Monday, September 22, 2008


The TC

Bertuzzi - Langkow - Iginla
Bourque - Backlund - Cammallieri
Boyd - Lombardi - Moss
Nystrom - Primeau - Prust
(GlenX - Conroy - Roy?)

Apparently this is how the lads have been working out over the first couple days of camp. Nice that Backlund is getting his reps with a good class of player, I think: the scenario where he makes the team (however slim that is) involves him scoring/creating plenty of goals, because he's going to give plenty back because that's what 19-year-olds do for the most part.

The realistic chatter (i.e. scenarios where Backlund doesn't blow away the entire organization, and gets one more year in the SEL) is that Conroy is pegged as the #3C and Lombardi as the #2C. A lineup that we're more likely to see Opening Night (crossed with my own wishful thinking, that is):

Bertuzzi - Langkow - Iginla
Bourque - Lombardi - Cammallieri
Boyd - Conroy - Moss
Prust/Nystrom - GlenX - Vandermeer, J.
(Primeau, Roy, other of Prust/Nystrom = healthy scratches)

As noted previously, the Flames have 13 forwards on one-way deals + Dustin Boyd, AND 8 d-men on one-way deals, meaning there are four extra guys who have to be paid their full salaries whether they are in the pressbox, in the QC, or whatever. The downside to this, as a fan, is that it makes it extremely unlikely for a rookie to crack the roster no matter how much he deserves it (e.g. if Backlund were to make it, that'd add another $1.2M or so to the amount of salary Sutter needs to shed elsewhere).

The upside, again as a fan, is that it can result in a certain amount of clarity when it comes to active roster management by the coach and GM. They all gotta get paid, so we might as well sit down the four who are least likely to contribute to winning -- there's no need for (to ring my favourite cowbell) dressing Wayne Primeau every night if Prust is playing better. (Or the same, for that matter: presumably the tie goes to the guy who might conceivably improve.)

Looking at that lineup, it seems to me that the problem (such as it is) is not that the Flames lack depth or lack balance relative to last year. Lack of depth and balance was their problem. The drop-off from 1st to 2nd line is probably bigger than it was last season. But their 4th line is probably better (it couldn't be worse, could it?). The 1st line is basically the same. And the 2nd and 3rd lines are far more balanced in terms of scoring and defending than they were last season.

**What are they going to do about being over the cap, anyway? I'm still holding out hope that they can make a deal for Aucoin that he will sign-off on: some club that is in "win now" mode that has perhaps suffered some injuries on the blueline (cough). The most likely scenario is still lots of salary (Eriksson + ??) buried in the minors. And the longshot: Boyd and the new forwards show well in camp, while Lombardi shows poorly and is deemed expendable -- traded for a B+ prospect who figures to spend the year in the minors. Developing!

P.S. My favourite bit of news from Flames camp so far? That Giordano is getting a run as Phaneuf's partner. If he's good enough to grab that role, suddenly the Flames' D, depth included, looks awfully damn good.


Right, because "He's good enough to grab that role" and "Keenan is using him in that role" are logically equivalent statements.

If he's good enough, there's no question Keenan will use him there full-time. Going by the Eriksson experience, if he's *not* good enough, he'll be used there half the time...

None of us have a great handle on how good Gio is today. I have nothing but positive memories, and if he actually developed at an NHL pace during his season in Russia, he'll be a big damn boost to the Flames, period.

Matt, couple questions:
1. Glencross not on the 3rd line? Any particular reason?
2. What's with the spelling of Cammalleri?
3. Who do you see snagging the 4th defensive position and who would you prefer gets it?

1. Glencross not on the 3rd line? I've shown it like this basically because I love the 4th line if he's on it; without him, not so much.

Hell, I think GlenX-Nystrom-Prust would be a nice 4th that would certainly provide that "energy" that everyone's always looking for from a 4th line, and might give as good as they get. (Also, I'm assuming that when the bench gets shortened, GlenX continues to get shifts even if the other nominal 4th-liners aren't.)

2. Aargh. I think I've finally gotten the "2 Ms, 2 Ls" thing down. Now I just need to lose the extra I.

3. I tried to get this across, but my preferred outcome for that last top 4 D spot would be that "Giordano gets it because he deserves it". The alternatives, including "Giordano, even though he hasn't distinguished himself", are much less appealing.

I will note that I like Warrener more than most others, and am totally comfortable with him starting the season in the 3rd pair.

Matt: Obviously, I agree with you in the fact that the fourth looks better with Glencross on it, but it would look better with Iginla on it. I mean, do you see Glencross as being below Moss, Boyd and Conroy on the depth chart? I'm not sure I would slot him that low.

I agree with you regarding Giordano: that is my hope. If he goes into the top 4 competently I think this team has a significantly better chance of competing this year, because I don't think we have any other players that are going to do a competent job there.

There's virtually zero chance Backlund plays in the SEL this season.

Second tier, not the Eliteserien, pardon me.

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