The 2015 Off-Season Roundtable

The dust has more or less settled entirely around the Calgary Flames, and now we’ve convened the FlamesNation crew for the traditional off-season roundtable!

Join Kent Wilson, Ari, myself, Mike Cadarette, Byron Bader, Beloch, Christian Roatis and Taylor McKee as we share our thoughts on the season – now that we’ve had time to decompress a bit from the rollercoaster ride. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments!

1) The Flames won 45 games, made the playoffs, and won a round. What are your general thoughts on their performance over the past 93 games of ice hockey?

Kent: There’s been lots of pleasant surprises. Brodie coming into his own as a legit top pairing defender, the development of Monahan and Gaudreau, etc. As a team, though, the Flames have a lot of improvement left to do to be a legit contender.

Ari: They can easily be summed up as: “Haha, how the hell did that happen? Awesome.” After looking at game data night in and night out, so little pointed towards the Flames having any kind of success, and yet, they did. They found a way to make things work for them. Now, it’s about if they can repeat that, whether by hoping what happened this year repeats itself or through legitimate improvements most teams would make as they try to go from playoff team to Cup contender.
I thought the Flames were fun last season, and they were fun this season, too. This season was more fun because of the winning, though. Keep up the high tempo style, have a good off-season, and man, this could be an extraordinary team to watch in just a few years.

Ryan: The Flames turned out to be basically as “hard-working” as we thought they were, but a lot more talented in terms of their ability to play rope-a-dope hockey. Now, a good chunk of that was luck, but the “old Flames” (the veteran-laden teams of the past) likely would’ve squandered the opportunities they were given. These Flames? They didn’t look the gift horse in the mouth. They threw a saddle on him and rode him to a second round appearance in the playoffs. There’s a value in that, particularly in terms of giving first, second and third-year pros some big game experience.

Mike: Over the past 93 games, it’s hard to look back and fully comprehend what we all witnessed. Yes, the underlying numbers were dreadful and luck played a huge role in the season, but there’s an interesting take-away from all this: league recognition. League recognition for the first time in forever. We’re even starting to see media pundits (and maybe even other teams’ management) talking about the “Calgary Model” as a blueprint for a rebuild. It’s not an awful model to follow if you’re a bottom dwelling team and the Flames showed it can lead to surprising success if everyone buys in.

Byron: Really like what they’ve done over the past 93 games, maybe even the
past 130 games or so (since that turnaround in January 2014).  The
underlying numbers are a touch concerning but I think that will improve
over time.  The pieces they have in place of a bonafide offensive 1st
line, a top d pairing that could be the best pairing in the league, Sam
Bennett, Micheal Ferland and some really solid pieces coming, notably
Jon Gilles.  To me, they’re an elite winger and another Brodie type
d-man from being a pretty good team rather than several pieces away from
ever making the playoffs again.

Beloch: The big story for the stat-heads is how massively the Flames exceeded
both expectations and their underlying possession stats.  There’s some
funny stuff going on though.  First, the Flames had a very high shooting
percentage this season, but that was driven mainly by Monahan, Hudler,
and Gaudreau.  Whenever those three shot the puck, magic happened.  The
top line got so much ice-time and shots that they skewed the entire
team’s shooting percentage significantly (it’s below league average
without them).  Hudler has a high career shooting percentage, but can
Gaudreau and Monahan sustain theirs as well?  Second, the Flames took a
higher proportion of shots from dangerous areas than some other teams,
such as the Oilers.  For this reason, the Flames may not be as bad as
indicated by possession stats that do not account for shot quality.
All that aside, this team was just darned fun to watch all season.  With
the nail-biting one-goal games and miraculous comebacks, this season
was packed full of drama. Random chance could easily have caused just a
few of those close games to go the other way, and the Flames would have
missed the playoffs.  They’re not a cup contender yet.  However, one
can’t help but feel that the foundations of a future powerhouse were
laid this season.  All we can really ask for next season is that the
hockey will be as rewarding to watch as it was this season.

