Weekend Open Thread: Moving Forward or Moving Back?

Pages have fallen off the calendar this summer and we’re quietly in mid-July. As such, we’re transitioning at FlamesNation from picking at the corpse of the 2013-14 Flames towards projecting what the 2014-15 Flames will be. Or do.

So, in the interest of stirring the pot: WILL THE FLAMES FINISH BETTER OR WORSE NEXT SEASON?

THEIR MOVES

Calgary finished with 77 points in 2013-14. Are they better or worse on-paper?

In my mind? The Flames more or less treaded water with their moves. However, the goaltending upgrade has the potential to steal games for them, and if Gaudreau turns out to be a real NHL talent, his addition could easily recoup the loss of Cammalleri (even ignoring Raymond’s arrival).

Not a guarantee, though, and Calgary’s defense is still pretty thin outside of the top pairing.

DIVISIONAL MOVES

So Calgary will probably be about as good/bad as last year. Maybe a tad better, but it’s unlikely the bottom will fall out (they still have Backlund, Brodie & Giordano). What about their divisional neighbours?

Anaheim [39 points ahead]: Added Ryan Kesler and some depth. Lost Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. They’re about as good, maybe better if Kesler and Heatley gel with their new mates.

San Jose [34 points ahead]: Added some beef (John Scott, Taylor Fedun, Tye McGinn), lost some big defenders (Brad Stuart and Dan Boyle). They’re a little better and a little worse, and their core is another year older.

Los Angeles [23 points ahead, won Cup]: Basically made no major changes.

Arizona [12 points ahead]: Added Sam Gagner & B.J. Crombeen, lost Radim Vrbata. They’re (at worst) just as good, probably a bit better depending on how Gagner falls into Tippett’s system. (Also lost Ribeiro, who scored a lot despite other stuff going on.)

Vancouver [6 points ahead]: Added a lot of bodies (Ryan Miller, Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and a new coach/GM). Lost Ryan Kesler. I’m not wholly convinced that Miller’s a big upgrade, and I’m not sure that the addition of Vrbata and some good depth guys makes up for losing Kesler. They definitely under-performed last year, so they should be better just because of competent coaching.

Edmonton [10 points behind]: Added Keith Aulie, Benoit Pouliot & Mark Fayne. And lost Sam Gagner. I have no idea how they finished so far behind Calgary with their roster, and I don’t know why I think they’ll be about as good next season. On-paper, they’re probably a little bit worse than last year.

SO?

I think the Flames will probably be a bit further away from the playoff pack next year, as the big guns stayed as good or got bigger. But the Oilers probably aren’t catching ’em. Not sure about the Sabres or Panthers yet, though.

FN FACEOFF ON MONDAY

If you have questions or topics you’d like us to discuss, fire away in the comments!

  • The Last Big Bear

    No reason to believe the Flames won’t compete every night as they did last year and when you play in alot of one goal games, anything can happen. Having said that, the Flames lack offensive punch and will be challenged to put pucks in the net. I will put the Flames at or near the bottom of the league. Our friends up north will miss the playoffs again but I predict will improve their point totals and finish 10 points ahead of Calgary.

  • Parallex

    Sad to say the Flames finish worse.

    With the Draft/July 1 replacements we’re looking at downgrades pretty much everywhere except the fourth forward line and back-up goalie… AKA pretty much the two least valuable parts of the line-up. Meanwhile the talent exchanges were lopsided towards the western conference with the premium talent all either staying within or transferring to the west. Thankfully (for those wanting a higher draft pick) the other dwellers of the NHL basement from last season (Oilers, Sabres, Islanders, Panthers) all managed to take on some of the second tier talent (The Moulson, Grabovski, Gionta, Bolland, and Fayne types) in excess of that which they lost.

    All things considered we’re going to be facing better players more often with a reduced line-up of our own. I’d probably rank us as co-favorites (along with the Sabres, they improved but improving from what they were last year is faint praise) in the McDavid/Eichel/Hanifin sweeps.

        • jeremywilhelm

          Disagree. Tavares and Stamkos are the closest thing to Crosby good since Crosby. McDavid’s numbers aren’t even close to Tavares’ numbers at the same age.

