After a disappointing run in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Calgary Flames hope to write a better story for the upcoming 2019-20 season.
Although the Flames had a near-perfect regular season, by matching all kinds of new records and clinching the Pacific Divison, Brad Treliving’s men fell into a bad momentum swing against the red hot Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs and were knocked out in five games. The Southern Alberta squad hopes to find itself in a good momentum when the 2020 playoffs are around the corner.
After Mike Smith joined James Neal in Edmonton, the Flames needed to find a backup. Smith’s playoff stint was remarkable, averaging at least 40 to 50 saves a night after Game 1 and a .917 save percentage (SV%). It was quite the bounceback after a shaky regular season with his common gaffes and .898 SV%.
With an injury scare right before the All-Star Break against the New York Islanders, the Flames saw David Rittich rise up his entrance in the National Hockey League and became the Flames’ number one tender in the regular season with a consistent .911 SV%. Rittich played an almost evenly shared 45 games with Smith’s 42 games played.
With Smith gone, the Flames needed to find a young proven goaltender to play alongside Rittich. With farm goalies like Jon Gillies and prospect Spencer Knight, the backup depth seemed somewhat questionable with the lack of experience. As a result, Treliving signed former Oiler Cam Talbot to a one-year contract worth $2.75 million.
Milan Lucic Trade
A trade from Treliving that raised a lot of eyebrows in the hockey world this summer, the Flames swapped forward James Neal for veteran Milan Lucic. In this deal, Calgary received a conditional 2020 third-round pick, if Neal scores a certain amount of goals this upcoming season in an Oilers uniform.
One thing that was noticeable in the matchups against the Avalanche in the first round is that the Flames were easily run over by the Avs’ pressure, speed, and grit. As a result, one Flames player that was noticeable for example was Sam Bennett, who is known for his grit and puck control. An acquisition that makes sense with a second look, maybe Lucic could fill in the gap the Flames desperately needed last playoffs. He could possibly find his scoring touch again with a new scene. Grit was shown to be a major factor in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, as the heaviest teams like the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues matched up in the Final.
According to CapFriendly, the Flames have a projected $7,756,625 in cap space. They still need to sign left-winger Matthew Tkachuk, who came off a career year in goals (34) and points (77). Treliving has yet to sign him, the Tkachuk camp is eyeing for comparable contracts and hopes for a fair deal for both parties. With no recent reports of it happening, let’s not forget that Jim Benning’s Vancouver Canucks signed RFA Bo Horvat in September of 2018 to a six-year, $5.5 million average annual value contract.
With Juuso Valimaki’s ACL tear from practice and being out indefinitely, the player’s injury sadly gave a big blow to the Flames’ defensive options. As a result, Oliver Kylington could replace his role as a third pairing partner with fellow Swede Rasmus Andersson. With the Flames seeing Neal gone, and Michael Frolik possibly going nowhere, right-wing depth is on the weaker side yet again.
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
Milan Lucic – Sam Bennett – Mark Jankowski
Andrew Mangiapane – Derek Ryan – Austin Czarnik
Mark Giordano – T.J. Brodie
Noah Hanifin – Travis Hamonic
Oliver Kylington – Rasmus Andersson