FN Weekend Open Thread – What are you Looking forward to in 2013-14?

 

 

The Calgary Flames will enter next season as one of the favorites to finish last in the league. The club lacks offensive fire power, will probably be playing kids at key positions and its goaltending is a complete enigma. If everything breaks right, the Flames might be competitive night-to-night, but it’s much more likely to be a long, painful winter here in Calgary.

Which doesn’t mean there won’t be reasons to watch. Ironically, I’ve found a lot of fans are actually more interested and optimistic about the team than they have been in a long time, if only because this year represents a new dawn which has been too long delayed. The overall record won’t matter as much as the development of certain key pieces.

With that, here’s what I’m looking forward to this year:

– Watching TJ Brodie

The kid went from possible NHLer to possible top-two NHLer in the space of 40-games last year. His development over the last 12 or so months has been incredibly rapid – in fact, one of the steepest curves we’ve seen out of a blueline prospect of his age in a long time.

Brodie has his bridge deal and I’m willing to bet he’s at least top-3 on the back-end in terms of points and ice time this season. In fact, if he somehow manages to take another step forward, he’ll do better than that.

– Mikael Backlund emergence

If he can stay healthy, Backlund is poised to put together a career best season and finally establish himself as a primary contributor. He’s already the best two-way center on the team, so all he needs is to stay out of the infirmary and put a few more points on the board. It will be very interesting to see how Bob Hartley deploys him this year.

– Sven Baertschi development

Sven had an up-and-down first season, but it ended with him putting together a seven game point streak and lookin much more comfortable at the NHL level  than he did on his initial foray in January. While the wings will be somewhat crowded in Calgary to start the year (Glencross, Cammalleri, Hudler, Jones, Galiardi, Stempniak), there’s no question Baertschi is perhaps the most naturally talented offensive player amongst them.

It’s easy to forget that Baertschi hasn’t even turned 21 years old yet (he will in October) and that last year was essentially his 19-20 year old season, year most prospects spent in junior hockey. For him to simply make the team and play a regular shift will mean he’s ahead of most player’s development curve, let alone if he plays a top-six position. Keep in mind Claude Giroux (my personal "hopeful" comparable for Baertschi) played in just 42 games as a 20-21 year old and  scored 27 points (0.64 PPG).

That is my benchmark for Baertschi – if he can match or exceed around 0.60 PPG this year, it will probably be a really good season for the kid (who is still technically a rookie BTW).

– The debut of Corban Knight

I don’t really know what to expect from the college stand-out, so I really just want to see how he handles himself against NHL competition. I am assuming he’ll make the team out of camp and that he’ll play a "two-way" role from the outset, but beyond that, who knows…

– What can Feaster get that the deadline?

The Flames are almost certainly going to be sellers again at the trade deadline. They liquidated all of their "big ticket" items last April, but they still have some guys who might bring in a few useful futures, performance depending. Mike Cammalleri could land another first rounder if he can put together a strong season. With an expiring contract and 25-30 goal pace, Cammalleri should be one of the most sought after rentals on the market.

After him, guys like Lee Stempniak and Matt Stajan may attract some interest. If either guy has another good season the Flames may try to re-sign either or both, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to move on to greener pastures. If so, Feaster should put them on the auction block.

What are you looking forward to this year? Share in the comments.

  • supra steve

    Im looking forward to a year of fulfilled expectations. We just had to lower them. The last 6 0r 7 seasons of mediocrity have been tough to take when prospects of winning looked to be better than reality. May the Flames never disappoint again! Here’s to embracing mediocrity!

  • beloch

    Einstein defined insanity as repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results. Feaster has *finally* bought into the 90’s infomercial!

    So, the one thing I’ve been looking forward to for years has already happened! Any good things that happen this season are just gravy.

    Of course, if the Flames can’t win, at least our nearby frenemies seem likely to provide ample opportunity for schadenfreude.

    P.S. Excellent choice of thread picture.

  • It is all about the kids no doubt about it, Personally I would like to see ourselves find a number 1 goalie so we don’t find ourselves in an Edmonton mess, (you suck Dubnyk). Personally I would rather Monahan spend another year in Junior, there really isn’t a need for him at the NHL level right now, let him tear up junior another year and bring him back when we start getting closer to being able to actually compete. I am, for some strange reason, very excited for this season

  • RexLibris

    I regret waking up 3:30 AM to watch the Flames play and then going to work. But the regret stops at 4:00PM as I get back home to my wife and dog and realize it’s only hockey. Repeat.

