2013 Season Preview: Best and Worst Case Scenarios



(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.


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.




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.


  • RedMan

    I’m a little more bullish on Hudler & Wideman for sure, though wideman is a little over paid, and a limited ‘specialist’. I also have expectations that Baertschi becomes a very strong top 6, the kind that can make others around him better (like Hudler and Backlund)

    My concerns are with the Captain – i.e. how much left in the tank, will he be even more of a defensive liability, will he float around the offensive line cherry-picking like usual, and like he is known to do… very politely disagree with the coach and system and try to do it all, his own way?

    lot’s of story line and intrigue, not to mention the oiler’s have already won the cup, based on every oiler fans gushing everywhere. barf, aren’t they even a little embarrassed?

    • Does Hudler make his linemates better, or does he just not make them worse? I know he made Filppula better last year, but at least some (most) of the credit there has to go to Henrik Zetterberg. And Hudler definitely didn’t make Zetterberg better.

      • RedMan

        my guess is Hudler is an asset/make-em better player IF they have some skill (Like Baertschi/Cammi), but not on third/fourth lines…. he seems like a synergy guy that can hold his own and benefit skill around him. I don’t get the sense Zetterberg was better w/o him either tho – but I don’t have the stats to verify that.

        I’m just basically optimistic about Hudler till proven otherwise.

        its definitely hard not to be a little squeamish though starting the year with two of the new ‘keys’ out (Cervanka/Hudler), totally new coaches and totally new system, groin pulls, backup questions… all with one week to get it together. nice the flames have the extra day today for practice… and i just hope they don’t squander the “first-5-of-6-at-home” bonus with a slow start!! :-0

    • RexLibris

      Not every Oilers’ fan.

      Based on the radio coverage and media reports from the ink-stained wretches in Edmonton, I would say that most fans are excited but very cautious to even hope for an 8th place finish.

      I agree, I think fans should keep a very close eye on the captain. There have been accusations of his ignoring, and essentially sabotaging, previous coaching regimes. In this season they won’t have the luxury of a do-over or a honeymoon period. Either he is on-board, or the organization ends up conflicted again and has to choose between coach and captain. And we all know how that goes.

  • RexLibris

    One of the many good things about T.J. is (I believe) he has never spent any significant time injured. Last season’s injury was probably his longest ever.

    A good sign for the last point you made is Feaster did jack all at the deadline last year. So, you know, he probably won’t buy for the sake of buying like Sutter did every chance he got (Staios, really?).

  • The two best-case scenarios for the team is they either win the Cup (yay!) or they get the 1st overall pick.

    The absolute worse-case scenario is that they battle for a playoff spot but come up just short, prompting management to believe that they are a shootout specialist away from the playoffs (where’s Marek Malik anyway?)

    Excited for the start of the season!

  • RexLibris

    Well, I agree with all that…EXCEPT:

    Really? You don’t think Sven could be elite? I mean, I agree about Backlund & Brodie, but Sven? I guess I’m overhyped, because I’m hoping for GREAT things from Baertschi over his career.

    • I am guessing its just that everyone went crazy for Sven as he dummied the whl, but when we brought him up to AHL he did quite well but wasn’t dominating like like he was in whl. I think it’s just safer to lower expectations to 2nd line and if he really catches fire on his second campaign then bonus.

    • SmellOfVictory

      My understanding is that general scouting consensus on Baertschi is that he’s a safe bet for a top 6 forward, and fairly likely to end up being a first line winger. I don’t think a lot of scouts have him pegged as an elite guy (not that it means anything, as they generally don’t figure out who’s going to be top-tier until it actually happens, most of the time).

  • Vintage Flame

    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.

    I’m not sure I understand this part Jazzy. Do you really think it’s likely that all 6 of these guys play like “ass” this year. If so, why?

    I understand that the Wideman and Hudler contracts are overpaid, but does that automatically dictate that they play like ass?

    I’m not suggesting that Hudler replicates what he did last year with Det, but he is definitely an upgrade from outgoing players like Tom Kostopoulos or even Olli.

    Wideman may not be Nik Lidstrom but he is MILES ahead of Scott Hannan. So all-in-all, this team is much further ahead, regardless of what the price tag is hanging around their necks.

    … Other than that, great article and I think you nailed quite a few things right on the head.

  • RexLibris

    I just don’t see how anything describing a Flames worst-case scenario doesn’t involve the hypothetical (and I mean hypothetical here) of a Leafs/Oilers Cup final.

    If Feaster can get through this year while trading away one of the big three for futures and retaining his own 1st round pick, that, I think, needs to be considered a successful season for this franchise.

  • RKD

    On Baertschi I would have to disagree, I think he can be an elite player. His ceiling is way higher than Backlund.

    I think Baertschi is ‘the next one’, I hope he is the face of the franchise for many years to come so the Flames can build around him.

    Kipper is intriguing, Bob McKenzie noted Kipper is set to make $1.5 million in the last year of his deal. That type of money would make him attractive to a lot of teams.

    Hopefully Cervenka isn’t a bust, I don’t he will be that bad. It’s too bad the blood clot is going to hamper his transition the NHL game.

