SUN Hockey Pool

Closer look at the new Flames

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

Now that the whirlwind has dissipated and left six new Calgary Flames in the fold, it's a chance to take stock of it all.

Not only to take a lengthy peek at what the changes have already done for the Flames, but also what they could mean moving forward.

The deals completed by Flames GM Darryl Sutter this week certainly have given the Flames a new look. What remains to be seen is whether it will add up to a playoff spot -- which really isn't enough, considering Sutter said this is an elite team -- or one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.

Trading away defenceman Dion Phaneuf, forward Fredrik Sjostrom and defence prospect Keith Aulie to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman and Jamal Mayers as well as blueliner Ian White appears to give the club more scoring depth, a strong penalty-killer and a defenceman who can eat most of Phaneuf's minutes. The risk is what Phaneuf is capable of achieving in Toronto.

The second swap -- acquiring wingers Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins from the New York Rangers for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust -- has the potential to provide more scoring from the wings. The risk is neither of those two will regain the scoring touch which they've struggled to find this season, plus Kotalik is signed for two more years at US$3-million per season.

If he provides 20 to 25 goals a season, the Flames and their faithful will be thrilled. If Kotalik struggles to the tune of his eight goals and 22 points through 45 games with the Rangers, with that contract, it doesn't bode well.

Here's a closer look at the six acquisitions:

C Matt Stajan

Age: 26

Salary cap hit: US$1.75 million. Expires after season.

2009-10 Toronto: 55 GP 16 G 25 A 41 Pts

Stat to note: Won 12 of his 16 faceoffs since coming to Calgary.

In his first two games with the Flames, the due-to-be unrestricted free agent has skated with Jarome Iginla as his right-winger.

His first game wasn't any great shakes, just like the rest of the Flames in Monday's 3-0 debacle against the Philadelphia Flyers, but he started to show some chemistry with Iginla through the two contests. He does have good passing skills and showed a nifty scoring touch with his game-winning goal in Wednesday's 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Stajan has been better defensively than advertised in those games. What remains to be seen is whether Stajan will stay in the fold after this season. Much of Calgary's interest will be dictated by how he performs the rest of this year, but also how he feels about his opportunity in Calgary.

The chance to play with Iginla would certainly be enticing for a player who considers himself more of a passer than shooter.

LW Niklas Hagman

Age: 30

Salary cap hit: US$3 million. Signed through 2011-12.

2009-10 Toronto: 55 GP 20 G 13 A 33 Pts

Stat to note: No shots on goal through two games. Five missed shots.

Goals from the left wing have been hard to come by after the loss of Michael Cammalleri. Rene Bourque has been skating mainly on the right side.

Hagman, who spent last game with Iginla and Stajan, has no points through two games but is a steady player capable of having an effect in both zones. He's been compared to fellow Finn Jere Lehtinen, and the Flames would be thrilled if he can be a 25-30 goal-scorer through the years, while killing penalties and being strong defensively.

RW Jamal Mayers

Age: 35

2009-10 Toronto: 44 GP 2 G 6 A 8 Pts

Salary cap hit: US$1.333 million. Expires after season.

Stat to note: He's the first of the newcomers to collect a point.

Due to be an unrestricted free agent, Mayers could end up a rental for the rest of the season but serves a role the club needs. He's gritty and willing to drop the gloves -- in fact, he showed pretty much the most emotion in the Philadelphia game. But his role goes beyond that. Mayers is a good penalty-killer, especially with his ability to win draws. He's won nine of 14 draws, including nine of 10 in the defensive zone.

D Ian White

Age: 25

2009-10 Toronto: 56 GP 9 G 17 A 26 Pts

Salary cap hit: US$850,000. Expires after season.

Stat to note: Three give-aways through two games

Considered one of the league's most underrated players before the trade, White has had to adjust to the Flames. He's been mainly paired with Robyn Regehr but hasn't been used much in a penalty-killing role, so he had only 16:39 of ice time against Carolina. He's much like Andrew Ference, but it's worth noting how much Mark Giordano has improved and the club will help White go in that same direction. He is a restricted free agent after this season.

LW Christopher Higgins

Age: 26

2009-10 New York Rangers: 55 GP 6 G 8 A 14 Pts

Salary cap hit: US$2.25 million. Expires after season.

Stat to note: Three hits against Carolina. Second on the team.

A three-time 20-goal scorer with the Montreal Canadians, Higgins struggled in New York prior to the trade. He has just one goal in 15 games. He did have a couple of chances and played physically in his one game, but needs to be more than just a hard-working player. He needs to produce.

The club would like to see whether a new situation ignites the impending unrestricted fee agent and whether it will make him want to stay.

RW Ales Kotalik

Age: 31

2009-10 New York Rangers: 45 GP 8 G 14 A 22 Pts

Salary cap hit: US$3 million. Signed through 2011-12.

Stats to note: Five shots and three hits in his debut.

With no real practice under his belt, Kotalik played the point on the powerplay and showed he has the shot the Flames lost by dealing away Phaneuf. He is strong physically and has tantalizing skills, but what remains to be seen is whether he can regain the scoring touch which has added up to four 20-goal seasons.

Calgary has lacked scoring depth on the wings, and he provides the potential for that, but if he struggles, that contract becomes an albatross.


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