With apologies to Flames fans, this entry will be shorter than other stops on our cross Canada tour of the NHL. It would seem General Manager Darryl Sutter has finished most of his work a few days before the frenzy begins July the first. To paraphrase the words of GM Sutter from the Calgary Sun, "don't expect much".
Sutter and Coach Keenan have decided to stick to their guns next season. MVP candidate Jarome Iginla will lead a good mix of youth and veterans into the '08-'09 campaign. Gone though is Alex Tanguay and his 5 million dollar contract. Tanguay never quite hit his stride in Calgary and with an emphasis on defensive responsibility, the parting was mutual. How playing for Selke Trophy winners Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau will be better is beyond me, but hey, he's off Calgary's books. Mike Cammalleri was traded for out of LA and will be a strong second line center. Having played for the Kings, not many people know much about him. But trust me, there is a lot of upside to this young center. It's a very good acquisition for the second power play unit too.
As I had mentioned, Mr. Sutter has done his shopping at the Flames Store. Bringing back fan favorite Craig Conroy gives the team that heart and soul guy. Daymond Langkow and Eric Nystrom will also be back next year. Curtis the goalie is coming back, although it's Curtis McElhinney and not Curtis Joseph. It will be interesting to see how Mikka Kiprusoff responds to an off year under his new coach. Mike Keenan and goalies don't always get along so it will be interesting to see who stays and who goes if a power struggle develops.
So what's left to do? GM Sutter has stated that Owen Nolan will be resigned this summer. Management views Nolan as extremely valuable in helping the younger players on the team and so a deal will get done. There is lots of chatter everywhere about Darcy Tucker and the Flames now that the Leafs have bought out his contract. I can certainly see the fit, but if Nolan is back for sure and the team is trying to stay on the younger side, is Tucker necessary? Tucker has a scoring touch to go with his grit, but he's certainly paid the price with his body for every goal he's scored. I'd keep an eye out for the signing of a D man to bolster the back end. Ron Hainsey from the Blue Jackets and Brooks Orpik are names to watch for in Calgary. If they go looking for more power play help, watch for Mark Streit to head West from Montreal. Wade Redden from Ottawa was rumoured to be headed to Edmonton. Now that Visnovsky has arrived, perhaps Redden will want to stay in a red uniform and join the Flames instead.
Well, it's time to make our way across the prairies to Leaf land. Before I move on though, let me just ask Mr. Bettman, why is this cross Canada trip not stopping in Winnipeg?? Why will it stop in Montreal and not continue on to Quebec City?? With the mess in Nashville - fraud and bankruptcy, shouldn't we be stopping in Hamilton or Kitchener too?? Someday you'll figure out simple Economics like the rest of us. Alright then, we're off to Toronto...