The Calgary Flames were left out of the Western Conference playoff picture the last two seasons, and although they qualified for the postseason four straight times following their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004, in each one of those campaigns they suffered opening-round defeats.
Sounds like a recipe for a major roster shakeup, right?
Apparently, first-year general manager Jay Feaster doesn’t think so. Other than trading defenseman Robyn Regehr and forward Ales Kotalik to the Buffalo Sabres for up-and-comer defenseman Chris Butler and young center Paul Byron, the Flames will be putting the same old product on the ice for the 2011-12 season.
And “old” is the key word here.
Three of the Flames’ top five goal scorers this past season were older than 30, and Kiprusoff will turn 35 in October. Yes, Curtis Glencross and Rene Bourque each established career-highs in goals in 2010-11, and Alex Tanguay, who Feaster signed to a new five-year contract this summer, put up 69 points last season, his most productive season since 2006-07. But even if you add Jarome Iginla’s 43 goals last season on top of all that, it’s hard to picture this team making a dent in the Western Conference.
The defense is promising, the goaltending is secure and the offense is marginal. But Flames fans will have nothing to look forward to when they come to the Saddledome in the fall.
Will this be the year the Flames tear and claw their way back into the playoffs, or will they…need I say it…flame out?