          I think the two are comparable, but saying McDavid is another level beyond Stamkos or Tavares is probably false.

          Tavares as a 16 year old score 72 goals and 134 points in 67 games.

          Mcdavid scored 28 goals and 99 points in 56 games as a 16 year old.

          I was being generous when I compared McDavid to Tavares.

  • jeremywilhelm

    I like the Fayne signing. But the Oilers are looking to move Petry. Petry is a better player than Fayne.

    That’s a net loss. and I have a feeling Fayne isn’t going to fair so well without Andy Greene moving the puck for him.

  • Optimistic view: The top nine forwards and the top four defence have a break out season (I’m talking about Johnny Hockey winning the Calder type of break out), and in front of steady goaltending, the Flames manage to sneak into the #8 spot, losing in the first round.

    Rational view: about the same as last year.

    Pessimistic view: #3 overall only because Buffalo and the New York Islanders keep pouring fuel onto their tire fires.

    Unrelated to the Flames, but adding onto that last comment, isn’t it scary that Buffalo holds New York’s pick? Isn’t it double scary that they could be the two worst teams next year?

    • MonsterPod

      Buffalo selects McDavid and Eichel to play with Reinhart. Hmm, methinks the NHL does need to do something about the lottery.

      Perhaps the bottom 5 teams should each have a 10% chance at the #1.

      Garth Snow is an epic idiot, but with no first rounder this year, they have no reason to tank. With Strome and G. Reinhart in the fold with a healthy Tavares, they should be more competitive like two seasons ago.

      This is the only year I will cheer for the Flames to tank because this 2015 draft is supposed to be loaded and we are new to the rebuild. Even if we miss on the sweepstakes, we could land a franchise player in the top 5 — a Petriangelo Dman would be nice.

      But then that’s it. Pining for top picks is all that excites the fans of perennial loser teams. Treliving strikes me as a serious, competitive, and driven dude. Things here will likely shake hard when they need to and eventually Calgary should be attractive to FAs again.

      The West is powerful, but Colorado finished ahead of St. Louis and Chicago last year. And Tampa surged in the East. What comes to mind with those teams? Elite centers, hard work, young core.

      After decades of deficiency down the middle, the Flames have Bennett, Backlund, Monahan, and even yes Jankowski. All first round picks. We finally have a foundation.

      • RedMan

        and it is starting to zound like theres a chance we add Kevin Hayes to the center depth… a chance…

        6’4″ 1st round pick center played with Gaudreau, refuses to sign with chicago, wants to go to a team wheres theres a chance to actually play. Rumors linking him to Calgary…

  • MattyFranchise

    If Ramo maintains his late season numbers from last season the Flames won’t suck as much. Hiller is a great back up/tandem for Ramo.

    Honestly, with the the moves both teams made, I don’t think either will be bottom five.

  • RedMan

    So…

    Kevin Hayes. refuses to report to Chicago, and rumors have suggested he may end up in Calgary…

    how does this work? can the Flames just sign him? would Flames lose something, i.e. a pick?

    6’4″ center, played with Gaudreau… 1st round pick…

    sounds like it wouls be a coup for Calgary, but what about Karma?

      • Willi P

        Hockey Futures, Capgeek and even the Flames own website often don’t have players listed by the position they most recently played but by the position they were drafted in; this often leads to contributors on FN making bold predictions on lines and signings that are likely to be wrong. Two of my favorites are based upon the discussion of who should play the traditional role of 4th line center and people often mention either Bouma or Rhino. Bouma spent most of the season playing on the wing and his best performances came on the wing(Colborne is listed a center but played his best on the wing). Rhino led the Heat in scoring playing on the LW with Granlund as his center; in the playoffs he Granlund and Poirier(playing with a bum shoulder) were IMO the best line for the Heat(Poirier although listed as a LW can play RW). Sven played on the LW with Knight and had his best run with the Heat playing with Knight.It’s based on this information that makes me think that either Granlund or Knight will be the fourth center and if it is Granlund then I see a much greater chance of the Flames rolling 4 lines as Knight(size) would be more suited for a traditional 4th line center.

