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Calgary Flames season 21/22


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CALGARY FLAMES

 

2020-21 Record: 26-27-3, 55 Points.

 

Result: Fifth in North. Did not make playoffs.

 

Significant Gains: Blake Coleman, Nikita Zadorov

 

Significant Losses: Mark Giordano

 

Strengths: Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, and Matthew Tkachuk give the Flames a great forward core and if Sean Monahan can bounce back after being limited to 10 goals and 28 points in 50 contests last season, then Calgary will have two scoring lines that can stack up well against the best of the NHL.

 

Adding Coleman to deepen a supporting cast that already included Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane should round things out. Calgary’s offense was actually subpar last season so there is some work to be done there, but they at least have the pieces in place to score a ton of goals.

 

Weaknesses: Mark Giordano is 37-years-old, so even if he hadn’t been taken from them in the Seattle expansion draft, the Flames had to have known he wouldn’t be with the team for too much longer before retiring.

 

That doesn’t mean his departure didn’t create questions though. Their top four defensemen are now Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Chris Tanev, and the newly acquired Nikita Zadorov.

 

That’s not a bad core, but it remains to be seen if any of them will be able to step up offensively to help fill some of the puck moving role vacated by Giordano. Hanifin is the one to watch the most in that regard. He only had 22 points in 70 games in 2019-20 and 15 points in 47 contests last season, but he has been somewhat better offensively in the past and will likely have a bigger role on the power play with Giordano gone.

 

Player To Watch: If the Flames are going to bounce back next season, Jacob Markstrom will have to be a big part of that.

 

Calgary made a big commitment to him when they signed a six-year, $36 million contract back in October 2020. At the time that looked like a great deal that solidified the Flames’ goaltending situation, but Markstrom left something to be desired last season with a 22-19-2 record, 2.66 GAA, and .904 save percentage in 43 starts. Calgary needs better from Markstrom going forward and to his credit, he acknowledged that he needs to do better too. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him rebound in 2021-22.

Edited by Brewin Flames
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  • Brewin Flames changed the title to Calgary Flames season 21/22
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Calgary Flames: 2021-22 NHL season preview

 
Calgary Flames: 2021-22 NHL season preview
 

2020-21 Season Review

• Record: 26-27-3 (55 points); fifth place in North Division
• Postseason: Did not qualify for playoffs; drafted Matt Coronato No. 13 overall
• Offensive leader: Johnny Gaudreau (56 games, 19 goals, 30 assists, 49 points)

• Free Agent Additions: Blake Coleman, Erik Gudbranson, Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis, Nikita Zadorov (trade from Blackhawks), Tyler Pitlick (trade from Kraken), Daniel Vladar (trade from Bruins).
• Free Agent Subtractions: Mark Giordano (Kraken expansion draft), Josh Leivo (Hurricanes),  Dominik Simon (Penguins),  Derek Ryan (Oilers), Buddy Robinson (Ducks).

Biggest Question Facing the Flames

• Where is this team going, exactly?

 

Heading into the offseason, it seemed like the Flames were at a fork in the road.

Would they trade or extend Johnny Gaudreau? What about Matthew Tkachuk? Sean Monahan has two years left on his deal, but the clock is ticking there, too. Might Brad Treliving pay a price to keep both Mark Giordano and Chris Tanev? Could the Flames make even bolder decisions, such as possibly parting ways with Treliving (who’s had plenty of kicks at the can since taking over as Flames GM during the summer of 2014)?

At that fork in the road, the Flames could have gone up (trying to swing for the fences, maybe getting Jack Eichel?) or down (blow things up, rebuild). Instead, they mostly idled in the middle of the road. While they did give Blake Coleman big term in their lone free-agent splash, this is still mostly the same team that disappointed last season. Even their biggest loss (Giordano to the Kraken) feels like a nondecision, one carrying the stench of passivity.

Heading into 2021-22, it feels like the Flames are stuck in neutral, and not exactly driving a cheap vehicle. They’re betting that things just sort of … fall into place.

What’s the salary cap situation?

For a team that’s only won one playoff series (two if you count the Qualifying Round series vs. the Jets during the 2020 bubble playoffs), the Flames aren’t exactly cheap.

By Cap Friendly’s measures, the Flames are more or less scraping against the salary cap ceiling. If the Flames get back into the Jack Eichel sweepstakes, quite a bit of money would need to go back to Buffalo.

