Well, the time has come. When the Calgary Flames maybe could have very well been playing game 6 against the Anaheim Ducks tonight, instead, they succumbed in just five. And so, after a day off, it's time for everyone to clean out their lockers and go their separate ways.
It's also time to find out who was injured and just how badly! That's always fun. Then there are, of course, the usual quotes from those with expiring contracts, always on their desire to stay with the team. And summer plans! Most involve getting ready for next season, but you know, there's always something interesting going on.
Let's start with the big stuff. A number of Flames had to miss both regular season and playoff games thanks to various ailments. Some they could return from; others, it wasn't going to happen:
- Paul Byron had the worst of them all. Byron, a valuable player throughout the entire regular season, missed the end of the playoff push and every single postseason game because of a sports hernia, a broken wrist that needs to be scoped, and a broken toe. And yet he still put on a no contact jersey at one point. Wow.
- There was absolutely no chance Mark Giordano was going to play against the Ducks, but had the Flames won the series, he was definitely a possibility. Instead we'll get a fully rested and rehabbed Gio back for the start of next season, which is, of course, outstanding.
There were a couple of guys who missed a bit of time, but eventually came back:
- Micheal Ferland tore his oblique in game 4 against the Vancouver Canucks, thanks to a hit by Dan Hamhuis. It was giving him trouble every time he threw a hit, which was, well, a lot of times. He was freezing it to numb it, but eventually things just got so bad after the first game against the Ducks he had to sit out two games. The good news is it won't require surgery, just rest. The unfortunate news is he, of course, has plenty of time to rest it now.
- Remember when Lance Bouma left the third final game of the regular season and didn't return? Turns out he essentially shattered his index finger on a shot block, and needed a plate and eight screws to put it back together. That is pretty hardcore. The good news is he will probably not try to block shots with his hand again.
And then, of course, all of the bumps and bruises guys played through:
- TJ Brodie sprained his ankle three games after Giordano's season ended. And he played number one defenceman minutes through that. With Deryk Engelland as his partner. Okay, new respect, because that's beyond incredible. No wonder his play dipped; it definitely wasn't just because Gio was gone. (And it didn't even dip by that much!)
- Joe Colborne played through a wrist injury for much of the year, and had some thumb problems as well. This isn't actually anything new for him: in some of his days with the Toronto Marlies, Colborne spent a significant portion of the season playing through an injured wrist. Maybe he should stop doing that? He'll be seeing a specialist in Vancouver.
- Joni Ortio will be rehabbing from the high ankle sprain he suffered back in February throughout the summer.
- Sean Monahan hurt his leg in the stretch drive to make the playoffs, but maintains he was not injured during the playoffs (although he did have some groin and back issues).
- Jiri Hudler had some neck and back issues throughout the playoffs.
- Josh Jooris suffered a wrist injury towards the end of the season, but it clearly wasn't enough to keep him out of the playoffs, at least until returning personnel pushed him out of the lineup.
- David Schlemko was playing through a groin injury.
And then there are the guys who noted they somehow weren't really hurt at all:
- Kris Russell sets an NHL record for blocking shots. Kris Russell continues to block shots. Kris Russell finishes the season totally fine. (Although Bouma would be a cautionary tale against blocking shots. Luck of the draw.)
- Dennis Wideman feels totally fine, and would have been good to play tonight. The Flames' makeshift top pairing was apparently completely healthy, although they still were unable to perform at an optimal level, suggesting a need for an upgrade on defence... which will, in all likelihood, be addressed (stay tuned!).
- This is the best Sam Bennett's shoulder has felt in years. Ah, the wonders of actually getting your injuries and ailments treated! Though if Bennett's bum shoulder made his draft stock fall, then the Flames are the ultimate winners here. Anyway, aside from standard bumps and bruises, he was totally fine.
Players with expiring contracts
Restricted free agents aren't usually a concern when it comes to re-signing, and the ones who addressed it today all seem rather confident:
- Mikael Backlund has already had preliminary talks. Brad Treliving identified him as a key player for this team, and he's absolutely correct in his assessment. Considering Backlund also noted he loves it in Calgary, an extension can almost certainly be expected, and it probably won't be one of those little bridge deals Jay Feaster kept giving him.
- Bouma said he wanted to be in Calgary for a long time. Now it's just a matter of re-signing him, and getting fair value. Bouma had an unexpected goal scoring burst this season, and it remains to be seen if he can duplicate it.
- Ferland and Jooris are both confident negotiations for new contracts will go smoothly.
Unrestricted free agents, however, are a different story. The Flames don't have many to worry about, but there are still some names to wonder about:
- Karri Ramo hasn't yet had serious talks about coming back, but he expressed an interest in staying in Calgary, citing his appreciation for both stability and the team. This is, however, the first time he'll be a UFA, and he is tempted to test the market. The Flames already have two goalies signed for next season, so what he chooses to do could have a lot of impact. Jonas Hiller already said he was excited to return to Calgary for the next season.
- Schlemko would like to be back, and has already had preliminary talks about returning. Considering how thin the Flames' blueline is, it definitely wouldn't be a bad idea.
- Raphael Diaz said it would be nice to return, but there was no mention of preliminary extension talks.
Most guys will be rehabbing, or training, and there's probably going to be a lot of golf involved. One player does have something else to take care of, though:
- Johnny Gaudreau will be avoiding "college dropout" status, as he is going back to Boston College to take classes in the summer. He's a communications major who played just three seasons of college hockey, so he has a little bit of wrapping up to do before he can get his fancy piece of paper.