Christian: Besides
all the great winning experience, I think massive strides were taken by
every key young player on the roster, from the Monahans to the Gaudreaus
to the Brodies. Cinderella season indeed, but also a tremendous
developmental season.

Taylor: Uh, yeah, I’d say pretty damn good. Looking back at the preseason
roundtable, I see that I was one of the most pessimistic (see: wrong)
ones here so I would say that I am pleased. It defies description how
this team, with this roster, was able to do what they did this year but
it ended up being one of the most memorable seasons of my lifetime so
far.

2) Now that the season is over, what do you feel is the number-one priority for general manager Brad Treliving?

Kent: Improving the blueline depth at all levels of the organization. Calgary needs probably 2 more top-4 guys to be really competitive moving forward. Beyond that, the Flames need better than average possession support players at all positions.

Ari: Deeeeefence defence defence defence. Can’t go into next season with Russell-Wideman as the second pairing. They did an admirable job for what was asked of them, but it was too much for them, especially when Gio went down. The Flames have one of the best pairings in the league, and after that, everything kind of turns into a mess. There are so few defence prospects that they pretty much have to make a good free agent signing if they want to maintain the image of competition in the near future. It’s fortunate that there are a number of good guys to choose from, and the cap situation really works in their favour. This off-season will be a failure if the Flames don’t pick up another top four guy, though.
Also, a right winger other than David Jones would probably be good, too. Not to speak ill of Jones, but when just one of your forwards is actually a righty, that’s a problem. Very little of the Flames’ offence came from the right side this past season, and that’s something that’s going to have to be addressed.

Ryan: The Flames need to continue to build depth and develop ways to give themselves flexibility. Their top priority is upgrading their defense at the NHL level, but they’ve also got to figure out how to sign guys like Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau long-term without putting themselves in, as Jay Feaster would say, “salary cap jail.”

Mike: Mr. Treliving has to prioritize quality defense for the future – something he’s already started in last year’s draft (Hickey looks awesome!) and snagging Kenney Morrison (promising puck mover). Grab at least a couple of defensemen with at least two of those four picks in the top-60 and trade from areas of immense depth (centres) to stock the cupboards with young defenders.

Byron: I can’t say one. He has a bunch. He has to sign Giordano and Backlund.
Full Stop. I’d also love to see him sign Franson or Petry in the
summer – a 4 or 5 year deal is very doable as the Flames have boat loads
of cash and they’ll guys like Wideman coming off the books in a few
years. I’d also love to see them make a splash and go after an elite
winger that can drive play. Hopefully on the right side of 30. Kessel,
for one, could work in the right circumstances.

Beloch: Same as last off-season:  Find a #3D who can make the Flames second pair drive possession the right way.

Christian: A Top 6
forward and multiple Top 4 Ds. Basically the same as everyone else in
the NHL. Getting Brent Seabrook would be massive, but that’s unlikely.
If they come out of it all with no gruesome contracts, I’ll be pleased.
This isn’t the year to go crazy and “load up.”

Taylor: Well, let me start by joining
the chorus of hundreds who are clamoring for an expedient extension for
Backlund. Any talk that the Flames’ ‘centre depth’ has made Backlund
expendable is hogwash. There is no one on this team who can do what he
does, offensive production be damned.
The
next obvious priority is to try and upgrade the top-four on the back
end, a task easier stated than achieved. I am not crazy about the Flames
ponying up the kind of money that Franson or Green is going to command
so I am not sure high-priced free agents are the way to go. Perhaps if
they are able to clear Wideman’s contract off the books, then signing
Green or Franson for big bucks would make sense. Frankly, GMBT will have
to get creative if he is going to meaningfully upgrade the defense this
offseason which leads me to think that it probably won’t get done.  

3) Bob Hartley received a two-year contract extension in December. Do you feel this was a prudent move, given the team’s performance under his guidance?

Kent: This remains to be seen. Hartley tailored his systems to the roster he was given and he’s done a pretty decent job with most of the youngsters, Sven Baertschi aside. We’ll see if he can move from the “collapse and block everything” strategy to something more proactive as the roster improves.

