|The lockout, prospect talk and making sense of the Flames||Tweet|
|Written by Mac Vincent|
|Monday, 19 November 2012 09:07|
This week, Mac fields questions regarding the lockout, weighs in on some prospects... and looks to make sense of the Calgary Flames.
Axeman33 asks: “Thoughts on what Mark Recchi had to say to the players of the NHLPA. Do you think he should be speaking out and would he say these same things if he was still a current player today?”
Recchi is about as highly regarded as any former player in the National Hockey League. He played for 22 years, won three Stanley Cups and collected 1,533 points as well. Recchi went through a 10-day players strike in 1992, plus lockouts during the 1994-1995 season and 2004-2005 season. He’s also part owner of the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers.
I can understand where he’s coming from, because I believe any deal that the players and owners agree to will favor the owners. The two sides want different things, led by two stubborn individuals, leading me to doubt we see hockey this season. He’s definitely speaking from his heart and I wouldn’t be surprised if he said the exact same thing if he was still playing. He’s just looking out for the player’s best interests and I have no problem with that.
Horrorfan asks: “What are your thoughts on the Flames' situation for the near future? It has been generally thought of being a bit bleak with many older veterans. Though with guys like Sven Baertschi, Roman Cervenka and Roman Horak, could that change?”
The Flames are a very interesting team, as they don’t want to go for the full out rebuild and they believe it's best for the team to fight it out for one of the last playoff spots in the Western Conference. Basically, they want to contend and re-tool, so be it.
You have to give them some credit, because they were able to snag Sven Baertschi 13th overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft. A player who may have gone higher had teams taken a closer look at him in his draft year. He has become their top prospect and will be a big part of their future. Horak is a guy who looks to be developing well; he clearly wasn’t ready for the NHL in 2011-2012 but has come on strong with the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.
I understand why Calgary wants to keep Jarome Iginla a Flame for life, but as long as he’s there I see them continuing their current "partial" re-tooling plan and trying to contend. When Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff retire, that’s when the team will be free to move forward with a proper, full rebuild. By then you should see Baertschi, Horak, Max Reinhart, T.J. Brodie and others as full-time Flames.
ericdaoust asks: “How do you see the current production of non-established players affecting the opening rosters when the NHL returns?”
“As a particular example, I'm looking at the AHL Charlotte Checkers (Carolina farm team) right now. The Canes have some depth needs up front and Jeremy Welsh (5 points, 13 GP) was considered the front-runner for the third line centre job. He has been out-performed by Zach Boychuk, Drayson Bowman, Zac Dalpe, Jerome Samson and Riley Nash. Those are all players that are the same age or younger than Welsh. Could he be on the outside looking in when the lockout ends? Could his long-term NHL prospects be hurt if he fails to make an immediate impact given his advanced age for a prospect?”
I don’t think you should assume Welsh will secure the job, he’s only played one game in the NHL and he will have to fight for it. Dalpe already said this is a “make or break” year for him in the Hurricanes organization and he’s determined to make it to the NHL once the lockout ends. Samson is a guy who is just a depth player, one they can call up when needed if one of the main roster players gets hurt.
I see both Boychuk and Nash as players that will succeed in the AHL, but not the NHL. The only reason Boychuk was so hyped is because he performed well with team Canada at the World Juniors and showed off his speed. He’s had audition after audition with Carolina and just hasn’t done enough to earn a permanent roster spot.
If Welsh can be one of Charlotte’s top players, I like his chances. If he can’t measure up to any of those guys you listed, he probably won’t make the team out of training camp. Healthy competition is the best thing for a player in his situation, he can either embrace the competition and work hard to achieve his goals or get overwhelmed by it, only time will tell.
Shoeless asks: “Hey Mac, if we get a season going in the next month, who do you rate to be in the starting lineup for the Blue Jackets and do you like anyone to make a decent fantasy contribution?
At first glance, Brandon Dubinsky should have better numbers than he did in New York (except for Plus/Minus). His career high in points with the Rangers is 54 (2010-2011), but he should assume a big role on a Columbus team that needs leadership and all the scoring they can get. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s named the next captain of the team because he brings so much to the ice surface each and every night.
Artem Anisimov was the other big part of the trade that sent Rick Nash to New York and he too, should see more playing time and be a top six forward with Columbus. Anisimov’s highest point total with the Rangers was 44 (2010-2011), but he’s still just 24 years old and sometimes we forget that. Anisimov played with a wide variety of lines last year, but he’s a goal scorer. When you put a goal scorer with a player like Marian Gaborik, his goal totals are going to suffer because he won’t see much of the puck. Anisimov finished with 132 shots on goal in 79 games, meaning he was 211th overall in shots on goal league wide.
Another player that could make an impact is young defenseman Nikita Nikitin. The 26-year-old very quietly put up 32 points in 54 games with Columbus last year. He was shipped to Columbus in exchange for Kris Russell.
Nikitin also had 95 blocked shots in his time with Columbus, but his problem will be all about opportunity. When healthy, James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson are the source of the Blue Jackets offense from the back end. Johnson is a very durable player, while Wisniewski is quite fragile. Nikitin could be worth a late round flyer because of the great numbers he put up with Columbus when given an opportunity.
Of course Johnson and Wisniewski are going to be on many fantasy teams, but another guy to watch out for is forward prospect Cam Atkinson. He’s not flashy, but I watched him play over the last bit of the 2011-2012 season and I was very impressed. He’s a hard working player that wants to make a difference. I see him, along with Johnson, Dubinsky, Sergei Bobrovsky, Anisimov and Nikitin as players worth owning in fantasy leagues. I’m not sure I have enough confidence in any of these guys other than Johnson for shallow leagues, but in deeper leagues these guys could all be worth owning.
Have a question you would like to submit to Mac? You can submit your question in the thread “Mac’s Mailbag” in the General Hockey Chat section of the forum or send him a tweet on Twitter @MacVincent1.
|Last Updated on Monday, 19 November 2012 14:14|