As we are all well aware, the Calgary Flames‘ season has been put on hold due to a massive COVID-19 outbreak amongst their dressing room. Thankfully, it sounds as though all their players who have been placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list are feeling little to no symptoms, and shouldn’t have much issue getting back up to speed when they return to play.
To this point, the 2021-22 season has been a successful one for the Flames, as they own a 15-7-6 record through 28 games. However, despite the overall success, they had been struggling a bit prior to being shutting down, as they had lost four straight. With that losing streak, it showed some areas that this team needs to improve in to help them become a contender, and with Christmas right around the corner, perhaps Santa can help them upgrade in these areas.
Early on in the 2021-22 season, the Flames were scoring at will, thanks in large part to Andrew Magniapane’s red hot start. However, he along with some of his teammates had begun to cool off prior to being shut down, and it exposed some flaws up front with this team. They have been relying far too heavily on players like Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm to provide offence, and could really benefit by adding some secondary scoring to their lineup.
On paper, it seems like the Flames shouldn’t have major issues with their secondary scoring given some of the names on their roster. However, the problem is that players like Sean Monahan, Blake Coleman, Mikael Backlund and Dillon Dube have not put up much of any offense through the quarter-way point of the 2021-22 season. While there are plenty of rental players they could add prior to the trade deadline, one particularly interesting name is Jake DeBrusk of the Boston Bruins, who just recently requested a trade.
One of the main concerns heading into the 2021-22 season for the Flames was their back end. With the loss of Mark Giordano, along with questionable acquisitions in Nikita Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson, many questioned whether or not this blue line would be good enough to help this team compete for a playoff spot.
Thankfully, certain individuals have really stepped up on the back end, particularly Oliver Kylington and Rasmus Andersson. However, both Zadorov and Gudbranson have really struggled at times, making it quite clear that the Flames need to improve in this area. While an available player like Jakob Chychrun likely isn’t in the cards, there are several others on struggling teams who general manager Brad Treliving may be able to bring in at a cheap cost.
Some may disagree with this given how well Dan Vladar has played in 2021-22, although it has come in extremely limited action. The 24-year-old currently has just 12 career NHL games under his belt, making him a pretty big question mark as of now. If something were to happen injury-wise to Jacob Markstrom, the Flames may benefit from having extra insurance in the crease.
One option that instantly comes to mind is Joonas Korpisalo, who the Columbus Blue Jackets are willing to move and are reportedly not asking much for in return. The 27-year-old has struggled early on this season, but has played in a total of 169 career games and was selected to play in the 2020 All-Star Game. This move may not be as high up on the priority list right now, but is something to consider given Vladar’s lack of experience.
Health Moving Forward
So far this season, the Flames have had pretty good luck in regards to players going down with injuries. However, they currently have all but three players right now on the NHL’s COVID protocol list. A big wish is that they are all healthy by the time they are set to return to game action, and can continue to build on what has been a very solid start to the season.
With Christmas just days away, hopefully Santa is able to deliver on this wish list for Flames fans, or at least help with a few of them. If not, Treliving will have some work cut out for him prior to the trade deadline. If these wishes do work out, this team could be a true Stanley Cup contender by the time the postseason rolls around.
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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.