Jarome on the Pluggers
With all of the changes to the Calgary Flames roster this summer, one very obvious fact remains; on the right side the Flames have a superstar and then well, some other players.
Over the past couple of seasons the Flames have managed to revamp their left wing position, solidify their center group, but little has changed on the right side.
The focus of roster change was always elsewhere however, because in terms of goal production, Iginla has always managed to out score the entire left wing position by himself. Last season, despite three debilitating injuries, Iginla managed 35 goals, just three short of the combined total of the five players that patrolled the left side.
This year he may need some help.
If Chuck Kobasew can step up and be a semi-productive second line winger in the National Hockey League, then the team is set. They'd have that clear cut top line talent in Iginla, a decent second line and some decent options for the third and fourth lines between Chris Clark, Sheann Donovan and Matt Davidson.
If he doesn't? Then the Flames goose is once again cooked when it comes to scoring depth.
Chris Clark is not a second line winger.
Neither is Sheann Donovan.
To put either of these players in that position would be to put a square peg in a round peg.
Darryl Sutter has adamantly cited that it's time for the youth in the Flames system to step up this season.
He's right … or else.
The Big Club
Jarome Iginla – The pleasant demeenered powerforward put to rest any suggestions that his monster 2001-02 season was a fluke when he almost scored a goal a game through the final third of the 2002-03 season. A healthy Jarome Iginla is a bankable scoring machine that should hit at least 40 goals and 90 points. That's the key. Health. The Flames can ill-afford
another limping season from their franchise player or the playoffs are completely out of the question. Prediction – 43 goals
Chris Clark – For the record, Chris Clark shouldn't come second on a National Hockey League positional depth chart, but until someone comes along and drops him from his perch, that's where he'll remain. As it stands, Clark is the Calgary Flames second most productive, second most talented right wing. Chuck Kobasew may finally take this mantle away, but that's heaping a lot of responsibility on a player with limited NHL experience. Clark is better suited for the third line where his combination of size, speed and somewhat decent hands make him an asset. Prediction – 12 goals
Chuck Kobasew – It's hard to upgrade the talent level of a NHL hockey team. To get you have to give, and with that the only way to effectively improve is to promote talented players through their system. The Flames playoff chances this season are likely riding on a trio of young players; Oleg Saprykin, Jordan Leopold and Chuck Kobasew. If all three of these players can contribute at the top level the team actually shows some depth. If not, well we all know how that story goes. Kobasew is an instinctive sniper, a player that seems to find open ice with the puck at key points in a hockey game. He needs to get more used to NHL speed, and the size and physical play upgrade from junior and minor pro hockey. Once he does, he will be well on his way. Prediction – 13 goals
Shean Donovan – The Flames will have a decided upgrade in size and speed on the fourth line this season, a fact that should make the club much more difficult to play against. One of these fourth line options will be winger Sheann Donovan, who came over at the deadline last year for Micki Dupont and Mattias Johansson. Donovan stands at just over 6'2" tall and has great speed. He handles the puck well down low, but lacks the hands in the slot to make a difference. A great utility player that can tire the opposition out. Prediction – 7 goals
Matt Davidson – Coach/GM Darryl Sutter barely caused a ripple in the NHL hockey landscape when he signed Matt Davidson away from the Columbus Blue Jackets. A true "tweener", Davidson has always been a player that has looked too good for the AHL, but not quite good enough to apply his talents at the NHL level. With a limited salary, and limited expectations, Davidson should fit in well in Calgary as he has great size at 6'3" and the speed to get in quick on defenders. Should split time with Shean Donovan on the fourth line. Prediction – 4 goals
Predicted Big Club Goal Output – 79 goals
On the Farm
The club's depleted minor league depth can clearly be seen on the right side with only Garrett Bembridge able to step in should a rash of injuries fell the big club.
The team will likely option Darren Lynch back to Vancouver of the Western Hockey League meaning the team could be in some deep stuff if they suffer more than a handful of losses.
Look for players like Josh Green, and Matthew Lombardi to be forced into unfamiliar positions during these times.
Organizational Ranking – C+ Same ranking as last year for this writer. The overall depth has improved on the right side, but the glaring hole on the second line is still obvious until Chuck Kobasew can say otherwise. A healthy season from Iginla, and 10 to 15 goals from Kobasew could quickly transform the right side from a glaring weakness to a formidable strength in Calgary.