The Calgary Flames have had a busy off season after missing the playoffs last year, finishing fifth in the Pacific Division with just 84 points.
But with the addition of Neal, Lindholm, and Hanifin, the Flames’ roster looks much better than last seasons.
Let’s start up front.
Calgary’s top six looks like Gaudreau, Monahan, Lindholm, Neal, Tkachuk, and Backlund.
Neal and Lindholm will greatly help the development of Tkachuk, and Monahan, along with helping Johnny Gaudreau increase his point totals.
Now here is the gray area.
The Flames’ bottom six must step up to the plate against a stacked Western Conference.
Maybe we see Sam Bennett come to his potential as a former fourth overall pick a few years ago.
Out back on Defense the Flames look pretty solid for a team looking to make the playoffs.
I feel Noah Hanifin will fit nicely in the Flames system, and Mark Giordano will lead the way as Captain.
Add to the mix T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Brett Kulak, and Michael Stone.
Although this group may be outmatched when facing teams such as San Jose, Nashville, or Tampa with several elite Defensemen, but a playoff birth is not an unreasonable goal for this team.
Hopefully Mike Smith can man the net efficiently and get the job done.
In my opinion, there was no reason why the Flames should not have been in the playoffs last year.
In late February the Flames were seventh in the Western Conference, and just had to finish the season .500 or better.
Calgary hit a wall.
Also contributing to Calgary’s troubles was their terrible home record.
The Flames only won 17 games at home last season; the only teams with less home wins were Buffalo and Arizona.
This season has to be an improvement from last season, there is no reason it can’t happen.
The city of Calgary deserves another playoff run.
There is no reason this team can not take either third in the Pacific Division or one of the Wild Card spots; however the Central Division is deep and could very well take both Wild Card spots.
So if there isn’t a playoff spot earned this year, the next few years have to be strides in that direction.
Gaudreau, Neal, Monahan, Backlund, and Lindholm are all signed through the 2021 season.
Tkachuk will be a restricted free agent after this season.
This is a good core of Forwards to have together for the next few seasons to come.
Giordano, and Hanifin are signed through the 2021, and 2022 seasons respectively.
Brodie, Hamonic, and Stone are set to be unrestricted free agents in 2020.
So the Flames Defense core looks to be relatively the same for the next two seasons.
This team has a chance the next few seasons to find themselves in the playoffs, and see how far this team can really go.
Calgary is going to be an interesting team to watch this season, hopefully it is not a disappointing one.
Johnny Gaudreau: http://www.thescore.com
Sean Monahan: http://www.foxsports.com
Noah Hanifin: http://www.sports.yahoo.com
Mark Giordano: http://www.NHL.com
Calgary Crowd: http://www.sportingnews.com
Mike Smith: http://www.reddit.com
For advertising and sponsorship opportunities with The Game Changer Sports Network, please contact Jake at Jake.Jollymore@Gmail.com