While the bulk of the NHL is kicking off the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Calgary Flames are officially working towards the 2013-14 campaign. An off-season of change is ahead for the club which missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season,but finally came to the realization it was time to rebuild. No longer are the Flames what we’ve witnessed the past several seasons— an aging club built around Jarome Iginla and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. After years of chasing their tails — either barely making the playoffs or just missing the second season — we’re into the next phase. What we witnessed in late March, with the trades of Iginla and defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, was a brave new era but only the beginning. Don’t be surprised to see this team with 40 or fewer players signed to contracts when the free-agency period opens. The Flames have all sorts of decisions to make before the pieces are in place for next training camp. Here is a look at each position, not only peeking at what’s currently on the NHL roster but also what’s in the system. GOALTENDING Miikka Kiprusoff has refused to say whether he’ll be retiring or returning after this season, but it appears his NHL career has come to a close. He spurned requests for interviews during the last couple of days of the season and — as usual — did the same when the team meets for one last time for interviews and medicals, which took place Sunday at the Saddledome. It’s likely Kiprusoff, the franchise’s all-time leader in every key goaltending category, will quietly go into the next stage of his life with barely a whisper, even with one more year on his contract. Where that leaves the Flames is an interesting study. Joey MacDonald is the only goalie who saw NHL action this past season currently under contract for the coming campaign, having re-signed to a one-year deal a week ago. Seen as a backup, the netminder claimed off the waiver wire in February staked a claim to be a key part of the team going forward. He played well enough to earn plenty of starts — just imagine if the Flames would have had a goalie like that all the years Kiprusoff was essentially forced to play 70 games a season — and provides a veteran presence.
Breaking down where the Flames stand
Calgary Sun | May 1