Ari: I’ll say this: the Flames have been legitimately fun to just watch under Hartley. I don’t think it’s him being the beneficiary of getting the rebuild years where there’s all this excitement and young talent, either; they’ve been just plain fun, and you almost never feel like they’re out of the game when they go down. Although they DID lose eight games in a row after extending him, so…
For now, you’ve gotta keep Hartley. After this season, it would make no sense to not have him behind the bench, and a two-year extension is actually a pretty perfect timeframe in regards to this sudden success. I don’t think he’s a saviour or anything, and there have been some incredible questionable decisions (top six forward Lance Bouma, top four defenceman Deryk Engelland, Joe Colborne getting leniency Sven Baertschi was never allowed), but the Flames have actually been fun to watch again. Considering how this is an entertainment business, that’s actually pretty important. If they can repeat this and build on this year’s unexpected success, then all the better.

Ryan: I think Hartley’s success with this group has earned him a little rope. Granted, he does have some strange tendencies – sitting kids in favour of veterans quite often, a lot of Brandon Bollig, Corey Potter and Deryk Engelland, and sometimes bizarre line composition decisions. On the other hand, he does seem to get the most out of the kids when they did get into the line-up, and his line deployments themselves are generally fairly logical.
And he did what Dave King, Pierre Page, Brian Sutter, Don Hay, Greg Gilbert, Jim Playfair, Mike Keenan and Brent Sutter couldn’t do: win a playoff round as a Flames head coach.

Mike: Does a bear crap in the woods?

Byron: I don’t mind it.  He does some weird stuff. But overall I think he does
fine and the team, at least right now, seems to like playing for him.

Beloch: Whether the Flames’ success this season was dumb luck or magical
coaching voodoo, to fire your coach after a season like this would be a
pretty bold move.  The only possible reason to do this would be that
Treliving landed a white whale like Mike Babcock.  Even then, you’d want
to keep Hartley in the system somehow.  With only a few exceptions
(e.g. Baertschi, Wotherspoon) Hartley has done nothing but good things
for developing rookie talent.  He also badly out-coached Desjardins in
the series against the Canucks.  In a sports league where coaches often
seem to be largely interchangeable, Hartley appears to be a rare
difference maker.

Christian: I do.
Little moves that people disagree with does not cancel out all the
shrewd decisions he made, whether people want to give him credit for it
or not. Right now it’s working so you must keep him. If the message no longer gets through some time down the road, then changes can be made.

Taylor: Well, the Flames certainly made management look smart this season didn’t
they? That being said, I really don’t think it matters a whole lot when
it comes to coaching extensions. We have seen countless examples of
coaches being fired with plenty of years left on their deals so I just
don’t really think it matters a whole lot.

4) The Flames are slated to select 15th overall in the upcoming Entry Draft. Do you feel they should stand pat, trade up or trade down?

Kent: Trade up if possible, but otherwise stand pat.

Ari: I really, really, really want Ivan Provorov. I know Ivan Provorov is probably not going to happen, even if they trade up. That said, there’s quite a decent selection of good picks still around the halfway mark, so whoever’s still around at 15th should be able to both address an organizational need and actually be, you know, good. I don’t think they should trade up unless they can get into the top 10, and I don’t know if they can do that while keeping at least one of their three second rounders. With the number of picks they have, I wouldn’t trade down.
Standing pat may be the best move: you get a pretty decent pick at 15, and you get to choose another five guys before the next round is even over. That’s something to like.

Ryan: Like Ari, I really like Ivan Provorov. He’s like a Russian T.J. Brodie. But they won’t be able to trade up high enough to get him, so screw it, stand pat. And maybe try to trade some expensive veterans to get some depth picks in later rounds. If you’re going to try to amass a good haul at the draft, why not go all-out?

Mike: I feel Treliving should do whatever he has to do to draft the best player that fills a need in the organization. If it takes moving up to grab a stud defenseman, do it.

