With Donovan gone Amonte can go back to his natural position this season. We will need to sign a backup, a top 6 defenseman, and a first or second line center. Shore up our depth and this team will be a sincere Cup contender.
1) a better powerplay... tanguay should really help with this
2) a solid backup goaltender to play 15 or so games... I think Chris Mason would be a good fit as I've heard Mason thinks he;s ready to be a #1 guy and Sutter wants his backup to want to play every night
3) to win more faceoffs... I hope sutter will sign McCauley, Perrault or Halpern to give the flames another reliable option other than Yelle in the faceoff circle
4) secondary scoring... again Tanguay will help and so will more experience under Kobasew's belt... there is rumblings of JR ending up in Calgary andmaybe that could get Amonte going a little... Lundmark was impressivae after being aquired and I think he should steal the 2nd line center spot from Lombardi
5) a proven NHL defenseman to replace Leopold... maybe someone like FIlip Kuba or Paul Martin
6) Iginla to play his best... i think playing with an elite playmaker like Tanguay will help Iginla's numbers... so will having a full season of playing with Langkow... i think that line has the makings of being one of the best in the NHL
Ideally (ie. pipe dream) I'd like to see Calgary add the following:
-Jason Arnott - big centerman with offensive skills, solidifies top 2 lines
- resign Mike Leclerc - always liked him since he came into the league, capable of playing on a second line, but fits into the fourth line mold as well (best if Amonte can be dumped)
- one of Pothier, Corvo, Boullion or Tjarnqvist - an inexpensive 5/6 defenseman with adequate offense (we won't be able to afford Markov, Salei, McKee, etc.)
- back-up goaltender, 2 way contract preferred (McLennan, Morrison, etc.)
The Flames need a fresh Kiprusoff for a run at the cup. He played way too many games last year and was very ordinary on more than one occasion. A decent reliever who can win some games for them, would be a top priority of mine. I suspect it could be Noodles for now, and the young guys to work their way into the lineup.
A replacement for Leopold would be nice but I think they may be expensive. There are a lot of them but a lot of teams are in the hunt. Things are already turning ugly and some of the money these guys are demanding is quite high. I would hope the Flames can pick up a defenceman with skills who has been cast aside by their team. A guy like Johnsson from the Flyers might be an interesting option.
As far as forwards are concerned, it appears the Flames are gonna need people to replace Simon and Leclerc. Dono will be gone too, but they already have lots of RW support so that isn't an issue. They may be able to cover this need with some of the prospects they have, or shift some of the center ice depth over to the left side. Now I am not a big proponent of having the big name signings in order to address the issues at center ice. At least, not yet. That may be an area you would want to address later in the year, if there are shortcomings. I am a great believer in giving the guys on this team a chance to develop. They were showing some real promise towards the end of the year and in the playoffs. Depth wise, I would be okay with bringing in a guy like Roenick. He has a fresh attitude and he can be a leader in a positive way if handled right and I think Sutter could handle him. Rather than a negative influence, he may be able to inspire players around him. Say what you want about him, he has guts. He is also a character. A guy like that can be a rallying point for a team.
I believe that it is short sighted to blow your wad on free agent signings at the beginning of the year, when there is a cap. Leave some room on the cap to do some tweaking. Then, by the time you are ready to make a run at the cup, add the big gun rent-a-players if you have to. Spending at or close to the cap, ties your hands when the unexpected comes up.