Well free agency has come and gone (well technically it’s still here), and the Calgary Flames made their splash getting arguably all of “their guys”.
Let’s start off the list from top to bottom.
The biggest move by far was the signing of James Neal. I like his game, I like his scoring touch, I don’t like the term, but that’s why he came to Calgary over other suitors. A 5 year deal shy of 6 million/ year. Does he answer the woeful problems on the right side for the Flames? Yes. Will he answer for years to come? We hope so? For 5 more? Doubt it. The Flames are better with Neal and it’s a solid move. He will likely take Ferland’s place on the top line, but could very well see time with Tkachuk on the second. Who knows….
Lindholm and Hanafin were blockbuster acquisitions. The latter offering another option on the right-side. Again, will there be an increase in production to make that trade look good for the Flames? Time will tell for the RFA who is still taking contract with the club. For his part, Hanafin has a high ceiling, but we don’t know for sure if he’s going to be Dougie Hamilton good….
Moving down the Flames seemed to have found a new 4th line C in diminutive forward Derek Ryan. He comes to the FLames for–well–the Hurricanes again, and is essentially a smaller Matt Stajan with more offensive upside. He costs the same and has a 3 year deal. As an older player fans will be eager to see if he can contribute more than Stajan did. Hopefully he can or this will be a costly mistake (Brouwer bad?).
The prospect and ‘potential’ Flame forward cupboard was filled with the signings of Czarknik, Graovac, and Quine. Again, some minor leaguers, some may push for a club spot, all need to prove themselves at the NHL level.
One thing the Flames haven’t gone out and done is answer their backup goalie situation, and more importantly the size issue. They’re a smaller team as of July 1st, and although they may have addressed the compete issue, they lack a bonafide “tough guy” in a league that could still benefit from one……