CALGARY - While continuing to rely heavily on scoring from captain Jarome Iginla, other forwards with the Calgary Flames will be given opportunities to play bigger roles offensively.
After leading the Calgary Flames with 39 goals last season, Michael Cammalleri signed as a free agent in the off-season with the Montreal Canadiens. That has opened the door for other forwards to step to the forefront this season.
Rene Bourque, who had 21 goals in 56 games last season, and David Moss (20 goals in 81 contests) are likely candidates to carry more of the goal-scoring burden, while Curtis Glencross (13 goals in 74 games) and Dustin Boyd (11 goals in 71 games) will also be called upon to put the puck in the net more often.
"I think they're just going to keep getting better," said Iginla, who has confidence that his younger teammates will continue to improve upon their numbers. "They're very determined and good goal scorers who will have more opportunity."
At practice on Thursday, Moss played on a line with Iginla and Olli Jokinen, who have worked well together in the pre-season despite playing with several different left wingers.
"They're extremely skilled and talented and it's fun to play with them," said Moss, who's hoping to get an opportunity to play on the top line in Calgary's final exhibition game of the pre-season at home on Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks. "Obviously it doesn't hurt playing with those guys. They create a lot of offence, so hopefully I'll benefit a little bit from that."
With the off-season acquisitions of Nigel Dawes and Fredrick Sjostrom, the Flames have a number of talented young forwards that coach Brent Sutter will have at his disposal.
"Certainly, I think we're capable," said Moss of Calgary's ability to score goals by committee. "This year we have a lot more guys who can contribute, maybe not 39 goals that (Cammalleri) scored, but certainly we'll generate offence from all different lines."
Boyd is excited to show that he can improve upon the 22 points he put up last year.
"Everyone wants to build on the seasons they had last year, whether it's me, Mosser, (Eric) Nystrom, Glennie, Bourquie, we all want to score more goals," Boyd said. "That's our main focus. Each one of us here want to chip in as many goals as we can to make up the difference."
The addition of all-star defenceman Jay Bouwmeester should help out the Flames as well.
"I think we'll be able to get more help from our back end helping us offensively," said Iginla, while adding that everyone will be asked to contribute offensively while sticking to Sutter's defensive-minded system.
"I don't know if there'll be any one guy just getting 40 goals, but I do think that we'll find a way to score goals and be better defensively at the same time and be a better team."
Heading into the regular season, Sutter will be looking for his players to "buckle down" and play with structure.
"I want to make sure we're an intelligent team," Sutter said. "Scoring goals is one thing, but it's other parts of the game that I expect every one to contribute and do it the same way in the regular season. It's pretty obvious that we're a team that has to play with structure. Everybody has to be a part of that. It doesn't matter who you are."
Sutter was also asked about Theoren Fleury, who missed Thursday's practice due to "maintenance," according to the team.
"I don't want to comment or get to further ahead on anything because we're still taking everything day-to-day," said Sutter in regards to the 41-year-old forward. "He's done a good job and yet there's a lot of good players here. The pace of the game is going to pick up tenfold here starting next week. Let's just see what happens."
Fleury, who's attempting to earn a contract on a free agent tryout after a six-year absence from the NHL, said things are out of his control and that he's prepared to do whatever is asked of him.
"I think I've already won the battle," Fleury said. "Everything that happens from here on in is a bonus. I've accomplished things I never thought that I could. Just to be a part of a team atmosphere again, it's been great. We'll see what happens for Saturday and beyond that."