One of my best friends phoned me about four days into Calgary Flames training camp in September. As an avid Flame fan he asked me 'How do you like this team's chances?'
I said I liked this team a lot because of its options, many of which were created by Darryl Sutter's superb off-season. So far those moves have translated into a terrific campaign.
What do I mean by options?
Let's go back to draft day. The moves that, in a sense, translated into Alex Tanguay for Michael Cammalleri have paid big dividends. Cammalleri has been a terrific fit. The Richmond Hil, Ontario native, at the time of this article, was second in both goals and points just behind Jarome Iginla, and has brought with him a confident swagger. This guy wants the puck on his stick with the game on the line. He leads the team in game-winning goals and what can I say, I have thoroughly enjoyed dealing with him on a day-to-day basis. The only big problem with Cammalleri going forward is whether or not the Flames can re-sign him as he can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Let's turn our attention to two other key acquisitions. Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross. Two players enjoying solid seasons. And two players that to me have given this squad the type of depth it has not experienced for a long time. Bourque,who came over from Chicago, is already just one goal shy of his career high of 16. The product of Lac La Biche has great speed, does a terrific job killing penalties and makes life absolutely miserable for the opponents defense.
Glencross is cut from exactly the same cloth. I watched him alot down the stretch in Edmonton last season, and frankly was somewhat stunned to find out the Oilers did not re-sign him. I love the way he competes game in and game out. The type of player that doesn't have to chip in on the scoresheet to be a big contributor in a game.
The Flames took a chance on Todd Bertuzzi, and while he has been on the shelf recently with an injury, the 33-year-old forward is re-energized in Calgary, and has already accounted for 31 points. If you look at him, as the player that had to pick up where Owen Nolan left off, Bertuzzi has more than looked after his end of a less than $2 million a season bargain.
Over and above the newcomers, how about David Moss? Fourteen goals already. Goes to the net night in and night out with authority and is playing with a ton of confidence. If you are lucky enough to chat with this young man on a regular basis, he is the type of player you can't help but cheer for.
Dustin Boyd has already chipped in with eight goals despite a limited role at times. Still, he has shown he is going to be a player to reckon with in this league for a long time to come.
The biggest surprise of the season the play of rookie rear guard Adam Pardy. It has been a long time since I have seen a young defenseman progress the way he has. Talk about playing with confidence. Wow. The injury to Jim Vandermeer paved the way for the Newfoundlander, and boy oh boy has the Newfoundlander taken full advantage of his opportuntiy. Did I mention he was a 6th round pick in 2004 and is just 24-years old?
One final thought for those of you how were not sure about Mikka Kiprusoff in the early going. How are you feeling now? He has been terrific since the ugly night in San Jose back in November when he surrended four in the opening period. None of which were really his fault.
This is a good team. Why? It's got a lot of option.
(Peter Loubardias is the Flames play-by-play commentator on Sportsnet West)