I have sat and held my tongue for most of the season, but let's face facts; most of these players will be gone at the end of the season. So let's play GM. Only, we will do it the hard way. Instead of playing "who goes?" I am going to play "who stays?" It is easy to determine who goes. That is the whole team, except Monahan. But we all know that someone has to stay. We have to have some players to build this team around.
The biggest concern is getting up to the cap floor. Mostly because we're going to have to overpay to get players to come. Why do you think Burke has spent time telling people the rebuild has been speeded up? I will tell you why: no new players are going to want to come to a rebuild team. Burke has to sell this team for the off season.
So with the cap situation, the Flames very well have to keep some expensive players. Another factor Burke has preached is that the Flames have to get bigger and better. He has constantly put that message out since taking over. So who do the Flames attempt to keep to build for the future? With that in mind, I might make a case for these five players. Some may surprise you. I purposely left the obvious ones off the list. This blog is meant to make you think outside the box.
54 David Jones
When David plays his game, he gets his hands dirty. His corners game is more than adequate. He is a solid defensive forward who pots a goal now and then. If he can pay more offensively, he could be a viable asset to have around,
19 Blair Jones
To me, Blair Jones is a typical fourth-line player. He knows his role, and plays it rough, at the same time trying not draw dangerous penalties. He has been our best centre on the draw. His best asset has been his penalty-killing. He may be the best third line or fourth line forward out there.
3 Ladislav Smid
I hate to stay this, but he has been a very pleasant surprise. He has been a stable influence on the defensive core. At times, Ladislav has been the best stay-home dman on the team. Has been rock solid in his own zone.
32 Paul Byron
Something happened to Paul. Dare I say he grew up this season? There have been games where he has been the best player on the ice. I know he is not a Burke player because of his size, but his heart is all Burke. If the Flames players all had the heart that Byron does, we would have 30 Energizer Bunnies on this roster. This is one player I really hope we keep.
17 Lance Bouma
Hits and hits, and then for a change of pace, hits again. Lance backs down from no-one. He is rock-solid. He is a fast skater who plays a robust game, with a touch of nasty. He is the kind of player who would eat nails for his coach, and then spit them out and do it over again.
The way the Flames have handled Sven is pure bush league. All Burke has done is embarrass him and he never bothered to explain to Sven what was expected of him. Free Sven.
Now, as for the deadline, be prepared for a surprise. These deals may not be picks, look for some bodies coming too. Maybe for salary, and maybe for winning next season. This year's draft is very weak. The Flames might push for young players rather than picks. Also, the Flames have to keep above the cap floor at the deadline, so keep that in mind.
So tell me, who is your unsung hero? Which player would you keep that is not a ‘given'?