The Calgary Flames waited much, much too long to hit the restart button.
They didn’t get much in bailout trades that sent Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester packing. Cornerstone goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff declined to move along and retired. Alex Tanguay cheerfully accepted his reassignment back to Colorado.
The team’s big free agent addition was KHL goaltender Kari Ramo, a veteran of just 48 NHL games.
Worst of all, the Flames don’t have much young talent to build upon. Even NHL.com notes that Calgary’s last impact draft pick was Dion Phaneuf back in 2003.
So this team is headed toward a world of hurt. The Flames must rely heavily on overpriced veterans on the downside of their career:
Mike Cammalleri, W/C: He managed to score 32 points in 44 games last season, but with a minus-15. How will he fare with a less talented and experienced group this season? At least he has just one year left on a contract paying him (gulp) $7 million this season.
Dennis Wideman, D: Rushing the puck for the Washington Capitals is fun. He scored 11 goals and added 35 assists for that team in 2011-12. Rushing the puck for the Flames is not as fun; he scored six goals and added just 16 assists with a minus-9 in 46 games last season. He has four years left on his five-year, $26.25 million contract.
Jiri Hudler, W: He parlayed a peak year in Detroit (50 points, plus-10 rating) into a big deal in Calgary. As any idiot will tell you, it is easier putting up numbers for a great team than a dismal team. Hudler scored 27 points with a minus-13 rating in 42 Flames games last season. He has three years left on his four-year, $16 million contract.
Lee Stempniak, W: He scored just nine goals in 47 games, reminding everybody that has never come close to matching his one 27-goal season in St. Louis. He is a relative bargain, though, with just one year and $2.75 million left on his contract.