Every season in the aftermath of a busy trade deadline, hockey hungry fans and media in a dozen or so different hockey locals quickly turn their attention to the new roster. Who will play with who? How does this team look?
But not in Calgary of late, as the Flames have passed on high activity trade deadlines, pretty much getting it done earlier, or just standing pat with the roster as it stood.
Not this year Calgary.
Tomorrow the city will awake to a game in Philadelphia, a pay per view game that is sure to smash all PPV ordering totals in Calgary history, with a brand new team to hit the ice. The injuries that existed in Ottawa last night haven’t vanished in the post-deadline euphoria, the team still has it’s holes.
For tomorrow night it’s Lombardi out and Oli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold in, Brandon Prust was sidelined due a concussion from an errent elbow in the Minnesota game. So immediately it’s a net gain for a team looking for points in order to hold off the Vancouver Canucks in the midst of a long and grueling road trip.
Craig Conroy takes the first new world hit as he likely moves from the first line (a spot that he held in tandem with Lombardi anyway) to full time second line duty until Daymond Langkow gets back.
The insertion of Jordan Leopold is sure to push one of Jim Vandermeer or Adam Pardy to the sidelines. Leopold can play either side so one can imagine almost any combination for a new look defense. Will Keenan put Leopold back with Robyn Regehr, or leave the successful Regehr/ Adrian Aucoin combination, leaving Leopold to either player with Sarich or Phaneuf. If it was up to me I might try Pardy out since Vandermeer’s return has done a lot to quiet down Dion Phaneuf, or see if Leopold can apply the same tonic.
Fast forward to playoff time and you have a very deep hockey team with a lot of options when that second line comes back.
A new first line of Mike Cammalleri / Oli Jokinen / Jarome Iginla is easily the best first line the Flames have had in a dozen or so years putting three guys that can really find the back of the net. The result should mean the end of what I’ve always considered a failed Conroy on the first line experiment. Conroy is a very good third line center and a real asset to the team, but a mess on the first line as he tries to do too much to the detriment of the line.
A second line could be held in check with a scope kneed Todd Bertuzzi returning to the right side of a line with Daymond Langkow and hopefully Rene Bourque. That pushes Conroy to the third line to center Curtis Glencross and David Moss, and sets up a very good fourth line of Dustin Boyd between Eric Nystrom and probably Andre Roy. A great flexibility move would be Roy sat for Vandermeer to get Pardy back into every game. Jamie Lundmark has played well and could conceivabley stick on an extended playoff roster.
While Dustin Boyd is still fourth line buried, the new look Flames have some serious production through four lines.
Will it be enough to get them through one of the two big boys in the West? That’s the 5.5 million dollar Jokinen contract question. With Jokinen signed through next season, the window to win could be this year and next, at least until that window gets extended again.
But those that love trades, finally have a trade deadline to dissect.