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Northwest Check - Calgary Flames Off-Season Review


And we're back! The long summer, The Big Trade Part 2, the drafting of great intangibles, the extremely exciting signing of Chuck Kobasew (he was only bad because he was in Minnesota, right? RIGHT!?), and all of the other off-season shenanigans have largely come to an end. With the pre-season officially opening for overpriced business this week, I felt it appropriate to take a look at what our counterparts did in their final off-seasons as our division rivals.

First up, because I'm good at alphabetizing, is our calculator-friendly friends of fire, the Calgary Flames. After the jump is a look at all of their signings and how the team looks heading into the fresh season.


Note: I was going to list Corsi numbers just for the lulz but decided I really didn't care enough. So close!


Calgary Flames

Players Acquired:

F Curtis Glencross - 4 years, $10.2 million, $2.550M AAV : 'X' has put up three solid years in a row in Calgary, averaging just under 39 points and 17 goals per season. Last season appeared to be a big step forward for Glencross as he broke the 20-goal threshold and added much needed secondary scoring for a Calgary team that will take points from wherever they can get them. Moving forward, Glencross can play second or third line minutes with solid production and is the kind of guy Avs fans should hope T.J. Galiardi turns into on the ice. He's also a very valuable contributor of humor anytime he gets the urge to give an interview.

D Brett Carson - 2 years, $1.15 million, $575K AAV : Carson was drafted and developed in the Hurricanes organization until being placed on waives and claimed by Calgary at the end of this past February. Carson is likely going to be the Flames token nacho 7th defenseman if he makes the roster, an AHL mainstay if he doesn't. He's 25 and his career year was 2 years ago when he notched 12 points in 54 games with the Hurricanes. He's our Hunwick/Cumiskey/Wilson/whoever is that 7th/8th D-man.

G Henrik Karlsson - 2 years, $1.75 million, $862.5K AAV : Sticking with their tradition, the Flames did their best to run Mikka Kiprusoff into the ground and last year's door-opening pro was 27 year old Henrik Karlsson. Ready for depressing, Avs fans? Karlsson's 2.58 GAA and .908 save percentage both put him significantly better than the Elliott/Budaj tandem we rode to the top of the draft last season. "I still like the Varly trade", indeed. Karlsson is the backup again this season and if Calgary has any serious hopes of making the playoffs he won't make many more than last season's 17 starts. A decent backup, this was a solid depth move by the Flames because competent backups are always nice to have around.

F Alex Tanguay - 5 years, $17.5 million, $3.5M AAV : Ah, Tangs. Seeing him re-sign in Calgary for what is likely to be the remainder of his career was sad but understandable. Tanguay's career outside of the Northwest Division has been extremely underwhelming, with 2 seasons averaging just 39 points (to be fair he had 41 points in 50 games in his season with Montreal), a far cry from the 67 points he's averaged over the other 9 seasons of his career. Playing first line minutes with future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla gives Tanguay a guy to send his silky smooth passes to for the foreseeable future and keep his productivity high enough to justify his very reasonable cap hit.

D Chris Butler - 2 years, $2.5 million, $1.25M AAV - Acquired in the trade of former Avs prospect Robyn Regehr, Butler is a guy Calgary hopes can regain his form from 2 seasons ago when he notched 21 points in just 59 games and stay away from the 9 point (in 49 GP) campaign he put up last year. Likely slotting in somewhere in the 4-7 range, Butler, still just 24 years old, should provide decent minutes for the Flames blueline as they continue to overhaul the unit.

F Ben Walter - 2 years, $1.075 million, $537.5K AAV : Former Lake Erie Monster Ben Walter sought out greener pastures when the Monsters showed a lack of interest in bringing him back by signing a 2-year deal with the Flames. Likely to never see the money in this deal, Walter is going to be AHL depth only unless the Flames suddenly turn into the Avs and experience an unbelievable string of injuries.

D Clay Wilson - 2 years, $1.05 million, $525K AAV : His only NHL appearances have been on bad teams and only briefly. More AHL depth for the Heat.

RW Guillaume Desbiens - 1 year, $525K, $525K AAV :Seeing a theme developing here? The Flames have been in a holding pattern of sorts in recent years as they decide on a direction with their forwards and re-tooling their AHL team like everybody else does. Desbiens is a guy who has carved out a nice living in the AHL and should continue to do so. Kudos to him.

