When he joined the Calgary Flames in the spring of 2014, Brad Treliving faced the task of drastically improving a rebuilding hockey club. Three seasons into his tenure, his to-do list for the summer of 2017 is much more focused but just as long as during his first off-season. He doesn’t have to fix every aspect of the hockey club, but he’ll have a lot of things to address.
The Flames have made the postseason in two of Treliving’s three seasons in Calgary. With a productive summer, they could be headed back in 2017-18 and make some noise.
Who Will Be Calgary’s Goalies?
In 2015-16, the Flames had combinations of Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo, Joni Ortio and Niklas Backstrom in net. They also had the NHL’s worst netminding, so Treliving swept out his stable and recruited Chad Johnson and Brian Elliott to turn things around. The duo was fairly inconsistent, but good enough when they were on their games to give the Flames league-average goaltending.
That said, Elliott disappointed big-time in the playoffs against Anaheim. Who can the Flames bring in to reignite confidence in the men between the pipes? And will Johnson, who was a very good backup, be back when there are a couple of goaltenders making a push on their farm team?
Who Will Be Stockton’s Goalies?
The Stockton Heat had Jon Gillies and Czech import David Rittich as their goaltenders this past season and they consistently gave them strong goaltending, to the point where each player got a quick stint in Calgary during a late-season injury to Johnson. Both would be capable backups at the NHL level and the presumption is both will be re-signed – they’re both restricted free agents on July 1. The Flames also need to find a place for World Junior gold medal-winning goaltender Tyler Parsons to play as he graduates to the pro game after a few strong seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, as well as find somewhere for AHL veteran Tom McCollum to go.
If the Flames retain Chad Johnson and bring in a new starter, it could lead to a log-jam in Stockton.
Who’s Joining The Big Three On D?
The Flames are very lucky, in the sense that they boast T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton on their blueline. Beyond that, they have Matt Bartkowski signed for next season and then a bunch of question marks.
- Will the Flames re-sign physical veterans Michael Stone or Deryk Engelland, or opt for younger, faster players?
- Could one of the Flames’ farm-hands – such as Brett Kulak, Tyler Wotherspoon, Rasmus Andersson or Oliver Kylington – be ready for a full-time NHL job?
- Will the Flames instead opt to go to free agency to recruit a new defenseman?
There are potentially three open spots on the blueline. The Flames could go heavy on veterans or heavy on kids, or opt for an approach that’s a mixture of both.
Can Calgary Add Some Scoring?
Two years ago, the Flames had just a single scoring line anchored by Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. This past season, the 3M Line (Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik) emerged as the team’s most consistent 200-foot trio. In the playoffs, Kris Versteeg and Sam Bennett were a strong duo. Can the Flames find a way to add another skilled forward to their top three lines via free agency or trade? If they can, suddenly the team’s scoring depth is even better than it was in 2016-17.
Can Any AHL Forwards Make The Jump?
There’s a decent possibility that the Flames will lose a depth forward this summer: Alex Chiasson or Matt Stajan could be claimed in the expansion draft, and Versteeg could sign elsewhere as a free agent. That means there are potentially jobs open for the young forwards in Stockton. Are Mark Jankowski, Morgan Klimchuk or Garnet Hathaway ready to step into bottom six roles and provide useful depth for the Flames? Or will the club be forced to go into the free agent market once again?
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.