All things Flames. Cervenka, Jokinen, Kipper, Coach, Draft
Coming off of garbage bag day there seemed to be an air of pent up frustration with the Flames management and the team in general. It is easy to forget that the Flames had played their way into a legit shot at the post season, winning five games in a row. After seeing that kind of streak it was bitterly disappointing to watch them fail miserably in a week where they faced the worst team in the league, the second worst team in the league and the second worst team in the division. The losses were the nail in the coffin that meant the Flames would yet again miss the Playoffs. I remind us of this because it is easy to forget our frustration, the reason why fans were calling for massive changes.
The changes were supposed to be dramatic, Iginla and Kiprusoff were mentioned in every trade rumour and fantasy scenario a fan could think of. Iginla for Staal, Kipper for Columbus 1st round pick, on and on. We wondered what massive changes would take place because obviously the Flames are just banging their head against the wall with Kipper and Iginla right? No one is mad at those players but it seemed a change was necessary to move forward.
When Brent Sutter was let go after not seeing eye to eye on the direction the team needs to go, aka any direction but the one they currently are on, and the signing of a 27 year old Center it is emphatically clear that there will be no direction change. The Flames are continuing on the course of trying to win this year with the minor change of getting slightly, though not overly, younger and faster.
You read it here first: Iginla and Kipper will start the season in Calgary.
A few more crystal ball gazing ideas come to you when you absorb this information.
The first being that Olli Jokinen will probably be re-signed. I know this flies in the face of what Eric Francis thinks but there are a few factors here to consider when discussing Jokinen. He was the best Flames center last year until the very end, his chemistry with Glencross is apparent and not something to be thrown away. He would be affordable for the points he brings and the Flames are not in cap trouble. It is kind of exciting to realize that the flames are not in cap trouble for the first time in a very long while. Sarich not being re-upped is basically paying for Cervenka this year. Even if Sarich does sign it will be in the 1 million range, money is fine. Another reason Jokinen will fit is that there is heavy speculation that there will be a one time amnesty buyout in this most recent CBA, it would be prudent for the Flames to payout Stajan at 2/3 of his contract and not take a cap hit. It would leave the Flames with Jokinen, Cervenka, Backlund and _____ as a center group and while not earth shattering, not horrible either.
Some might argue buying out Bouwmeester is a better investment and there is some aspect of it which may make sense but despite his dollar to point ratio Bouwmeester is a good defenseman, just expensive. Stajan is not very good and expensive.
This opens up the Flames to have this year to make some noise. The management can easily justify moving Kiprusoff at the deadline if the Flames are out at that point. Kiprusof is interesting in that he has a huge value right now, Darren Dreger has said probably more than Iginla. The issue, as always, is if the team could stay in the hunt without him. Usually when you’re team has to rely that heavily on your goalie you need to look at other issues but for some reason the Flames just keep leaning on him. The return could be great for Kipper but if the pattern holds we will see 34 in the net on opening night. Initially when Ramo was acquired in the same trade that brought Cammalleri here my initial thought was that Kipper could be moved and a Halak/Elliot scenario could happen in Calgary involving Ramo and Irving. I was not aware that Ramo was signed in the KHL for next year as well, this is another reason I see Kipper staying this season. Ramo put up incredible numbers in the KHL over the last two years and they actually got better from the season prior. He can now call Omsk team mate Cervanka to find out what NHL life in Calgary is like.
Cervenka is an interesting signing for a myriad of reasons. Most have been discussed, the fact the Flames are looking in new areas like the KHL and college, the fact he’s 27 and when playing with Jagr was really good, his salary hit and more. What I find interesting is that it’s an admission that the UFA crop this year is weak, that addressing their center ice issues was not likely via trade or any of the “normal” routes. It says the Flames did not want to part with their first overall pick for a center and recognize the value there. Cervenka is so low risk and high reward it’s hard not to like it, a line of Tanguay, Cervanka and Iginla where Tanguay plays the set up man is actually pretty enticing. A second line of Jokinen, Glencross and Cammellari is equally nice. This would set up a third line of Backlund, Beartschi and perhaps Stempniak. That is half decent in my opinion.
It should be noted that although it would be awesome if the Flames pursued Suter and Parise in the offseason, the likelihood of landing either is both low and if successful expensive. The UFA crop is weak, the top three lines are fairly filled out with room to sign at least a top 9 forward.
The draft is interesting as well. Although the Flames have options I would bet they stay where they are at 14 unless a crazy good prospect in their mind is available. I do not see them moving down. 14 is a horrible spot because until they decided to win at the very end of the season they were looking at 11th and in the draft there is a discernible drop after the 10th or 11th pick this year. That is not to say there aren’t some decent players available but in looking at the scouting reports it is hard to discern who that may be. On some lists a guy going in the top five on one list will be available at 14 on another. What that says is that unfortunately everything after maybe the top three or four is actually totally up to luck, and picking at 14 maybe that is not a horrible thing. It is the kind of draft where a team could pick a guy who was projected at 20 and the cascade of players slipping works in the Flames’ favour. One thing I will say is that there are a lot of pretty good Defencmen in this draft and the forwards are a just above average type so at 14 it may be defence the flames pick this year. If so a couple guys like Ceci, trouba and Reilly would be considered a good pick up in that area of the draft.
Feaster has said that in essence they have only compiled a list of coaches and that list is incomplete as there may be guys fired after the Playoffs or they are available due to contracts being completed. We will be waiting until July, in my opinion, at the earliest to find out who the new coach is.