Calgary Flames Offseason Preview Part 4

Calgary FlamesPart 4 of my Calgary Flames Offseason Preview examines the troops that compose the Flames back end. While the offense in Calgary flourished for a majority of the year, it was the defense that was criticized the most down the stretch. The Flames finished 23rd in the NHL in goals against in 2008-09, and GM Darryl Sutter made it quite clear that a statistic like that was just not acceptable. Rumors continue to run rampant of sweeping changes to the contingency of Flames rearguards, including Dion Phaneuf being shipped out, and Jay Bouwmeester being brought in. Whatever happens in the end, rest assured the Flames blueline will be much different in 2009-10.

Returning Players: (listed in order from highest to lowest 2009-10 cap hit)

  1. Dion Phaneuf (47pts, -11 in 80 GP) $6.5m
  2. Robyn Regehr (8pts, +10 in 70 GP) $4.02m
  3. Cory Sarich (20pts, +12 in 76 GP) $3.6m
  4. Jim Vandermeer (7pts, +1 in 45 GP) $2.3m
  5. Mark Giordano (19pts, +2 in 58 GP) $0.892m

Dion Phaneuf had a year full of backtracking in 2008-09. His offensive numbers were down and overall, the quality of play was not nearly as high as what Phaneuf had shown in his first two seasons in the NHL. There is potential injuries to blame for this, but regardless, being the Flames highest paid rearguard, Phaneuf will have to be much better than the -11 that he put up this past season. Barring injury, Robyn Regehr will once again continue to be the Flames top physical shut down defenseman. The consistency in his play is what has made him a strong consideration for the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, so expect nothing less from the veteran blueliner. Cory Sarich stepped up his play in both ends this past season, and worked very well filling Regehr’s shoes when he was out with injury. Giordano was developing into a dependable powerplay quarterback before being shelved with injuries. Expect Giordano to be back and just as effective as last season. The only question mark who is under contract to return is Jim Vandermeer.

Farm Hands

  1. Matt Pelech
  2. Gord Baldwin
  3. John Negrin

Both Pelech and Negrin were thrown into the fire late in the regular season after Giordano and Regehr went down with injuries. Both filled the spots admirably, and neither stuck out as being out of place. While the likelihood of either making the roster this season is quite small, with another season of experience in the “A”, both should be close to ready for NHL action within the next two seasons.

Upcoming Free Agents (listed in order from highest to lowest 2008-09 cap hit)

  1. Adrian Aucoin (34 pts, -8 in 81 GP) $4m
  2. Jordan Leopold (24pts, -13 in 83 GP) $1.5m
  3. Anders Eriksson (played all season in the AHL) $1.5m
  4. Adam Pardy (10pts, +3 in 60 GP) $0.5m
  5. Rhett Warrener* $2.35m

Adrian Aucoin was reliable, but did not quite reach a level of production that would warrant another $4m contract. If he is willing to take a paycut, he might return to the Flames. Otherwise, you can probably expect him to hit the ol’ dusty trail. Jordan Leopold struggled at times after being re-acquired from the Colorado Avalanche at the trading deadline. However, with the price tag what it was, he was not a poor investment. Adam Pardy excelled last season, and was possibly one of the best surprises all year. While he is still only a 5-6 defenseman at best, very few people would have even expected that much out of Pardy at this point in his career. I would expect to see him re-signed before summer’s end. As for Rhett Warrener, the poor cagey vet was held out of action all season, and will most likely be forced to retire due to a slew of injuries.

On The Market: a list of 5 free agents who could fit the Flames budget/ fill holes on the roster (listed from highest to lowest 2008-09 salary)

  1. Greg de Vries NSH $2.75m
  2. Andrew Alberts PHI $1.4m
  3. Steve Montador ANA $0.8m
  4. Rob Scuderi PIT $0.725m
  5. Johnny Oduya NJD $0.6m

Greg de Vries is a wily veteran who would bring solid leadership to the blueline, however he is reaching the end of his playing career without a doubt. Andrew Alberts is a young, up-and-coming defenseman with a lot of potential and and a strong physical side to his game. Steve Montador, since initially leaving Calgary, has become a dependable 5-6 defenseman with the ability to produce quality minutes. Rob Scuderi really came into his own in 2008-09. In the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings, he showed to the league how solid his shutdown abilities are. Johnny Oduya also made great advances with the Devils over the regular season, posting 29pts in 82 games.

With Aucoin and Leopold potentially leaving town via free agency, look for Sutter to add at least one defender from the free agency market. All the Jay Bouwmeester rumors that are flying through the air are likely nothing more than wishful thinking. Without dumping a significant salary (Phaneuf, Langkow, Jokinen, etc) the Flames would not be able to take on the large salary that Bouwmeester will command this offseason. As much as Phaneuf struggled this season, I do not envision Darryl Sutter giving up on his prized former first-rounder after one season of setback. Expect youngsters like Negrin and Pelech to be given a shot in training camp, but also expect at least one new face to show up to compete come September.

Next up in Part 5 of my Calgary Flames Offseason Preview I will take a look at the Flames goaltending situation, which is all but set with Miikka Kiprusoff locked in and the ink still drying on Curtis McElhinney’s newest contract.


~ by manovrboard on June 24, 2009.

2 Responses to “Calgary Flames Offseason Preview Part 4”

  1. Do you think that the Olli Jokinen trade was worth it? When Jokinen was acquired Cammelleri’s production faded, as did the team morale. By this, I mean that the team was 0 for 46 on the powerplay at one time, and went below .500 after the trade deadline. A clear arguement also is that Lombardi had close to as many points as Jokinen did on a much weaker Phoenix team. Now is the time to ship him I think. The one clear player I think would be a definite franchise player in Calgary is Derrick Brassard. Colombus is full of young talents, whereby, Nikita Filatov and Jacob Vorcek are their future players; with Colombus having a large salary cap-space and getting a guy like Jokinen would be better for both teams I think.

  2. Trading Dion Phanuef has been brought up by many analysts’, does this make any sense if your the GM of Calgary? I think so. A team like the San Jose Sharks have a guy better suited in a Calgary Flames uniform with a much lower salary, t’m talkin’ about Marc Vlasic. The Flames I think have over-invested in Phanuef. If you compare Phanuef’s defensive play compared to (even) second rounder defenseman such as: Vlasic, Keith, or even Shea Weber, you know he’s over rated. Phanuef was drafted more than 5 years ago, and still doesn’t have the defensive side IQ as most defenseman getting paid over 6 million dollars. I love your comment about Adam Pardy, I think Keenan didn’t have enough belief in him. Pardy definitly does have a high IQ in the back end. As for John Negrin: WOW! He is already I think a Stud. He plays so smart (as seen in his small stint with Calgary). I think Matt Pelech however is looking less and less like a first round draft pick. I think he could be involved in trade bait to lure a young becoming star in a Jokinen trade such as a: Claude Giroux, Derrick Brassard, or even a player like Kyle Okposo. I think these guy’s are all availble in a trade that involves Olli Jokinen. Though Jokinen played in the Island, if they take Taveras, Jokinen is a better fit in the Island than Okposo. Okposo is worthy of becoming a franchise player, playing under the wings of Iginla, he can learn the ropes to becoming that player.

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