Top 10 All Time Flames Centres
Ironic of sorts. At a time I work on this slideshow, one thing the Flames could use is an elite centre.
This season a lot of centres have had a shot at centering the top line with Jarome Iginla. A lot of centres have failed at centering the top line with Jarome Iginla. Currently it's Matt Stajan, but right now the Flames could use any of the guys on this list—or any of the guys on this list, in their prime.
I did quite a lot of research to make this list—and in this research I saw a theme emerging as I studied guys higher up on the list; most were offensively sound players who were solid in their own end.
Now some of the guys are old, and almost every single player had aggressiveness and grit back in the day, but that didn't necessarily mean they were great two way players—the players on this list are though.
And there is one prospect in the organization now who just happens to be speedy, has good hands, an elite passer and solid in his own end.
Let's hope Mr.Backlund can live up to potential and crack this list someday.
10. Stephane Yelle
In five seasons with the Flames Yelle did not rack up a ton of points but you always knew you were going to get a solid effort by Yelle night in and night out.
Yelle was a integral part of the Flames '03 Cup run. Similar to his Flames career he wasn't always on the score sheet but he was always noticeable on the ice. That Cup run wouldn't have been possible without talented gritty guys like Yelle and his time here in Calgary was appreciated.
In 339 games as a Flame, Yelle recorded 96 points.
9. Marc Savard
Marc Savard comes in here at No. 9.
We can look back on the trade that sent Savard packing, it may have seemed decent at the time. Savard was dealt for a Russian prospect, Ruslan Zainullin. Yeah I know, who? He's still playing over in Europe without a game of NHL experience and I doubt he is coming to the NHL anytime soon.
There is no doubt if Savard had finished his career as a Flame he would be much higher on this list. But alas, Savard was only in a Flames uniform for three and some years and never posted any career numbers—but he did play some good hockey in Calgary.
A smooth passer of the puck, Savard really never reached his potential in Calgary or Atlanta—until he played his first injury free season in 2005. Savard posted 97 points in 82 games in what was a contract year and was signed that summer by the Boston Bruins and has never looked back since.
Savard recorded 154 points in 221 games as a Calgary Flame.
8. Matthew Lombardi
Some might be surprised to see Lombardi on this list, but I feel he deserves a spot on the Top 10.
While with the Flames Lombardi showed so much potential. His speed was unbelievable but he didn't have the hands to go with his speed.
I think a big reason he was dealt because he always showed so much potential, but could never really break out. Don't get me wrong Lombardi was a great player in his time here in Calgary but you could tell his talents were raw. There was more to his game.
Well as were seeing it may have been he didn't have a big enough role with the Flames or he just didn't like the pressure that came with playing in a Canadian city because he is three points off his career high 62 games in.
With all the offensive upside he brought, there was just something about him that made him a fan favorite.
I think it was because Lombardi seemed like a humble guy that every guy thought "hey, want to hang out with Lombardi" or every girl thought "hey, I want to date Lombardi"
What ever it was, Lombardi is missed in Calgary.
In his tenure as a Flame Lombardi recorded 167 points in 347 games.
7. Robert Reichel
Come draft time Reichel was considered a very hot prospect and some even compared him to Jaromir Jagr. He started his NHL career being drafted by Flames but after six seasons he was traded to the New York Islanders in '97.
In his years with the Flames Reichel was a prolific scorer. In his first two years he tallied 19 and 20 goals with the Flames, only to double that and score 40 goals in the two seasons after that.
But because of a short lockout and a contract dispute Reichel spent some time in the German League with the Frankfurt Lions (where he tore it up, recording 101 points in 46 games in 1995-96).
One thing Reichel will be remembered for is not necessarily his career as a Flame, but his shootout winner in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics that sent Patrick Roy and Team Canada packing in the semi's. The Czechs would later on defeat Russia to capture the gold medal. Ask any Czech hockey fan and they will tell you that is their nations proudest moment.
Reichel recorded 354 points in 425 games as a Flame.
6. Daymond Langkow
For some reason I was surprised to see Langkow so high on the Flames All-Time leading scorers. I think that is a statement of how underrated Langkow has been.
He's having a bit of an off year this season but ever since he came to Calgary in a trade for Denis Gauthier and Oleg Saprykin. he has done nothing but impress.
Langkow has been paired with Iginla in the past and one thing I liked when he was on Iggy's line was the fact he was never afraid to shoot the puck. It seems like when centres get placed with Iginla they think they're not allowed to shoot the puck and their sole job is to feed Iggy.
As of March 16th Langkow has 250 points in 316 games.
5. Carey Wilson
Ohhhh Misterrrrr Willlllson. Who doesn't love Dennis the Menace? Carrying on...
