Calgary Flames Preview; 2011-2012 Season
“The last endeavour”
Minimal change, more depth and a slightly younger group; will that translate into the Flames team we saw in the second half of last year? Well Feaster thinks so, and so do I. If not, Feaster will have lots of space and money to make real change next summer.
Coaching Changes: OUT- Ryan Mcgill, Jamie Mclennan and Rob Cookson. IN- Craig Hartsburg, Clint Malarchuk and Jamie Pringle.
Notable players acquired: Lee Stempniak, Chris Butler, Paul Byron, P. L Leblond, Scott Hannan, Jordan Henry, Derek Smith, Clay Wilson, Roman Horak & Guillaume Desbiens.
Notable departed players: Robyn Regehr, Daymond Langkow, Tim Erixon, Adam Pardy, Steve Staios, Ryan Stone, John Armstrong, Gord Baldwin, Kris Chucko & Matt Keetley.
Notable Draft Choices: Sven Bartschi, Marcus Granlund & Tyler Wotherspoon.
The Flames were top 10 in the NHL last season in scoring and did not extract from that. With the addition of Stempniak (and if you are a believer that Stajan and Hagman will rebound), you could say the Flames will score even more this year. I can’t see scoring being an issue but I do not expect Iginla to reach 40 goals again.
Clearly the departures of Regehr and Langkow are significant, but losing 18 points to gain 49 points back in three younger players with upside; it doesn’t seem all that bad. Keep in mind Feaster also saved some cap room in both deals: 3.6million available at the moment.
This season will depend on if the team can find consistency. The club has more depth throughout the whole organization; this should allow for more competition and hopefully that will translate on the ice. The key players for the Flames success remain the same; Kiprusoff, Iginla, Tanguay and Giordano will have to carry the load. Then there is Bouwmeester, Bourque and Stajan who have a lot of pressure to be better this year. Actually I would put Kiprusoff in the “needs to be better” group as well. Although we have a capable back-up, without a stellar Kipper or a similar Kipper to last year; playoffs will not include the burning ‘C’.
Playoffs are within reach but a lot has to go right for this Canadian club. Players such as Backlund and Butler will need to take the next step, and become regular contributing NHL’ers. It all begins October 8, 2011 at the Scotiabank Saddledome against the perhaps Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins. A lot of people say it will be a long year in cowtown. But looking at the roster playoffs should be an expectation.