Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Flames Camp 2014

The Flames are more than halfway through their camp; so how much do we know? Today’s blog is a general summary on how the Camp is going so far. I will go through my observations on the goaltending, defense, and offense. 
 
Physical Play
The most obvious observation is that the Flames are going to be a much more physical team this year. They really beefed up in the off-season.
 
The newcomers who will work on the physical play; or as I like to say, beat the crud out of the opposition. The signing of Deryk Engelland instantly gives the Flames a bigger presence, which will keep opposing Forwards honest. The acquisition of Brandon Bollig gives the Flames some much-needed physical size in Forwards. Too many times, the opposing Defense took liberties with the Flames’ Forwards with no repercussions. 

Speed Kills
The Flames signed ex-Leaf Mason Raymond on Canada Day. Mason is one of the fastest skaters in the League. He will put the fear of God in opposing Defense. If he can connect with Backlund, who is also very fast, the Flames’ speed will double. He will make Backlund better. Additionally, if Curtis Glencross can stay healthy, he will also be a huge asset to the team’s speed.

Team Leadership
Gio will get major help in the Flames’ dressing room. Monahan will be a year older and will help. He will be a more mature and complete player this season. But the major players will be Engelland and Bollig. First of all, Deryk Engelland: Coach Hartley has been gushing with glee about Engelland. Deryk will voice his opinion if he is unhappy about a player. He will speak up when it is needed. There will be no dilly-dallying in the Flames’ dressing room. Engelland won't allow it. Now Brandon Bollig: he will teach this team how to win. He has two rings. He will bring that knowledge and experience into the dressing room. Matt Stajan will be continue to grow as a player. The Flames will rely on this vet to lead by example.

Goalies
The goalies are going to be a huge upgrade. With the signing of Jonas Hiller, the Flames have a legitimate number-one goalie. He will cut the bad goals down by one goal a game. Plus he brings in another factor; he will make Ramo better. Ramo will have to be better if he wants his chance to play. If he does not play better, he will play much less this season.

Things we do not know or should I say  the concerns the Fans may have
Will the Flames’ Defense be better than last year? The first question: Is Engelland better than Buttler? At the beginning of camp, I would have said ‘not a chance.’ But  since the camp, I have been very impressed with Engelland’s play. He is a solid defensemen who has been a stable influence in the defense zone. He has been building a nice chemistry with Russell. 

The next question: Is Raphael Diaz going to get a contract offer from the Flames? In this blogger’s mind, yes. He fills a great need for a second powerplay captain.  He has been outstanding in the camp so far. His play has really helped fill a lot of holes in the Flames’ line-up. But unfortunately, he is a major risk in the defensive zone. It would help if the Flames can match him with a stable, offensive dman like Smid. He must also improve in consistency. If he can do this, the Flames will hit the motherload with him.

The next question is: Will Sheldon Brookbank get a contract? I am having a problem answering this one. He is a vital asset in the physical play. He is a very good finisher with his hits. He punishes opposition and follows through on his hits. His leadership skills will help the Flames down the stretch. He will be good role model for the young defensemen. The downside is his speed. He will have to make sure he does not take too many chances. It will not help in the offensive game. He would be a good asset as a seventh defensemen.
Gio and Russell will be still there. They are the rocks. Brodie is close behind. I suspect that Engelland is penciled in at the number four on the Roster. 
 
The major question is: Who is going to win that number seven dman spot? Is it Diaz or Burbank or is it one of the kids.  Mr. Smid needs a defensive partner. Time will tell who it is going to be.

Another question is: Where is the offense coming from? Or I like to say: Who is going make up the loss of Cammy's 26 goals? With this, the Flames will look to their first signing of the off-season. Of course, I am referring to Mason Raymond. His nineteen goal season from last year is reason for optimism. It is vital that he matches, if not passes, that total this season. Mason is capable of being the leading scorer. He has never been given this role, and I think he will flourish with it. 

