|A. TANGUAY||B. MORRISON||J. IGINLA|
|R. BOURQUE||O. JOKINEN||L. STEMPNIAK|
|C. GLENCROSS||M. BACKLUND||D. MOSS|
|N. HAGMAN||M. STAJAN||T. JACKMAN|
|J. BOUWMEESTER||C. SARICH|
|M. GIORDANO||A. BABCHUK|
|C. BUTLER||B. MIKKELSON|
|ones to watch|
|D T.J. BRODIE|
|F GREG NEMISZ|
"We really want to build off the second half we had," forward Brendan Morrison told NHL.com. "We gained a lot of momentum in the second half and had a good push but came up short. It was a real positive to finish that way. Now the challenge is to start the season the way we finished (last season)."
Their opening-day roster likely will be nearly identical to the one that finished last season, which means the Flames again will be a veteran-laden squad. Last season's second-oldest team with an average age of 29.35, the Flames' top three scorers were at least 30, and of the 19 players who had at least 10 points, only one was younger than 27. So the Flames will remain dependent on their veterans, but might look to one or two prospects to make their imprint on the team.
If the Flames can get a modest infusion of youth and overcome some wild inconsistencies -- last season's power play was ranked second at home but 29th overall on the road -- it could get them back in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
OUT: Tim Erixon, D (trade, Rangers); Ales Kotalik, RW (trade, Sabres); Daymond Langkow, C (trade, Coyotes); Freddy Modin, LW (retired); Adam Pardy, D, (free agent, Stars); Robyn Regeher, D (trade, Sabres); Steve Staios, D (free agent)
Already one of the oldest forward units in the League, the group actually got older last season with the November acquisition of 32-year-old forward Tom Kostopoulos from Carolina. This summer, Calgary acquired 28-year-old Lee Stempniak from Phoenix in exchange for Daymond Langkow, a move that only the Flames would consider an injection of youth. In addition to the team's top three scorers last season being north of 30, Rene Bourque, who was fourth, will celebrate his 30th birthday Dec. 10.
"The guys have been around for long periods of time," said Morrison. "They're not caught off guard by what happens game to game. Guys will have an even keel as the year goes by."
While they should remain potent, the aging Flames offense will be looking to young Mikael Backlund to contribute. The 24th pick of the 2007 Entry Draft, the Swedish center had 25 points in 73 games last season while refining a strong two-way game. The Flames are hoping for a little more this season.
FLAMES 30 IN 15 RELATED STORIES
While the Flames' forwards won't look terribly different from last season's high-scoring group, Calgary's defense saw some changes. After coming to Calgary in the Kostopoulos trade that sent Ian White to Carolina, Anton Babchuk re-signed for two more years. The team also signed Scott Hannan in free agency, looking to toughen up a defense that ranked 19th in goals-against per game last season.
After Mark Giordano and Jay Bouwmeester established themselves as a top pairing last season, the team's biggest change on the back end this summer was the trade of veteran Robyn Regehr to Buffalo. A mainstay for 11 seasons, he ranks second in franchise history with 826 games played. Last season he led the team with 180 hits and was third in average ice time per game blocked shots. The Flames will look to replace that stout defensive presence with 24-year-old Chris Butler, whom they received in exchange for Regehr. While he occasionally had trouble cracking Buffalo's regular-season rotation, Butler assumed a larger role in the playoffs, where he played at least 26 minutes in four of Buffalo's first five games in their first-round playoff series loss to Philadelphia.
Miikka Kiprusoff turns 35 in October, but there is every indication he will continue to be a workhorse in Calgary's crease. He started 71 games last season, the sixth straight season he's hit that mark. The 1,935 shots Kiprusoff faced last season were also seventh-most in the League, but his six shutouts were the most he's had in a season since 2006-07.
Opening night could potentially be memorable for Kiprusoff, who with one more win will pass Mike Vernon for the most in Flames history. With 45 more games, he'll also become Calgary's all-time leader in that category.
Henrik Karlsson is expected to return as Kiprusoff's backup, although prospect Leland Irving will compete for that role. But it should be more of the same in Calgary's crease.