: News Article:
Brian Burke-President of Hockey Operations for the Calgary Flames
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09-06-2013, 10:51 AM
The No Kool-aid Zone
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Hockey Purgatory
I see the Flames at the same point as the Oilers were in 2006-07 when they finally got smart and moved Ryan Smyth. That was the same signal to the fans that the team was going for a major change. The Iginla era in Calgary is officially over and the Flames are turning the page, just like the Oilers did when they traded Smyth. How Calgary elects to move forward will define whether they are going to end up further ahead than Edmonton or suffer the same fate and go through a horrendously long rebuild. Burke's hiring could be beneficial in making the deals that make the team more competitive in a shorter time frame. Burke definitely has an advantage as the foundation has been laid for the future. He just has to build on that foundation.
There are some interesting comments about the bad shape Calgary is supposedly in. Can't prove it either way but on paper they look like they aren't in bad shape. Supposedly they have no future goaltending. Edmonton hockey fans can certainly tell you Brossoit is a damn good goaltender and a very solid prospect. He isn't even Calgary's best goaltending prospect. They have a kid by the name of Jon Gillies who dominated Hockey East and piled up the individual awards in his freshman year. This kid stoned Canada in the recent Lake Placid summer mini-tournament and should be the starter for the American team at this year's world junior tournament. There were comments coming out of Calgary during their developmental camp that indicated they believed Gillies was their best prospect. High praise considering their prospect depth.
Prospect depth is another area that is being ignored. The Flames have surprisingly good prospect depth all of a sudden. Their picks have stepped up and developed. People may want to rag on Calgary for taking a calculated risk in drafting Mark Jankowski, but he was very good at the summer Team Canada eval camp and was identified as a player, along with Emile Poirier, Canada was missing during the 5-1 loss to the Americans. His skill and size were missing in the mix. When you look at the Flames young center group you have to admit they have interesting potential. Jankowski at 6'3, Monahan at 6'2, Corbin Knight at 6'2 and Reinhart at 6'1 all have good size and skill. That doesn't include Backlund, Horak, Markus Granlund, or Boston College standout, Bill Arnold, another big body with skill. On the wings the Flames have the much talked about Baertschi that everyone is focusing on. Forgotten is Hobey Baker finalist and Boston College star, Johnny Gaureau, and Frozen Four hero for Yale, Kenny Agostino. Both players have top six potential. Then there are recent picks Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk, also top six potential players. The Flames also have some solid grit in Ben Hanowski, Michael Ferland, and Lance Bouwma. They are thin on the blueline but have some excellent young defenders in Pat Sieloff, Tyler Wotherspoon, John Ramage, and Oiler goal scoring hero from yesterday's young star game, Ryan Culkin. None of these guys are top pairing defenders, but are solid defenders who excelled at each level they played at and show great potential. The Flames system has a real interesting mix of quality young players who will be filtering into the ranks over the next two years. That is a huge benefit for Brian Burke and something the Oilers did not have working for them when they started the rebuild when they dealt away Smyth.
I don't see the Flames situation very similar to the Oilers because they have some good depth going into the rebuild. They are headed to a couple of early first round picks, no doubt. This is a freakishly bad hockey team right now and is only going to get worse when they finally move Cammalleri, Stempniak and Stajan this season. But they are not going to be as bad off as the Oilers, where they are working from a scorched earth position. The Oilers are in tough because they are trying to build some depth to support their first overall picks. Time is working against them. The Flames have that depth in development and as they add those top end picks, say Ekblad and McDavid, they will already have good depth to support them. The Flames rebuild is looking more like that of the Blackhawks, where much of their depth was drafted in 2003 and 2004, and then Toews and Kane were drafted in 2005 and 2006. The two star players are going to be drafted by the Flames in 2014 and 2015, but is the foundation laid in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 drafts and moves at the deadlines that catapult the team to the next level. There are no guarantees of anything, but if they Chicago model is accurate the Flames could be pretty damn good in a few years and vault past a lot of teams.
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