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Fantasy Puck Preview: Calgary Flames

Scott Cullen

9/14/2009 1:16:58 PM

Losing a point-per-game scorer won't be easy for the Calgary Flames to overcome, but there will be opportunities available for other forwards to produce. The good news is that the blueline gets a serious upgrade with the signing of Jay Bouwmeester.

Jarome Iginla remains a first-rate fantasy winger, tallying 35 goals or more for seven straight seasons and he's topped 80 points in each of the last three seasons. For fantasy purposes, though, it's also worth noting that Iggy only had 37 penalty minutes last year, which hinders his value (if ever-so-slightly) when compared to his 80-penalty minute seasons.

A couple of years back, Olli Jokinen appeared to be a fantasy hockey stud, exceedingly durable and productive, even with a Florida team that wasn't in contention. Last year, Jokinen actually missed six games and his 57 points represented his lowest season total since 2001-2002. That down season could give him good value on draft day this year, since the 30-year-old Finn is going to play a prominent role with the Flames.

Veteran pivot Daymond Langkow has his value tied closely to whether or not he ends up playing with Jarome Iginla. If he's on the first line, Langkow could be 15-20 points better than what his anticipated production might be on the second line.

If he can stay healthy, Rene Bourque could be a fantasy sleeper, coming off the best season of his career, when he scored 21 goals and 40 points, while posting a plus-18 rating in just 58 games. However, Bourque has played more than 62 games just once in his first four NHL seasons.

Hard-working winger Curtis Glencross has shown steady improvement over the last couple of seasons. Does the 26-year-old have more in reserve or has he reached his level of production?

38-year-old Craig Conroy can't be ignored entirely, coming off a season in which he scored 48 points (with none on the power play). Conroy may not hold draft-day appeal, but if there is an injury, he could still have some short-term value.

Winger David Moss showed some scoring touch last year, netting 20 goals (eight on the power play) and 39 points and may have some value in deep leagues.

A rookie to watch, if he makes the club, is Mickael Backlund, the Swedish pivot who came over to play in the WHL midway through last season, putting up 53 points in 47 regular season and playoff games combined.

Calgary's definite strength is on the blueline, where Jay Bouwmeester joins Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf is coming off the worst season of his four-year NHL career, yet he has to be considered among the fantasy elite at the position for his ability to combine points and penalty minutes, so long as he's not a double-digit minus again.

Bouwmeester isn't a prolific scoring defenceman, but has averaged nearly 42 points over the last four seasons, scoring a career-best 15 goals in each of the last two. It's possible that Calgary's personnel on defence will allow Bouwmeester to be more assertive offensively.

Where the addition of Bouwmeester may also help the Flames is with goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who could use some assistance. If the Flames defence is significantly improved, then perhaps Kiprusoff could halt the trend of his declining numbers -- his goals against average has increased, and his save percentage has decreased, every year he's been in Calgary.

What Kiprusoff has going for him, even with declining numbers, is that he's the unquestioned number one in Calgary and that has meant four straight seasons with at least 73 starts and 39 wins.