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Northwest
BRIAN CAZENEUVE
October 04, 2010
WESTERN CONFERENCE
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October 04, 2010

Northwest

WESTERN CONFERENCE

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COACH

Brent Sutter (2nd season)

LAST SEASON

40-32-10 (10th in West)

KEY ADDITIONS

RW Tim Jackman, C Olli Jokinen, LW Alex Tanguay

KEY LOSSES

LW Chris Higgins, RW Jamal Mayers, LW Eric Nystrom

IN A SWAP that helped nobody, Calgary traded center Olli Jokinen to the Rangers last February for winger Ales Kotalik; in 26 games after the deal, Jokinen scored four goals and Kotalik three. So what did the Flames do for 2010? They inexplicably brought back both players. For good measure they also fished into the free-agent bin for 30-year-old left wing Alex Tanguay, another ex-Flame-out who scored 10 goals in 80 games with Tampa Bay last season. It's unlikely such an unproductive trio will be able to provide much lift for a club that scored a conference-worst 201 goals. Beyond captain Jarome Iginla (32 goals last year) and improving right wing René Bourque (27), no other Calgary forward had more than 15 goals or 37 points.

The Flames' strength is defense. The anchors are Jay Bouwmeester, a gifted skater, and Robyn Regehr, a capable banger. Mark Giordano, now in his fourth season, seems ready to assume the mantle of blue line stalwart. He was +17 in 2009--10, showing he'd learned his lessons well while playing for Dynamo Moscow of the KHL in 2007--08. No less an authority than Scotty Bowman called him the NHL's most improved defenseman last year.

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