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30 in 30: Young players emerge in Flames lineup

by Corey Masisak

The Calgary Flames finally committed to a full-scale rebuild before the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline, and it could lead to plenty of young players receiving the opportunity to log important minutes in 2013-14.

Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester were traded, and Miikka Kiprusoff may retire with one season left on his contract. General manager Jay Feaster acquired David Jones, TJ Galiardi, Kris Russell and Shane O'Brien in trades during the offseason. Goaltender Karri Ramo, who has spent the past four seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, was the team's biggest free-agent addition.


Under-valued: Curtis Glencross -- The forward led the team with 15 goals in 40 games last season and should see first-line caliber minutes this season. He's a sneaky-good player who will help in all categories, except plus/minus.

Over-valued: Dennis Wideman -- After a productive fantasy year with the Washington Capitals in 2011-12 (11 goals, 46 points), the defenseman slipped to six goals, 22 points and a minus-9 in 46 games last season. The latter indicates what might be coming with the Flames in full-blown rebuild mode.

Sleeper: Karri Ramo -- If/when Miikka Kiprusoff officially retires, Ramo is the frontrunner to receive the bulk of playing time in goal for Calgary. That might not be the best thing with the group that's in front of him, but his past three years in the KHL have been extremely impressive (2.11 GAA in 2009-10; 1.97 GAA in '10-11; 1.96 GAA in '11-12) making him  draftable in most fantasy leagues.

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Calgary likely will be predicted to finish near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, and if the Flames don't surprise and make a run at a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, another high draft pick would infuse more talent into the rebuild. The Flames need 2013 first-round pick Sean Monahan and 2011 picks Sven Baertschi and Johnny Gaudreau to develop; Calgary hasn't drafted and developed an impact player since Dion Phaneuf in 2003.

Here is the projected 2013-14 lineup for the Flames:


Curtis Glencross - Mikael Backlund - Mike Cammalleri

Sven Baertschi - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

TJ Galiardi - Matt Stajan - Lee Stempniak

Tim Jackman - Roman Horak - David Jones

Blair Jones - Brian McGrattan


Mark Giordano - Dennis Wideman

TJ Brodie - Kris Russell

Chris Butler - Shane O'Brien

Derek Smith


Karri Ramo

Joey MacDonald

NOTES: Calgary's search for long-term answers at center continues, and Monahan, a 2013 first-round pick (No. 6), likely will be given every chance not only to make the opening-night roster but to secure a spot in the middle of one of the top three lines. Backlund remains more potential than performance but could start the season as the top center. If other, younger options don't work out, Cammalleri and Stajan are fallback options.

Monahan and Baertschi lead a group of young forwards who will try to win roster spots during training camp. Count Corban Knight, Max Reinhart and maybe Ben Hanowski in that group.

The Flames re-signed Brodie, a restricted free agent, and he likely will see an increase in playing time with Bouwmeester gone.

If Kiprusoff is done playing for the Flames, Ramo is the favorite to be the team's No. 1 goalie. He has been great in the Kontinental Hockey League but was the opposite of that in his brief NHL career with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Another free-agent addition, Reto Berra, had a strong run at the 2013 IIHF World Championship for Switzerland and could push MacDonald for a place on the roster.

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