In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, we will discuss the chatter surrounding head coach Darryl Sutter’s future with the team after Adam Proteau of The Hockey News suggested he was in the hot seat. However, forward Matthew Tkachuk is going to do everything in his power to keep his bench boss around and told the media he is looking for a big season from both himself and the team.
Meanwhile, a few more restricted free agent (RFA) contracts were worked out as the team signed Dillon Dube, Glenn Gawdin and Justin Kirkland to extensions. Last but not least, a new policy was put into place last week that will require fans to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to attend Flames games this season.
Sutter’s Future in Question
Proteau suggested in his column last week that Sutter is one of five head coaches who are in the hot seat to begin the 2021-22 season. Many don’t agree, given that the 63-year-old was only brought in midway through last season and hasn’t had much of an opportunity yet, but there is no denying there is a ton of pressure on the organization to improve and contend.
In 30 games last season, Sutter led the Flames to a mediocre 15-15 record, which wasn’t what general manager Brad Treliving envisioned when he chose to bring him in. However, it’s tough to place too much blame on the new coach. Perhaps a full training camp with this team is all he needs to turn things around.
Tkachuk Looking to Bounce Back
It was pretty apparent that Tkachuk was not at his best last season, and as a result, he is one of several players on the Flames in need of a bounceback season. In an interview with NHL Network, he said he is expecting big things this season.
“I know you make your personal and your team legacy in playoffs,” Tkachuk said. “So that’s what I’m hoping to do this year is make a very long run in the playoffs and do something special with our team. Because I would love to do that with that group of guys there.
I consider myself to be a solid player that hasn’t done a lot so far in the league yet,” he continued. “So hoping for a year where I can prove that this year.”
In 56 games last season, Tkachuk scored 16 goals and 43 points, numbers that aren’t up to the standard he set for himself in the past. Having fans back in the building could be what it takes for him to perform like the player he was in 2018-19 when he put up a career-high 77 points.
Numerous RFAs Off the Board
Treliving signed a few RFAs to new deals this past week, starting with Gawdin and Kirkland. Both players signed one-year, two-way deals. Gawdin’s deal will see him earn $750,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 in the AHL. The 24-year-old, who suited up for seven games with the Flames last season, could earn a spot on the roster in 2021-22 if he has a good training camp.
Kirkland, 25, will earn $750,000 at the NHL level and $125,000 in the AHL on his new deal. He has spent most of his professional career in the AHL and will likely find himself there again this season. In 16 games with the Stockton Heat last season, he recorded two goals and seven points.
The third RFA signed last week and the one who created the most noise was the three-year deal given to Dube. The 23-year-old agreed to the three-year contract that will carry an AAV of $2.3 million. Despite some struggles in what was his first full NHL season, there is no denying his talent and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he has a breakout 2021-22 season.
Vaccination Proof Required
Last week, the Flames joined a number of other teams and announced that they will require fans and employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend games in the 2021-22 season. Calgary joins the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets who will require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations in order to enter the arena. Both the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs will require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.