The second solution to the offense is the low-risk in signing of Devin Setoguchi. He will be motivated to play this season. Devin is coming off his worst season. He surely will clear his eleven goal season. If he doesn’t, he will be spending it on the pine or in the AHL. Not much of a gamble for the Flames with his low cap hit of $750,000.

Gentlemen Joe has to do one thing: forget that he is a gentlemen. He has to start getting in the corners and his hands dirty.  The Flames will expect more input from Colborne. Joe will be given more duties, but where much is given, much is required. Joe has great tools, he just needs to put them to good use.  He must use his size. In other words, he must become a Burke player.

If I am talking offense, I would be an idiot not to mention Curtis Glencross. He must become a less selfish player. By this, I mean he must not take stupid penalties. He has to stay healthy. If he can achieve this, he is capable of scoring twenty goals again.

Sean Monahan will to match his first-year totals. He has to continue his smart playing and continue to be the man. There cannot be any sophomoric hi-jinx. He has to play smart and stay out of the physical play. The Flames have plenty of other players who can do that for him. I cannot emphasize this enough. Monahan is a key part of the Flames’ offense and will be a force this season.

Before I close, I have to mention Johnny Hockey’s goal in the Colorado game Tuesday night. The kid has skill, doesn't he? If Johnny can keep those skills, he will be a Flame for many years to come.

Conclusion
There are a lot more questions yet to be answered this season. Will Backlund get healthy? Will the Offense be able to make up for the loss of Cammy? Flames fans are going to have fun this season.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hiller, Engelland and Raymond

Day One



Day one of free agency has come and gone, and the Flames were part of the action.

Early in the day we learned that Flames had signed Cochrane native Mason Raymond. The Flames granted Raymond a three year $9.5 million dollar contract. Raymond who had troubles landing a contract last off-season, ended up recording 19 goals and 45 points for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Raymond a left winger will try to help fill the void left by Cammalleri; who signed a five year deal with New Jersey.

A little bit later on the Flames announced they had signed goaltender Jonas Hiller. The Swiss born goaltender signed a two year, $9 million dollar deal. Hiller who at times had been considered one of the better goaltenders in the league, had a mediocre but respectable season last year with Anaheim. Jonas Hiller was brought to Anaheim by Brian Burke and re-unites with him in Calgary. No doubt Jonas will come in looking to be the number one goalie in Calgary. Ramo who got the endorsement of coach Hartley, will have to once again fight to show he can be a starting goaltender in the NHL, before his contract expires next summer.

Lastly we learned the Flames signed a right handed defense-man to a three year $8.7 million dollar deal. That defense-man was announced to be the big rugged physical Deryk Engelland, formally out of Pittsburgh. The price is steep but with O'Brien (buy out. UFA) , Butler (UFA), Derek Smith (UFA), Chad Billins (KHL), Breen (BOS), and James Martin (UFA) leaving the team, the Flames needed to start signing some defense-man that can help the NHL team. Engelland is known for his physical style. Treliving when asked said the Flames targeted the Edmonton born defense-man because he is a "character guy" and a "great teammate". Treliving stressed that it is important to surround the young players with great character and leadership. With Engelland, Bollig, Wolf, McGrattan, VanBrabant, Bouma and likely Kanzig, the young players at the NHL & AHL level, will be protected just fine. 

That was it for Calgary on day one.
 
Other Tid Bits:
-Brian Lawton said the Flames are interested in David Booth. If this is true it would potentially add another LW. 
-Flames likely to sign more defense-man to help fill both NHL & AHL roster spots. I think Treliving would prefer Wotherspoon to start in the AHL next season.
-Flames offered Paul Byron a contract. Byron was not qualified by the team but was offered a new contract. We wait to see if the speedy forward does return.
-Treliving was vocal in saying that he is not done adding to this roster. He indicated trades are still a possibility this summer as other teams try to shed salary.
-Flames only have 18 players signed on their NHL roster with $19.163.333 in cap space.

