Duh-doy. The worst-case scenario is probably the entire team contracting an unfortunate hiccup disorder between now and 4PM Sunday, leading to the forfeiture of every match in this 48-game season.
FIVE BEST CASE SCENARIOS:
The Killer B’s Destroy All
Baertschi, Brodie, Backlund. At this point in time, the entirety of the Flames’ legitimate NHL-level prospects. Of course, we all know what Sven did in the WHL last season, tallying 94 points in just 47 games for a PPG of 2, which is insane and projects to a 48-point season (pro-rated, of course) at the NHL level. Brodie has been by far the best defender on the Heat for the past couple of seasons now and has averaged almost .5PPG at the AHL level in his 115 games there. Backlund dominated the Allsvenskan, scoring at a better pace than guys like Anze Kopitar and Patrik Berglund in his time in Sweden – 30 points in 23 games translates to a 39 point season (pro-rated) at the NHL level thanks to the equivalency worked out by Kent.
I believe these guys are going to play a big part in the post-Iginla/Kiprusoff/Bouwmeester/etc. era. To be frank: none of them is, or will be, elite guys, but you have 2/3rds of a great second line and a #3 defenseman there. Even though that sounds somewhat pathetic when you look up north, it is a start. All three are young and have the potential this season to be big parts of the team in different ways. I hope that they all stay healthy and contribute in both the possession game as well as the counting numbers. I think this is the most important best-case scenario, not only because of what it does for this season but because of what it does for future seasons as well.
Miikka Kiprusoff Has Another Vezina-Quality Season
Kipper’s, uh, variations have been discussed a large amount over the past few years, and at the age of 36 it’s unlikely (based on historical precedent) that he’ll post a EVSV% around .930, but hey, it could happen.
Roman Cervenka Proves Himself
Cervenka, at this time, has yet to see that hematologist in the US, but once he does, the chatter is that he’ll be on the ice shortly after that. Roman seems to still be somewhat of an unknown quantity.
Aside from some games at the Olympics in 2010, not many people can claim to have seen him on the ice. He’s had scoring success at all the levels he’s played at, however, and it gives me a little hope that because the Flames were involved in something of a bidding war with some other teams that his skillset is looked upon more favorably then other guys who make the jump across the pond to play in the show.
For me, if Cervenka can be a legitimate number two center, then he’s done his duty.
The Team Is Able To Be Good On Both Defense And Offence In The Same Season
- 05-06: Good Defense.
- 06-07: Good Offence.
- 07-08: Good Defense.
- 08-09: Good Offence.
- 09-10: Good Defense.
- 10-11: Good Offence.
- 11-12: Neither! They Sucked.
- 12-13: Both? Maybe? Sure!
The Team Can Somehow Drive Possession
I count 9 guys on the team’s roster that I think will be break-even possession players. That means that those 9 will somehow have to buoy the other 16 (well, probably more like 11 or 12 in reality). That doesn’t sound too hard on paper, but when you take into account the fact that the biggest sinkholes are also the team’s best paid forwards, it makes it a little more difficult.
However, just two seasons ago, the Flames were 9th in the league with a +235 raw Corsi rating, so there is some hope. The further development of guys such as Butler, Brodie, Backlund, and Comeau will go a long way in helping the cause. If the bottom 6 can punish the opposition enough to give high zone starts to the top 6, the season might not be as bad as some of us are expecting. Interestingly enough, given the current makeup of the bottom 6 (Comeau, Jones, Glencross, Stempniak, Stajan, Hudler) that could very well happen.
FIVE WORST CASE SCENARIOS:
Catastrophic Injury To Any Of The Young Guys
For Baertschi, it could, hell, maybe even would, suggest that he’s not physically ready to play in the NHL yet. Combined with his other recent injuries, there could be serious concerns going forward regarding his health and therefore his ability to be a building block for the future. Another injury to Backlund could signal the end of his career as a Flame, and no one wants that (except if you’re a monster, of course). For Brodie, the progress that has been made over the past few seasons could be derailed significantly.
Any Of The Big Guns Are Traded For Sub-Optimal Return
It’s possible that Iginla, Kiprusoff, Bouwmeester and others could be playing their last seasons in Calgary. As much as both the fan and analyst in me would hate to see all of them go, I’d hate it way more if Jay Feaster was to get a return made more poor due to perceived deficiencies in their games. Wouldn’t surprise me, of course, but that just comes with the territory.
Kipper Plays Like Pretty Much Every Other 36-Year-Old Goaltender Ever
There haven’t been a lot of guys that can play at an above-average level once they hit the 35+ age wall. Father time catches up to all of us, and hockey players are no exception. With the less that thrilling backup situation, the team could be completely screwed – and since this may be the last season for Kiprusoff, a poor showing might leave a bit of a sour taste in fans’ mouths.
Every One of Feaster’s Signings Suck
If Hudler, Cervenka, Wideman, Begin, Irving, and Sarich all play like ass this season – which, honestly, is quite likely – that’s about 15 million in newly signed contracts down the toilet. Luckily, 4 of those deals will be over by the time the team hires a new GM. Unluckily, the two worst ones won’t be.
The Team Buys Heavy At The Deadline In An Attempt To Push For The Playoffs
Just no, Jay. For the love of God, NO.