D Anton Babchuk - 2 years, $5 million, $2.5M AAV : Yay, more NHL players! Babchuk is a guy who has bounced between the KHL and NHL in his career but has always been productive wherever he's gone. Likely to start on the second pairing in Calgary, Babchuk should be a guy who nets at least 20 points for the Flames and could realistically push for 30. At 27, Babchuk is in his prime and the Avs are likely to see quite a bit of him against the top two lines this season.

D Brendan Mikkelson - 1 year, $721,875K, $721,875K AAV: Aaaaaaaaand we're back. More AHL depth for the Flames, though I suppose he could see some time in the NHL. Had the distinct pleasure of playing for the Iowa Chops in their short existence. The Avalanche equivalent is probably David Liffiton.

C Brendan Morrison - 1 year, $1.25 million, $1.25M AAV : The long-time Vancouver Canuck whose career will always be defined by being the guy lucky enough to center Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi in their primes is now experiencing the sobering reality of what happens when you're an average NHL center. He's likely the fourth center on a team with Jokinen, Stajan, and Backlund ahead of him but he's definitely a quality fourth liner. When injuries do inevitably occur, Morrison should be primed to slide up in the lineup and make positive contributions. Though his glory days of piggybacking off far superior players are over, he still has plenty of quality hockey left in his bones.

D Scott Hannan - 1 year, $1 million, $1M AAV : If you aren't Dan or Bob, chances are decent you recognize Scott Hannan is a pretty quality NHL defenseman.  He wasn't worth the $4.5 million he made last season but at $1 million he's going to be a freaking steal. Solid, steady, unspectacular is the best way to describe Hannan. He won't drop thunderous hit in open ice (or ever) or clear the puck very well (at all) but he will play good defense more often than not (since, you know, defense is about more than hitting people) and make scoring harder than it would be with most other guys out there. All that said, I'm excited to see how our offense does against his pairing.

Acquired RW Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond from New Jersey for a 5th-round pick in the
2012 Entry Draft :
That's quite a mouthful. His 13 points in 64 games last season in the AHL and flowery name hide his ridiculous 334 PIMs. He played 2 games for the Devils last season and managed 21 PIMs. Hard to believe they gave up a 5th round pick for this guy. Hope to see him in a game this year just so I can see the name on his jersey.

Acquired RW Lee Stempniak from Phoenix for C Daymond Langkow : Stempniak is a ninja. You never his points coming but when they do, it's like a dagger in the dark. His numbers aren't overly impressive but that he consistently hangs in the 14 goal range every year despite being a 3rd-4th line player is noteworthy. The Flames saved a boatload of cash in the deal and were likely to receive similar production from Langkow as they're going to get from Stempniak.

Acquired C Paul Byron in Regehr trade : Byron, just 22, should be given a shot at making the Flames out of camp after his breakout campaign last season for the Portland Pirates of the AHL. If he doesn't crack the lineup, Byron will be slotted back down for Abbotsford and should be one of the first forwards called up in case of injury. He's an intriguing center with some solid tools and plenty of development left and should be considered one of their top forward prospects moving forward.

Acquired C Roman Horak in Tim Erixon trade : When the Rangers swooped in on the bizarre Tim Erixon situation, the Flames were able to snag a decent prospect in Horak in the deal. Horak doesn't project as a very high upside forward but has the tools to contribute in the NHL someday. His ability to play on both the PP and PK is the kind of versatility highly valued by NHL clubs. A year or two in Abbotsford is likely in the cards before he really makes a dent in the NHL but keep your eye out for him on the horizon.

Players Lost:

D Robyn Regehr (traded to Buffalo)
RW Ales Kotalik (traded to Buffalo)
D Adam Pardy (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas)
C Craig Conroy (retired)
LW Fredrik Modin (retired)
C Daymond Langkow (traded to Phoenix)
D Steve Staios (unrestricted free agent)


Overall, I think the Flames have done a better job than most of us would really give them credit for. They seem to be a team stuck in the rut of always competing for 8th place and a likely first round playoff series loss and just missing the playoffs. They don't have the talent to make a big push but have just enough to keep from rebuilding. Management seems to be fine with this treading water philosophy because they keep throwing money at solid NHL players but ones without too much upside. This Flames team will benefit from a couple of the teams in front of them in last year's standings getting worse (at least on paper) this off-season but may not have the horses to hold off the teams that will be charging hard from the basement of the Western Conference (talking about us, obviously). At the end of the day, though, the Flames still have a legit number 1 goalie in Kipper and a first line that's going to cause plenty of headaches for opposing teams. Their special teams should also be solid enough to keep them competitive but on any given night there's a good chance the other team will straight up have more talent.