Happy Canada Day!



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tick Tock, Tick Tock!



It’s the most wonderful time of the year. All of the General Managers are tucked in their beds while visions of Vanek, Raymond, or Brad Richards dance in their heads. Or maybe Ehrhoff, as he became a free agent today.  

So my blog today is on the different options the Flames will have during the off-season. The Flames are looking for... let see… oh, that's right... everything. Seriously, they need pretty much everything.  So they first of all have to set their priorities. My  blog will concentrate on goalies, defence, and a center.

Back-up Goalie or 1B Goalie

I think the first need is a back-up goalie. The Flames have a couple of options. 

Free agent  options

Thomas Greiss

Thomas has a history with the GM. He is a solid net-minder who is not outstanding, but he is solid and dependable in his game. He a solid option who is good for 30-35 games. I really like this option. He is exactly what the team needs. The key point here is that the Flames can offer him something. Most of the other teams can't give him an opportunity to play.

Chad Johnson

Chad was outstanding for the Bruins last season.  He simply gives the team a chance to win every night. Another good, cheap option for the Flames. Chad is a goaltender who plays a solid game and rarely gets caught out of position. He is a late bloomer who is capable of being a solid back-up.

Justin Peters

Peters was outstanding  for  Carolina last season. He was battling for head job there on a team with three goalies. The Canes could not find a home for him. He would battle Ramo for a starting job. I am not sure he would be willing to come to Calgary as a back-up.

Defenceman

The next need for the Calgary Flames is a solid defencemen, which the Flames could really have used last season. Especially now that it looks like Butler will not be in a Flames uniform next season. Some of the best options I could see the Flames getting are:

Tom Gilbert 

Tom was a solid offensive dman who fit well for a while in Edmonton, but never really fit in with the Panthers. If he could just get back to where he was as a Oiler. Apparently, it is out there there that the Flames have interest in him. He may well be a asset to the Flames defence.

Matt Niskanen

Niskanen may well be the best dman on the free agency market. I love this guy’s game. He is a great option for the Flames, who need a good powerplay quarterback. I know you are thinking the Flames do not have salary cap problem. I sure do hope they at least talk. Matt could score 10 goals and 50 points and really help a dried-up powerplay. 

Anton Stralman

The main problem is how much Stralman would cost, but I like his game. He is an offensive dman, who would be a solid, top-four dman. He would stabilize our defence, and help our defensive zone coverage. I love his ability to stay calm and not panic. 

Kyle Quincey 

Kyle Quincey may very well be the most gifted defencemen out there. Kyle can pitch in with the odd assist and goal. Kyle should be affordable. The Flames can give him a bigger role, and more ice time. 

Center

I really hope the Flames try to get a second-line center. I prefer a veteran who can help Monahan, and maybe take him under his wing and give him some hints on improving his game.

Paul Stastny

Simply put: the best option out there. Stastny is the best of the bunch. If the Avs cannot sign him, the Flames need to put this man under contract. Give him the money he wants and get it done. He is a solid center with the the skill to add the supportive scoring the Flames so badly need.

Jussi Jokinen

Jussi can play wing or center. Versatility is essential in his game.  He also may take less money to sign. I love his ability to help in the penalty-killing.  His speed his a vital asset to the Flames, who need to get faster.

Brad Richards

I know I am going to get slammed for this, but I really think Brad’s ability could help the Flames. I think he can score 20  goals and get 50 points for the Flames. He could really help Monahan and help him get the experience he needs. 

CONCLUSION

I could mention plenty more, but these are the first options. I know some of you are going to ask about Bolland. I just like Jokinen better. There are plenty of options out there. 

The Flames are going to be busy. Sit back and enjoy the ride!

Image: Flickr CC license: Aldaron "Parliament Clock" (modified)


Flames Jambalaya is in no way, shape or form associated with the Calgary Flames Hockey Club or the AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat. This is a fans blog for fans. We just happen to love the Flames, so we write about it.