Looking past the 2021-22 season returns the Flames to that fork in the road. Gaudreau ($6.75 million cap hit) and Tkachuk ($7M) are both entering contract years. Even if they underwhelm this season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see both get significant raises. A potential raise could also be the downside if Andrew Mangiapane ($2.425M) breaks out in a mainstream way after being an analytics darling for years.

It all sets up a series of uneasy scenarios. If Tkachuk and Gaudreau flop, it might cost Treliving his job. If they both rebound in huge ways, they’d be tough to fit under the salary cap in 2022-23 and beyond.

All of that said, credit Treliving for this: if someone else is taking over as GM, they can make their own mark on the Flames. Even with dicey contracts on the books (most obviously, Milan Lucic), the Flames are projected to have more than $30M in cap space with 12 roster spots covered next summer.

Breakout Candidate

 Juuso Valimaki

The Flames’ defense seemed suspect even with an aging-yet-still-effective Giordano. With Giordano cracklin’ with the Kraken, Calgary might just sink.

Valimaki could be called upon to pick up a lot of slack. So far, he’s played 73 games at the NHL level. Both in 2018-19 (24 games played) and 2020-21 (49 GP), Valimaki averaged about 15 and a half minutes per night. The 22-year-old showed flashes of that first-round potential (16th overall in 2017), but the Flames might ask for him to accelerate his growth in an uncomfortable way in 2021-22.

Otherwise, the Flames’ defense might need to lean heavily on some clunky depth defensemen, such as Erik Gudbranson, Nikita Zadorov, and Michael Stone. Not ideal.

Best-Case Scenario for 2021-22 Flames

While the Flames inspire a lot of pessimism, it’s easy to lose track of the good. This was a team that finished in the top-10 in both simple (percentage of shots) and more advanced (expected goals, high-danger chances) metrics, at least at even-strength. You could apply some of the same “if only their power play was decent, and they got a few saves” logic to the Flames, as the Canadiens received before. Yes, contract years can be a big distraction. Pressure creates diamonds, too, though, eh? Maybe we’ll see the best of Tkachuk and Gaudreau, and things just come together for the Flames in 2021-22? Hey, there’s even some room for optimism about the latest Sutter sequel.

 

(Also, the Pacific Division is weak enough that Calgary could make the playoffs even if a lot goes wrong.)

Worst-Case Scenario for 2021-22 Flames

Look at the Flames’ recent history of head coaches, and it’s difficult to shake the feeling that this franchise is out of ideas. So many retreads; so many Sutters. Darryl’s in-season record (15-15-0) captures the stuck-in-the-middle spirit of the Flames, an expectation that carries over to 2021-22. Truly, staying stuck in the middle might be the worst-case scenario for the 2021-22 Flames. Missing the playoffs (again) would already be bad. But what if the Flames are good enough to maintain false hope, thus leading them to keep Gaudreau and others, instead of trading them at the deadline? There’s the very real, stomach-turning possibility that the Flames miss the playoffs, Gaudreau leaves for nothing in free agency, and people lose their jobs.

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Too bad that Buddy Robinson went to Anaheim, him and Gaudreau are best buds, would be good too try to keep them together if not too expensive to do so.

 

Hoping Lucic is captain this year, there are others been with Calgary longer but none that lead with better example than him - would also take team in new direction having a tough guy as captain, instead of what most teams do just give it to highest point producers. I think it would say alot about Sutter really molding this team into his image.

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Preseason starts today and Calgary first preseason game is tomorrow, needless to say I'm very excited for the season to finally start😃

 

I'm very hopeful this year, while sad at losing Giordano, I like the offseason moves - and especially enthusiastic to see what a full season under Sutter will accomplish.

 

I think Calgary will make the playoffs, they will capitalize on a weak division, even though they failed to do so last year.

 

Also, Johnny Hockey will stay in Calgary, and will have good season - add will Monahan and Mangepane.

 

Coleman and Pitlik and Richardson will prove to be good additions.

 

Stone and Zadarov will shore up the defence, with Tanev and Anderson getting most of the responsibilities.

 

Really hoping Lucic gets the captain C or at least the assistant A, Lucic hasn't been in Calgary as long as other - but he is exactly what Sutter want all his players to emulate, so giving him the C would make other follow his lead more.