Byron: I’m a big believer in going after the guys with the sky-high
equivalencies as that gives you the best odds of something really really
good. This is a really deep draft so there will hopefully be enough
candy left on the table at 15 that we don’t have to select a ginormous
fella with little scoring but “tons of offensive upside for the NHL”
fairy dust but I would probably try to trade up with one of our seconds
to get in the Mitch Marner Dylan Strome conversation anyways.

Beloch: In the past, the Flames have made a point of drafting “the best player
available”.  Well, they desperately need some blue-chip defensive
prospects now thanks to that policy, although right wingers wouldn’t
hurt either.  If you look at the current prospect rankings, there are
defenders scattered throughout the first round
fairly evenly.  I think the goal should be to draft the best one they
can without passing over too many of the “best players available” at the
time of their first round selection.  That may
mean trading up or down.  However, it would probably be unwise for the
Flames to blow all their second rounders just to improve their first round pick.  Defenders tend to take significant steps after being drafted, so picking a couple in the second round is a good idea.

Christian: Unless
they can move up to get someone they absolutely love, I’d like them to
stand pat. It’ll cost a lot to move up and with such a deep draft, those
2nds and 3rds are more valuable than other years. Moving down almost
never seems to work out for this team, so just don’t.

Taylor: I will say up front that I’m no Christian Roatis but there are a lot of
names at 15 that intrigue the hell out of me. On the defensive side,
Kylington, Roy, and Chabot all seem like good bets and at least one of
them looks like they will be available at 15. Up front, names like
Meier, Svenchikov, Rantanen, and Zacha (god-willing) all seem like
dynamic talents with a bit of size. With regards to your question, I
figure the Flames should and will stand pat.

5) Finally, what are your expectations for the 2015-16 Flames, and has the team’s playoff performance changed those expectations?

Kent: I figure the team comes back down to earth a bit, even if all the kids take a step forward. Let’s say around the 85 point range.

Ari: I’m… honestly not sure. I spent the entire season, right up until the Oilers beat the Kings, saying the Flames were not going to make the playoffs. (Even then I still didn’t believe it until Hudler scored his empty netter.) I can see the Flames back in the playoffs as easily as I can see them bottoming out. I think they’ll be a bubble team, ultimately. Let’s do a quick run through:
Goaltending: I expect it’s going to be Hiller and Ortio, and I expect them to perform as well as Hiller and Ramo did this season. That’s league average, so goaltending probably won’t elevate them – barring some surprises from Ortio – but it won’t cost them, either.
Defence: I fully expect the defence to improve. It was their biggest problem this season, particularly when Giordano went down. Gio will be back and healthy, Brodie will also be healthy and reunited with his partner, the Flames should have a new-look second pairing, and they should have some good depth options for the third. Maybe they won’t score as much as this year’s defence did – probably not, really – but if the actual defending side is better, then they have a better chance.
Forwards: This time a year ago, the big question was, “Who’s going to score?” Halfway through the season, Monahan got put in between Gaudreau and Hudler, and that question was answered. Throw in Sam Bennett, throw in a healthy Mikael Backlund’s probable 40-50 points, maybe throw in a UFA and maybe someone like Emile Poirier at some point, and the scoring question might just be answered. They might not even have to shoot at 10.5% again. Though if the top line dries up, they’re probably screwed… but while Hudler may decline, Monahan and Gaudreau should only get even better. So…
One other point to make note of: with the top three in each division making it no matter what, if the Flames can replicate their performance against the Pacific Division, they’re in. They swept two teams, were two losses away from sweeping another two, tied a team, and only really lost to the Anaheim Ducks. Do that again and they’ll be just fine. Fall back to earth and the struggle will be that much harder.

Ryan: I figure the 2015-16 Flames will be slightly better in terms of talent, but there’s no way in Hell they’ll be as fortunate in terms of bounces, shooting percentages, late-game comebacks, or overtime records. So in terms of standings, I expect them to drift back to the mushy middle of the pack a little bit.
But hey, if they can somehow maintain their strong record against the Pacific Division, all bets are off.

