The 2009/10 season started off so great, then the calendar changed to January 2010 and the wheels came of the wagon if you are a flames fan. We have all had some time to digest and take some emotion out of the season and I hope we can now look at what the organization is faced with and look at possible solutions. This article is opinion and for debate purposes. We only have about a calendar month until the draft and when we will start to see how this situation unfolds. For the purpose of this to be meaningful discussion. Lets keep it to what we can do now, not “oh we should have kept Cammelari, and let joker’s contract run out” maybe that would have been a start but it isn’t what happened. These are the cards we have been dealt and I don’t think it is necessarily as bleak as most fans and some of the media have made it out to be. I’m sure that what is about to be discussed will not be how the dominos fall but it makes for great conversations and that is part of the fun with sports and the people who enjoy it. So let’s get down to it this is what’s in flames nation:
LW C RW
? Backlund (0.854) Iginla (7)
Borque (3.3) Stajan (3.5) ?
Hagman (3) Langkow (4.5) Moss (1.3)
Glencross (1.2) Dawes (0.85) Kotalik (3)
Total = 28.504
Regehr (4.02) Bouwmeester (6.68)
Sarich (3.6) Giordano (0.892)
Pardy (0.7) Staios (2.7)
Total = 18.592
? Total = 5.833
Total = 52.929
Rumored 2010/11 Cap Total = 57.7
Now I am not saying that these are the line and defensive combinations that the team will be going with but I wanted to put a few things in a different order than what we have seen and start the conversation there. Now with 4.771 million to spend I going to assume it is 4 because you need close to a million in space for trade space and/or injuries in the season.
I think one common thread will be to get rid of Kolalik. Well I can’t say I disagree but unless there is a KHL team to take the talented but often invisible forward we are stuck with him and if he could somehow be motivated could be a 15ish goal guy and since there will be a lot of dump him I don’t think it is possible. So for movement which I believe is necessary to secure some cap space and maybe a draft pick. This is where the cap maybe a help instead of a hinder. Although there is a cap this also means there is a floor. The floor of the cap would be approx. 41.7 if the 57.7 rumoured cap is true. Where I am getting with this is, Staios played alright for the flames after the deadline and his leadership skills are something a team with a young players could use and if there is a team that may need to spend to get to the floor ie. ATL or NYI maybe the flames could flip him for a prospect or late round draft pick. That immediately takes the 4 million to 6.7 million to spend and we have some defensive prospects (pelech, negrin or kronwall) that could take his place on the roster. These players are on entry level 2 way contracts but if they make the big team would be minimal (about 0.6 million) so we are at 6 million to spend. The most often heard rumour I have heard this year is the Regehr is going to be moved to clear space and address scoring. I really hope that this is not the case. At 30 years old I think he has a lot in the tank and we need that warrior type stay at home d man to lead the back end. What I would propose is look to move Sarich. He is pretty much the same player had a great second half of the season and is only a year older. Not only are they similar but they make similar money as well. This is where it gets very speculative cause who know who is going to move or what is available. Since this is just opinion though I’m even going to throw out a name. If we could trade Sarich and Dawes to Anaheim for Joffrey Lupul. He has had some injury trouble but is signed for 2 more seasons and has proved he has a scorers touch. Flames would be sending 4.450 in salary and taking in 4.25 for a surprising savings of 0.2 million dollars leaving them with 6.2 million under the cap and Anaheim I think could use some help on the defensive end and has an abundance of scoring up front. Now what I’m about to write is something I would hate to see but we have some younger centre’s that could mean the end of a great flame. The player is Daymond Langkow, I am a huge fan but @ 4.5 million dollars I think he has a couple good seasons left in him and if we could find a team that needs a 2nd or 3rd line centre with some experience and has cap room. This would purely be a salary dump and the flames would get a mid round pick and/or prospect. This would give the flames 10.7 million under the cap. Now to deal with re-signing pending flame free agents before July 1st . In their short time here I think both White and Higgins should be re signed. White is a RFA but I would venture it would cost about 2.5 million to keep him. As for Higgins he has struggled for a couple seasons but showed some great 2 way play and with that and his natural position is centre he could be a good 3rd line centre. Since the last couple year he has struggled let’s say his salary is 1.2 million per. There is one other player the flames would not like to lose and that is Nystrom his value has went up but I believe flames management could sign him for 1.2 ish to anchor the energy line. With these three players taking 4.9 million dollars that leaves the flames with 5.8 million to spend that brings us to unrestricted free agency and not a lot of money to spend. With this money I believe that the flames would need to pick up 1 forward and 1 d man. First off with only this amount of money scouting is going to be crucial to the success. The selections may be scrutinized for being to risky but he potential up side if fulfilled could be huge. The d man that I would go after would be Colaiacovo. He has been around the league and can play decent at both ends of the ice while moving the puck. A slight raise for him would put him at 1.5 million. This leaves 4.3 million dollars for a forward and this will be a controversial one but I would like to see the flames make a play on Frolov. He is streaking and inconsistent but has never played anywhere other than for the kings. His cap number last year was 2.9 million so if the flames paid him 3.3 million per that may suffice. This would get him into a new environment and the flames another legitimate scorer. This may take some pressure off of Iggy and help his numbers climb back up. This leaves the flames with 1 million left plus the 0.7 I left out for wiggle room during the season. Now for the final piece, I didn’t forget about a back up for Kipper but unfortunately unless Toskala really wants to play a whole season with his buddy we are not going to keep him for 1 million dollars. What I propose is we once again go with a young backup. The goalie in the farm I would with is David Shantz he lead the Heat in the playoffs and wrestled the starting job from Irving and Keetley. Fans have a sour taste in their mouth from the years of McElhinney but I think that we could go with a young goalie again. I really liked what Toskala brought to the table but I just think if he doesn’t get a starting job in the NHL he will in the KHL or a Finnish league team that will pay him more than to sit on the bench here. So if they have Shantz as the back up at 0.6 million that saves us a little more money and allows for our 13th forward which I believe will be Sutter.
So this is what my final line up look like coming into the coming season and it would allow for 0.871 million under the cup. Now I know that most if not all of these moves won’t go down this way or at all for that matter. I do not claim to have all the answers but in the off season speculation of your teams potential moves especially after a disappointing season can lead to some great conversations with you and your buddies who cheer for either the same team or a rival team. So take a look what I have and lets hear what you have to say.
LW C RW
Bourque (3.3) Backlund (0.854) Iginla (7)
Frolov (3.3) Stajan (3.5) Lupul (4.25)
Hagman (3) Higgins (1.2) Kotalik (3)
Glencross (1.2) Nystrom (1.2) Moss (1.3)
Total = 33.704
Giordano (0.892) Bouwmeester (6.68)
Regehr (4.02) White (2.5)
Colaiacovo (1.2) Pelech (0.6)
Total = 16.592
Total = 56.729