  • RexLibris

    At even strength Sven has been every bit as good or better than Hall and RNH plus he is better than both defensively. He didn’t have the same luck on the pp but he wasn’t playing with the best skill on his line either.

      • RKD

        This based on 5 NHL games played????? Wow!!! I like Sven but to put him in a position that he is better than two players who have pretty much a full season under their belts is funny

        • Vintage Flame

          I was commenting on the fact that Sven isn’t playing with several 1st rounds / NHL players NOT that he is better then hall or nudge. Therefore what expectations I have for him could be skewed to be lower and when he hits the pp with the studs he will be racking up points like crazy with his sick tape to tape passes.

    • RexLibris

      I think you might want to give Baertschi at least a full season before bringing up comparisons like that. Let’s see what the numbers look like at the end of 2013-2014.

      • Vintage Flame

        I think you might want to give Baertschi at least a full season before bringing up comparisons like that. Let’s see what the numbers look like at the end of 2013-2014.

        LMAO… Sorry Rex..

        But sort of like the Oilers faithful did with Hall, Eberle and Nuge?

        • beloch

          As an oilers fan I can relate to your sentiment about Sven. We had the same hype and hope with our first rounder (8th overall) a few years back. Sam Gagner was pegged by scouts as a solid pick. 2nd liner, great prospect. But we wanted to believe he was elite. The pressure out on the kid was huge and I think it hurt him.

          It wasn’t until the oilers started getting real ‘elite’ draft picks that we look back and see how Gagner never was, never will be elite. Good, solid yes. But not elite. I’m jot comparing Sven to Gagner, I personally think Sven could be better. But to ignore his most likely projection and hope he suddenly becomes ‘elite’ because its all you got is potentially damaging to the kid.

          Not saying its impossible for Sven, nobody would argue a handful of elite players have been taken outside the top 10 (Claud Giroux). But it’s unlikely if you actually mean ‘elite’ as in top 20 in the league.

          But saying Sven is better than Hall, Nuge at this point is asinine. You wouldn’t find 1 single scout or GM on the planet who would make that comparison. Not even Roger Millions is that optimistic.

          I wish Sven all the best and hope he gets a bit of shelter to grow into his career. He should with a guy like Iggy around.


          • Vintage Flame

            But saying Sven is better than Hall, Nuge at this point is asinine. You wouldn’t find 1 single scout or GM on the planet who would make that comparison. Not even Roger Millions is that optimistic.

            Whoa… First of all I didn’t compare Sven directly to Hall, Eberle or Nuge. I’ll wait until he has a few seasons under his belt, and whether the Flames can get him some decent young talent to grow with before I make those kinds of comparisons.

            What I was comparing was the level of excitement Flames fans can have about a kid like Sven coming into the organization. In my opinion, the fans in Calgary should be able to be excited about the potential this kid has, not unlike how Oilers fans were excited about their kids coming up in that organization.

          • RexLibris

            No arguments here.

            Every team’s fans have a right to get excited about their young prospects. Except Canucks fans. They don’t have any.

            Erik Karlsson, Landeskog, Baertschi, Huberdeau, Brunner, Kreider, Galchenyuk, and Connolly are all reasons for fans to celebrate. I just tend not to like direct comparisons, especially of young players. I also wish that Baertschi were in a situation where he wasn’t likely to have the future of an entire franchise thrust upon him.

            BTW, anyone see the headline on TSN.ca? The Leafs win on goals by Kadri and Bozak and they call it a youth movement. Kind of reminds me of when Robert Nilsson scored in his first game as an Oiler and the EJ ran a headline comparing him to his father.

      • Vintage Flame

        At even strength he was every bit as good or better and playing with inferior talent. If I wanted to be a little off the wall I would say that head to head Gaudreau was much better than RNH while playing with inferior linemates.

  • RKD

    We have the lightest and one of the shortest teams in the league so we better be highly skilled and fast which we all know we aren’t. It is going to be a long 48 games. Good news is that we are now the 14th youngest team. A couple hockey trades will make us younger and give us a couple of very high draft picks in a very strong draft year. That would turn on Flames fans.

    • RKD

      I don’t buy the idea that being a big, tough team to play against is necessary to be successful. Do I think the Flames are a playoff team? No, not really. Do I think they are as bad as some people think they will be? Hell no. Theoretically, Wideman is miles ahead of Hannan (who was in the top 4 last year) and Cervenka/Hudler are probably pretty comparable to Olli. Where does that leave them? Probably 9/10 in the West, like always. I’d be shocked if we got a top 5 draft pick.

      • Vintage Flame

        Who said they have to be big and tough? Even though the last 2 Cup champions were exactly that. I pointed out that we are not any of big, tough, skilled or fast. As you said, with that line up we will finish low but not low enough to garner one of the gems which is why I said a trade or two to help us gain one of those assets plus more in the trade itself would help this franchise hopefully one day become a better team.

  • RKD

    Only way is up

    I can understand the hesitation of some people wanting to be optimistic this season because of the last few years, but there is more positives then negatives in my opinion.

