There is a certain potential for the Flames to be working with one of the youngest rosters in the NHL, come opening night. The team's only remaining 20-goal scorer from last season is under 20 years old, while there will be an influx of NCAA talent coming into camp, with the full expectation of an opening night spot on their roster.
Last season's mantra of trying to play some North-South hockey, trying to keep everything simple, was good on some nights, especially when the opposition wasn't taking them seriously, but really crumbled under their feet when games started to mean something and teams could sort out those wins with much better coaching systems.
The Flames may have some better luck with a bonafide number one goalie on their roster, but as we've seen on other teams in different years, not just the Miikka Kiprusoff days in Calgary, that the best of goalies are powerless when they are hung out to dry. At least the Flames may have a better shot, compared to last season's platoon of goaltending.
|Forwards||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Defense||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Goaltenders||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit|
|Jiri Hudler||55||4.000||Marc Giordano||55||4.020||Jonas Hiller||60||4.500|
|Curtis Glencross||45||2.550||Dennis Wideman||35||5.250||Karri Ramo||20||2.750|
|Mason Raymond||40||3.150||Kris Russell||35||2.600|
|Mikael Backlund||40||1.500||T.J. Brodie||30||2.125|
|Sean Monahan||40||0.925||Ladislav Smid||10||3.500|
|Matt Stajan||35||3.125||Deryk Engelland||10||2.917|
|BUYOUTS & OTHER||0.000|
|John Gaudreau||40||0.925||Mike Cundari||5||0.660||Joni Ortio||5||0.600|
First Round Picks
The Flames are a few years of maturity left before they might have a name to fill this void in the projections posts. They are hoping that Sean Monahan and John Gaudreau will develop into those kinds of scorers, while they also hope that Jonas Hiller could be the answer to their goaltending questions, possibly leading them to a playoff spot.
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
All eyes in Calgary are going to be focused on Gaudreau this year, as his Hobey Baker Award winning seasons has raised his expectations through the roof. The 21-year old diminutive winger possesses some top end speed, a few lovely dangles and a pretty decent hockey sense, all of which he'll need to compete for his spot in the NHL. Those extra couple years in the NCAA system should be nothing but a blessing, but I think asking about his size may still be a worth while question, at least for the first season, then you may want to re-evaluate those thoughts.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The Flames forwards were very hot and cold last season, as they grew into a new group in the 2014 season and since there doesn't appear to be a real catalyst for consistent offense, as of yet, the projections will reflect some of the hot and cold play we saw last season. A healthy Curtis Glencross may be the most notable player on the list, as he should return to pool worthy status, while Jiri Hudler should lead the core group again. The youth movement will be exciting to watch, but they'll struggle against some of those Pacific Division teams, to get wins anyways.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Arguably, the best player on the team is Marc Giordano and given his projection, he should end up being the highest drafted Flames player this year and he could go reasonably high this year. The Flames are not in bad shape for points from the back end, but defensively, they will remain somewhat suspect, so plus/minus could be an issue. Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell should each have good seasons, while T.J. Brodie could be a good late addition.
Did the Ducks ruin Jonas Hiller? There is no question that the new Calgary backstopper will get the number one minutes, giving the team a quality leaning post, but there are only two options for Hiller... play with a chip on his shoulder to prove everyone in Anaheim wrong or sulk and play with absolutely no confidence. It will have to be exciting to play with a young team again, but this team may struggle and hang him up to dry from time to time. Karri Ramo now becomes the back-up and should get enough minutes to be a late pick in the draft, if necessary.
Team To Pick From Late?
I think much like the Buffalo Sabres in these pool projections, this team will be best to be picked from in the late rounds. Giordano, Hiller and Hudler may be good mid-round picks, but if you're looking for points late in the game, Matt Stajan and Joe Colborne may be options for your team.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
There is a fine chance that the last four roster spots will be left to the young players that occupy the space below the projected roster, which likely means there will be that extra bit of youth in the 2015 season. The Flames have more than enough space to do spend, but there are no real targets to spend that space on. The team only has one potential roster free agent left, forward Lance Bouma, and he won't be much of a cap hit in the end, likely in the $1 million range. The Flames will remain a budget team, likely until their youth is ready to compete for a regular playoff spot.
The Flames finished the year fairly healthy and they should start training camp with a full compliment of players, by the look of things.