The Nation has decided to hand out (virtual) year-end hardware for each team across the network this season, and for every season moving forward. We’ll share our votes and thoughts on the team’s various MVP’s and will open up voting for the readers to boot.
It was a rough season in Calgary, but that doesn’t mean things were bad across the board. Here’s who we deserved some recogination despite the lack of success…
Nominees – Lee Stempniak, Mikael Backlund, TJ Brodie, Mike Cammalleri, Curtis Glencross, Dennis Wideman
FN writers pick – Lee Stempniak (2 votes)
Team leader in shots, assists and up there in plus/minus and points. Arguably the team’s most consistent presence on the ice, and usually reliable for a big goal every now and then. (Honorable mention to Matt Stajan.) – Ryan Pike
I can’t believe I’m saying this and it’s not even his contract year. He knows that, right? Stemps is the only guy to have played in every game this year, and has been the one truly consistent forward over the course of the (admittedly grim) season. He’s currently second on the team in scoring and has been a constant in what has become a revolving door of players. – BookofLoob
Mike Cammalleri co-led the team in points with Stempniak despite playing less games, which is why he was included. Dennis Wideman may not have had quite the impact Feaster expected, but the former Capital led the Flames back-end in scoring (22 points) and average ice time (25:01).
Mikael Backlund and Curtis Glencross were both high impact forwards for the team at times this year. Backlund again led all forwards in possession rate and has established himself as the club’s best two-way centerman at just 24-years old. Glencross scored a team high 15 goals in just 40 games and looks like a guy who is a legitimate top-6 forward, which seemed like stretch a few years ago.
Mikael Backlund: He’s not leading the team in scoring but he has taken a massive leap forward for this team and his place in it. Backlund started the season with gangbuster mini-training camp. All eyes were on him from the start and he didn’t disappoint.
He continued that play into the regular season until he got hurt, again. However when he came back, he showed little rust and he was right back at what he does. Kent has written numerous accounts on just what his possession numbers look like and what he contributes to this line-up. In addition to that, Backs picked up on the offensive side of his game. Taking his shooting percentage from a 2.3 to a 9.6is a significant improvement.
Where I have really noticed Mike has been since the "trades". He has shown a leadership quality on the ice for all the new kids that have been brought up either by design or emergency. I have no idea how vocal he is with them, or anyone for that matter, in the dressing room, but on the ice he has led by example in all areas of the ice. – Vintage Flame
Nominees – Jay Bouwmeester, TJ Brodie, Dennis Wideman, Mark Giordano
FN writers pick – TJ Brodie (unanimous)
The sophomore Brodie won this one in a landslide amongst FN contributors. Jay Bouwmeester was included despite being moved at the deadline thanks to his improved offensive output and team high minutes munching when he was in the town. Dennis Wideman was mentioned above (most points, most minutes) while Mark Giordano is included because he played by far the toughest minutes on the team in terms of both quality of competition and zone start ratio.
TJ Brodie. First thing I did was take the names of Cory Sarich, Anton Babchuk, and Chris Butler onto pieces of paper, shred them up, put them in a blender with blood, lighter fluid, and death, light them on fire, and shoot them out of a self-fashioned cannon at Pluto. Then I took a look at what was left, and with Jay Bouwmeester gone to St. Louis, it was between Brodie and Gio (Jyo?), and to me, the answer was almost obvious. – BookofLoob
TJ Brodie: This was just a no-brainer. Everyone was excited last year as to just how well TJ played in 54 games as a rookie. This year he was that much better. He was put into the top pairing with Jay Bouwmeester and rarely looked under water or over his head.
After the Bouwmeester trade, there were probably more than a few people that thought we were bound to see a regression of some kind in his game. He answered that quickly and has done so every night since then. Logging almost half an hour per game, this is his defensive corps; at least for now. In the 8-2 blowout against the Oilers, TJ still managed to be a +1.
This kid is going to be exciting to watch for a long, long time. – Vintage Flame
T.J. Brodie He eats up a lot of minutes. He’s great with the puck. He’s a great first-pass defender. He’s 22. – Ryan Pike
There’s naturally going to be some overlap with team MVP here since the Flames aren’t rife with a lot notable players, given the season they had.
Nominees – Mikael Backlund, Lee Stempniak, Curtis Glencross, Mike Cammalleri, Jiri Hudler
FN writers pick – Glencross/Stempniak (2 votes each)
Curtis Glencross: Scoreface led the team in goals this year, but he also led this team. He is just one of those guys that comes to play every night. On those occasions when he has missed games with various injuries (most notably his wrist), he has come back with determination and usually ended up right back on the scoresheet.
One of his goals before this season was to be a 30/30 guy for the Flames. Had they played a full season schedule this year, Glencross would have been on pace to accomplish that. it’s still my belief that he has to be in for serious consideration to wear the Captain’s "C" next season. – Vintage Flame
First of all, I love and miss you Jarome. Secondly, I hate you Brian MacGrattan. Thirdly, I will not miss you Blake Comeau. fourthly, #GoBlairJones.
But fifth, and the most answery of this question, is Mikael Backlund. Little Mikey would be my MVP if he had stayed healthy for the whole year. But he’s been like Brodie in the sense that he’s just gotten better and better as the season goes on, and more often than not has been the Flames’ best player this time around. Sign him, make him a big part of your offense going forward, and let’s all smile and laugh at all the clowns who thought he was finished here. – BookofLoob
Nominees – Matt Stajan, Jiri Hudler, Roman Cervenka, Tim Jackman
FN writers pick – Matt Stajan (3 votes)
Stajan goes from the doghouse to the penthouse (sort of) without the baleful glare of Brent Sutter following him around. Stajan was the consensus pick by Flames fans (and everyone else) entering the season to be Calgary’s compliance buy-out in the summer, but there’s a good chance he’ll be back with the team for his final contract year and may even be worth something on the trade market for th first time since he was dealt for (sigh) Dion Phaneuf.