    Wideman is an legit top four, all star and makes are defence one of the best in the west.
    Hudlers skill and energy is an upgrade from Olli’s, Moss’ and Kostopolous’
    Sven is the real deal, his AHL numbers are good considering the lack of talent he played with.
    We have more youth in the line up with Leland, Sven, Horak, Backs and Brodie
    New coaching staff with high energy and new system
    The team, from most accounts, are acting like a team and having fun doing it.

    We were only 5 points out of 8th last year and have been on the line the last three years.

    People will always find the downside in things because its easier that way, and with everyone and their goldfish hopping on the “Trash Calgary” bandwagon the media is stirring up again, its hard not to. But the way I see it is we have the players, the coaches and the support staff to do great things and I for one will be behind this team, through the ups and downs.

    It’s a challenge and thats what makes this game fun.

  • Old Soldier

    Something being forgotten is the fact that its Flames management’s fault Sven isnt playing with a number of peers like the Oilers young players have been. And lets not forget, right now the best of the bunch was a 22nd pick, not a first rounder.

    Sven is going to be a solid player, a top 6 player, and any prediction beyond that is pure guess work. What flames fans should be focusing on is the fact that the organization has only had a player of the Baerstchi ilk once in a decade.

    There is no reason in the world that he couldnt have been playing a full season in Abbotsford with 3 or 4 other solid first round picks, and perhaps the odd 2nd, except for the fact that the Flames cant draft to save their lives.

    My best case for the Flames is being out of contention at the trade deadline with the fans putting immense pressure on ownership and management to finally make some definite moves one way or the other.

    The worst case for the Flames, another 10th place finish, with another questionable pick, and enough fans drinking the kool aide thinking that next year they will finally make the playoffs and watch the magic happen.

    • “…Flames cant draft to save their lives.”

      To be fair, the last couple years have been cause for some optimism.

      “The worst case for the Flames, another 10th place finish, with another questionable pick, and enough fans drinking the kool aide thinking that next year they will finally make the playoffs and watch the magic happen.”

      Agreed. This is far worse than the hiccup scenario in my opinion.

  • Canucks Suck

    Seeing a lot of predictions of Flames being 13th, 14th or 15th(behind Columbus no less). Dont think so & who cares, there’s a reason you have to play the games, otherwise we would have had a lottery pick the last couple years. We arent that bad, this team is better than last year, then again, I didnt feel last year Flames should have even come close to 9th spot. In reality, this team will be in striking distance even at the trade deadline. The make or break year will be determined by Feasters decisions at the trade deadline. Hopefully we get some entertaining & pleasant suprises along the way of this years ride. Injuries is going to be the buzz word for all the NHL teams. 48 games in 96 days is just a greedy cash grab & the fans will be robbed of great hockey because it will create a lot of big name injured players in the press boxes. The hype of the playoff race will be used to sugar coat this fact.

  • Canucks Suck

    One question about the last point. What if we buy heavy already sitting comfortably in a playoff spot? I know thats probably unlikely but would you be against the team trying to add if we have a decent season or do you think this is only 48 games and we should just wait that out?

  • beloch

    Injuries will likely be the deciding factor this season. While the average age of the Flames has gone down, the players doing the heavy lifting are mostly one year older. This, combined with a compressed schedule, will make staying healthy a challenge. The lineup looked good last season too, but half the team was AHL pluggers by mid-season!

    All I really hope for is a clear decision by the trade deadline. I hope that either the team is healthy and clearly bound for the playoffs, or that the wheels have come off and Feaster is finally free to take advantage of the usual inflation that hits at the trade deadline to stock up on picks and prospects.

    As painful as it has been watching the Flames repeatedly overpay for spare-parts to push them into 8th, only to fall short, I have to recognize that this behavior is a product of the standings. When the team is 10th going into the deadline, the only sure thing for a GM is that selling will net you *all* the blame for the team’s failure.

  • RexLibris

    What Chris said is pretty much echoing my thoughts on the matter.

    I like Baertschi. I like his skill, his vision, and his competitive nature. He’s a really solid player. If he turns into a regular 80-point player in a few years I’ll be thrilled.

    But my concern is that the pressure that could be placed on him because he is, right now, the ONLY blue-chip prospect the Flames have, will be crushing.

    Ideally, I would like to see him apprentice in the AHL for at least one more season so that the Flames could hopefully graduate at least one other prospect along with him.

    I also agree wholeheartedly with Old Soldier there. Best case scenario for the Flames is for reality to hit the management team in the face. Hard. With luck, they wake up and reassess the situation and make the appropriate moves.

    It’s either this year, or it’ll be a long stretch of lonely road ahead.

  • Franko J

    My only worry is injuries. Last season with the amount of injuries the team had really upset the chemistry and balance to the roster. In order to be consistent and play to certain level players have to mesh. Last season I thought Calgary played well enough to win games, but didn’t play consistent enough to win they needed to the most.

    For me the best case scenario is this season for the Flames is to:

    1. Play a more energetic and up tempo game. Stronger work ethic.
    2. Make the playoffs.
    3. Limited injuries.
    4. Show the fans what shows on paper doesn’t reflect what can happen on the ice.

    Win or lose I cheer for the Flames.