Fantasy Puck Preview: Calgary Flames

Scott Cullen
9/28/2008 12:32:19 AM
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The Calgary Flames have some of the most productive players in the game -- veritable fantasy gold -- but are there enough in the supporting cast to make this team successful?

Start with right winger Jarome Iginla, a 31-year-old power forward coming off the most productive season of his career.

Underrated veteran centre Daymond Langkow isn't given full credit as a number one centre, but he's scored 142 points and is a combined plus-39 over the last two seasons, so his production shouldn't be so easily dismissed.

Iginla and Langkow could even be more productive if they can forge the right chemistry with one of the Flames' off-season additions.

Todd Bertuzzi appears to be in line for the first shot on the number one line, but he still has a lot to prove, having been only marginally productive since leaving Vancouver in 2006.

For fantasy owners, however, Bertuzzi is intriguing because he does have the skill to score and the inherent nastiness to rack up penalty minutes, having never had fewer penalty minutes than games played in a season. If he fits in well with Iginla and Langkow, a 60-point, 120-penalty minute season is conceivable.

By the same token, Bertuzzi could end up hurt, plying his trade on the second line and may be a 40-point, 100-penalty minute guy, which probably still gives him value in deep leagues.

The other newcomer to watch is Mike Cammalleri, who went from a career-high 80 points in 2006-2007 to just 47 points last season. Cammalleri is a very capable finisher, but will need to find the right linemates if he's going to score a lot this year.

The others slated to be on the second line this season are Matthew Lombardi and Rene Bourque, who have combined to score 212 points in 480 career games between them.

If the Flames are going to upgrade the talent among their top six forwards, there may be a temptation to keep 19-year-old Swedish centre Mikael Backlund and, while Backlund projects to be a quality NHL centre, it remains to be seen whether he's ready to do it as a teenager.

On the back end, Dion Phaneuf is challenging Nicklas Lidstrom's fantasy supremacy. While Phaneuf doesn't have the plus-minus to match the Red Wing captain, the peace-loving Lidstrom doesn't approach Phaneuf's penalty minute totals (182 last year).

Mike Keenan favourite Adrian Aucoin had a terrific season in his first year in Calgary, but the 35-year-old's injury problems the previous two seasons make him somewhat risky.

If Aucoin falters, look for 25-year-old Mark Giordano to move into a more prominent role as he returns from a season in Russia.

Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff is good for 70 starts and 40 wins, but his goals against average and save percentage have declined every season since he arrived in Calgary in 2003-2004.

If Kipper doesn't reverse that trend, his value essentially equates to a low-end starting option in fantasy hockey, meaning you're likely better off letting someone else take him unless he slides on draft day.

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