Summer Fill: Questions With Matchsticks And Gasoline

SB Nation is continuing their "summer fill" segment, which involves two SB Nation blogs interviewing each other about their respective teams. Hayley, the managing editor for SB Nation's Calgary Flames blog, Matchsticks And Gasoline, was nice enough to answer some questions for Blueshirt Banter.

So go over there and see their response to my answers (they didn't like what I had to say about goons in the NHL) and give them some hits!

Here are Jim's questions:

1. The Flames elected not to buy out Ales Kotalik. Can you give us your feelings on this, and do you expect a bounce back year from him?

I don’t think many Flames fans were surprised when Kotalik didn’t get bought out. Sutter has historically avoided buying out players until his bizarre decision to buy out Nigel Dawes this summer, as doing so, especially to a player whom he gave up something for, is too close to admitting he’s made a mistake for his liking. While I’m getting anxious that Kotalik is still on the roster this close to training camp and his cap hit makes up the majority of the Flames’ overage, a buyout of his contract would offer the team minimal savings in the long run.

There are other options of course (the AHL, Europe), but at the moment it seems pretty likely that he’ll at least start the season with the team. I think we can expect a bounce-back year from Ales to some degree; he shot a career-low 4.2% in 26 games with the Flames last season and was only operating at 8.0% previously with the Rangers, so you have to believe that the percentages will even out for him at some point.

2. The Flames are pretty cap-strapped right now, something Ranger fans can certainly relate to. What moves do you expect the Flames to make before the season starts to get under the cap?

The general expectation seems to be that the Flames will demote a defenceman, most likely Steve Staios, to Abbotsford. The Flames currently have eight defencemen on their roster including Staffan Kronwall, who spent last season in the AHL. The 37-year-old Staios is slated to make $2.7M next season, and had an overall negative impact on his partner Jay Bouwmeester since his acquisition at the trade deadline. Starting him on the third pairing against inferior competition with less ice time is certainly an option, but not for $2.7M. Adam Pardy’s name has also been bantered about as trade bait or potential AHL fodder. The Flames also currently have fourteen forwards on their roster, including top prospect Mikael Backlund, who spent twenty games with the team last season, mostly after the Olympic break.

If centre Daymond Langkow, who suffered a neck injury and missed the final ten games of the season, is healthy and prepared to start the season, Backlund likely gets squeezed out with the likes of Craig Conroy, Brett Sutter, and Ryan Stone (all natural centres) also competing for a roster spot. Most people are of the opinion that he isn’t quite ready for third-line minutes, but also don’t want to stick him on the fourth line with Ivanans and Jackman (one of whom could also be sent down to Abbotsford). Plus, Backlund currently makes the most of any Flames prospect in the system at close to $1.3M--the equivalent of David Moss’ salary and more than Curtis Glencross’.

3. Are there any Flames prospects gunning for a roster spot this year that we might not have heard of?

It’s very unlikely that any prospect outside of Mikael Backlund secures a steady roster spot this season (barring injuries), and even that is up in the air. On defence, Matt Pelech is certainly a candidate for seventh defenceman/bottom pairing duties if the Flames manage to clear one or more bodies from the blueline. Brett Sutter, who spent ten games with the big club last season, could also work his way into the bottom six.

4. Flash-forward to April 2011: Is Jarome Iginla still a Flame?

I think so, but I suppose it depends on whether or not the Flames are in contention for a playoff spot, if he continues his apparent decline, and the general state of the organization at that point in time.

More questions after the jump.

5. Did you do a "spit-take" when you heard the Flames had re-signed Olli Jokinen?

Definitely. Any day that involves Darryl Sutter making decisions and spending money typically makes me extremely anxious, and of course I was at work when I found out. It was Canada Day so it was pretty slow in terms of customers and I had turned on TSN, brought my laptop in to post updates to M&G, and had been following all the rumours. The Flames blogosphere had been joking about the possibility of bringing back Jokinen for a little while, so I was kind of in shock and denial when I first heard rumblings about it, and then it was finally confirmed and I spent the remainder of my shift in a foul mood until a coworker I could vent to arrived. Mostly it just confused the hell out of me.

6. Again flashing forward to April 9th 2011: If the Flames and Canucks are battling for the last playoff spot in the West, and their game ends in a OT tie, will Olli be one of the first three shooters?

If I recall correctly, Jokinen actually wasn’t too bad in shootouts in his time spent with the Flames. Frankly, he would probably be a better bet than Jarome Iginla, who I’m pretty sure hasn’t scored in a shootout since 2007. He might squeeze his way in.

7. Who would it be safer for on the streets of Calgary, Darryl Sutter or Glen Sather?

After Sutter re-signed Olli Jokinen and has yet to find a way to dispose of Ales Kotalik, probably Glen Sather—he might even get a few high fives for proving to be the more competent of the two of late. You still run into the "In Sutter We Trust" crowd occasionally, however.

8. Why does Darryl Sutter always have "bitter beer" face?

That is a question that Flames fans have long been searching for an answer to. All those long, hard hours working on the family farm, maybe. Or flashbacks of the nights he drank too much Sake while playing in Japan? It seems to run in the family though, as Brent Sutter was seen sporting the same expression on multiple occasions behind the Flames’ bench this past season (which is slightly more understandable—they were terrible for the majority of it). Thankfully, Jay Feaster will be dealing with most media proceedings from here on out.