The Calgary Flames, fueled by a late-season charge, are ready to get off to a great start in 2011/2012. With other teams in the Northwest getting older, stronger and faster, the Calgary Flames are going to be in tough to make the playoffs.
Part four my series examines 10 predictions for the Calgary Flames that could take place over the next year. Please enjoy.
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Without giving away my future predictions, I'll tell you that I believe that the Flames will be out of the playoff picture fairly early.
I believe that Jarome Iginla will be asked to waive his no-trade clause at or before the trade deadline. Whether or not he says yes remains to be seen.
As my favorite Flame of all time, Jarome would be a huge loss to his team and the community.
In my opinion, there is no way that the Calgary Flames find themselves anywhere but the basement of the Northwest. The Canucks, Oilers, Avalanche and Wild are all stronger than the Flames.
It's a shame that the Flames made their late season charge last year. They failed to realize that this team is destined to go nowhere.
Alex Tanguay is one of the more dynamic players in the league. However, injuries and inconsistency have plagued his career.
I'm not totally sure why I feel this way but I feel like Alex's offensive totals will fall this season. With Jarome Iginla a year older and the enigmatic Olli Jokinen at center, how much can Flame fans rely on Tanguay to produce?
Rene Bourque is a great power forward. He has a big frame and quick hands that allow him to be an offensive force in the NHL.
Bourque will beat his 58 point total that had two seasons ago. I don't think 65 points is out of the question for guy like him.
For the first time in his career as the Flames' starter, Miikka Kiprusoff will play fewer than 70 games.
Brent Sutter and Jay Feaster understand that you can't expect to push a goaltender to the brink of exhaustion and expect to go far in the playoffs. Though the Flames won't make the playoffs, I believe that Kiprusoff will get rested this year.
With young guys coming up and Kiprusoff's career on the down-slope, you can bet that Sutter and Feaster will want to give some fresh faces a chance in net.
For a long time, Mikael Backlund has been the only prospect that gets Flame fans excited. After next year's draft, there will be another.
Jay Feaster and his management team will be drafting in the top eight after this season. Top ten picks don't come around all the time and you can bet that the Flames' scouting staff will be hard at work to make the best of it.
Jay Bouwmeester has got to be considered one of the biggest free agency flops in the post-lockout era.
That being said, I believe that Bouwmeester will have his best offensive year as a Flame. Despite not scoring more than 10 goals since being a member of the Florida Panthers, Jay Bouwmeester is still one of the premier skating and rushing D-men in the league.
Those skills will benefit him this year and he will finally show the offensive potential that made Daryl Sutter sign him to a huge contract.
With Robyn Regher being traded to the Buffalo Sabres, the Calgary Flames are left with a big hole on the blue line.
Jay Feaster appears to want one of his young prospects step up and play full-time with the NHL club, though that is just speculation. I don't believe this is a reasonable expectation. Feaster will be forced into signing or trading for an NHL ready D-man.
Niklas Hagman will score 20 goals for the Calgary Flames this season.
When the Flames made the Hagman trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, they brought in a guy who they believed could score 25+ goals. While that hasn't been the case, it soon will be.
After a couple years, Hagman will be given a bigger role and more opportunities within the game. I believe that he has what it takes to score 20 goals and be a difference maker for the Flames.
The past few seasons have been full of disappointment. The Flames have failed to qualify for the postseason yet they haven't finished low enough to get a great draft pick.
After one more season of futile play, the Flames and Jay Feaster will be forced to blow-up the core of the team. I'm not sure what moves will be made, but to be honest, the team should have done this after last year.