This was never much of a question when Jarome Iginla was around. With him gone and the team rebuilding, however, it might be the hardest prediction to make about the Flames this year. Aside from "will the Flames goaltending be any good?" of course.
Here are the candidates
– Mike Cammlalleri – no one on the roster has more career points than Cammy and he is the only guy to score more than 60 points in a season. He has also been trending downwards the last few years and is being actively shopped by the club as we speak. There’s next to no chance he’s still with the Flames after the trade deadline.
– Curtis Glencross – His career high is 48 points (albeit in 67 games) but Glencross is a good bet to soak up a lot of primary minutes this season on the PP and at even strength. He has spent a lot of time playing supporting roles during his NHL career, but this year he’s lock to play a ton. Probably the odds-on favorite to lead the way with 50-60 points.
– Jiri Hudler – He was on pace for a 52 point season last year, though that had a lot to do with a red hot start that eventually fizzled. Hudler has scored over 50 before with Red Wings and can dazzle with his hands and vision. He can also disappear for long stretches and didn’t look particularly jazzed to be in Calgary when management pulled the plug and began the rebuild last season.
– Mikael Backlund – Likely 40-45 point guy over a full season, Backlund will nevertheless get a lot of ice time given the Flames center situation and may actually spend more than two minutes on the powerplay per game for the first time in his career. If he can stay healthy for a change, he has an outside shot.
– Lee Stempniak – One of the Flames most consistent performers in 2012-13, Stempniak was second behind Backlund in terms of possession and tied for first on the team in points with 32 in 47 games (a 56 point pace). Stempniak is also in a contract season and will be highly motivated to put together a strong year. Behind Glencross, he’s probably the best bet to lead the charge, assuming he’s with the team after the deadline that is.
– Sven Baertschi – The Flames rookie has all the tools to be a 60+ point getter in the league, but it’s impossible to know if he’ll take that kind of step this year, particularly given the lackluster supoorting cast. We also don’t know where Sven will land in the rotation – top 6? Bottom 6? Second PP? His role and his degree of development will determine his output.
– Dennis Wideman – Yes, this could actually happen. Wideman will probably lead the blueline in ice time and he’ll get a ton of PP time as well. If one or two guys get injured up front and/or if a few of the vets get traded, this could be the type of season where a 47-point effort by a blueliner leads the club in scoring.
– Matt Stajan – This could actually happen as well, and frankly it would be a great thing for the team. If Stajan sticks in the top-6 and returns to 50-60 point form, Calgary will be able to flip him for a nice return at the deadline, which was an unthinkable scenario at this time last year.
– David Jones – a bit of a long shot, Jones career best season of 27-goals and 45-points is within range of what it will take to be in the running, though he’ll have to usurp at least one of Hudler, Stempniak, Cammalleri and Glencross to get enough ice time to be in the mix. That said, Jones probably won’t be moved at trade deadline, so might win the race almost by default if Feaster clears the deck again.
So who will it be? Leave your pick and your point total estimate in the comments.