1. After the long reign of Kiprusoff in net, is Jonas Hiller going to be Calgary's answer to the loss of Kipper?
I don't think Hiller will be the answer. At 32, he seems to be more of a stopgap. He hasn't even won the starter's position yet, as so far, he's been splitting time with Karri Ramo. In fact, while the season is obviously very young, Ramo has been the better of the two (although Hiller is leaps and bounds better than the non-Ramo goalies we had last season).
I think the Flames are looking to their goaltending prospects to be the future in net. Things seem primed to have Joni Ortio in the NHL next season. Ortio was the AHL's top rookie goalie last year, and is going to be our AHL starter this season. And then there's Jon Gillies, who has played well for Providence College, and with him in his junior year now, may be ready to go pro soon.
Of course, it's up to everyone to earn it, because right now, Hiller is our most veteran goalie. Our prospects need to perform well, as does Ramo, who is four years younger. But Hiller's deal is only two years, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's as long as he stays in Calgary.
2. Jiri Hudler, a long time resident of the underrated club, is his success in Calgary surprising to the fan base or was he slotted as the offensive answer?
Hudler is awesome! He was destined for the top six the moment he was signed, so I don't think anyone's been surprised by his offensive contributions, but I don't think anyone was expecting him to be such a focal point, either. Of course, no matter how bad a team is, someone has to score, and last season, Hudler really picked up that mantle.
His greatest benefit, though, has to be that he's just plain smart. Putting him with Sean Monahan, for example, has been beneficial: the two work well together, and he's a skilled, veteran presence that definitely helped the rookie out in his inaugural season. (He even housed him during his nine-game tryout!)
With Mike Cammalleri now gone, even more responsibility falls to Hudler, but by all accounts, he should be able to handle it. He's definitely loved here.
3. Having a beast on defense is a great asset. Nashville has Shea Weber, Calgary has Mark Giordano. Is this the year Giordano gets heavy Norris consideration?
I hope so! A couple of factors played against Gio last season, the biggest of which was a broken ankle that kept him out for 18 games. If he plays a full season, does he make the Olympic team? If he makes the Olympic team, does he get even more press? Pro-rate Giordano's scoring to a full season, and he had 60 points, which would put him third out of all defencemen. So if Giordano's going to push himself into Norris talk, he's going to have to be healthy.
He's also going to need voters to take advanced stats into account, because that's where Giordano really ranks high. Last season, he was one of the absolute best when it came to Corsi% Rel, and that was while facing some of the toughest competition and worst zone starts the league had to offer. For his efforts, Giordano was given just one first place ballot in Norris Trophy voting: from James Mirtle, who's pretty vocal about advanced stats himself.
Sadly, Gio isn't as much of a "name" like Weber is. He also plays on a bad team in a later timezone. (I mean, if Drew Doughty hasn't been a serious contender yet...) I don't know if Giordano will ever get serious Norris consideration from the mainstream media, but if he puts together another season like last one, he absolutely should.