We all love doing this whole imaginary lineup thing. In fact, it’s my favourite summer pastime, and I execute a new list whenever the Flames make any sort of acquisition or transaction. And, of course, my imaginings never become reality.
As I grew perpetually unhappy with who dressed during Keenan Year One, and where they players who did dress, played, I began to realize that we are in a fantasy world dead zone that meant I’d have to have two lists this summer: One “What I Want”, the other “What’s Really Going to Happen.” And the latter was going to be ugly, creating a proper Dream/Nightmare combination.
Let’s start with the fun one, though. (Guys in parentheses can be in press box or minors, I don’t care which one.)
WHAT I WANT
Backlund – Langkow – Iginla
Bertuzzi – Cammalleri – Boyd
Bourque – Lombardi – Glencross
Moss – Conroy – Prust
(Roy, Nystrom, Primeau, Nilson, Greentree, Lundmark)
My explanation: 1. This team is not going to win the Stanley Cup this year. So, while the primary objective should remain “make playoffs,” the oft-ignored, close-second objective should be “develop players to help us win Stanley Cup next year, or the year after that.”
Hence: Backlund on the wing. Dude isn’t going to forget how to play centre and, as has been previously well explained, he’s gotta play on the top two lines to really develop. Take this precocious talent and let it sing, and let it sing where it’ll be protected: On a line with Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow.
Basically the same reason I have Boyd on the second line, though I also love the idea that his speed and Cammalleri’s speed might cancel out Bertuzzi’s plodding.
Line 3: I think Lombardi’s an amazing NHL third-line centre. He’s fast, has some offence, understands how to play in his own zone. Bourque and Glencross have similar resumes. As for the fourth line, I think Conroy and Moss are potential third-liners dropping down and, while the jury’s definitely out on Prust, there’s more upside there than with any of the other guys who might take the place, plus he can fight if he has to. And you can bury a 12th forward. Even if your rookies are way in over their heads in some games, you can elevate Moss and Conroy, and drop Backlund and Boyd down with Prust.
I just like this lineup.
Phaneuf – Regehr
Pelech – Sarich
Giordano – Aucoin
(Eriksson, Vandermeer, Warrener, Pardy)
I love the argument that it’s time for Phaneuf to earn his dollars against the bset players, and you’re going to do that playing with Robyn Regehr. It’s two years since this was last tried, and Phaneuf is now a Norris finalist. He can play with Regehr.
Putting Pelech in the Top 4 is based entirely on walkinvisible’s glowing review of his development camp, and may be way foolish — but it’s in the whole “develop” spirit again. Frankly, this could be Pardy or Negrin, just as long as it’s a rookie in the lineup opening night. Giordano and Aucoin are better than the other four, which leaves $2.4 million Jim Vandermeer out of the Top 18. Oh, Darryl.
Care to argue?
WHAT’S REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN
Hey everyone, it’s the Mike Keenan-Darryl Sutter view of hockey that matters in Calgary, not mine. So here’s what you’re going to get:
Bertuzzi – Langkow – Iginla
Cammalleri – Conroy – Moss
Bourque – Lombardi – Glencross
Nystrom – Primeau – Roy
(Prust, Nilson, Boyd, Lundmark)
Well, they’re on the record saying that Iginla needs to be on the ice with Bertuzzi, and they can’t get over the idea that Craig Conroy was once this team’s No. 1 centre,and David Moss once scored three games in a row, so they both must still be some kind of offensive force. Cammalleri rounds out the Top 6 because you can’t get that guy and not play him in the Top 6 … in the same exact place that Alex Tanguay “floundered” last year.
Keenan does seem to agree with me on Lombardi and Darryl wants Bourque and Glencross both in the Top 9, so they’re there. That leaves the fourth line … and four old-time hockey guys, who play for old-time hockey guys in Darryl and Mike.
I’m starting to feel ill.
Phaneuf – Vandermeer
This is what they liked last year, so why would they suddenly change their minds? Exception is Eriksson on outside, of course, but honestly I wouldn’t be surprised to see him, or even Warrener, in Giordano’s place by the end of camp.
Now I am ill.
Why wait till midway through the year to abandon your backup goalie for no reason? Flames sign Thibault just as training camp is about to end. No, I haven’t checked to see whether he’s available. Darryl’l figure it out.