First of all, allow me to apologize for that hideous alliteration. It's late.
Earlier tonight I was looking at the astonishing depth of forwards Team Canada's management have at their disposal for the 2010 Olympics and I started thinking about the Flames roster (naturally). I'm beginning to get a little anxious about their top-six predicament. I know some players might exceed expectations and have career years, Iginla, Jokinen, and Langkow could all return to form and so on, but is it too much to expect for Boyd, Moss, Bourque, and Dawes to put up 20+ goals each? I have been staunchly against putting hypothetical lines together until well into training camp, but I just couldn't help myself. So here is what my forward lineup would look like, assuming there is no more movement:
Extras: Jaffray, Greentree, Prust, McGrattan
Moss's play last season proved that he deserves a promotion to the second line and more powerplay time, although he still needs to improve defensively. If anyone other than Bourque is worthy of first line duty on this team, it's probably Moss. Crash The Crease makes a case for Glencross to skate on the first line due to his speed and defensive capability. Comparing stats from last season, I would give Glencross a shot on the second line before Dawes. Jokinen and Langkow are interchangeable, in my opinion, until Olli consistently proves otherwise. Now, there's also the possibility that Backlund makes the team out of camp, which could alter the roster as so:
If Backlund makes the team, as Sutter has said before, it will be top-six or bust, which would then demote Langkow to the third line, unless he can play wing.
An ideal setup would probably look a little something like this:
Seeing Bourque as our first line LW after one exceptional season, especially with a bum ankle, makes me uneasy. Of course there is a chance he could repeat or even improve, as he's still in his prime, but ankle injuries are nothing to take lightly (see: Sidney Crosby). I'm not about to suggest we trade Sarich or Langkow or rattle off a list of possible first-line calibre, play-making LWs the Flames could potentially trade for and their asking prices because a) that would be a lot of work and b) we really don't know how much of an issue scoring or lack-thereof will be.
Trading for a first line LW, just for kicks let's say Patrick Marleau, could be considered preemptive action by Sutter, but considering the he is only 29 and still puts up good numbers playing with Thornton (38-33-71, +16), the price would no doubt be steep and include some high draft picks, which seem to have little value to Sutter. To be fair, he did quite a good job of stacking the proverbial shelves over in Abbotsford this off-season. The Sharks also have almost no salary cap space to work with, so they couldn't afford take on any hefty contracts in return. The deal would most likely involve one major piece (Sharks fans seem to be enamored with Regehr, and rightfully so) and a few depth players/draft picks.
I found this nice little comparison over at Open Ice:
Calgary Flames Players NOT RETURNING Total Points: 198
Calgary Flames Players NEW ADDITIONS Total Points: 101
(Totals in NHL points only)
This is based on last season's production from players leaving the Flames this off-season and those joining the organization. Like I said before, there is no accurate way of predicting what a player's total point production at the end of the season will be other than by looking at previous seasons' patterns.
A difference of 97 total points throughout the lineup could easily translate into less wins, less points, and a lower seed in the conference. However, Burning Down The House brings up a good point about how these points could be replaced. I am very pleased with the moves the Flames have made during the off-season; it seems as though Sutter has finally clued in on what it takes to succeed in the new(ish) NHL, and his commitment to building a winning franchise continues to amaze me. The question is, will these building blocks be enough to reach the top?
NHL Countdown: 42 days