Season Over. Now What?

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The Calgary Flames season came to an end Saturday night with a  3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks thus beginning the autopsy of the 2010-2011 season. The Flames will miss the playoffs for a second straight season and Flames management have many questions to answer in the off-season.

First off, who will be the club’s GM? Interim GM Jay Feaster has done a good job in changing the culture of the franchise, bringing in an upbeat positive attitude. A refreshing change from the somber and sullen tones of his predecessor Darryl Sutter. Feaster has the inside track, however rumours have suggested President Ken King may want the job.

Secondly, what to do with unrestricted free agents. Curtis Glencross, Alex Tanguay, Niklas Hagman, Ales Kotalik, Steve Staios, Anton Babchuk, Adam Pardy, and Henrik Karlsson are all unrestricted as of July 1. Obviously the Flames can’t keep all of them so they have to prioritize. Tanguay had a great season and should be kept. Glencross can be streaky but is a solid dependable player. Karlsson is a quality backup netminder. Those 3 players should be top of the list. However the Flames are pressed right up against the salary cap so financial restrictions will affect the club’s decision making.

Thirdly. The never ending trade rumours surrounding team captain Jarome Iginla. Iggy had a fantastic season this year, scoring 43 goals and recording his 1000th career point. He was the MVP of the club and continues to be the undisputed leader in the locker room. However Iginla is an unrestricted free agent in 2012 and the Flames can’t afford to let him walk away and get nothing in return. There were rumours earlier in the season that Iginla was going to be dealt to the Los Angeles Kings for blue chip prospect Braydon Schenn. Those rumours were quickly squashed by management but they will start up again in the off-season. The cupboard is dry for prospects and the Flames have to start looking toward the future. Iginla may be the only asset other teams covet and the Flames may have to consider parting with their franchise player to stockpile for the future. The fans will be furious however so the Flames are stuck in a major predicament.

So as you can see this will be a long, painful, uneasy offseason for the Flames. The decisions they make this summer will greatly affect the team’s fortunes in the future. We shall wait and see what unfolds in the Stampede City.