Reasonable Expectations: The "High End" Offense

There's a lot of reasons to be excited about the Calgary Flames this year and there's a lot of reasons to not be excited about this. This series will aim to reconcile the two viewpoints into some reasonable expectations: neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Of note: when I refer to a point or goal total, consider that to mean a point pace or goal pace, since I'm obviously not accounting for injuries that would keep players out of the line-up.

The high end offensive players on the Flames are some of the obvious, and some of the less obvious: Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay complete the forward half of the high end offensive players and Mark Giordano and Anton Babchuk are the defensive half (it should be noted that offense is the only category where Babchuk would be considered "high end" ever).

A lot of Flames fans seem to forget that Jarome Iginla is getting older every year and his point totals are going to be matching that soon. I'm not going to say that Iggy will be a poor player this year much like we can expect Jaromir Jagr to be, I'm saying we need to start tempering expectations: he simply won't be the dominant player we once knew and loved. Iginla will still undoubtedly be the best offensive player on the team, but that's less indicative of his skill level and more of the overall level of the team.

At 34 his body will be breaking down soon and leaving him more prone to injuries and more aggravated by old injuries. Can we still expect 30+ goals? Absolutely. Can we expect him to dominate? I wouldn't bet on it. I'll put Iggy at about a 65 point pace (with a variance of ten points on either side due to shooting percentage/luck)

Alex Tanguay is in a slightly better boat: he's only 31 and he plays a much less physical game than Iginla. That said, his point production is somewhat dependent on Iginla's scoring ability. Not a chance we see another 69 points out of him, but low 60's isn't impossible. I'll say that a lot of how Iggy and Tanguay do in regards to point totals depends on how frequently they're deployed in the offensive zone. If they reach Sedin ozone%, expect 70+ for Iggy and 65+ for Tanguay.

On the back end, Giordano will probably have very similar circumstances with very similar output this year. A teamwide on-ice SH% increase could provide a significant boost to his points, but 43 from the blueline is nothing to sneeze at. Babchuk's in much the same boat. So long as he doesn't start getting used in defensive situations (waiting for someone to point out to me that he blocks shots now, as if this is REALLY IMPORTANT), expect to see a fair amount of both EV and PP points from Babchuk, but mostly the latter sort.

Tomorrow: The Secondary Offense

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