Mike: Next season, my expectations remain the same as they were last fall: be competitive and push for a playoff spot. That’s it. As long as they’re in the mix in April, all’s good. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind they improved their possession numbers a bit more. The playoff run hasn’t changed my outlook for this team. It’s still a rebuilding club and April’s success shouldn’t alter our perception too much.

Byron: I see them being in the mix again.  Maybe they won’t make the playoffs
but they’ll be right there with Colorado, Dallas and maybe LA again. 
They had some of the worst possession stats of any team in the modern
era to make the playoffs so history suggests they’re going to dive off a
cliff.  But these Flames have the pieces mentioned above (the teams
that drove off a cliff the next year almost always had a really bad
defensive core … the Flames isn’t great either but their top 2 are
VERY elite).  They also don’t get shelled in shots like those other
teams did.  The Flames have bad possession stats but it’s because they
don’t shoot enough at the other end. Their shot suppression is middle of
the road.  Last thing, Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler will play together
again next year, more than likely.  All three are going to be career
high percentage shooters.  So I’m not overly worried about the offense
drying up something fierce.  Maybe they won’t get as much offense as
they did this year but in my eyes it won’t be a radical dip.  I’ll say a
finish in the 6th to 10th range.  Hopefully they acquire some really
good pieces in the summer and vastly outperform my expectations once
again.

Beloch: Last summer, I was one of the oddballs who predicted the Flames would be
in the playoff bubble this season. Looking back at what had to happen
for the Flames to make the playoffs, I’m not sure I would have made the
same prediction now.  An awful lot of things seemed to go the Flames’
way this season! Even though I think the Flames are slightly better
than their possession stats indicate, those stats are still very
troubling. The playoffs did allay my fears somewhat. Ferland emerged
as a difference maker. When you look at this kid’s story, everything
points towards him being a late bloomer. He could be an upgrade on
Bouma as early as next season. Bennett looked far more at home in NHL
playoff hockey than any 18-year old should be, let alone one coming
directly from junior after a major injury and a partial season. He’s
going to be a huge addition for the team next season.
That
being said, what Treliving does to improve the second pair this summer
is absolutely pivotal. The addition of Nakladal and Morrison will make
the third pair a free-for-all, but the Flames still need that #3D. Unlike last summer, Calgary is going to be at the top of a lot of UFA’s
lists this summer. The Flames might be able to get a second pairing
defender, like Andrej Sekera, signed to a decent contract (for a UFA). 
Failing that, Treliving will need to make a trade. Even with the
Canucks in decline, the Pacific division is going to be brutal again
next season. If Treliving has a productive summer the Flames will
likely be in the bubble again, but more than that I can’t say.

Christian: I think
with a lack of injuries, the expected step forward from the kids and
some good free agent insulation, they could return to the dance in 2016.
But there are too many factors at this point to say one way or another.
In a perfect world, they absolutely do. But – as we’re reminded every
morning when we wake up for work – it’s not a perfect world.

Taylor: Yikes, this one is tough. I would say that barring substantive changes
in the Flames’ ability to out-shoot their opponents, it only seems
likely that they will not be able to replicate their success. That being
said, I am excited to see if another year brings improvements to the
young core of the team that will perhaps soften the seemingly inevitable
PDO bubble burst.

  • OKG

    Will read article later, but before I forget to post:

    To me the best story of the season wasn’t even the comebacks, but the ability to hold onto leads. Only lost to two teams while leading going into the third period all season (Anaheim and Columbus). That’s friggin awesome…GOOD RIDDANCE RETO BERRA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Derzie

    Awesome season results, career years for a lot of players, lots of room for improvement on the skill front. After watching a season and a half of this winning against all odds style, if you are still using ‘luck’ as an excuse…Next time your boss asks for an explanation for a difficult to explain situation, tell him it was ‘luck’. Then, good ‘luck’ with the job search.

    Flames are making the most of what they have playing a rope-a-dope style that will serve them well once they get the horses and experience that tilt the scales in their favour.

  • piscera.infada

    With regards to the draft question, I really hope the Flames don’t go defense just because “defense” in the first round. There are some good players that should be available in the 12-15 range. The three I’d be targeting (provided none of the top-tier defensemen drop) are Barzal, Merkley, and Konecny (in that order). The beauty? All right handed shooters, and although listed as centres all have played right-wing very effectively.

