Flames: Five Things You Need To Know
By Pierre LeBrun
Three straight years out of the playoffs has not been enough evidence for the Calgary Flames' ownership group that it is time to rebuild.
Just about everyone in the outside world believes they should have rebuilt last summer, but not the Flames' owners. They still believe this roster is good enough to make a run at a playoff spot.
So instead of approaching captain Jarome Iginla and star goalie Miikka Kiprusoff about waiving their no-trade clauses and kickstarting the rebuild -- something I believe both players would have done -- the Flames come back somehow hoping to do what they couldn't over the past three years.
I don't like their chances, but I'm ready to be proved wrong.
1. Iggy, Iggy, Future, Future
Iginla is entering the final season of his contract and, try as he might to avoid it, the subject of his future will follow him to every NHL city he visits this season. That's because there will be a number of contenders knocking on GM Jay Feaster's door hoping to acquire Iginla if the Flames are out of contention by March. The always-classy Iginla has done all the right things during his entire NHL career -- all spent in Calgary -- but this must be getting tough on him. He'll be the focal point for all kinds of reasons in this short season.
2. The New Coach
Bob Hartley is back behind an NHL bench and it was long, long overdue. He's got his work cut out for him with an aging Flames roster that hasn't been able to get over the hump the past three seasons. Hartley can be infectious on star players, and perhaps his presence will reinvigorate the team's core. But I suspect Hartley will be pulling his hair out most of the season.
3. Get Used To His Name
Rookie Sven Baertschi is the top young player in the Flames organization; the Swiss forward dropped 94 points (33 goals-61 assists) in just 47 games with the Western Hockey League Portland Winter Hawks last season. He's also adjusted to pro hockey by playing with Calgary's AHL club in Abbotsford during the NHL lockout, putting up 18 points (6 goals-12 assists) in 21 games. He scored three goals in five games with the Flames last year during a late-season recall, teasing fans of what was to come.
4. Kipper's Last Call?
At 36, Kiprusoff remains one of the top netminders in the world. But with his salary dropping from $5 million this season to $1.5 million next season (the NHL's original back-diving deal in the previous CBA), some wonder whether or not this will be his last NHL season, unless he's OK with playing for that kind of money. Either way, if the Flames are out of it come March, one wonders if he'll finish the season in Calgary or get moved to a contender.
5. Big Money For Dennis
Eyebrows were raised around the hockey world when free agent Dennis Wideman got five years and $26.25 million to join the Flames -- a cap hit of $5.25 million a year, and a massive overpay. But don't hold that against the veteran blueliner, who is still a good addition to a Flames defense corps that was in desperate need of help.
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.
Experience: Entering ninth full NHL season
Stanley Cup titles: 0
Moving Up: Jay Bouwmeester
With Dennis Wideman added to the mix and Mark Giordano still kicking around, Bouwmeester will be called upon even less frequently to contribute to the Flames' offensive effort. If he isn't traded -- a solid, honest-to-goodness possibility -- the 29-year-old's fantasy value could shrink further. -- Victoria Matiash
Who's On The Move
The offseason signings/acquisitions and departures for the Flames:
• May 31: Named Bob Hartley head coach.
• June 5: Named Jacques Cloutier associate coach.
• June 14: Named Martin Gelinas assistant coach.
• June 27: Re-signed RW Blake Comeau.
• June 27: Acquired D Dennis Wideman from Washington.
• June 29: Re-signed D Cory Sarich, RW Lee Stempniak and C Blair Jones.
• July 2: Signed C Jiri Hudler.
• July 4: Re-signed C Paul Byron.
• July 5: Re-signed C Mikael Backlund.
• July 27: Re-signed G Leland Irving.
• C Olli Jokinen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg)
• RW David Moss (unrestricted free agent, signed by Phoenix)
• D Scott Hannan (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville)
• RW Tom Kostopoulos (unrestricted free agent)