Where Can the Calgary Flames Go from Here?
The Calgary Flames need to re-sign Matthew Tkachuk and bring in big name free agents to be ready to compete for the Cup next year.
The Current Situation
The Calgary Flames are beginning the offseason with more questions than answers. Despite having a strong season and postseason showing, the Flames failed to beat the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of the playoffs and now have to look ahead. The Flames had a solid team and featured three players on first and second team All Stars. The team’s all stars included; Johnny Gaudreau; first team and second team with Matthew Tkachuk and Jacob Markstrom.
There are many questions in the free agent list for the Calgary Flames. While the nearly $27 million in cap space should help to retool the team, certain players’ futures remain in the air. With all star forward Gaudreau and Tkachuk being at center stage for the free agents. There are plenty of rumors floating around Gaudreau that he may want out. If this should be the case, there are several teams that will be interested, namely the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils. Both are hometown teams for Gaudreau; the Salem, NJ native. The question comes down to will Johnny walk or will a potential sign and trade be used. If Calgary wants to try and recoup anything in the process this may be their only hope.
There is no doubt losing a player of his caliber for nothing will certainly sting. The focus then shifts to re-signing Tkachuk. The Flames can not afford to lose both stars in the same off season. Tkachuk, unlike Gaudreau, is a restricted free agent so no other teams can talk to him. That doesn’t mean he will like what Calgary is offering. With the likely loss of Gaudreau, all the more pressure to perform will be on Tkachuk if signed.
The Flames are short on draft capital and will need to get very lucky with their picks or try and move them to get NHL ready players. Calgary’s defensive core could use some work. They seem to have their number one goalie locked up for several more seasons. The time comes to get some top 4 defenseman to eat up lots of minutes and help them next season. With picks in the 2nd, 5th, and 7th round the Flames may attempt to regroup and trade back into next year’s draft and get more cap room to sign big name free agents.
Winning the Cup
The Flames and their fans are not where they want to be yet and still multiple moves away from winning the Cup. As shown to them by their inability to shut down the Oilers in the playoffs the Flames need to add more depth. The Flames have a decent team, but will be severely hurt if they lose Gaudreau. They will need to bring in some very high-end talent to compensate. Looking around the league, the successful teams have lots of talent in all three phases of the game. While Markstrom had a great regular season he will need to improve his game come next year’s playoffs. The defense will need to improve greatly and get better at blocking shots and hopefully slowing down Connor McDavid.
Come next season, the Flames could either be a contender again or a slowly sinking ship barely hanging on. With the need to sign free agents they have to hope that the Canadian media market does not hinder them. Like with all Canadian teams in the NHL they have a reputation of being particularly hard on players, coaches, and management. The Flames will need to hope they have enough money to sign the players necessary to compete and not fall victim to players finding brighter prospects elsewhere.