A Roman Recovery?
D'Arcy McGrath
September 8th, 2003

A goaltender is one of six players on the ice during five on five situations in your typical hockey game.

His worth to his team is measured as significantly more however.

In past eras an offensively minded hockey team could simply out score the opposition, masking deficiencies in defence or in goal. Today however goaltending is THE focal point for a club's chances at winning on a consistent basis.

Defensive systems and disciplined hockey teams have limited offensive chances to the handful, shifting the onus to a club's goaltender to stop everything he can see on a consistent basis.

Positional Analysis

McGrath: Left Wing
McGrath: Right Wing
McGrath: Center

McGrath: Defence

A flubbed point shot through the legs can basically translate into a loss, especially for a club with limited offensive weapons like the Calgary Flames.

Roman Turek simply has to battle Jarome Iginla for the moniker of the club's best player on game in game out basis if the Calgary Flames are to have any chance at qualifying for the playoffs.

He has to stare down the stopper at the other end of the ice and out play is counter part on most nights for the club to register a "W" in the win column.

When he's not playing his backup has to give the club a chance to win against the league's weakest opponents and chip in their share of consistency towards the bottom line.

Without goaltending to stir the drink, the Flames are finished before the season begins.

The Big Club

Roman Turek - The big Czech was used as a convenient scapegoat too often last year for this writer's tastes. Turek was average on many nights, and admittedly not always one of the club's best players, but lay the blame at the base of his tall pads was somewhat unfair. He did stop the vast majority of the first shots he faced, but was often beaten with a second or third rebound - an occurrence that has to be focused on the defencemen as well. Look for a rebound season from Turek due to the club's beefed up defence, and increased depth throughout.

Jamie McLennan - Mike Vernon won only two games as Roman Turek's backup two seasons ago, a statistic that had as much to do with the veteran's retirement as save percentage or goals against average. Last November, Jamie McLennan won back to back games with Turek on the limp, setting himself up for a banner season for a backup goaltender in Calgary. He never won again. To blame a backup goaltender for his win/loss record is somewhat unfair given the club's performance over the past several seasons, but it's a game of results, and McLennan did nothing to fortify his position last season. His biggest advantage is his one way contract in a stare down with Dany Sabourin for the backup role.

On the Farm

The Flames are slated to have only one spot available with the American Hockey League's Lowell Lock Monsters. Assuming McLennan holds down the backup role in Calgary, that Lowell spot is likely headed for Dany Sabourin.

Sabourin has had his stock rise dramatically in Calgary over the past couple of seasons - a shift from ECHL fodder to legitimate, "possible", future number one guy in Calgary. He has great size, and has seen improvement from added mobility making him an imposing figure in the nets. If he stands on his head in camp he could make the parent club, as Darryl Sutter has had a history of going with younger backups in other stops.

Another player in the mix is former Hitmen star Brent Krahn. The Flames first selection in the Calgary hosted 2000 NHL Entry Draft has been on a roller coaster ride for the past few years, as he's tried to recover from two knee operations. His play late last season for the Seattle Thunderbirds, and then subsequent showing in Calgary development camps have put Krahn back on the club's radar screen.

One of Sabourin, Krahn and Andrei Medvedev, a Russian stopper that won't be at camp, have to step forward and grab the reigns of heir apparent to Roman Turek.

Depth Chart

  1. Roman Turek
  2. Jamie McLennan
  3. Dany Sabourin
  4. Brent Krahn

Organizational Rating: C - Until Roman Turek proves he is indeed a top 10 or 15 goaltender in the NHL, the position has to be considered a position of weakness in the club's overall scheme. The team has a lot of interesting young depth in order to mine a future star, but none of these options are ready to make a dent in the 2003-04 NHL season.

  Back to Calgarypuck.com
Read other Stories
Talk About it!