 

We have a strong tough Sutter team now, and I expect that will translate into making it extremely rough for other teams to play against us - this year Tkachuk gets tougher and nastier too under Sutter guidance, and this year the rest of team fights for Tkachuk better than past years.

 

Markstrom will be the goalie we hoped he would be as well.

 

Haven't felt this good about a Calgary team since last time Sutter took Calgary to playoffs.

 

🔥🔥🔥GO FLAMES GO🔥🔥🔥

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Well, first preseason game very very disappointing, was hoping Sutter would get more out of his players - especially his farm players.

 

But, preseason nothing to get worried about anyways - still disappointing though.

 

Only good thing was seeing Lucic with the A on his sweater and Zadorov hitting everyone - also Vldar looked good in net too.

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Flames pre-season game # 1

 

 

The C of Red has returned.

 

It had been 567 long days since the Flames last played in front of fans in the Scotiabank Saddledome.

 

That's 13,608 hours, give or take.

 

 

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On Sunday night, fittingly enough, the first game back in front of the faithful was a Battle of Alberta preseason tilt.

 

It took just 2:38 into the game for the first raucous 'Go Flames Go' chant to break out. 

 

The visiting Oilers, though, skated to a 4-0 victory in a penalty-filled affair for the Flames.

 

Calgary was tagged with seven penalties, while the Oilers had two. The final shot count favoured Edmonton 48-15.

 

Dan Vladar - signed in the off-season to backup starter Jacob Markstrom - was busy in the net and he made some huge saves, finishing the night with 21 stops while allowing two goals.

 

 Adam Werner, who played the second half of the game, also showed well, making 23 stops on 25 shots

 

Stuart Skinner started in the pipes for the visitors, stopping eight shots in 30 minutes of work, his replacement Ilya Konovalov made seven saves.

 

Milan Lucic, Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis started the game up front for Calgary, with Rasmus Andersson and newcomer Nikita Zadorov on defence.

 

Both teams got in some special teams rep early in the first period, Zadorov sent off for cross-checking Kyle Turris and with 1:09 left in that Oilers PP, Tyler Benson was whistled for goaltender interfence after running into Vladar. 

 

The visitors finished the opening 20 with a 13-5 lead in shots, but the Flames held a sizeable 13-3 edge in hits.

 

As mentioned above, Vladar made some big stops in the period to keep it scoreless.

 

 

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The PK went 2-2 for the Flames in the first.

The Flames were also throwing their bodies around early in the game with some thunderous hits.

 

 

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The Oilers got on the board five minutes into the second, James Hamblin beating Vladar with Edmonton's 15th shot of the game. He managed to corral a bouncing puck that flipped into the Flames zone for a quick forhand, backhand that slipped under the Calgary 'tenders outstretched leg.

 

The Flames found themselves shorthanded not long after when Milan Lucic was sent off for four minutes for a double-roughing call. Former Flame Derek Ryan doubled the lead just 1:20 after Hamblin's tally.

 

The Oilers added to their lead when Ryan passed to Xavier Bourgault who one-timed it home past Werner at 14:31. 

 

Brendan Perlini made it 4-0 for Edmonton with 2:18 left in the second when he was sprung on a partial breakaway, Werner making the first save but the Oilers forward able to grab his rebound and put it shortside. 

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Flames pre-season game # 2

 

Canucks 4, Flames 2

 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson had two assists and Conor Garland scored for the Vancouver Canucks in a 4-2 win against the Calgary Flames at Abbotsford Centre in Abbotsford, British Columbia, on Monday.

 

It was the Vancouver debut for Ekman-Larsson and Garland, who were acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on July 23.

 

Garland gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal off a pass from Ekman-Larsson at 2:38 of the first period.

 

Chase Wouters made it 2-0 at 12:19 of the first, and J.T. Miller scored a power-play goal 3:15 later to give Vancouver a 3-0 lead at 15:34.

 

Dillon Dube scored a power-play goal at 12:48 of the second period to make it 3-1, and Connor Mackey made it 3-2 at 19:19.

 

Tanner Pearson scored at 13:31 of the third period for the 4-2 final.

 

Michael Dipietro made 13 saves for the Canucks. Adam Werner allowed three goals on 15 shots, and Dan Vladar made two saves for the Flames.

Edited by Brewin Flames
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