The Flames have had an eventful off season, the signing of James Neal is one their big acquisitions, receiving a 30-goal scorer and veteran winger is big for this Calgary team. Neal is slatted to play with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau being already a top 10 player in the NHL and Monahan being a top 20 center in the NHL, the Flames line one is now looking even better than before.
The Flames came out and had a bit of a rocky start last season, they picked things up and slowly pushed for contention as the season went on. But they fell short and missed the playoffs for the 7th time in 9 years. The Flames dealt with their fair share of issues, they had just Gaudreau and Monahan doing the heavy lifting. After Gaudreau’s 84 points and Monahan’s 64 the next player was Matthew Tkachuk with 49 points, that’s a big difference from 84 to 49 points. They also dealt with Glen Gulutzan throwing fits throughout the year.
The Flames relied heavily upfront here two top guys upfront and their back end to do most of the work, Mike Smith came out a little shaky but eventually racketed things up, but it was just not enough for the Flames to get back into the mix. The Flames back end had Dougie Hamilton(44), Mark Giordano(38) and TJ Brodie(32) in the top 10 for points on the team. That means, a few things there is a lack of offensive depth and production or these defenseman just had good years, it was a mix of both. On top of Smith coming out a little uneasy, the Flames fell into a hole early and found themselves constantly digging out of it, every game. Smith posted 25-22-6 record with a 2.65 goals against, .916 save percentage and 3 shutouts. He started in 55 games and we can expect him to be in the crease the same amount maybe more next year.
Can the Flames get back into the playoffs?
Playing out of the Pacific with the Ducks only getting better, L.A. only getting better, San Jose having Evander Kane for a full season and a depth on both sides, Vegas coming off a unbelievable season, Edmonton looking to get back into the mix and Arizona adding some solid pieces to their line up, the only way the Flames having even some what of a chance is a wild card spot. Which would be having to beat out L.A., St. Louis, Colorado, Dallas, Chicago. I don’t see Calgary making playoff, with the talent in their division and in the conference it is going to be extremely tough to crack that wild card or top 3 in the division.
Calgary will need Gaudreau to produce 100 points, Neal to get into the 30-goal mark or upwards of it, Monahan to produce around upwards of 70, Tkachuk to be even better than last year, Backlund and Frolik to be 50 point guys and defense missing their top scorer now and powerplay threat will need for Travis Hamonic to come out of his shell, Giordano to step up big time and Noah Hanafin to push upwards of 35 points. And Mike Smith to win 35 games or more and be ready from game one to game eighty-two. It is going to be a challenge, it is not impossible but I would have to rule out Calgary next year.
Fantasy impact in Calgary…
The positives to this though is that the Flames have a lot of fantasy value on their roster, Gaudreau is a sure lock, Neal could be a huge addition to that line one and Gaudreau’s 60 assists may be 70 plus with Neal now. Monahan will have a big work load on his plate and after a career year and another 30 goal season Monahan will be relied on to do the same and even more. Hanafin and Giordano have huge potential on that backend with their power play time and ability to play both sides of the puck well, those two should automatically be on your list. Tkachuk and Backlund coming off their best years, we should be expecting Tkachuk and Backlund both to crack 50 plus points this season. The Flames will be in the mix all season and with that comes goal scoring and a lot of fantasy value. These guys are my biggest assets when looking at Calgary’s roster.