    I really want to pick-up a young, skilled winger to ride shotgun with Bennett. Gaudreau/Monahan, Merkley(?)/Bennett. It’s what dreams are made of.

    After the first, by all means, devote most of your picks (hell, all of them, if you feel it’s possible) to defense. Just don’t draft a defenseman in the first because that’s the organizational weakness.

    • BurningSensation

      The three I’d be targeting (provided none of the top-tier defensemen drop) are Barzal, Merkley, and Konecny (in that order).

      My list is basically Mat Barzal, Jeremy Roy, Evgeni Svechnikov.

      Merkley’s okay too I guess; I don’t know why I’m so ambivalent about him.

      • piscera.infada

        I like the way he (Merkley) plays the game for a guy who’s not overly big. His numbers as a 16 year-old were also very intriguing (58 points in 66 regular season games; and 17 in 12 playoff games).

        • Yeah about that.

          NIck was probably the best player on a shittily coached Buffs AAA team. He basically took things into his own hands most night. With a tendency to hog the puck. I think he’s come a long way sice then. But, he’s still got a lot to learn. NO question he has the speed and puck skills and confidence with the puck. My biggest fear is he’ll get leveled in the NHL 1x and that will be it for him.

  • I agree with the panel mostly.
    2. Have to resign Backs and Gio. Backlund is a selke caliber centre wihtout the point production. For potentially a 3rd line guy that’s fine. The thing about Backs is maybe if they pair him with some kids who can score rather than Bouma and Jones/Colborne he might actually increase his production.
    Outside of those two signings I think now is the time to start trimming redundancy and cutting the fat. A few young guys we know what they are and what they bring it’s time to give other guys a chance and move out the ones that aren’t going to cut it. Both at the AHL and NHL level.

    4. If you can get into the top 10 without giving up the farm then you do it all day every day. IF all it costs is one of the 2nd round picks plus your 15. Then I’m okay wtih that. Otherwise. Stay at 15 and like many of you said draft BPA. Both Chabot and Sprong could be impactful future players. I lean towards Sprong as I think he might very well be like a Corey Perry. Falls in his draft year to the 20’s and someone is gonna get a steal there. The kid is a shade over 6 feet and he’s got skill out the wazzooo. Plus he’s a right handed natural RWer. I lean towards drafting foward talent in the first round when it’s available cuz well defenders first round…. Staying pat gives you 3 2nd round picks and 2 3rd round picks load up on defenders and some more depth wingers 6 picks in the top 90 of a deep draft should produce some future nhlers.

  • BurningSensation

    Taylor said: “That being said, I am excited to see if another year brings improvements to the young core of the team that will perhaps soften the seemingly inevitable PDO bubble burst.”

    Our current high PDO is actually the correction we’ve been waiting for from the Iginla years where our PDO was always (or almost always) well underwater.

  • mattyc

    Whenever I think of Flames puck-luck, I always think back to the Keenan year and wonder what would have been that spring against the Blackhawks if we had some pucks going in and a healthy back-end.

  • 1. The team generally and many individual players were over-achievers. Good deployment by Hartley, chemistry, successful creation and internalisation of a common vision and goal, whatever the reason, they did great. The best of that needs to be grasped and carried forward even though the team must inevitably change next year (just as it did this past year).

    2. A 2 – 4 defenceman. The team has a plethora of decent middle six and bottom nine forwards many of whom can move up a line or two, if required. Defence depth is so shallow it’s a kiddie pool.

    3. This is fine. He has some strange ideas on deployment, most of which I hate, but you can’t deny he got more out of that line up than anyone expected.

    4. Move up if possible, depending on the cost, but it might be worth a useful roster player and one of our seconds plus our first to move up a few slots, depending on whose there. Don’t expect this to happen though as the depth and skill in the top ten is so well known to everyone and everyone ahead of us needs those kinds of players too.