        Just reading about Johnny G all season and knowing that Arnold was his C, should make it clear that Hayes most productive season came playing on the RW on this line. Indeed it would be if Hayes signed here because he fits an organizational need; however even if he does sign here I am doubtful that the Johnny, Arnold, and Hayes line will be reunited at the NHL level although it would be a good story.

        • MonsterPod

          Bouma spent most of the season playing on the wing and his best performances came on the wing

          That’s because when he was a center his wingers were invariably McGrattan and Westgarth. As a winger, he frequently played on the 3rd line with Backlund.

          Reinhart is far more NHL-ready than Knight or Granlund and he’s spent most of his career at center. Converting him back shouldn’t be a problem (especially since he spent a fair amount of time at each of the three forward positions last year IIRC).

  • If a lot of teams end up deliberately trying to tank this season as some people seem to think, it would be an easy opportunity for a low tier team to sneak into a playoff spot. Assuming no detrimental injuries and a season that can consistently look like the last half of last year’s (plus Hiller in the pipes) that team could easily end up being the Flames. Everyone always assumes a worst case scenario for the Flames but it doesn’t need to go that way. As for a couple others that have been talked about:

    COL – Addition of Briere and Iginla in my mind makes up for the loss of Stastny at least for the very short term (they are a couple place holders but that’s how Stastny would have been viewed if he was still there anyway). Don’t discount Iginla’s individual talent just because he’s coming from a world class team.

    EDM – Their D line is still worse than both Colorado’s and the Flames’. Fayne is not going to save this team. He is a pretty poor skater and the Oilers will need good two way players up front to make up for him when they are playing against strong break out lines with fast forwards. But this shouldn’t be a problem for them… right?

  • Willi P

    The question of whether or not the Flames should pursue Kevin Hayes or not led me to do some research and a comparable with our own prospect Jankowski.

    Hayes was drafted 24 overall in 2010 and his 4 years at BC(many consider one of the top NCAA programs) looks like this year one: 4/10/14, year two: 7/21/28, year 3: 6/19/25, year 4(playing with Johnny and Arnold) 27/38/65. Was his rapid statistical improvement because of maturity or opportunity (probably both)

    Janko was drafted 21 overall in 2012. His first two years a Providence(becoming an NCAA championship caliber program) looks like this: year one 7/11/18, year two 13/12/25, year 3 TBD, year 4 TBD. It is unlikely Janko will have the same jump in his senior year but that may be because he will not have the same caliber of linemates as Hayes had as senior.

    So those who are always jumping all over Janko give the kid a break, his numbers are comparable to Hayes and many think we should pursue Hayes.

    • MonsterPod

      According to ESPN, if Hayes does not sign by August 15 he can walk and Chicago would be given a 2nd round pick in 2015 by the organization that takes him.

      Our 2nd round pick will likely be high and this is supposed to be a great draft. Would we want to do that? I do like me a 6’4″ seasoned right shot.

      Sidenote: with Knight, Arnold, and Granlund all being centers it bums me out that we re-signed Stajan. It seems to me that all three of these guys are close to the show and Stajan is just starting another 4 year deal with us.

      Granlund playing 4 minutes between Bollig and McGrattan seems like a goofy way to encourage your prospects.

      • MonsterPod

        I agree with you in regards to Granlund but that is why I’m a big supporter of rolling for lines which would limit how many games McG would play. A line with Raymond/Granlund and Bollig would be productive and able to ply 10-12 minutes a night.

      • T&A4Flames

        I believe that is incorrect. CHI will be awarded a compensatory 2nd rnd pick but it doesn’t come from another team. Basically there would be 31 2nd rnd picks in 2015.

        Also if I’m not mistaken, CHI will be getting the 2nd rnd’r in the same position he was drafted in, except 1 round lower of course. So he was draft, I believe, 24th overall. CHI would get the 54th pick, but I’m not exactly sure on that.

        • MonsterPod

          Ah, that makes more sense. I don’t remember Edmonton giving Ana a pick for signing J. Schultz.

          So then we should definitely pursue Hayes if he’s free.

