Give this website a look. http://thehockeywriters.com/nhl-prospect-pools-the-complete-ranking/
Although it's not a crystal ball by any means, it does a decent job explaining what I was trying to say: Our prospect pool does not contain elite talent like the Jets and the Coyotes...2 teams that are set to catapult up the standings in the next few years because of the young players currently on their NHL team AND the prospects currently not on their NHL team. Whereas for the most part all our future stars are already on our NHL team, similar to the Oilers actually. So when you're projecting head-to-head against the Oilers all you have to ask is if our current team will improve more than their current team. In other words, will our current budding stars in our lineup have a higher cumulative ceiling than their current budding stars in their line up; a tall order but possibly. When comparing the future Flames to the likes of the future Jets and Coyotes you have to consider their current team, AND their elite prospects that aren't even on their team yet. A lot of the teams we're trying to leapfrog to get into the playoffs also have a lot of young talent currently in their line-up that will continue to improve - like ours, which I agree with you there - only those teams that I keep comparing us to also have potential stars that haven't even hit the NHL yet. We don't have that, we have good prospects that will become players, I just don't see any elite prospects that are projected to become elite players, possibly with the exception of Gillies, but it's too early to tell on him.
So if you want a list of those "stars that these other teams have in the minors" that I was talking about, then have a look at that site.
This all started because I quoted someone who said the future looks bright but it's just further away than we might expect, and I thought "well hold on, unless we take a big step forward this year our future doesn't look as bright as some of the other teams in the west." And I still stand by that: Unless our current young core can take a big step forward this year, I think in 2 to 3 years we're going to be left in the dust by the likes of the Oilers, Jets and Coyotes. That's all I was trying to say. Do you disagree?