I wasn’t a fan of the Calgary Flames when I was a kid. For starters, I don’t live there. On top of that, by the time their games came on at 10PM ET, I’d be in bed.
And if that’s not enough, there’s this: When Doug Gilmour was traded back to the Leafs in 2003, he lasted only 21 minutes before injuring his leg and ending his career. That game was in Calgary. I’m still mad Gilmour never got to play one last game at home, in Toronto.
Now that I’m an “adult”, meh, the Flames are fine. They’re fun to watch. They have some nice players. But I’ve always preferred Edmonton, though.
After Jarome Iginla left in 2013, the Flames were committed to replenishing the cupboard with prospects and sending them out to learn on the job like unpaid interns.
They are young and talented.
Johnny Gaudreau (LW) – Johnny Hockey has a cap hit of $6.75M over the next 6 seasons. That’s a lot of weight on his 5’9, 157 lb. frame. That being said, he’s capable of being a point-per-game player, especially with Sean Monahan on his line.
Sean Monahan (C) – The 22-year-old has been hovering around the 60-point mark for the last three seasons. He’s capable of taking his game to a few more levels as he turns into the number one centre of the present and foreseeable future.
Matthew Tkachuk (LW) – He turns 20 in December and already has a full NHL season under his belt, or whatever he uses to keep his pants up. Suspenders? He’s shown a willingness to agitate his opponents with his physicality and his body and he’s only going to get stronger. He’ll be a force in the coming seasons.
Sam Bennett (C) – He was the 4th overall pick in the 2014 draft, and like most players in his class, it’s taking him a few years to show what he can do at the NHL level. He’s still only 21 and has the ability to eventually become the permanent number two centre.
Notable – Mikael Backlund (C), Micheal Ferland (RW), Michael Frolik (RW).
Same name, three different spellings.
Some people say the Flames have the best defense in the NHL. I say those people are probably correct, if you’re evaluating the names on paper.
Mark Giordano (33) – The Captain. He’s been there since 2005 and has found some offensive punch over the least four seasons. Put him down for 40-50 points, if he stays healthy.
Dougie Hamilton (24) – This will be his sixth season in the NHL and third with the Flames. He’s an offensive defenseman and you’ll likely see him in such films as “First Line on the Power-Play”. Oh, and his brother Freddie is on the team! They played for the Niagara Ice Dogs back in the day.
T.J. Brodie (27) – Durable. Defensive. Offensive. Built Ford Tough.
Travis Hamonic (27) – This is almost unfair. Hamonic comes over from the New York Islanders. He will give his opponents many bruises this season.
Michael Stone (27) – He came over from the Coyotes last season and fit in well. He’ll be used on the penalty kill, but can fill in on the power-play if needed.
For the third season in a row, the Flames enter the season with two brand new goalies. Both come from losing teams, but don’t blame them for that.
Mike Smith (35) – He was suffering on bad teams in Arizona for many years. Everyone knows he is better than what the stats say. I really like this acquisition for the Flames. He is one of the best puck-moving goalies in the league, and with this defense, they should be clearing their zone quite effectively.
Eddie Lack (29) – His career didn’t take off in Carolina like I thought it might. In fact, his coach even called him out for not being good enough, at one point. He’s the perfect backup goalie in Calgary. If Smith gets hurt, he can step in and start games and perform better than most backups in the league.
Notable: Jon Gillies (23)
1. Brian Burke is the President of the Flames. In 1999, he orchestrated the greatest draft heist I’ve ever seen, when he traded up and drafted the Sedin twins with the 2nd and 3rd overall picks. I still don’t know why Atlanta took Patrik Stefan 1st overall.
2. The Flames are in a fight with the City of Calgary over a new arena. It’s election season in Calgary, so that’s a cherry to add to the top of this sundae.
3. Matt Stajan is only 33-years-old. This is unbelievable to me. He started his career with the Leafs and in a video game, the announcer pronounced his last name as “Stay-on”. Chris will remember that. He’s probably chuckling about it now.
4. Calgary lost in the Stanley Cup Final to Tampa Bay in 2004. One of my former campers told me his favourite team was Tampa Bay because they won the Cup the year he was born. Oh how his life would be different had Calgary won.
5. I love the roof on their arena. It’s a dome in the shape of a saddle. I wonder what drainage is like in the winter. That’s a pretty wet saddle.
WHAT CHRIS THINKS
Calgary has mastered the art of the retool, it takes great skill to rebuild your team around Matt Stajan.
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
Calgary is looking down the road at the Edmonton Oilers and see Connor McDavid skating at them for the next 15-20 years. It’s no wonder they bulked up on defense. They’re going to need it in order to compete with the Oilers for the next two decades.
The Flames are in a tough Pacific Division and may be relegated to a Wild Card spot like they were last season. Nonetheless, I think this team makes an appearance in the second round. They have the goaltending this year to do it.
Let their young players grow into themselves before expecting a run to the Stanley Cup. They’ll meet the Oilers in the playoffs, eventually, and the province of Alberta may never be the same again.
ONE WILD PREDICTION
They start slow and only win 4 games (out of 12) in October.