Sunday, September 11, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Calgary Flames

It seems that since 2004 when the Flames were one win away from hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup, they have been in neutral. They haven't  been out of the first round since 2004, and they have basically maintained the same veteran core. Can Jay Feaster eek a bit more out of this group, or will it be high time to start from scratch?

Strengths: There are good veteran players on this team right now. Of course, their heart and soul has been RW Jarome Iginla, and even though he has had some bad seasons recently, he still may be the best offensive player on this team. Other decent offensive veteran players include RW Rene Bourque, LW Curtis Glencross, and LW Alex Tanguay. The veteran presence on this team is maintained through the blue line group too, with guys like Jay Bouwmeester, Scott Hannan, Mark Giordano, and Anton Babchuk. Miikka Kiprusoff has been between the pipes for awhile, and he has been very consistent, and consistently good for Calgary for quite some time, and this has kept some stability around this team in times of chaos.

Weaknesses: This is a very old team. There is not much youth on the prospective roster, with only 1 player under age 23 and 3 under age 25. The other problem is that there is very little depth on this roster anywhere you look, because of major salary cap problems. Gone are Robyn Regeher and Ales Kotalik to help mend that, but nothing's come of it. There are no major scoring threats, and very few are coming down the pipeline. Depth and age may completely undo this team by trade deadline time.

Any Help Coming? LW Sven Baertschi is a solid young prospect coming from Portland in the WHL, and he is the most promising one in the Flames farm system. He is gritty, and can play very good offensively too. Other good prospects include D T.J Brodie, RW Greg Nemisz, and G Leland Irving.

Outlook: If they can't win with this veteran group now, it may be time to blow it up and start over. They have enough veteran talent for a playoff spot competition, but likely not enough to make it past the first round. This team is getting older, and with very little youth coming up through the system, it looks like square one could be rapidly approaching.

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