1. Taking a run at Baertschi
Probably no one in Calgary was especially happy to see Sven Baertschi seemingly half-ass his way through the rookie tournament — see Jay Feaster’s disease rant — or the preseason, but it was more than a little surprising to see Brian Burke come out and speak so frankly about what a huge disappointment he’s been.
At some point, it’s enough to make you wonder just how much rope they’re going to give this kid going forward. They already did that "Send him to the AHL for a wakeup call" thing and it seemed to work at least somewhat effectively but you can only go on the promise of what your talents say you could be before everyone gets frustrated and starts counting you out. Granted, there are a lot of stats that Kent dug up for high-quality 20-year-old forwards in the last few years which show that Baertschi compares very favorably to them, but again, there’s a show-me factor that I think the organization would like to keep in mind.
No one’s counting him out or anything, but I did think the Burke comments came a little bit out of left field, all things considered. It will be extremely interesting to see how the kid responds, especially given who he’s being put with to start the season. Which brings us to…
2. Monahan and Baertschi playing with Jones
This was a line that played together in practice yesterday and is thus a presumptive inclusion for the first game of the year. Tough to be sure what to make of it.
On the one hand they are all theoretically guys who can put the puck in the net, which is to say that Jones is a former 27-goal scorer, but a lot of their promise of production is really only in theory. Jones has hit 20-plus goals twice, Baertschi is a very promising young player, and Monahan obviously is the best prospect in the system. But that comes across as a lot of what-ifs to cobble together, and more to the point (and also germane to the above discussion about Baertschi’s proving he can ably produce in the NHL), that’s a lot of youth to have on a line with a guy who had three goals last season despite getting almost 17 minutes a night.
I’m growing increasingly convinced that Monahan is just getting a nine-game run with the big club before he’s sent back to the OHL but nonetheless I can see this being a line that takes on water very quickly if things don’t break exactly right for it. Maybe that’s true of every Flames line this season, but is that conducive to success for the kids in particular? What happens with Jones doesn’t really matter, but development does. The upside is that these two start to form a sort of psychic connection they can rely on next year and the year after and then for several more after that, but the downside is that it further cements Baertschi’s "can’t produce" label.
Burke says he’ll become a better defensive center
3. The Colborne trade
This is the reason I think the Flames will now send Monahan back to juniors, even with the demotion of Corban Knight.
It was a reasonable enough move, considering this is a) a guy with whom Burke is extremely familiar, and b) an essentially no-cost acquisition. Giving up a mid-round pick for someone who is surplus to another team’s needs is good asset management and the end of the day, and while I don’t necessarily buy all that stuff Burke was selling about Colborne reinventing his game on the fly, he’s probably someone that helps fill a roster spot in the short term if nothing else.
The AHL numbers don’t look great and the trade was poo-pooed, but those take into account the fact that he was dumb enough to play with an extremely serious wrist injury for most of an AHL season. Both prior to and following the correction of the problem he was something like 0.9 PPG or a point a night, and that’s pretty solid.
Again, it’s worth trying at the end of the day because you’d rather have Knight get bigger minutes and burn the opportunity at the NHL level — in a lost season — on a guy who projects higher (in theory) and who costs nothing.
4. The dumbest angle you’ll ever see
I understand that there’s a lot of reason to be negative about the Flames and that there’s a lot of reason why the team and its fans would be willing to "sell hope," as it were, but this season preview piece from the Canadian Press, entitled, "Flood effort fuels Flames in their bid to be a playoff team," is kind of bizarre. Who thinks up that angle then saunters up to Mark Giordano like, "Say there Cap’n, those deadly floods: You gonna use em for motivation to get into the playoffs?" What’s he supposed to say?
Is it something the team and the city probably still thinks about a lot? Sure, of course. It was a devastating disaster that must have been extremely scary for those on the ground. But to "sell hope" in that way is trying to tie yourself to the issue, and that’s gross.
5. Nope, sorry, this is dumber
This is Brian Costello of the Hockey News selling hope in the dumbest possible way: How can they be worse than they were last year?
Buddy, have you looked at the roster? "I think the Flames will miss Iggy a lot less than any pundit expects. Let’s face it, there were a lot of things Iginla didn’t do well, especially as he slowed down in recent seasons." Okay sure, but you can still pencil him in for 30 or so goals even at his advanced age, independent of who’s around him. Who else on the Flames do you think you can say is good for even 25? Mike Cammalleri? Maybe Curtis Glencross? Beyond that, I’d say it’s a big ask.
But he’s right that Karri Ramo would have to put in some serious work to be worse than Miikka Kiprusoff last season. So there’s that.