After Jarome Iginla, there's a whole lot of nothing on the right side this season for the Calgary Flames but Chuck Kobasew could change all that.
Expectations were high for Kobasew heading into last season, especially after he led the club in preseason scoring the year before. Unfortunately, there was a bit of an adjustment period.
The depth chart falls into place nicely if and only if Kobasew can score close to 20 goals. If he struggles and requires more time in Lowell to find his game everyone else moves up a spot which causes some trouble.
The following is a synopsis of each player and reasoning for their placing on the depth chart:
Iginla – Aside from a stretch last season when he was playing injured, Iginla has dominated the NHL over the past two years. The Flames need him to play well and they need him to play every game to have any hope of advancing to the post-season. If he doesn't score at least 45 goals it'll be an eighth straight season on the sidelines for Calgary. That's an immense amount of pressure but at $7 million salary it's not too much to ask.
Kobasew – Started last season on the top two lines, much like Edmonton's Ales Hemsky, but finished the season in Saint John. The numbers he put up in Saint John were phenomenal – 21 goals in 48 games. His pace was 35 goals, which would have ranked third in the AHL (first among rookies) over a full season. He's ranked second on the club's depth chart essentially by default. The Flames are counting on him to put up numbers at the NHL level this season.
Clark – Chris Clark is a capable third liner for the Flames. He'll score ten goals consistently every season and put in a strong effort most nights. Once he starts getting playing time on the second line, however, the team is in trouble.
Donovan – Donovan doesn't do anything spectacularly well but with his size and speed is effective and fits with Calgary's philosophy lately which has upgraded the fourth line. If he had to play on the second or third line for extended periods, however, he would struggle.
Davidson – A nice surprise free agent acquisition from Columbus. Much like Clark, he's a 30-goal guy in the AHL and is good for about 10 goals a season in the NHL. He'll likely be on the bubble most of the season if he doesn't surpass Donovan on the depth chart and will be a very important player to step into the lineup should an injury or slump befall the top four.
Lynch – Is likely ticketed for a season in Vancouver as an overage junior. Given Calgary's lack of overall depth on right wing, though, if he has a phenomenal camp while Kobasew or Clark struggles he just might see himself either in Calgary or Lowell with the promise of a look down the road.
Bembridge – Simply depth for Lowell or Las Vegas. Both his pro seasons so far have yielded similar 10 goal, 20 point seasons in approximately 65 games. He's worth keeping around in the organization because at 22 he's still young and at six feet he's not undersized. He put up solid numbers in junior and could end up fulfilling a Clarke Wilm-type role in the NHL some day.