Season Preview: Calgary Flames
Despite finishing 27th overall last season, Calgary had a surprisingly good season in some respects.
Rookie Sean Monahan scored 22 goals, 25-year old Mikael Backlund had his best season in a Flames jersey and team Captain Mark Giordano also had a career year as he entered the conversation for Team Canada’s Olympic squad as Coach Bob Hartley turned his Flames team in to one of the hardest working outfits in the league.
With a proven #1 between the pipes this season, Calgary will be hoping to take another step back toward contention.
Mike Cammalleri’s departure leaves a hole among the top 6, but a short term deal for Devin Setoguchi (1 year, $850,000), along with the signing of Mason Raymond, could prove to be shrewd moves for the Flames.
Jiri Hudler led the franchise in points (54) last year and along with Monahan, Backlund and veteran Matt Stajan, gives Calgary some quality down the middle but there are still question marks out wide despite adding Setoguchi and Raymond.
Curtis Glencross return is welcome, after he missed 44 games with knee and ankle problems last season, whilst Calgary will also be hoping for more from Dave Jones. The former Avalanche forward had just 8 goals last season, and missed the last 21 games of the season with a shoulder injury. With two more years on his contract at $4m a piece, the 30-year old needs to find his scoring touch again.
Brandon Bollig’s arrival from Chicago adds a little more muscle to their bottom six.
At The Back
Giordano was the stand out blue liner for Calgary last term, but the Flames need more from the supporting cast if they are to be a play-off fixture again.
Dennis Wideman missed 16 games with a broken hand and 20 games with an undisclosed upper body injury as he regressed slightly in his second season with the team. With three years and more than $15m still on his contract, the former Florida and Washington defenceman needs to assume more responsibility this year.
Calgary will also be hoping Ladislav Smid can continue to contribute, after being acquired from arch rivals Edmonton last season.
Deryk Engelland joins from Pittsburgh to add some size at the back, but many were surprised by his 3 year, $8.75m deal.
Between The Pipes
Jonas Hiller’s arrival gives Calgary a solid, veteran presence in net. The former Ducks stopper eases the pressure on Karri Ramo, who can continue to develop his game in a more managed way with the Swiss netminder on board for the next two seasons.
Behind The Bench
Bob Hartley won a Stanley Cup in Colorado and guided Atlanta to their first ever post season appearance (and their first Divisional title).
He was, controversially, fired by both and spent a year coaching ZSC Lions in Switzerland before Calgary appointed him their new Head Coach in May 2012.
Since then he has helped oversee steady improvement on the ice during some upheaval off it. Re-establishing his credentials as one of the leagues top coaches, Hartley seems ideally placed to help Calgary through their rebuild.
Biggest Addition – Jonas Hiller
At 32, Hiller is a bona fide #1 with plenty of miles left on the clock. His arrival should provide Calgary with one thing they lacked lats year – consistent top level goaltending.
Biggest Loss – Mike Cammalleri
Despite some smart signings, the veteran winger is a proven 20+ goal scorer with a tremendous work ethic; two qualities that can be extremely important on a team trying to build around its youngsters.
Key Man – Bob Hartley
Hartley did wonders with an unheralded group of players last season. He must continue that progress if the franchise is to challenge for a play-off spot any time soon.
This Seasons Chances…
In the tough Pacific Division/Western Conference, a post season spot this year is highly unlikely – almost to the point of certainty. But the Flames have, for the most part, embraced their situation and are trying to rebuild themselves around players like Monahan.
A bit more support for Giordano at the back would go a long way, but if the work ethic they displayed last season is maintained they will at least be competitive most nights.
Posted on August 30, 2014, in Calgary Flames, Hockey, NHL, Season Previews 2014 and tagged Bob Hartley, Calgary Flames, Jonas Hiller, Mark Giordano, Mike Cammalleri, NHL. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.