Calgary Flames: 2014-2015 Risers and Fallers
Calgary Flames: 2014-2015 Risers and Fallers
Year after year, we see change happen before our eyes. Some of it is good, and some of it is bad. Whether good or bad, we must adapt to these changes in order to not just survive, but to thrive so we can live our lives to the fullest. How an individual deals with change varies, but mostly, we all rely on our what we know: our instincts. The more we know about something, the less risk there is, and the better we can make calculated decisions. And in this case, calculated predictions. With that in mind, in the coming weeks I’ll be taking a look at each NHL team featuring 10 of its players. Are they destined to rise or destined to fall? Your questions will be answered below.
C – Mikael Backlund (rising): After a couple of injury-ridden seasons, the centre broke out, scoring 39 points (18 goals and 21 assists) over 76 games. Breaking out in such a way, Backlund has finally earned himself a top-6 role, pushing Matt Stajan down the totem pole. Look for Backlund to continue to improve upon last year’s campaign.
C – Sean Monahan (rising): After he was drafted last year, Monahan stepped right into the NHL. He scored 22 goals, second among his 2013 NHL draft peers, to none other than rookie-phenomenon Nathan MacKinnon. Monahan came storming out of the gates, scoring 9 points (6 goals, 3 assists) in only 8 games, but slowed as the season went on. Going into his second season, look for Monahan to improve upon last year’s season, as he’s not one to sit back, but instead drive the play for his peers.
LW – Curtis Glencross (falling): On the left side, Glencross is the Flames best. With youngsters Sven Baerstchi, Johnny Gaudreau and recent 1st round (4th overall) draft pick Sam Bennett on the rise, and Glencross only getting older, he’ll likely be surpassed and be forced into less minutes in the near future. That said, Glencross is still a good bet to pot 20 goals and 45 points on a full season.
LW – Johnny Gaudreau (rising): He may be small, but damn is he good. Standing at 5 ft. 7, he hasn’t let his height get in the way of succeeding at every level he’s played at. Last year with Boston College, he scored 80 points (36 goals, 44 points) in 40 games, taking the Hobey Baker for the top collegiate player in H-East. In his first NHL game with the Flames, he scored his first NHL goal. On a very underwhelming Flames roster, they’ll need someone who can put pucks in the net, and Gaudreau can do just that. If he doesn’t make the roster this year (I think he does), look for him to next year.
RW – Jiri Hudler (neutral): In 2013-2014, Hudler led the team in points with 54 (17 goals, 37 assists). With sniper Mike Cammalleri off to New Jersey, who he feeds the biscuit to remains in question, but he’s elusive, sneaky and always finds a way to get pucks on players’ sticks. Next season, he’s not likely to improve upon last year’s numbers, but could once again lead the Flames in scoring.
D – Mark Giordano (falling): Giordano had breakout campaign last year, a thing that doesn’t happen very often at 31 years of age. Over 64 games, he scored 47 points. Over a full season, it equates close to 60 points. That’s Shea Weber territory. Unless everything falls into place for Giordano again, another season like this is unlikely.
D – Dennis Wideman (neutral): Wideman missed 35 games last season, but still managed to put up 21 points, 0.45 points per game. Since 07-08, the blue-liner, hasn’t posted less than 0.4 points per game. In March of next year he will turn 32. Before then (and maybe another year after that), expect another 0.4 points per game, if not more from the Kitchener-native.
D – T.J. Brodie (neutral): After a couple seasons, the Chatam-native finally broke out, posting 31 points (4 goals and 27 assists) over 81 games. His minutes won’t be just handed to him, as he has Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, and Kris Russell to compete with. Before he improves again, look for a similar output from the puck-mover.
G – Jonas Hiller (falling): Well, Jonas Hiller is now a Flame. The Ducks felt he was expendable after the performances of rookie goaltenders Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, so they let him go to free agency, to sign with the Flames for the next two years with a $4.5 million AVV. Hiller’s game is by no means “over the hill” – he is still one of the better goalies in the league but its quite likely his numbers will suffer with in Calgary.
G – Kari Ramo (falling): In 2012-2013, the Flames brought in Ramo after a spectacular season with Omsk Avangard in the KHL posting a 26-9-5 record with a 2.00 GAA, .929 SV% and 4 shutouts, to be the starter. Ramo never looked comfortable enough to claim the starting job, splitting most of his the starts with Swiss goalie Reto Berra. Berra was traded away at the deadline, and the Flames signed Hiller. Unless Hiller completely bombs, Ramo’s chance at claiming the starting job is close to nil. Expect 15-25 starts for the Finn.