Carey Wilson, before playing in his first NHL game, played in the CHL, NCAA, Division One Hockey in Europe and the Canadian National Team. Needless to say, this was quite the rare situation.
Wilson was actually drafted by the Blackhawks in the 1980 Entry Draft, but in 1982 they traded him (but really the rights to his contract) to the Flames in exchange for Denis Cyr.
On his second NHL shift, on his first NHL shot, Wilson recorded his first National Hockey League goal. From there he went on to record seven points in 15 games to end the season. The next season, Wilson would start the year in Calgary and expectations were high, but met. He posted 72 points in 74 games in 1984-85 and had 50 plus the following two years.
In 1988 Wilson was dealt to Hartford. He didn't last long though as in the same year he got shipped off to the Rangers before landing, you guessed it, Calgary for a final stint from '91 to '93.
A little trivia, Wilsons son, Colin Wilson (drafted 7th overall in 2008), is playing for the Nashville Predators after being called up from the AHL. Colin has 10 points in 22 games.
In 355 games with the Flames, Carey Wilson put up 263 points.
4. Doug Gilmour
Gilmour will be most remembered from his times with the Leafs, but he did spend a substantial amount of time with Calgary, and he was very productive in his four years with the club.
When Gilmour was drafted by the St.Louis Blues in 1982 (he was overlooked in the draft the previous year), he almost went to play hockey in Germany—because of his size. He was quite small and he barely worked out a contract with the Blues as the organization was worried about his size.
In 1988 Gilmour was traded to the Calgary Flames. He was a vital piece in the Flames team that took home their only cup to date that year.
Gilmour was a solid two-way player his whole career. His ability to shift from an offensive mindset to a defensive one was really a sign of how elite his game was.
In what was the largest trade in league history, Gilmour went to the Leafs in a ten player deal.
Doug Gilmour recorded 295 points in 266 career games as a Calgary Flame
3. Craig Conroy
Craig Conroy is one of the most loved guys, if not the most loved, in the NHL. Obviously his skill set is declining with age but he is a great locker room presence to have.
Drafted by the Habs, then spending some time with the St.Louis Blues Conroy never recorded over 45 points with either club. The Flames gave up Cory Stillman to acquire Conroy, but evident in Conroy's first season, it was worth it.
In his first full season with the Flames Conroy put up 75 points in 81 games. His numbers declined the next two seasons and he landed in lala land with the Kings post-lockout. He did the same thing in LA that he did in cowtown, in his first season Conroy posted 66 points in 78 games, the second best season of his career.
Confession time. I attended a Flames-Kings game. This was during the time Conroy was in LA. I booed Conroy. I was young, I was naive!
But of course Flames fans around the nation were excited when Conroy was re-acquired from the Kings for Jamie Lundmark and a couple of picks.
As of March 16th Conroy has 291 points in 426 games as a Flame.
2. Joel Otto
Joel Otto was signed by the Calgary Flames as a free agent in 1984. He would go on to win a cup with the Flames and become one of the leagues best two-way players.
His strength and quick hands made him excellent in the faceoff dot. That paired with his offensive talents and board play made him a threat in all aspects of the game. Being 6'4" didn't hurt either.
After 11 straight seasons, the Flames decided to not re-sign Otto as they were in a re-building stage. He played three seasons with the Flyers and retired in 1998.
In his illustrious Flames career Otto recorded 428 points in 730 games
But of course there is one man that holds off Otto for number one spot on this list, drum roll please.
Who were you expecting, Olli Jokinen?
Joking aside, when Nieuwendyk was drafted by the Flames in 1985 he hit the ground running.
In his rookie season he became only the second rookie ever (after Mike Bossy) to record 50 goals in his rookie season.
He continued to produce in bunches. Despite some injury riddled seasons he never had less than 50 points with the Flames. His big injury (a bummed knee) could be accredited to his style of play. Nieuwendyk was always aggressive, especially in front of the net.
Nieuwendyk won a cup with the Flames and was named team captain in 1991 but his knee was too much of a problem early in the 95-96 season. The Flames were looking to off-load him but found few takers.
But finally, the Flames found a taker. In this trade is another big reason we see Nieuwendyk first on this list. The Flames traded Joe Nieuwendyk to the Dallas Stars for young winger Jarome Iginla, and the rest they say is history.
That is one of the few win-win trades seen in the NHL. The Stars acquire a superstar who never really produced a ton of points for them—but he led the team to Stanley Cup Championship. And of course the Flames got Jarome Iginla, who is now the franchise leader in points, goals and games played.
In 577 games as a Flame, Nieuwendyk put up 616 points. But most importantly, he "gave" us Jarome Iginla.