Friday, September 30, 2011
A few small notes from the Flames practice this morning. The practice itself was high energy. Stajan's was skating less stressed. Bryon got sent down to Abbotsford. Stajan and Horak are still with the team. Horak was flying, as always.
Tanguay was skating this morning, and looked relieved just to get the season started. In fact, that seemed to be the overwhelming feeling. Brendon Morrison was taking regular shifts in the yellow jersey (no contact,) looking very good.
The players who were quite loose, but it was all business with the coaches. The coaches were putting the players through their paces, still working mostly defensive zone coverage. They were doing three-on-two rushes from end-to-end. Kipper is really looking very good and was in high spirits. The combination of Olli, Glencross, and Moss was flying. The line has lots of chemistry.
Stajan looked like he had a lot of weight lifted off of him, and quite frankly, skated like it. Hagmen look like a spark plug who cannot wait to get the season started.
Derek Smith and Jardon Henry were both still with the team this morning, making the defense a log jam. At the end of the practice, Tim Jackmen was helping the young Mr. Desbeins with how to position himself better for a fight. I guess posture is sometimes more important than the fight itself.
Kipper was really pumped. He look rejuvenated, refreshed, and looks like he is happy knowing he is getting a lighter load. Karlsson looks happy to get more action as this season starts.
As always, let me know if any of your guys have any questions.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Quick Camp Update
Flames assigned 14 more players including Sven Baertschi to Portland and TJ Brodie to Abbotsford.
Calgary Flames camp has been one that’s seen its fair share of “minor” injuries. We all know Iginla has his back spasms and we continue to be told it is nothing to worry about. According to Feaster we COULD see the captain skate on Wednesday. Carson, Morrison and Ivanans are not cleared for contact and now Backlund and Jackman have minor groin pulls. On the bright side Cory Sarich has been given clearance to precede camp with contact, so look for the veteran to be ready for opening day.
On the cuts made: I like the moves made. Baertschi & Reinhart are not NHL ready and another year of juniors will allow them to be powerhouses in the WHL. Some people are shocked that Brodie did not stick around a little bit longer. Reality is that he needs to fine tune his defensive side of the game and gain confidence playing in all situations in the AHL. Nemisz being cut is disappointing; not because he played well but because I feel he did not look better than last year. I know a lot of people around Calgary felt he looked better but I just did not see it. His skating still lacked and besides the goal he scored, Nemisz never made his presence felt. I know he is still young but for a first round draft pick I feel he should be a step further ahead than where he is at. I saw very little if any improvement over last year’s camp.
Bubble players: Obviously Henry has played well and with the injury to Carson he could be that #7 come opening day. Keep in mind Sarich can’t seem to stay healthy so Henry might see more playing time this year then some may think. Smith has looked good at times but has also made some mistakes with ugly passes through the neutral zone. Due to Smith’s age, I see him getting a longer look. In my opinion, if a 22 year old played the camp Smith has, they would be sent down. Roman Horak has been crafty to say the least. He has been complimented on a few occasions by Coach Sutter. He has looked good but unless an injury or Stajan disappears (foreshadowing) occurs he will probably be in the AHL for the start of the year. Last one I will touch on is Paul Byron. A lot of positives around this kid and deservedly so, he has looked good and I believe he will hold down an opening day spot.
Friday, September 23, 2011
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.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Young Stars Wrap Up
Main camp opens Friday September 16 with physicals and fitness testing.
Flames prospects just returned from their young stars tourney in Penticton; I want to give my quick recap of what I saw from certain players.
How could I start and not mention Sven Baertschi; the Flames first round selection had all the eyes on him and he did not disappoint. 2 goals scored but more importantly he was a factor every game and made his presence felt, even in that nasty first game versus San Jose. Sven could turn some heads at main camp but unless some injuries happen he will be in Portland this coming season.
Max Reinhart, this kid continues to improve. I think Pat Steinberg said it best “reminds him of a young Daymond Langkow” and I can agree with that. He plays well at both ends of the ice and is starting to find his scoring touch. I am very intrigued to see Max at main camp and he will get a long look. Feaster is very high on him and I am starting to follow suit.
Greg Nemisz, did he play at the young stars tourney? Yup he did… he didn’t impress me. For a guy who played some NHL games last year and is expected to push for a job at camp; Nemisz better step up his game because I didn’t see it at the tourney.
Joni Ortio, got shelled the first game but the coaches showed faith and was good in the following two games. Including the sprawling save to save the game late against Edmonton, Ortio began playing the way I expected. He will be a nice back up to Irving in the AHL this year.
Chris Breen, I remember watching him early on last year and his skating was bad. But watching him a year later, I can see a massive improvement. Breen covered the ice well and although I was not blown away by his play; I see many improvements over last year and I think another year in the AHL will allow him to grow into an NHL d-man.
I know I could go on and talk about every player including TJ Brodie; who in my opinion had a below average tourney but main camp will show where he is at. Also I was very impressed with Holland, Ferland and Negrin I felt all three guys played well. Negrin who is finally healthy will in my opinion leap frog a couple guys on the depth chart after main camp.
