Coming off a disappointing season, the Calgary Flames are going with a familiar cast and hoping for better results.
Jarome Iginla surpassed 30 goals for the ninth consecutive season in 2009-2010, but his total of 69 points was his lowest since 2005-2006. While the Flames have tried to address their lack of a No. 1 centre, Iginla, the finisher, is the one who figures to be most affected by that shortcoming.
Since Iginla is the one blue-chip fantasy performer among Flames skaters, whoever ends up on his line will hold a higher value than they might otherwise.
Enter, Matt Stajan. Stajan hardly fits the profile of a high-scoring first-line pivot, but it seems either he or Olli Jokinen are the best bets on the roster right now, and Jokinen isn't as much of a distributor as Stajan.
After scoring three goals and 16 points in 27 games with the Flames last season, Stajan will have to be better, but he has put up 78 assists and 112 points over the last two seasons and should just be hitting his prime.
Jokinen's return to Calgary was one of the more shocking moves of the summer, as it didn't appear there was any great fondness for the 19 goals and 50 points he had put up in 75 games with the Flames.
While his production has been declining in recent seasons, that could make Jokinen a bit of a sleeper candidate because he still figures to get ample opportunity on a scoring line and he wants to prove that he's better than a 50-point scorer.
Looking for similar redemption, Alex Tanguay is coming off the worst season of his career, scoring 37 points in Tampa Bay. However, the playmaking winger, who may be a natural complement to a shooting centre like Jokinen, had success with the Flames in 2006-2007 (81 points) and 2007-2008 (58 points).
Last year's minus-2 rating was the first time that Tanguay had fallen on the wrong side of that ledger, so there is added statistical benefit to a player who had been a double-digit plus in five of the previous six seasons.
Power winger Rene Bourque stayed relatively healthy last season and notched a career-high 58 points. He's also a consistent plus player who gets about a penalty minute per game, so the biggest concern is keeping him in the lineup -- he's played more than 70 games just twice in five NHL seasons.
Niklas Hagman has three straight seasons with at least 20 goals, but his value in fantasy is marginal due to low assist and penalty minute totals.
There are other Flames forwards that could be fantasy candidates, at least at times throughout the season. Curtis Glencross is a hard-working winger who scores just enough to be worthy of consideration as an injury fill-in, particularly if he is bumped to a scoring unit.
Daymond Langkow had 37 points last season -- his lowest total since 1998-1999 -- and spent most of the summer recovering from a neck injury. He'll also be 34 by the time this season starts, but he's had some decent chemistry with Iginla in the past.
Mark Giordano emerged last season as a bona fide NHL defenceman, scoring 30 points and putting up a plus-17 rating for a team that didn't make the playoffs. He won't sneak up on anyone this year, but Giordano should be capable of fulfilling a No. 3 or No. 4 role for most fantasy squads.
Jay Bouwmeester may have more upside than Giordano, considering he has three seasons with more than 40 points, but his first year in Calgary was decidedly disappointing. A bounceback season from Bouwmeester would obviously improve the Flames' chances.
Playing in a league-high 83 games last year, Ian White scored a career-high 13 goals and 38 points, numbers that put him in the same range as Giordano and Bouwmeester; all three have fantasy value, though not as high-end defensive options.
While Iginla is the Flames' blue-chip skater, Miikka Kiprusoff is the other potential blue-chip performer on the team. Kiprusoff reversed a trend of declining numbers last season, as his .920 save percentage and 2.31 goals against average were his best since 2005-2006.
Playing more than 70 games for five straight years makes Kiprusoff even more valuable as that workload has helped him win more than 40 games three times. He may not be an elite goaltender -- or maybe he is -- but his fantasy value is not too far behind those on the top tier.
|Rene Bourque||Matt Stajan||Jarome Iginla|
|Alex Tanguay||Olli Jokinen||Niklas Hagman|
|Curtis Glencross||Daymond Langkow||Ales Kotalik|
|Raitis Ivanans||Mikael Backlund||David Moss|
|Ryan Stone||Craig Conroy||Tim Jackman|
|Jay Bouwmeester||Mark Giordano|
|Ian White||Robyn Regehr|
|Cory Sarich||Steve Staios|
|Adam Pardy||Staffan Kronwall|