Saturday, February 16, 2008

Team To Watch: Calgary Flames

For the last several years, the Flames have gone into the deadline looking to add a quality centre to support wingers Iginla and Tanguay. Guys like Langkow and Lombardi have been tested in the centre position, but have never done the job the organization has desperatly hoped for. This year is likely the year the centre position is finally addressed.

It's also worth noting that the Flames have 44 million commited to just 12 players for next season. Iginla, Kiprusoff, Regehr and Phaneuf all begin new contracts next year, which means cap room for 08-09 will be tight.

Peter Forsberg was target number one, however, recently it was announced that he has no interest in playing for the Calgary Flames.

Target #2 is said to be Mats Sundin. He has no contract beyond next year, which is a good thing for the cap concerned Flames. Sundin is a great playmaker, and would instantly make Iginla a better player. Sundin would make Calgary a better offensive team, something the Flames really need to achieve.

Targer #3 is Olli Jokinen, though he's also the most unlikely. He's signed long term and for quite a bit, something the Flames are looking to avoid. Jokinen's long term contract also mean he'd be quite expensive. Jokinen is not-likely to Calgary.

Alex Tanguay is set to make over five million next season, making him a prime candidate to be dealt by the deadline. Montreal has been heavily mentioned, however, reports have Tanguay not interested in waiving his NTC for the Habs. The Senators are said to have interest, as are Pittsburgh, Buffalo and New Jersey. I'd say the chances of Tanguay being dealt are good, though many believe the Flames could wait until the draft or offseason.

Darcy Tucker and Michael Ryder are two guys who could be brought in to replace Tanguay.

The Flames always seem to pick up a defensemen near the deadline, and this year shouldn't be any different. The Flames are looking to improve their back-end, and have several options. One source has them interest in Brad Stuart once again, while Dan Boyle out of Tampa is another player they are considered. Others the Flames have interest in include Brian Campbell, Bryce Salvador and Barrett Jackman.

With Calgary's cap problems, they will be relying on a lot of young talent next year. They will try to avoid dealing too much of it this upcoming deadline. Dustin Boyd is said to be very available, while Mikael Backlund is not. Toronto has interest in both, and are pushing hard to get Backlund, though its unlikely. Leland Irving could be dealt to a team seeking a strong goaltending prospect, while Lombardi is also a possibility to be dealt.

In the end, expect the Flames to make 2-4 deals before the Feb. 26 deadline. A center is a must, while they would love to get add some grit up front as well. If they can dump some future contract (see Tanguay), they will. I expect another d-man to be brought in to solidify one of the strongest back ends in the league.

Tomorrow's Team: San Jose Sharks