The 2012-13 Calgary Flames: Dreaming With Eyes Wide Open

 

Well the 2012-13 NHL season is upon us!

Finally!

After a month and a half lockout, and a day before the NHL’s apparent deadline for a full 82-game season, the NHL and the players agreed to a deal on the night of the 24th that worked well for both sides. And, it just so happens to be my birthday. Well, Happy Birthday to me I guess J

 The season will begin on Friday November 2nd with the Calgary Flames playing host to the Vancouver Canucks.

So where do the Flames sit heading into the season that almost didn’t happen.

Let’s take a look at the four new Flames to watch this season:

Roman Cervenka (Centre)

Signed by the Flames this past summer to a one year deal worth $3.775 million, Cervenka was given the highly un-regarded title of “best player not playing in the NHL.” With the likes of Fabian Brunnstrom and Jonas Gustavsson former holders of this illustrious title, the immediate reaction is to not get so excited about the newest member of the Flames.

HoImage previewwever, Cervenka is a little different. He has been playing in the KHL for the past two season in Omsk and prior to that played for HC Slavia Praha in his native Czech Republic for four seasons. He is 26 years old and has been playing pro hockey for 6 seasons putting up more than reasonable numbers: 61 points in 51 games in 2010-11 and 39 points in 54 games last season in Omsk.  GM Jay feaster was extremely pleased the team was able to sign the Czech and says that they won a bidding war between a number of teams. 

From all reports, he has a lot of skill and could possibly posses something the Flames don’t currently have – some creativity. He played two years with Jaromir Jagr in Omsk and was highly regarded by the future hall of famer. He adds to the growing group of Czech players on the Flames with Roman Horak and newly acquired Jiri Hudler. Besides the monetary investment, the risk is low as the Flames gave up nothing to get him and the deal is only for one year.  If it goes bad, then you let him walk at the end of the year and if it goes good than score one for Mr. Feaster and his team of scouts for thinking outside the box.

Jiri Hudler  (Centre)

The former Red  Wing was the Flames big splash in this summer’s free agency period, signing the 28 year old Czech to a four year deal worth $16 million. A lot of people scoffed at the amount we paid for him given his track record for being lazy and jumping ship (he left Detroit in 2009 to go play in KHL for a year before returning).

Coach Mike Babcock complained about Hudler being out of shape and it subsequently showed on the score sheet as Hudler only put up 37 points in his first season back.

Last Image previewseason however, Hudler regained his scoring touch a bit potting 25 goals and adding 25 assists for a respectable 50 points on a deep Detroit roster.  Feaster wanted to go out and grab another skilled forward that could be plugged into the top 6 and they got that in Hudler. He will definitely add another dynamic to an inconsistent power play and provide the coaching staff with another option during the “who do we put Iginla with” debate that will undoubtedly rage on.  In saying that, it will be interesting to see how Hudler plays out in Calgary as I believe he could be an early goat if he doesn’t immediately perform.  Once again I commend Feaster for taking a risk and getting a more skilled player rather than a familiar grinder. This one could cost him however if Hudler realizes that Calgary doesn’t win games with the ease that the Red Wings did for so many years.

Dennis Wideman (Defence)

The Flames acquired Dennis Wideman prior to the July 1st free agency period and immediately signed him to a 5-year deal worth $26.25 million. Overpaid you might ask? Umm yes. Defensive liability you might ask? Umm yes. Ability to put points on the board? Umm, actually, yes.  Wideman is a powerplay specialist and has proven valuable for the Capitals, Panthers, Bruins and Blues before he landed in Calgary. But you might wonder why, if such a coveted player, has he moved around so much? Well, it’s because of his inability to stop the puck from going into his own net. A career -39 in eight career seasons, Wideman’s one glaring weakness is his play in his own zone. Now, that’s not to say that he can’t improve, but why would the Flames pay $26 million for a project when they have capable payers like TJ Brodie and Derek Smith ready to jump into the power play role? The signing just doesn’t add up in my mind and I have a feeling Feaster might rue the day he made this move.

Sven Baertschi (Left Wing)

Highly touted as the most exciting forward prospect the Flames have had since Iginla, Baertschi looks to have all the skills necessary to lead the Flames into the post-Jarome era—whenever that happens. In five games with the Flames last season he scored three goals and brought energy into the dressing room and onto the ice that the team had been seriously missing. So far, in his time with the Flames farm club in Abbostford this season, “Sven-sational” has been en fuego putting up six points in the team’s first four games, including three goals. He should immediately impact the Flames line-up and give them even more options up front. You just hope that the Flames don’t mess with the kid like they have done with so many other promising prospects in the past.

So there you have it.

The Flames go into...2012-13 season...for...berth...”it’s 7:05 on October 25th...this could be the year the Flames...”and the NHL’s deadline to the PA looms large as the entire NHL season hangs in the balance.  The lockout enters its 40th day with no real end in sight.”

So much for that birthday present.

I guess, sometimes, dreams are too good to be true. 

 

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