          And if the league would give CHI a 2nd rounder, then there would be no point to shop him for a pick before August 15. Can’t imagine anyone would be offering more than that considering the reported depth of the next draft.

          It would be great if the Flames could take on a few dead weight contracts in exchange for a few more 2nd and 3rd rounders next year.

      • MonsterPod

        Dont worry about the stajan resign. He is there to shelter the young guys. He can and will be relegated to 4th line duty and even possibly the wing. He did play on the wing with Sundin in TO.

        Ideally we want to season Knight and Granlund in the minors for another year.

        There are going to be injuries that necessiyate call ups. When we do get banged up having a guy like Stajan around will be appreciated.

        Give the young kids lots of call ups but at the same time keep them playing minutes… dont worry stajan wont get in the way … he has a purpose in this rebuild.

      • MonsterPod

        I thought I had seen a couple months ago (NHL Flames website?) that Chicago would receive a second round pick, but from the NHL and that the signing team doesn’t give up anything. Anyone confirm?

        • Robert Cleave

          Comp picks for 1st rounders that don’t sign come from the league, and they’re at the corresponding position in the second round. Hayes was picked 24th, so Chicago would get a compensatory selection at the 24th spot in round 2. There’s no compensation required from any team that subsequently signs him as a UFA.

  • The point should also be made that you shouldn’t just look at the post draft day moves to gauge whether the Flames have improved since last year. Are you comparing the Flames now to the Flames at the end of last season, or the Flames at this time last year? Because if it’s this time last year, forget about trying to draw comparisons between Raymond and Cammo or TJG or whoever else you will. Take a look at Max Reinharts numbers in 2012-13 vs. 2013-14. Now take a look at Paul Byron. And then consider that neither Granlund nor Corban Knight (just coming out of college) were really in the picture last year. The Flames are not necessarily worse off than they were this time last year and you have to look beyond FA signings and draft day moves to see that.

    • T&A4Flames

      I’m not sure what you’re expecting out of Reinhart, Knight or Granlund. But to expect them to be pieces that carry us close or into the playoffs is a little unreasonable IMO. Comparing to the end of last season, we are left with the loss of a 30 goal scorer and a complimentary 20 goal scorer who also offer intangibles that vets can provide, even when their offence us a bit dried up. We’re also left with far to many unknowns with rookies, new goalies, including Ramo who still has to prove he can back up last years end of season results, and possible injuries to the gut of this team with little in the way of depth. All that and the fact that the teams around us last year all arguably hot better or even much better.

      Be an optimist, that’s great. I’m more of a realist and my expectations are simply to see the team continue to install the identity of a hard working, never quit, hard to play against team but with several losses on the way to another top 5 (hopefully top 2) pick. More development for the guys you mentioned and other kids and next season my expectations rise.

      • I agree with you 100%. I know it sounds like I’m trying to be disgustingly optimistic, but don’t read too much into it. I’m just trying to be the devil’s advocate (this is a place where optimism and devil’s advocacy are pretty much one and the same). There are so many unknowns, as you say, that writing off the Flames as being necessarily worse than they were last year is just as unfounded as saying they definitely aren’t able to make the playoffs. I would still rather see us land another top prospect than see us end up as next year’s flavor of the year dark horse.

      • T&A4Flames

        I agree with that as well. We can’t completely count the Flames out, funny things can happen. That said, If we were to be the Avalanche of a few years ago, when they were picked to be at the bottom of the west conf. and then narrowly edged us out to make the PO’S, that would be terrible. Terrible in the fact that it would be the absolute worst year to pull a one off. COL made the PO’s, got bounced and then regressed back to where they belonged. It would be tragedy for the Flames to do that this year, when obviously we’re no where close to consistently making the PO’s let alone challenging for the cup and in a year where it’s supposedly a deep and skilled draft coming up. I think BBBT also recognize this and that is maybe why we saw the signings we did. Players that will play hard but likely to not make much of an impact.

  • prendrefeu

    It’s interesting to read how other teams fans size up the Oilers going into next year. As an Oiler fan I have a totally different feeling gong into this year than I had last year. No question last year I had no confidence at all in Dubnyk as our starting tender & that proved itself out.

