Finally back to the Western Conference with our look at the Calgary Flames and their anticipated miserable performance this season. Oh, sorry did I just give away my expectations for this team? Bummer. After getting seriously destroyed on the trade market last season, the Flames just don’t have the pieces necessary for a serious run in the playoffs this season. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that they are playing in the West, where there is without question more top to bottom strength. All this to say, if you’re a Flames fan this year… I’m sorry, it’s going to be rough (but at least you’re not an Oilers fan!)
The Flames have nearly $20 million in cap space tied up in three players: Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, and Jay Bouwmeester. Two of those three are probably decent investments (can you guess which two?) but the third is a laughable way of burning money just for kicks. Top the poor cap investments off with some questionable movements during the off-season (serious, Ivanans?) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Jay Bouwmeester…?
While any team that has Iginla on its front line has the potential to be dangerous offensively, I’m definitely bearish on the offense of this Canadian team. Who do they have behind Iginla? Not much… a collection of retreads in the form of Jokinen, Tanguay and Conroy are unlikely to bring the team to the heights that their fans are certainly expecting. Add to this the fact that there just isn’t much in the way of high-end offensive talent coming through their prospect depth means that they’re likely to struggle to put points on the board.
Last season people expected the Flames to have one of the most talented blue lines in the league. Led by Kiprusoff in net, the Flames boasted Bouwmeester, Phaneuf, and Regehr. It was a top three that rivaled just about any team in the league, but to say they were underwhelming would be the understatement of the season. They were pretty awful, and by mid-season Phaneuf had been shipped to Toronto (for what? yea… I can’t remember either) and the other two took up the mantle. I expect the defense to struggle again this season, though a return to form for Bouwmeester isn’t out of the question. That said, virtually nothing he could do would justify his ludicrous salary, but some significant offense from the blue line would go a long way to helping ease the pain.
First things first, the Flames will be behind the Canucks in their division. It’s a slam dunk. Hell, some people are predicting the Canucks to win the Cup this season (I’m not). I see Calgary topping only Edmonton in their division and finishing likely right around #11 in the Western Conference. Out of the playoffs for another year, and with little hope of turning things around soon. The best thing for this (aging) team might actually be to crash and burn this season and pick up some high picks. Look for the Flames to unload some of their overpaid veterans during the deadline this spring.