Situation Critical? Calgary Flames Really Aren't All that Bad!
Once Flames fans get over the fact their club won't be in the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year, they really have nothing to be ashamed of.
Calgary, though eliminated, is 40-31-9 with 89 points.
That total would have been good enough to have a lock on sixth overall in the Eastern Conference, with two games to go.
Yes, the team did struggle after starting the season 23-12-5, going 17-19-4 in the new year. That being said, they had a winning record of 13-11-1 after the Dion Phaneuf and Olli Jokinen trades were made.
It may be easy to criticise the moves Darryl Sutter made—especially when Dion Phaneuf has reached godlike stature in Toronto. Looking at the numbers though, he mightily won the deal.
Phaneuf just scored his first goal with the Leafs last night, and has nine points in 25 games with Toronto thus far. Fredrik Sjostrom has two goals and three assists in 18 games.
For the Flames' side of things, Ian White has become an fan favorite, and has three goals and 11 points in 25 games. Matt Stajan, though maybe not a No.1 center, is a very capable player and has put up 14 points in his 25 games with Calgary.
Throw in Hagman's nine points and Jamal Mayers' honest six points, and the Flames got what they wanted: a little more depth.
Olli Jokinen has found new life in the Big Apple. Sure, he has put up 15 points (three goals and 12 assists) in 22 games, but he is playing with Marian Gaborik, and he has still been as streaky as Will Ferrell in Old School.
At one point, he went 14 games without a goal, while Brandon Prust has looked good of late and has four goals and four assists so far on Broadway.
Christopher Higgins was just coming into his own, until a foot injury sidelined the dependable two-way winger.
He had two goals and three points in five games before that. If he can bounce back next year, which I believe he is very capable of, he may just be the best player in both deals.
Because of his disappointing season, if Calgary re-signs him, it will come at a smaller price tag than the $4.5 million he made this year.
While Ales Kotalik has been sporadic with just four points, he still has flashes that he can become a 20-goal man here as well.
If Calgary can just inject some youth and speed into this club—and one more legitimate NHL sniper—they can easily transform into a contender sooner rather than later. Especially since their defense and golatending is pretty much set.
It would be nice to think they could bring in a player with the offensive calibre of Patrick Marleau or Ilya Kovalchuk via free agency. That, however, probably won't be the case, unless they can move some contracts around and free up some cap room.
But, if they can land a decent pick-up in the NHL Entry Draft with their third-round selection, and sign a mid-range free agent come July 1, it wouldn't be that out of the question to say that this team could rebound come next October.
Especially with players like goaltender Leland Irving, defenseman Tim Erixon, and Windsor Spitfire. Don't forget 6'3", 200-pound center Greg Nemisz waiting in the wings.
Yes, it may be a lot of "ifs" and "buts." The situation in Calgary is not nearly as critical as one may think.
They still have a lifeline.
It is now up to GM Darryl Sutter to either give it a boost, or unplug it all together.
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