It’s report card time! Of course this report card takes into consideration the salary cap hit that each player represents, which is important in today’s NHL. Teams that manage the salary cap tend to do better than teams that have issues controlling their cap figures. The Detroit Red Wings are of course the model franchise in this regard. They are always competitive and find a way to add pieces that are cap friendly.
Before I hit the report card, I’ll give you my thoughts on the last two games. In Pittsburgh Miikka Kiprusoff was unbelievable in net for the Flames and was the only reason the Penguins didn’t win by a couple touchdowns. It also displayed the difference between a star player and a superstar player. Sidney Crosby was on fire that game and when he wanted to he dominated the play single handedly. Jarome Iginla on the other hand doesn’t take over games however can still put the puck in the net at a good clip. The difference is Sidney can pick his team up on his back when needed.
Against Minnesota the Flames really played what you would consider a great ‘Flames game’ Minnesota had a few chances in the game but were mostly contained and the Flames took advantage of a few chances and really looked solid in a 3-0 win. Of course Miikka was Miikka, and that always helps.
On to the report card and the Flames are 10-12-2 and sitting in 14th in the West. Now there are two ways to look at this. The negative view is they are in deep trouble and it’s time to blow things up. The positive view is that despite a disastrous start to the season they are only 5 points out of a playoff spot and 5 spots behind the Canucks for the division lead. It’s up to you to decide how you want to look at it.
Miikka Kiprusoff – Cap Hit : $5,833,333 – The numbers for Miikka are not staggering at first glance. in 21 games he has posted a 9-11-1 record with a 2.62 GAA and .913 save% while posting 3 shutouts. But you really have to take into consideration just how bad the Flames have been in front of him in some games this year. I honestly believe without Kiprusoff and his stellar play for most of the season the Flames could be staring directly at a top 3 pick in the draft. He is the closest thing the Flames have to a superstar right now and is paid accordingly and he justifies his cap hit. Overall Grade A
Henrik Karlsson – Cap Hit : $500,000 – The Calgary Tower has had a couple good games in net and a really bad one. he has appeared in 4 games this year posting a 3.16 GAA and an ugly .875 Save% but he has gone 1-1-1 in the three starts he has had. I have mixed feelings on Henrik so far because he has played .500 hockey when he has been in net which is what you need out of your backup as a minimum. However he has not given the coaching staff the confidence to throw him in the net a little more, which makes me wonder if Miikka Kiprusoff may start close to 70 games again this year. His next two starts will be critical in order to build confidence not only in himself but for his teammates and coaching staff. Overall Grade C-
Jay Bouwmeester – Cap Hit : $6,680,000 – What a difference a month makes. In the first ten games this season I really questioned if Jay was ever going to find his place in the Calgary Flames system. A month later and his play partnered up with Robyn Regher has suddenly made Robyn untradable in my opinion. While his offensive numbers are not anything to write home about 3G 6A 9Pts his +8 is impressive and he is playing almost 26 minutes a night! If he continues along at this rate he will get close to the value of his cap hit, but taking into account the entire first quarter of the season Jay still needs improvement. Overall Grade B-
Robyn Regher – Cap Hit : $4,020,000 – Well as with Jay Bouwmeester the first month of the season was a disaster for Robyn. I amongst many others openly wondered if he may be traded for some offense, but as I mentioned previously his play matched up with J-Bo has been excellent in the last month. While he will never blow you away with his offensive numbers (3 assists) he plays a tough game and is a +4 and Robyn plays against everyone’s top line. The biggest problem for Regher is that $4M cap hit, which can translate to a desperately needed 30 goal scorer. Overall Grade B-
Mark Giordano – Cap Hit : $891,667 – Is it inappropriate to say I have a ‘goalie crush’ on Mark? I spent 30 years playing goal and Mark Giordano is my ideal defenseman. He hits, he blocks shots (currently in the top 3 of the NHL) and he scores points. This is the ultimate team guy and someone I could see being the captain of the Flames in a few years down the road. His 10 points leads the Flames D corps and he still has posted up a +2 despite being stuck with either Cory Sarich or Steve Staios as a D partner most of the season and having to cover up for their lack of speed and/or decision making. Mark of course recently signed an extension that will kick in next year for Regher type money, even at that price he has been great. Under $1M for a cap hit he is a dream come true. Overall Grade A
Cory Sarich – Cap Hit : $3,600,000 – I really like the foundation of Cory’s game. I really do. He has the ability to absolutely change the momentum of a game with a big hit. However far too often Cory gets caught out of position looking for the big hit and if it weren’t for Giordano and Kiprusoff bailing him out his +3 would be a whole lot worse. It was so bad recently that Cory sat in the press box for the three games before the Minnesota tilt. Obviously his offensive numbers are not going to wow you with 4 assists, but that is not why he is here. Unfortunately at a cap hit so high his value against the cap is awful. If Cory made $2M a season less I would be pleased with his performance but he makes way too much to be that inconsistent, and to be relegated to the press box. Overall Grade D
Anton Babchuk – Cap Hit : $1,400,000 – It’s a little tough to get a read on Babchuk yet. His first couple games with the Flames were not good after being traded essentially for Ian White. Anton does have an offensive upside with 3G and 5A for 8Pts. His shot is extremely heavy but he hasn’t had much chance to let it go yet. His -3 is nothing to jump for joy about but he has seemed to mesh fairly well with Brendan Mikkelson in the last three games, and hasn’t looked too bad. It’s really tough to give Anton a grade but he sure did provide some cap relief so I’ll give him a mid grade so far. Overall Grade C
Brendan Mikkelson – Cap Hit : $687,500 – Clearly Darryl Sutter has made at least one good move this season in finding Brendan on waivers where he was placed by the Ducks. Mikkelson has actually stepped into the #6 role of the Flames fairly well, and after a really rough start coming over from Anaheim has settled in and is finding some chemistry with Babchuk. In 15 minutes a game Brendan is a -4 and that needs to improve and he does not provide you with a ton of offense as illustrated by his 2 assists this year. All in all Brendan has improved and really fills a role at a cap friendly number the Flames desperately needed. Overall Grade C+
Steve Staios – Cap Hit : $2,700,000 – I really like Steve Staios as a player. He has been relegated to the #7 role on this team and hasn’t said a word about it. He is a character guy who is great in the room and gives it his all on the ice. The kind of guy anyone would love to have as a teammate. However I HATE his cap hit! I still can not for the life of me understand why he was brought in at that price. Steve is a step behind the speed of play in today’s NHL, and at the end of the day he is not a good enough skater to be a top 4 defenseman in the league which is what he i being paid for!. Steve’s grade is more related to his cap hit as opposed to the player or person himself. But at the end of the day Steve Staios needs to be traded for anything that results in cap relief. Overall Grade D-
Adam Pardy and his two games as well as TJ Brodie and his three games do not merit grades. I don’t know how long Pardy has left with the Flames as he is a UFA at the end of the year and with a few injury problems will have a tough time getting into the Flames top 6 again. Brodie needs time in the AHL to tune up his game for the next level but I would be shocked if he is not a member of the Calgary Flames this time next year.
The forwards are next up tomorrow! Until then what do you think of the grades?
Have a good one!
Follow me on twitter! www.twitter.com/shanehoopfer
About the Author
Written by Shane Hoopfer
Die hard Flames fan since 1980, and a closet baseball junkie. Also a big Dolphins, and Stampeders fan!