    After MacT acquired Scrivens & Fasth the team played a solid game in front of them & they stopped pucks they should stop, unlike Dubnyk. A long story short, I feel the Oilers are going to be much better this because of that alone. How much better I don’t know but they won’t be nearly as bad as last year. Young guys are more mature & Hall, Eberle & Hopkins are leading the way. Time will tell!

    • RedMan

      The Oilers BETTER be better this year! There will be riots in the street if not!

      I mean, at least move up out of the top 5 pick range for pity-sake! let some other teams rebuild will you???

  • DragonFlame

    So this question is a little off topic but I am looking for a little advice.

    I was hoping to cut out cable TV as I rarely find the time to spend watching it. One thing I would miss though is watching the flames. I was still planning to have very good internet (can’t live without that) and was curious if anyone has found a good website that will show the games in real time?

    I was researching nhl Center ice and am pretty sure I read they only show the games a few days afterwords but may have misread that entirely.

    Does anyone have any experiences they would like to share? Are the games pretty smooth running online or do they tend to lag?

  • piscera.infada

    The Flames are definitely treading water at the moment. With the current roster they certainly won’t improve over last year’s performance. The back end is solid, but still no consistent scoring. The young talent acquired in last two years looks promising, but they have to land some first line scoring before the season starts.

  • KH44

    The Flames will do worse this year than last. Right around 70 points is my prediction. I base this opinion on several factors:

    1) The West, and the Pacific specifically, are very tough, and no one really regressed. Vancouver will be better this year based on coaching and the Sedins getting more than 50 and 47, even with the loss of Kesler, Edmonton has to be better (they HAVE to be, right?), and Arizona, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim all being better than the Flames. We haven’t improved enough to compete with them, so expect just as tough a year as last.

    2)The Flames will have a lower number of competitive games. The number of one goal games and wins against teams like LA were nice, but I expect regression.

    3) A younger lineup. The Flames have a few roster spots open for young talent pushing up from the AHL. Reinhart, Granlund, Hanowski, Gaudreau, Arnold, Baertschi all saw time with the Flames last year, and guys like Knight and Bennett(they won’t keep him up. They can’t. That’d be so dumb) all pushing for jobs, the Flames will be incorporating some of these guys at forward, and the d-corp will see Wotherspoon and maybe others. A younger team will be a great thing in a couple years; for now, it hurts.

    4) A still face-punchy team. While I’d rather see Bollig and Engelland than McGrattan and Westgarth, because at least the new guys can play a shift of hockey, Calgary still wastes roster spots on enforcers. That’s stupid, and it will continue to cost the Flames games.

    5) Statistical regression, specifically among the big three. I’m expecting the Holy Trinity of Backlund, Giordano and Brodie to see some regression in there frankly stunning possession rates. Though if they don’t, that will be awesome. Here is hoping. (I actually expect a stronger season from Backlund, as the rough October hopefully avoids a repeat, and a slight rise in his luck)

  • Derzie

    Now that we are in it, the rebuild feels like 4-5 years at least. Here we are entering year 2. The short term outlook is tread water or worse. Years 3-5 look to be upward as NHLers develop and we add parts. But given how hard it is to compete in the west and to acquire assets, we feel a long way off. Reality is setting it.

  • loudogYYC

    Love the optimism I’m reading here but for the Flames to improve in the standings next season they would’ve had to seriously upgrade the roster which they didn’t. That’s a good thing though.

    It can be argued that Anaheim and Dallas will join LA, Chicago and St. Louis as the Western conference bullies and Colorado & Minnesota are for real now so that leaves San Jose, Vancouver and the rest fighting for 1 playoff spot. Flames and Winnipeg will be fighting for the bottom.

    As long as the roster competes as hard as they did last season and mgmt makes smart moves with veterans, year 2 of the rebuild will be a good one.

  • Deef

    Even if Bennett and Gaudreau make the team, it wont be enough to top the moves of all the other 2014 bottom feeders, save maybe Nashville. Plus we lost Cammalleri and his 20+ goals which really helped out during the stretch.

    So unless Hiller and Ramo stand on their heads all year long, or some other team implodes, I can see the flames landing in the 28-30 spot.