NHL Free Agency: Is Calgary Going Down in Flames?

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NHL Free Agency: Is Calgary Going Down in Flames?
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For those of you who grew up in the 80s, you’ll remember the movie Back To The Future. Well, given the Calgary Flames latest free agent signings, that’s exactly what they are doing—going back in hopes of a great future.

Flames general manager Darryl Sutter signed both Olli Jokinen (who signed a two-year, $6 million contract) and Alex Tanguay (who signed a one-year, $1.7 million contract), in hopes that both players can somehow find a way where they failed before.

Jokinen—who was traded to the New York Rangers by the Flames earlier this year—spent parts of two seasons with the Flames, posting eight goals and seven assists for 15 points in 19 games played with the Flames in 2008-09 and 11 goals and 24 assists for 35 points in 56 games played with the Flames in 2009-10.

For those that remember, Jokinen had very little chemistry with Flames Captain Jarome Iginla and, by all accounts, was all but pushed out of the Flames organization by the fans for his lack of scoring and abysmal effort on the ice.

After a good 2006-07 season which saw Alex Tanguay score 22 goals, add 59 assists for 81 points in 81 games played with the Flames, Tanguay fell flat in 2007-08, posting 18 goals, adding 40 assists for a total of 58 points in 78 games with the Flames.

While not a failure, Tanguay (who received a No Movement Clause as part of his deal) is another player who seemed to run his course in Calgary.

Tanguay did not endear himself to the Flames organization, often being criticized for a lack of effort and being void of toughness.

That said, Tanguay’s numbers were reasonably good in Calgary and, given his $1.7 million contract, can fill one of the Flames holes up front on the cheap.

Needless to say, both signings are not sitting well with Flames fans, many of which seem to feel Sutter has lost his judgment and are calling for his head.

So, what makes Sutter think the signing of Jokinen and Tanguay will work the second time around? Ya got me!

Late 2009-10 season additions Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman (acquired in the Dion Phaneuf deal from the Toronto Maple Leafs) may be asked to play with one of the Flames latest additions, especially if Jokinen fails to click with Iginla again—which is quite possible.

A second line of Stajan, Tanguay, Hagman would be a formidable combination, that is, if they can find some chemistry.

The biggest questions will be directed to the Flames first line. Will the Flames be willing to give a Iginla-Jokinen reunion a try? Will they choose to compete with a first line of Iginla, Jokinen, Tanguay?

When asked about the free agent acquisition of Olli Jokinen, Iginla lamented that the fact that both he and Jokinen were both shooters made it difficult for the two to find chemistry, but that, with Tanguay (a passer by nature) added to the mix, may help Olli and Iggy finally find the chemistry that was so noticeably absent the first time around.

As it stands now, restricted free agent Ian White is still without a contract and, with the Flames having a total of $57,308,333 committed to 19 players, Sutter is left with a paltry $2,091,667 with which to sign three players—which likely means White will be let go and another scorer will be tough to sign.

Needless to say, the Flames need to score more goals in order to be competitive in the offensively dominated Western Conference; question is, will Jokinen and Tanguay be enough to spark this group?

Clearly, for the Flames, the question heading into the 2010-11 season will be, can they catch fire? or will they go down in flames?...again...

Until next time,


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