It’s a frustrating time to be a Flames fan—and I say that as a life-long Calgarian. Last year, the team came into the season with high hopes, but was horribly mismanaged from the start and went nowhere.
Illogical trades, inconsistent coaching and increasingly incoherent ramblings from GM Darryl Sutter made a mockery of the potential, and kept the team out of the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 lockout.
Fans screamed for some big changes, starting at the top, but nothing happened. Sutter is still in charge, his brother is still the coach and the team is worse than they were last season—and they weren’t very good then.
This is the biggest head-scratcher in the whole league. Sutter traded away Olli Jokinen last season because he was horribly underachieving on the ice and creating distractions in the locker room. Yet, Jokinen was brought back as a free agent this offseason.
Alex Tanguay, another castaway because of a lack of production, was brought back as well. Center Jarome Iginla didn’t have a lot of chemistry with either player, and he is coming off a very disappointing year. Somehow, the return of these two players—who are expected to gel with Iginla—is supposed to make all the difference. It’s as illogical as it seems—despite Sutter’s pleas that they are great moves.
The rest of the roster moves are less than noteworthy—some minor pieces have been replaced by other minor pieces. Eric Nystrom is the biggest departure, but more for his potential than for his accomplishments.
It’s hard to be very positive about this squad. They struggled offensively and were shockingly short of leadership in 2009. They have done little to address either issue. The team is still built around Jarome Iginla. Although he has a good reputation around the league and steps up in international play, those who watch him closely can’t help but become more and more disillusioned by his inconsistency.
This is not a team that is built to win—even though they play in arguably the weakest division in the league.
Calgary Flames NHL Odds
The Flames have 35/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, 16/1 to win the Western Conference and +550/1 to win the Northwest. Their points total is set at 92.5.
Calgary Flames Predictions
It’s not going to be pretty for the Flames. They won't be able to score consistently in 2010, unless each roster member has a career year—something that Sutter seems to be banking on. They haven’t added real leadership to a team that needs direction. Although goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is their best player, he’s getting older and is worn down by carrying so much of the team's burden for so long.
This is not a playoff team, and they will have had a good year if they finish higher than fourth in their division. They lack attractive assets or cap space to make a quick turnaround, so this team appears to be one poised for mediocrity for years to come. The Flames' best hope is that they are terrible enough force the Sutter era to come to a much-needed end.
There isn’t a futures bet on this team worth touching. The Flames' Stanley Cup and conference champion odds are particularly laughable. If you can find anyone who thinks those bets are even remotely attractive, then take their money from them yourself and give them the action—you might as well make the profit instead of the books.