Calgary Flames: The Maple Leafs of the West

Steve McSween@dansallowsSenior Analyst IApril 29, 2009

If it is true, and lessons can be learned from the mistakes of others, then the Calgary Flames should take note of their cousins to the east...the Toronto Maple Leafs.

For years, the Leafs loaded their roster with veteran talent that made them just good enough to make a playoff spot, only to have an early exit and a low pick in the draft.

Enter the Calgary Flames, now losers in the first round four years in a row.

If the Flames don't take note and make some changes to right the ship fast, they are destined to sink to the bottom of the NHL standings.

In the new NHL, it is the young legs that are thriving.

Heck, look no further than the team that put the Flames out, the young upstart Chicago Blackhawks.

Yet, the Flames dished away two young talents in Matthew Lombardi and Brandon Prust, along with a first-round pick in order to aquire a veteran in Olli Jokinen, who was as streaky as Will Ferrell in Old School.

In goal, Mikka Kiprusoff continues to be on the decline, despite winning 45 games. Kipper's goals against average was dangerously close to three per game (2.84), and his save percentage was .903. In the playoffs, his numbers worsened with a 3.52 goals against average and .884 save percentage.

The defense, most nights, was as painful to watch as Kevin Costner trying to keep an English accent in the movie Robin Hood, while Daymond Langkow, Dion Phaneuf, and Jarome Iginla underachieved offensively compared to last season.

Meanwhile, one of the few bright spots, Mike Cammalleri, looks like he will bolt for the free agent market, especially since the Flames are now committed to Jokinen's $5 million salary for next season.

Calgary has few bright spots in their system besides Swedish-born phenom Mikael Backlund, which should make keeping young players like Cammalleri, David Moss, and Eric Nystrom a no-brainer.

But unless the Flames can move some of their high-priced prima donna's, next season's losing begins July 1st when Cammalleri walks and they can't afford to sign anyone to improve.

It looks as though the Flames have finally flickered out in Calgary.