Other candidates include Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka. Both started the season off with a bang and then faded as things went south, but each guy put up decent numbers considering his usage/ice time. Cervenka wasn’t much liked by the coaching staff thanks to his lackluster two-way game and poor conditioning, but he scored at 35 point pace over an 82-game season with just 13 minutes of ice per game.
Finally, Tim Jackman gets a mention for his tireless efforts from the 4th line. Jackman isn’t a heavyweight enforcer, but is game to drop the gloves whenever it’s required. He’s also good enough to outplay a lot of other goonish 4th liners, which is all you can ask from guys at the bottom of the rotation.
Matt Stajan. /reads that back. WHAT??? Matt Stajan? Book Of Loob from last season is incredulous over this choice, but we all know he’s been rejuvenated this season, and holy moly, has he actually been pretty damn good. If this kind of play from him continues, we’re going to shift the discussion from "Can we buy this guy out yet?" to debating whether or not to re-sign him or trade him while his value is anywhere close to high. – BookofLoob
Matt Stajan: Last year’s goat rejuvenates himself comes out and works his ass off! On a team that spent most of the season taking constant steps backwards, Stajan was a guy that was consistent and even making progress.
Unarguably his best season since joining Calgary. 23 points with an 11.9 shooting percentage and a 46.2 face-off percentage, while starting in the offensive zone 42.6% of the time. I really liked his all around game this year, so much so that I didn’t once refer to him as "Stajfail" and in fact found myself cheering for #TeamStajan on more than a few occasions. – Vintage Flame
Nominees – Sven Baertschi, Roman Cervenka, Max Reinhart
FN writers pick – Sven Baertschi (unanimous)
It was a rocky start for Sven this year. The kid couldn’t find his footing in the bigs after making the team out of camp and was subsequently demoted down the roster and ultimately to the farm team. Upon returning after a stint with the Heat, Sven looked far more comfortable, however, and finished the year with a seven game point streak, the longest by any rookie in the league this year.
Cervenka and Renhart were the only other rookies to see significant playing time this year, so they’re here to round out the poll more than anything else.
Roman Horak and TJ Brodie miss the cut thanks to technically not being rookies.
Sven Baertschi: The kid started the year with the burden of this city on his shoulders after his brief five game debut in 2012. That was a lot of pressure for the kid and it didn’t take long to mount and affect him earlier this year. So much to the point that the team found it necessary to send him back to Abby for a confidence building stint. It worked. The Heat were something like 18-2-3 with Sven in the line-up, and once he got the rhythm back, he was back with the big club. Since then he has rattled off seven points and looks like he is having fun; especially with all his buddies now up here with him. – Vintage Flame
Gotta be Sven, because I don’t think Brodie counts as a rookie. Sven hasn’t been too exciting this season, save for a bit of a charge here now that there’s nothing tangible to play for, but he’s been better than Roman Cervenka. Vintage Flame is a better skater than Ben Hanowski, and Max Reinhart is returning to a more mediocre version of himself, which we all saw coming. Sven takes it by default, really. Who else can you give it to? Danny Taylor? Get out of here with that Danny Taylor nonsense. – BookofLoob
Goat of the Year
Nominees – Miikka Kiprusoff, Roman Cervenka, Jay Feaster, Chris Butler
FN writer pick – no conensus
This is a tough one. The finger could be pointed at a lot of folks on the ice and in the front office for the debacle this year. Personally, I went with Miikke Kiprusoff. His numbers this season weren’t merely poor but awful. Despite a few good games to end things, his SV% ended up at 73rd overall amongst the 82 goalies who played a game this season (72nd overall? Leland Irving).
On top of being injured and terrible, he completely cratered his trade value by telling folks he’d simply retire rather than report to a new team. Another former cornerstone asset fades away for nothing. The worst possible conclusion to the Kipper era for the organization.
Roman Cervenka Best player outside of the NHL? Nope. – Ryan Pike
FEASTERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR (imagine me shaking my hands in the air and yelling maniacly into a thunderstorm)
You traded Iginla and Bouwmeester for my favourite Buddy Cop duo, spare parts, mid to low first round draft picks, and a goalie who is only average in a league that is like three times as bad as the NHL. You nearly lost a first and a third because you were arrogant enough to believe you could challenge a clause in the CBA (you can’t), and hey, WHY IS BRIAN MACGRATTAN A FLAME AGAIN? Steve Begin and Blake Comeau were bigger cogs than Baertschi and Cervenka this year, and that’s asinine. If you were going to trade Iggy and Kip, why not do it when there was more value, more of a market?
There’s a lot of Ken King/ and ownership to blame in this mess, but the Flames are bad because of the team that was assembled, and guess what, if you’re the person responsible for building that, you’re the goat. – BookofLoob
Chris Butler: I actually defended this guy last year! What the hell was I thinking??? I gave him credit for doing a decent job despite being thrown into the top pairing; a place he was not a fit for, but somehow managed to make it work playing with Bouwmeester.
This year he has been terrible on any pairing, playing with any player. He has been late on plays, sometimes so slow that he has missed the play completely. When he has been in on the play, he has made costly mistakes, often hanging
Slim pickins’ for Flames awards this season, so a few skaters dominated the conversation. Nevertheless, please cast your ballot for your various choices and we’ll reveal the winners as picked by the readers in a few days.