    5. I see a let down in 2015 – 2016, but only a bit, as teams won’t be surprised by the Flames any longer, because they will shed points in the Pacific division and this will be counterbalanced with a full season of Bennett and possibly another young difference maker and/or defenceman.

  • mattyc

    The Flames have strong support type players in droves. With that in mind I would happily move all three second rounders plus the 15th for a top 5 pick. Hanifin, Strome, or Provorov would be worth it in spades. Possibly even a top 10 pick, though I don’t think I’d part with more than two of the seconds unless a guy like Provorov falls to 10.

    That said, I don’t think anyone takes that deal and at the end of the day I’m happy if the team stands pat at the draft.

    • piscera.infada

      Apparently no one in the last decade has been able to move up in the first round more than 4 spots. I feel like given the top-end of this draft, it would be unnecessarily expensive to get into the top-10, let alone the top-5. I could see a second rounder packaged to move up to, say, 12 if someone falls, but it seems like the management group is very happy picking players with their first and second round picks where they are.

      I could easily see a player picked in the 11-16 range being a better NHLer than many of the players picked in the 3-10 range (as is the case almost every year). Just have to find that guy.

        • piscera.infada

          Yup, you’re right. My bad. There has been a lot being made of this lately, so I just kind of took it at face-value.

          Anyways, my point still stands. Getting into the top-10 in this draft year seems like it would be prohibitively expensive. I’d pick at 15 all day long.

          • piscera.infada

            It seems like a pick at 15 in this draft is like a top ten pick in an average draft.

            The key is not p!ssing the selection away and on that score I have had increasing confidence in Flames scouting.

      • Franko J

        Picking at 15 is not too shabby for a team that makes the playoffs.

        I agree if the scouts have done their due diligence they will find “that guy”.

        Notable pick at # 15 way back in 1987 the Nordiques picked this hall of fame player.

        2003 is consider to be a deep draft in comparison some scouts are saying 2015 is shaping up to be the same for quality prospects. Look who was chosen at 17 and 19. If the Flames can choose a similar prospect at 49 I think the team would be set for a very long time.

        Not all picks at 15 have been successful. There has been many busts since the 2000 draft. Now that being said I sure like Ottawa’s selection at 15 in 2008 and Detroit’s pick last year.

        If the Flames can find one or two of those so called “that guy” in this draft the team’s chances improve dramatically. After all only recent drafts for the Flames have their top {first round} picks look to be top prospects. Otherwise the team relies heavily on the fourth round for the “gems” when it comes to drafting.

    • piscera.infada

      The Flames do have all kinds of support players and you would have thought that someone on that roster outside the developing stars would be attractive to someone on another team as part of a package to move up.

  • piscera.infada

    Curious, if it’s true that Letang is available, would he be a good fit in Calgary? 28 years old, Norris winner, lots of playoff experience. His injury risk & cap hit for the next 7 years means he can be had for maybe a palatable price. A package with Wideman going back (balance salary a bit) & a 2nd rounder & maybe a decent prospect like Granlund be enough? Too much? Not worth the risk. Instant upgrade to that 2nd pairing & Letang is lethal on that power play. I know Oilers would be nuts not to offer up more than us but who knows.

    • piscera.infada

      The Oilers have about $ 5 million in cap space with a 28th place roster and many big signings to make in the next 2-3 years. They may have to be careful.

  • Franko J

    Great article.

    The # 1 surprise for me when it came to the Flames was the resilency the team showed when Giordano was lost for the season. It seemed the team didn’t miss a beat. However in the playoffs it proved otherwise.

    Whether the team was winning or losing they were fun to watch and seeing the young guys and veterans working hard. Right now there has been plenty of accolades passed along in regard to Keith in Chicago. I truly think Brodie is trending towards Norris talk. Like Josi in Nashville. A player on the rise.

    For the off season I see Treliving taking care of in house personnel first. Retaining Bouma, Backlund, Shlemko, and extending Giordano are paramount. As long as he doesn’t place the team in cap and contract conundrum I will be a okay. Free agency doesn’t offer anything which will help the team close the gap between the top tier teams in the league.