  • ngthagg

    I’m looking forward to most is Hartley playing the team in the way most effective for future development, not necessarily current wins. For example, no Baertschi-on-the-4th-line nonsense.

    What I’m hoping to see is a low-hype player surprise, something like what Brodie did. The sort of player who had the talent and was just waiting to physically and mentally mature.

  • please cancel acct

    Iam looking forward to see what kind of game Hartley expects from this group.Last year we started with a quick transition game (nice change) and ended with a defensive game where we apparently required more tough guys,in order to stick up for ourselves.

    Will Ward in Abby change his game to suit Hartley or the other way around

    • seve927

      According to Connie they have met and are supposed to in the same page. However with the offensive talent pool going to thin down there it might be difficult to maintain. According to all I’ve heard this summer Hartley would prefer an uptempo transition game; this could be why they selected Porier instead of Hunter. Maybe finally the coach, GM and scouts are all on the same page. They went went with quicker D in their acquisitions so you would think that is the plan.

      • please cancel acct

        Hopefully they are on the same page.

        Also looking forward to Ward moving up to Calgary after he makes Pro’s out of a few more prospects’ .Most likely next year.

  • seve927

    So much. About 20 prospects of note. Hopefully we see some offense develop in Abby this year. I think Reinhart will get it together after a stint in the show. Granlund will take a while to get accustomed, but by the end of the year will produce. I don’t expect anything from Ferland, but if he can get it going, that would be a HUGE plus. Elson is my dark horse. I think he could be a very good 3rd-4th liner.

    Hopefully the Flames can place at least one, maybe up to 4 guys on the Canadian World Junior team. That would be the high point of the year to me if our boys could beat Gillies, Sieloff and the rest of the Americans in a tight gold medal game.

    On the Flames, a few more career first goals this year for Monahan, Gaudreau, Granlund – maybe even Agostino and Arnold. A rebound from Gio and Butler, and another first round pick come from a Cammalleri trade.

    I think with a good draft this year (2014) which would have to include getting a top end D (spelled E-k-b-l-a-d), and good showings from a number of prospects the focus could shift back to the NHL level by 2015, and looking for trades to get some young potential on RW.

  • beloch

    I think it’s too early to start talking about what we’re going to do with a top pick next summer. The Flames may prove to be counterproductively mediocre this season, especially if Ramo turns out to be good.

  • Willi P

    you know why your going to finish last??

    because your team trades away Brett Hull, Marc Savard and give away Martin St.Louis LOL!!!!

    then look at feasters draft record??

    are u sure feaster aint a Oiler fan??

  • SmellOfVictory

    In addition to all the stuff Kent listed, the prospects are going to be a great thing to watch. This is the first year where I have actual expectations of Jankowski, and additionally the Heat should be interesting to pay attention to for the first non-lockout period since forever.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    The Flames are in the rebuild cycle so the only thing of interest to me is the acquisition and progression of youth.

    Baertschi,Brodie, Backlund, Horak, Knight and Monahan’s (my assumption is he plays in NHL this year)development and usage will have my scrutiny this upcoming year.

    It’s my hope that Hartley utilizes his vets in a way that gives these young guys a chance to have success(doesn’t punish them for mistakes-unless they’re repeated mistakes).

    I think that the coaches and vet players have to establish the work ethic and accountability culture…play hard, play loose, constantly improve. Keep vets who have impeccable habits (on and off ice) and who push each other to compete as hard as possible.

    It’s all about process now…results will come after. These young guys will become the future ‘structure’ of the process. When new players come in, they will have to show what ‘Flames Hockey’ is all about.

    Finally, I want to see them (young guys) have a ton of fun and show it on the ice. Acknowledge it big time when things go well.

  • Franko J

    On the bright side I’m optimistic about the future of this franchise once again. No doubt this team will have it “ups and downs” again this season, the challenge this year is to see if Hartley and the coaching staff can actually exceed expectations (lowest in years) from the players on this roster.

    Like most fans I’m looking forward to seeing which player on the roster becomes a fan favorite and which goaltender will try and replace Kiprusoff between the pipes.

    Also, I look forward to watching the Flames play against all the teams in the league again and seeing how the new alignment will effect the playoff positioning in the league.