Training Camp Guide: Top Line
Taking a look at the players who are projected to play on the top line.
CALGARY, AB -- After surprising the entire hockey world by re-signing not one but two old faces, general manager Darryl Sutter assured Flames fans that acquiring Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen was going to kick-start the team's offense in a big way.
"It wasn't just Olli," Sutter said in June. "It was Olli and Tangs together that we felt was important. After discussing it with the players - Jarome, Olli and Alex - that's what they felt like they missed, that playmaker with them and Tanguay is capable of that."
Flames fans are anxious to see if the three forwards can get back to their old form. All three men suffered from lackluster seasons. Jarome Iginla dipped to 32 goals, his lowest production since the 2000-01 season. Jokinen mustered 19 goals in 75 games with the Flames over the past two seasons. Tanguay is coming off a career-worst 37 point season. The trio are looking to make this year a comeback season and believe the key to that mission is as a collective.
"We're all going to have bounce back years," Iginla asserted last week. "As a team, we need to have a bounce back season and I think we're totally capable of that. We've all worked hard in the off-season. We're all excited to be back and get an opportunity to play here in Calgary, to play with this team and with each other. We'll go, we'll work on it. Chemistry is important. They've all been huge producers in the league. We want to get back to that."
Training camp will offer up the chance to see what the projected top line will look like together and if there is immedidate chemistry between the three of them.
Jarome Iginla - For most players, 32 goals in a season would be a phenomenal feat and would mark a career-year. For Iginla, it's a below-average campaign.
The Flames captain ended up with 69 points in 82 games, his lowest total since the 2005-06 season, and that will spark him to come back with a venegence this year.
"Personally, last year was an off-year," Iginla said. "I think I can still be a high producer for the team in all different ways. I'm looking forward to it, I really am.
"I'm feeling good, I'm feeling good. Team-wise, think we'll be a much-improved team this year. I'm very excited about it."
The Iginla-Jokinen pairing did not work out the way the team wanted it to the first time around but this time around things could be different. Iginla is goal-scorer as is Jokinen. Both tried to pass far too often instead of shooting and it resulted in poor offensive production. Adding a proven playmaker to the line is sure to boost Iginla's confidence and goals total.
Olli Jokinen - Overall, Jokinen's time in Calgary over the past two seasons is seen as inconsistent.
In his 75 games with the Flames, the Finn put up 50 points and can understand why fans were frustrated with his lack of production.
"My first 10 games when I came to Calgary, that's the way I should play every single night," he said in a conference call after resigning with the club in July. "There was a lot of pressure and maybe I wasn't ready to handle that kind of task. My mind is pretty clear right now.
"I've got to get back to being physical and a hard guy to play against. I think I have to use my size a little bit more and be more selfish and shooting the puck more. I think last year I got caught up trying to be a nice guy, please my teammates and passing the puck more."
Jokinen is confident that he'll have one of the best seasons of his career this year.
"I want to be back as a point-per-game guy," he told the Calgary Herald last week. "A top guy. The only thing I can control is how I play this year. I'm going to light it up this year and nobody is going to remember what happened last year."
Alex Tanguay - If Tanguay could make one wish for this season, it would be to return to his 2006-07 form.
In his first year in Calgary, Tanguay was expectional. He had a 81 point season - which remains a career-high for the 30 year-old - and was the pure passer the team desperately needed. He helped Iginla put together a 94 point season and gave the Flames an offensive boost. But that would prove to the only golden year he had in Calgary.
In the 2007-08 season, his points total dropped to 58 and the team dealt him to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for their first-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft. Tanguay's numbers have been slipping ever since.
His one year tenure in Tampa Bay did not go the way anyone expected and his time in Florida ended with just 10 goals and 37 points. For Tanguay, coming back to Calgary is his chance at redemption.
"Last year was a difficult season for me," he said. "There are a lot of people that are doubting my ability.
"I've got a lot to prove. I'm 30. Physically, I feel I have lots left. I didn't hesitate when Calgary called. I jumped at the deal right away. It wasn't about the money - it was about the opportunity. They have a belief in me that I can help them out."