The captain Jarome Iginla led the team in scoring for the ninth straight season but did not display the same scoring tenacity he showed earlier in his career. His 69 points were his lowest point totals since the lockout began and at age 33, one has to wonder if this will be a recurring trend. The power forward struggled to score and finished with only 32– his lowest totals since the 2000-2001 season.
Rene Bourque represented perhaps the lone bright spot on this past season’s roster. The 28-year-old potted career highs across the board with 27 goals and 58 points but watched his team miss the playoffs altogether while his former team won the Stanley Cup. If Bourque can stay healthy he has an excellent shot at 30 goals and 60 points even though he projected to be more of an energy player who chipped in offensively. The additions of Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen could help him score more consistently next season especially if he has less pressure to provide secondary scoring.
Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan both look like wild cards coming into the season. Both players had fantasy value on the Toronto Maple Leafs before coming over to Calgary and both can again if they see the same amount of minutes. The Calgary forward corps is starting to look pretty crowded however, with some of the least attractive options possible. The entire team may very well be completely washed up.
In fact, the club’s third highest scorer, Daymond Langkow, may never play again in the NHL after suffering from post-concussion syndrome.
No more Dion Phaneuf, but a whole lot more question marks.
Ian White is a pending RFA but could very well play for another team come next season. After a breakout campaign which saw him post 13 goals and 38 points he expects a modest raise from his 2009-2010 pay out of 950K. At this point he probably is the best offensive defenseman on the team now that Jay Bouwmeester forgot how to find the back of the net.
White and Mike Giordano both outscored the more exciting pick in Bouwmeester– who holds the potential to either break out or remain stagnantly boring. At this point Bouwmeester seems lost playing in the Western Conference and seems like a product of the weak Southeast Division. There certainly is a discrepancy dealing with the Florida Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks, even the President’s Trophy winning Washington Capitals boasted a weak defense and porous goaltenders.
Miikka Kiprusoff posted his best numbers since the 2005-2006 campaign with a .920 SV% and 2.31 GAA. Before the team took a nosedive in the standings he appeared to be a candidate for the Vezina Trophy but eventually slid with the rest of the team. When you’re offense struggles to score goals for a nine game stretch, any goaltender’s win totals will take a hit.
If you need to pick a goaltender in the third or fourth round Kiprusoff should be a good find. Although this Flames team will likely struggle to score goals again, his defense has plenty of depth with Steve Staios and Robyn Regehr clearing the crease and should not deter owners from selecting him. Fantasy leagues usually only count the regular season and not the playoffs or Olympics where Kipper generally fails to shine.
On the Bench:
Brent Sutter employs a strategically defensive system which he implements without problem in Calgary. The Flames do not let in a drastic amount of goals thanks to their shutdown defensemen and top 10 netminder. Last season the team let in the 6th least amount of goals which was very impressive.
Having Sutter’s system implemented does stagnate almost all of the forward’s potential, even Iginla, so keep this in the back of your mind.
The Bottom Line:
The Flames entered the season amid lofty expectations. After signing Bouwmeester they appeared to be one of the strongest teams in the West with a new coach, system and face. Close to everything failed and the team missed the playoffs for the first time in six years. Look for that trend to continue going into next season, a sure-fire do not trust team.