Pacific Division 2014-15 Preview: Calgary Flames
COACH: Bob Hartley
2013-14 RECORD: 35-40-7, 77 points (sixth in Pacific, missed playoffs)
VITAL SIGNS: 2.46 goals-for per game (23rd); 2.90 goals-against per game (24th); 15.7 power play pct. (24th); 81.7 penalty kill pct. (18th); shootout record: 7-3 (14th)
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:
Curtis Glencross — Sean Monahan — Jiri Hudler
Mason Raymond — Mikael Backlund — Joe Colborne
Brandon Bollig — Matt Stajan — Devin Setoguchi
Johnny Gaudreau — Lance Bouma — Brian McGrattan
T.J. Brodie — Mark Giordano
Dennis Wideman — Kris Russell
Deryk Engelland — Ladislav Smid
OUTLOOK: It’s hard to find immediately encouraging signs in Calgary as this team continues to rebuild after a fifth straight season as an also-ran, but we do know that these Flames will be physically intimidating. Surprising many by staging fighting drills in camp, coach Bob Hartley insisted that he was simply trying to prepare his young players with proper self-defense techniques. OK, but the Flames already have multiple enforcers (Brian McGrattan, Brandon Bollig, Deryk Engelland) and should probably focus on improving their skill game. They lost arguably their most viable offensive threat in Mike Cammalleri, who left for New Jersey as a free agent, and as a result will depend on Sean Monahan, who is coming off a promising rookie season, Mikael Backlund, Mason Raymond, Matt Stajan and Devin Setoguchi to spread the scoring. But even with two dependable goalies in Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo, the Flames don’t have the firepower or depth to keep up in the stacked Pacific Division or the Western Conference for that matter. It may be a long, tough season in Calgary, but with young gems such as Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett and Sven Baertschi in the pipeline, the future should prove to be a lot brighter before too long.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Devin Setoguchi
Much like another former Sharks winger, Jonathan Cheechoo (who scored 56 goals out of the blue in 2005-06), Setoguchi is a player whose skills may have been overestimated simply because he played on a line with Joe Thornton. He was seen as a potential All-Star winger after netting 31 goals during the 2008-2009 campaign, but hasn’t been able to tally 20 since leaving San Jose in 2011. After underwhelming stints in Minnesota and Winnipeg, Setoguchi was inked to a one-year, $750,000 deal by the Flames and in what could be his last go-round in the NHL, is being asked to shoulder the scoring load on an offensively challenged team. Will he deliver? If he does, it will be an impressive feat and he'll prove to be a grand bargain.
PREDICTION: 73 points (seventh in Pacific)