Meetings are set. Pro scouts drop in this week. Amateur scouts in two weeks. Dates are set. Draft day is June 30. Development camp goes July 10-16. Rookie tourney is slated for Sept. 5-9, in Penticton, B.C. But, concerning the Calgary Flames, little else is set in stone. After a winter in which there had been a long overdue shift in philosophy, much needs to be sorted out. Rebuild plans are being cooked up at this very moment. General manager Jay Feaster promises action. Make no mistake, it is an interesting time to be an observer. Here are a few questions that need answering: What about Miikka Kiprusoff?With one season remaining on his contract — paying him a relative pittance, $1.5 million US — and with his 37th birthday in October, Kiprusoff’s departure appears to be a foregone conclusion. But should the Finn decide to extend his NHL career, his rights could be flipped this summer. The bigger question, however, is who replaces No. 34? Joey MacDonald is aboard for another season. Better than anyone could have hoped, the laid-back journeyman can be expected to hold down the fort. But he is no one’s idea of a franchise goalie. So ... Karri Ramo — drafted by Feaster (and Tampa) in 2004 and acquired again by Feaster last winter — figures to get a long look this fall, despite so-so NHL numbers (11-21-10, 3.35 goals-against average). The 26-year-old spent the last four seasons with Omsk of the KHL. Reto Berra, part of the return for Jay Bouwmeester, is also 26, and freshly signed by the Flames. A long-time pro in Switzerland. What about the NHL draft?At the Prudential Center, in Newark, N.J., the Flames own three first-round selections. Feaster has indicated that all picks are in play. Which is exciting. It’s worth glancing at the Flames’ fortunes with first-rounders. Far from great. Derek Morris, 13th overall in 1996, turned into a useful skater — in fact, he’s still active. However, Morris was followed by: 1997’s Daniel Tkaczuk (out of hockey); 1998’s Rico Fata (regular in Switzerland); 1999’s Oleg Saprykin (regular in KHL); 2000’s Brent Krahn (one NHL appearance); 2001’s Chuck Kobasew (checker in Colorado); 2002’s Eric Nystrom (checker in Dallas); 2003’s Dion Phaneuf (captain in Toronto); 2004’s Kris Chucko (out of hockey); 2005’s Matt Pelech (winger on San Jose’s farm); 2006’s Leland Irving (about to be cut adrift); 2007’s Mikael Backlund (keeper in Calgary); 2008’s Greg Nemisz (minor-leaguer); 2009’s Tim Erixon (parlayed into Roman Horak and second-rounders Markus Granlund and Tyler Wotherspoon); 2011’s Sven Baertschi (keeper in Calgary); 2012’s Mark Jankowski (freshman at Princeton).
Flames wasting no time
Calgary Herald | May 1