2014 Calgary Flames Predictions and NHL Futures Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/15/2014
The hope among Calgary Flames faithful is that they have bottomed out and that this season marks the beginning of a climb out of dismal mediocrity and into the realms of respectability again. Things have changed immensely over the last couple of years. Franchise legend Jarome Iginla is gone. Miikka Kiprusoff has retired. A team that was criticized for being old and expensive is now almost laughably young, and the biggest issue they face may be staying above the salary cap floor.
New GM Brad Treliving has continued on the path of patient building and the stockpiling of young talent, and a team that had no prospects of note not long ago now has several reasons to be optimistic. But are those youngsters ready to deliver now, or will inexperience and a lack of depth lead to another frustrating season? There was no shortage of heart on display with the squad last year, but heart alone doesn't win games.
Calgary Flames Offseason Moves
The Flames shuffled several players around, but the lone departure that registers as significant is Mike Cammalleri. He had two stints with the Flames and was an offensive presence both times. Calgary was smart enough not to pay him what he was worth as a free agent, though, so younger players now have more responsibility on offense.
There have been several noteworthy additions, and they fall into two categories. On the veteran front goalie Jonas Hiller adds some stability to a goaltending corps that was a weakness last year, Mason Raymond is playing for his hometown team after resurrecting his career in Toronto last year, and another local, Devin Setoguchi, will be looking to do what Raymond did and discover how to play at a high level again. All three are nice additions at the right price.
On the youth front there are two players above all else who get attention. Johnny Gaudreau was the top player in college hockey last year at Boston College. He is runt-sized but is a scoring marvel. He played the last game of the season last year but is effectively starting his pro career this year. Expectations are very high, though it remains to be seen if he can handle the strains of the NHL game as such an undersized player. Sam Bennett, the team's top pick in this year's draft, is viewed by many as a player likely to return to junior for another year. In every opportunity he has had so far with the tea this summer and fall, though, he has stated his case to stick around. He will be one to watch. He and Gaudreau have shown excellent chemistry together so far.
Calgary Flames NHL Outlook
This team will play tough every game and will not be much fun to play against. Now, whether that leads to wins is another question. Goaltending should be improved, and defensively they should be sound - Mark Giordano is an elite talent, and T.J. Brodie and Kris Russell are excellent young players. Up front there is a good mix of veteran presence - Curtis Glencross, Matt Stajan, Jiri Hudler, Brian McGrattan, Raymond - and youngsters with huge upside - Gaudreau, Bennett, Sean Monahan, Markus Granlund, Mikael Backlund. The biggest concern, though, is whether they are going to be able to score goals. They don't have a proven pure sniper on the roster, and there aren't a lot of offensive creators, either. If the chemistry isn't there in a hurry then the team could really struggle to score with any regularity - and that's a problem in this league.
2014-15 Calgary Flames Schedule
After opening at home, the Flames go on the road for six games and then return home for five games before going on another five-game road trip. Playing 11 of the first 17 games on the road could pay dividends down the strech because it means more home games later. It could also derail a season early, though, if the losses mount and the team gets into an early hole. Of course, a road trip at the start of the year could also help a young team come together and get comfortable with each other. This stretch of play will be very important to watch.
Calgary Flames 2014-15 NHL Futures Odds (from Bovada)
At 75/1 the Flames are tied with three other teams as the longest shots on the board to win the Stanley Cup. They are tied with Nashville at 40/1 as the least likely to win the Western Conference and are at the bottom of the tough Pacific Division at 14/1. It's hard to argue with any of the odds or to find value anywhere. This is a rebuilding team that is not ready to win anything.
2014-15 Calgary Flames Predictions
The Flames are in a tough spot in their rebuilding process. They need to win enough to keep a loyal fanbase happy, but there isn't a lot of incentive to play their absolute best - it's not like they are going to make the playoffs regardless. They would be much better served to get their young players the most experience they can - and get as many balls in next year's draft lottery as they can because the top two likely picks could be franchise-changers. Management has shown a long-term view, and they should keep it up. This team won't quit, but their youth will be a problem. It would be an upset if they weren't last in their division.
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