NHL 15: Calgary Flames Guide
Written By: Rory Daniel
Year in Review:
The Flames 2013-14 offseason started off with them picking 6th (highest in franchise history at the time), for the 4th time in franchise history. After one season it appears that their selection of Sean Monahan has already worked out better than their previous 6th overalls. Surprisingly to some Sean Monahan made the team officially after an impressive 7 game stint to start the season, ultimately finishing 5th in points and 2nd in goals last season for the team. The Flames also selected Emile Poirier (22nd), Morgan Klimchuk (28th), Keegan Kanzig (67th), Eric Roy (135th), Tim Harrison (157) , Rushan Rafikov (187), and John Gilmour (198) at the 2013 NHL entry draft. Trade wise the Flames were relatively quiet during the 2013 offseason but managed to acquire, TJ Galiardi, Corban Knight, David Jones, and Kris Russell.
Perhaps the biggest offseason acquisition was defenceman Kris Russell. Although Russell is clearly undersized he has high end offensive instincts which allows him to run the offence from the backend, while still being effective in his own end. Another quietly effective acquisition happened early in the season when the Flames sent a draft pick to Toronto for forward Joe Colborne. Although his ultimate impact is debatable many Flames fans were happy with the way Colborne looked after being switched to right wing, ultimately finishing with 10 goals and 18 assists in 28 games.
Many Flames fans entered the season with incredibly low expectations but the Flames began the season flying. Their success was defined by their undeniable work ethic, which was pushed all year by the coaching staff and management. The reality of their skill eventually caught up with them as the Flames went through a nasty losing streak around Christmas time but finished the season once again strong. Despite finishing with one of the worst records in Flames history (35-40-7) the season was considered a surprising success to many.
The strong end and start to the season was undeniably lead by the Flames “big three”, Mikael Backlund, TJ Brodie, and Mark Gioradano. Two out of the three names listed may be a big surprise to many readers, but not with those who subscribe to the fancy stats. Mikael Backlund in particular is someone who has been lauded by the fancy stat community for a few seasons, despite the lack of offensive output to go along with it. Not wanting to steal from the works of others I differ to this article by the Flames Nation folks for an explanation of the near elite seasons that those three had. I think it is safe to say that Mark Giordano, Mikael Backlund, and TJ Brodie all had breakout seasons. Brodie and Backlund should be a part of the Flames core for years to come.
Highlights of the 2013 – 2014 Season:
Why the Calgary Flames Will Win The Cup This Year:
To put it simply barring a miracle the Flames will not win the Stanley Cup this year. As much as Flames fans like to reminisce about the 03-04 cup run the Flames do not have an Iginla and Kipper to lead them on a cinderella run. For the purpose of these threads I will go through what would have to happen for the Flames to go on a magical run towards Lord Stanley’s cup.
As previously stated the “big three” for the Flames (Backlund, Brodie, and Giordano), had near elite possession numbers last year for the Flames, and that would have to continue with perhaps another giant leap forward for all three. Stajan would have to become the centre the Flames wanted him to be when they traded for him. Hudler, and David Jones would have to start constantly pumping out points. Many of the Flames defenceman would also have to take significant steps forward in all aspects of their game, including Wideman and Russell.
Perhaps most importantly the Flames young guns would all have to take on massive roles. Johnny Gaudreau would have to step in and immediately make the impact he did in college. Sean Monahan would have to take a massive step forwards in all areas of the ice, similarly with Joe Colborne and Tyler Wotherspoon. One of Ramo, Ortio, or Hiller would also have to play out of their minds.
Why the Calgary Flames Won’t Win The Cup This Year:
The Flames are simply not skilled enough to win the Stanley Cup. Although their is hope many of the young guys will be better some day, the Flames are effectively running three third-lines and a fourth-line. Along with one top-pairing defensive pairing, and two-bottom pairings. Backlund, Stajan, and Monahan (currently) are all terrific third line centres on a Stanley Cup contending team, while their isn’t much to speak of currently on the wings. The loss of the teams previous leading scorer in Cammalleri is huge, and their is no noticeable replacement except maybe Gaudreau or Baertschi. While Hudler is good, and led the team in points last year he lacks consistency. Right or wrong the Flames are also of the mindset that a fourth-line of goons in still necessary in todays modern NHL.
Defensively the bottom-4 spots are wide open. If they play like they did last year TJ Brodie, and Mark Giordano can compete with the best in the league. However, Giordano has never had a season like he just had and Brodie is still young. Wideman, and Russell both play well offensively but there is questions defensively and in terms of consistency. The signing of Engelland to a massive contract was questionable to say the least, and Smid has taken a step backwards statistically speaking since his peak in Edmonton. Youngster Tyler Wotherspoon has a promising future, but it is just that “promising”. There are also questions in net, but there is confidence amongst fans and management that one of Hiller, Ortio, or Ramo will take the #1 position.