    The draft is interesting because there are a number of ways the team can go. I think the top 10 teams in the draft are not willing to trade their respective pick. If anything I can see Treliving moving down a spot or two and picking up addition picks in rounds 3, 4 or 5. This draft is very deep with plenty of sneaky good players. My fantasy scenario would be Flames could somehow trade for either Severson in NJ or Jones in NAS which is highly unlikely.
    The more prospects {picks} the Flames can obtain the better.

    I can see the team scrapping it out for a playoff spot again next season. As long as Hartley can have the players buy into the game plan, I can foresee another fun season. If the Flames fall short of a playoff berth ideally I would like love to see them win the playoff lottery {dreaming again}.

  • TheWoodfordianOne

    Thoughts on signing Cody Franson in the offseason? I’d be open to exploring the market of wideman buyers, just had a really good year and can really help out a team with a struggling power play. Package him with our first to move up a few spots and maybe a B grade prospect or a top 6 defenseman. Maybe up to 10 to Colorado? Wideman and 15th for 10th and Aggozino
    That would leave the top 6 looking like:
    Giordano Brodie
    Russell Franson
    Smid Engelland
    Other options include Wotherspoon, Schlemko
    I would also love to see the Flames try and pursue Mike Green. Might not be realistic but a boy can only dream, he would really solidify the top 4 and would add depth to a defensive core who suffered a lot of injuries this year. Thoughts?

    • OKG

      My thoughts on Franson: If we’re going to be building a team of forechecking monsters like the Ducks, he’s a great fit. I can see him working perfectly at the same time as guys like Ferland, Hathaway, Bouma.

      But don’t expect him to have anything like the chemistry with our skill players (Bennett, Gaudreau, Monahan, Hudler) that the current top 4D have. He’ll improve the possession stats on paper but if the forwards he’s playing with don’t suit his style the actual results won’t be what people are thinking. He’s perfectly fine playing chip’n’chase which I don’t really enjoy, unless it involves “Ferland Chases Bieksa”.

  • MontanaMan

    Some strange comments in this article including Ari believing you need to shoot right to play right wing (check out some of the top right wingers who shoot left Ari) and the negative or meh comments for Hartley. Most notable are comments like “he plays veterans over the youngsters.” Really? I can’t count how many times, notably in the regular season, that Hartley had Gaudreau, Jooris, Monahan, Brodie or other youngsters out in the last minute of a close game, in 4 on 4 overtime or in the shootout. I thought the confidence he showed in the youngsters was one of his strong suits but many on this panel saw it differently. Having said that, there’s many that comment on FN with clearly more hockey knowledge than the writers so I shouldn’t be too surprised.

    • piscera.infada

      While I’ve had a few major beefs with Hartley, even I concede that his overall grade is at least a B+ if not an A- this past season. Nor do I see his performance ever sinking any lower then a B. Like I said, a few major beefs (no Ned to rehash them yet again), but the man is a solid coach.

      Re: right-shooting RW. Yes, there are star players who can play on their off-wing, but there are very good reasons for wanting players on the ice who shoot in accordance with their wing. BT, if I’m not mistaken, addressed this himself in an interview on the Fan at the end of the season, but don’t quote me on that and please correct me if you recall otherwise. Regardless, it’s a needed ability (huge difference when cycling the boards; centering passes from in deep, etc.).

  • Burnward

    I’m a 100% advocate of using the 15th pick overall on a forward. Just using the Flames as an example TJ Brodie (4th round) or Giordano (Undrafted) are their top defenders and there are plenty more examples in the league of stud D being found in the second or later. However most of the top scoring forwards in the league were first round draft selections (Usually very high selections but some great forwards can still be found around 15).

    The Flames have 3 second round selections. Use the first to select the best forward (regardless of size) available and then use the 3 seconds to cast the widest net possible to stock up on D.

    • piscera.infada

      What’s so special about Crouse? Every time I’ve seen him, I’ve found his game underwhelming. He’s also another left-shot, left-wing. Add to that, he’s widely considered “high-risk”. I don’t know.