Friday, September 2, 2011
For the Flames, who are usually are a cap heavy hockey team, this is a nice change. Having some cap this season in case of injuries is huge.
The other point I would like to make is that spending the money is not always the answer. I often see teams spend money just for the sake of spending money. General Managers spending money to the cap is ludicrous. Seriously, give me a break! If there is not a player out there to improve the team, then why spend the money? It’s like buying a house that you hate; how many of us would do that?
What I would do is simply make a trade dollar for dollar. If it can improve the team. Only if it can improve the team. I say hang on to the cap, see what happens at the deadline.
Let’s move on to the panel. First we have Dearen:
After the deal that saw Langkow leaving town, the Flames now have $3.631 million worth of cap space. Enough money to sign Campoli!!! NO THANKS… Looking at the leftover scraps in free agency, I see no names that intrigue me. So needless to say; I wouldn’t spend the money on anyone in free agency.
What I would do is use the cap space as an asset for future trades, or save it until next off season, adding the other contracts that come off. I am content with going to training camp with the current roster; I feel it will be a competitive one. Also in case of a serious injury, we can explore more trades then.
$3.6 million would be massive come February/March when all the trades heat up and teams begin to sell. Imagine if the Flames are in contention and are looking to add come deadline day. It is a lot easier to add a big ticket (given more than half of the players salary would already be gone) with cap space. And even if we are out of contention and we are selling our players, we can add a bad contract to help another team; in return getting an extra draft pick or two for doing so.
We have options…OPTIONS AND FLEXIBILITY! That is a rare occurrence it seems in Calgary so why throw that away now?
You can follow Dearen on twitter at DKAY1987. He is the number one blogger on the site here at Flamesjambalaya.
Our next guest on the panel is Brad Windsor, a terrific hockey mind.
I've found that if you step back and try to get a broader look at the organizational moves it can be a good predictor of what is to come. Brad Richards was offered big money to come to Calgary, this would indicate a willingness to land a premier Center. The club has also gone down in average age, especially since the departure of Langkow, so getting younger and faster also seems to be a priority. There is no way of telling what clubs will be in the hunt for a spot come next spring but if the Flames are in the hunt I believe they will make a move for a high impact center, possibly Parise as he is going to be UFA again. This could mean the departure of a Backlund who they are willing to groom for top minutes this year and/or a top pick. If the Flames remain out of playoff contention it would seem logical that they just keep creating cap room and see what next season holds. A very large amount of what ifs will play into the cap spending decision like injuries at trade deadline, position in the standings, and of course who is sought after in trades. In my opinion the answer is to take that money and trade for a pending RFA or UFA center that is dynamite.
You can follow Brad on twitter at @sanehockey
He also blogs on myhockeybuzz at http://my.hockeybuzz.com/theopinion.
And finally, a word from Mike:
For the time being, I don't see the Flames spending the $3.6 in cap that they have. If Jay has an opportunity to make a major upgrade, then he has some cap to help make that happen. I believe Jay's main goal is to find that #1 center that the Flames have lacked since Joe Nieuwendyk was traded away. Now, there are very few true #1 centers available but if one does come available, Feaster now has the flexibility to maybe make that happen.
You can follow mike at twitter @mwalsh20.
You can follow his blog at http://mwalsh20.blogspot.com/
That is it for another Flames panel .
Until next time, take care.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
This and That
Flames prospect camp is set to open in the second week of September. Check back on Flamesjambalaya.com to get the roster and thoughts once it is released. We will also be giving stats updates during the camp.
Lee Stempniak is a Flame and from the sounds of it; he will be expected to be a top 6 forward and to play for a new deal with the club. Feaster stated that Stempniak could be a fit for the long term but his play this season will determine that.
Raitis Ivanans- Feaster also announced that both Ivanans and Morrison should be healthy for the start of camp. Obviously a lot of questions circle around Raitis as he missed 81 games with a serious concussion last year. With the addition of Leblond from New Jersey and the free agent signing of Desbiens, many including myself wonder where Ivanans fits in. With saying that I am glad to hear he is healthy and I hope he is given an honest opportunity to get back in to the NHL. After all the tragedies lately my take on enforcers has changed and I have come to respect the positions even more.
Hagman- Sounds like he has put in the work this off-season and now we wait to see if it pays off for him and the Flames come training camp. If not I expect Feaster to try to find a home for the speedy winger or place him on waivers for an AHL demotion if not claimed.
Wade Belak- An absolute tragedy. I have had the pleasure of spending time with his brother Graham back in his Kootenay Ice days and he always spoke so highly of his brother. I had the pleasure of watching and cheering for Wade while he played for my beloved Flames. He was a guy I would turn the TV on for and watch “off the record” his smile and his positive personality were addictive. He will be missed by so many and regardless of how he passed, the NHL needs to take a hard look at what is happening. Both head shots and depression/drug issues are a massive concern in this league. Instead of talking about fixing the issue; it is time to address the issue.