TOP STORY Brent Sutter's arrival so soon after his resignation from the New Jersey Devils rankled some observers, but his presence will address what the Flames need most. Under former head coach Mike Keenan, Calgary's play began to drift and its defensive work turned sloppy. Sutter will correct those wandering ways. He will stress a strong two-way game that should make life easier for goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who was given a lot of on-ice freedom under Keenan and did not have a good playoff last season, will have to adjust to a stricter style. Sutter is also expected to help blueliner Dion Phaneuf rebound from an off year in which he scored an NHL career-low 47 points and finished minus-11.
SAY HELLO TO D Jay Bouwmeester, RW Fredrik Sjostrom, LW Nigel Dawes, RW Brian McGrattan
SAY GOODBYE TO W Todd Bertuzzi, LW Michael Cammalleri, RW André Roy, D Adrian Aucoin, D Jordan Leopold
NUMBERS GAME The Flames' 2009-10 payroll is at $56.4-million (U.S.). The bulk of that money - almost $40-million - is tied up in seven players, which doesn't leave much room should the Flames encounter the kind of injury woes that dogged them toward the end of last season. The organization was so tight against the cap, it had to play two, sometimes three skaters short while it chasing playoff seeding.
TOP PICK IN 2009 Defenceman Tim Erixon was taken 23rd overall. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound son of former NHLer Jan Erixon spent the bulk of last season with Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish elite league. He also participated in the world junior and world under-18 championships. The Flames like Erixon's offensive game and the way he reads the play heading up ice.
TOP STORY If goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin can play as well as he did last season, the Oilers will be a tough nut to crack. Last year, 39-year-old Dwayne Roloson did all he could in net, but was worn down by his team's inability to score and, on many occasions, even compete. Khabibulin is 36 and was exceptional in the 2008-09 playoffs. With a solid defence in front of him, he should keep the Oilers in a lot of games. Edmonton's new coaching staff of Pat Quinn, Tom Renney and Wayne Fleming will have to coax as much offence as they can from a bunch that took a collective nosedive last season. Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson all scored fewer points than the year before, as did Ales Hemsky, who led the team with 66 points in 72 games. The Oilers had hoped to acquire high-scoring winger Dany Heatley from the Ottawa Senators in the off-season, but were informed he had no desire to play in the Alberta capital. Instead, Edmonton signed free-agent forward Mike Comrie.
SAY HELLO TO G Nikolai Khabibulin, W Mike Comrie
SAY GOODBYE TO RW Ales Kotalik, C Kyle Brodziak, G Dwayne Roloson
NUMBERS GAME Edmonton's salary cap hit sits at $55.36-million (U.S.), which leaves them with roughly $1.5-million in wiggle room should team officials make a trade. The Oilers would love to dump forward Dustin Penner's contract, which will pay him $4.25-million a season until 2012.
TOP PICK IN 2009 LW Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson impressed the Oilers with his speed and was taken 10th overall. While his defensive game is said to need work, his flair as either a playmaker or a goal scorer was too tempting for a team that needs an offensive upgrade. He's also strong on his skates at 6 foot 1, 201 pounds.
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