Flames’ 2022-23 Opening Night Roster: What to Expect

All teams had to submit their opening night rosters on Monday, and there weren’t too many surprises with the Calgary Flames. More of them came a bit earlier in camp with some of the cuts and what became of them. We’ll take a look at who they announced on their opening night roster, projected lines, and moves that’ll be made early in the season, plus a whole lot more.

Flames’ Opening Night Roster

The Flames’ 2022-23 opening night roster consists of 13 forwards, seven defencemen, two goaltenders, and one player on the injured reserve list who is expected to rejoin the team soon. The forwards who made the cut are as follows:

  • Jonathan Huberdeau, Mikael Backlund, Milan Lucic, Blake Coleman, Kevin Rooney, Trevor Lewis, Brett Ritchie, Elias Lindholm, Dylan Dube, Adam Ruzicka, Tyler Toffoli, Andrew Mangiapane, and Nazem Kadri.

The seven defencemen and the member of the team starting the season on the injured reserve are:

  • Connor Mackey, Rasmus Andersson, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, MacKenzie Weegar, Nic Meloche, Noah Hanifin, and Oliver Kylington (IR).

And finally, the two goaltenders:

  • Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar.

Flames’ Line Combinations & Why They’ll Change

The projected lines for the Flames appear to be what the team is going with to open the season, but things can still change. As of right now, here are the lines:


  • Jonathan Huberdeau – Elias Lindholm – Tyler Toffoli
  • Andrew Mangiapane – Nazem Kadri – Dylan Dube
  • Blake Coleman – Mikael Backlund – Trevor Lewis
  • Milan Lucic – Kevin Rooney – Brett Ritchie
  • S- Adam Ruzicka


  • MacKenzie Weegar – Chris Tanev
  • Noah Hanifin – Rasmus Andersson
  • Nikita Zadorov – Nic Meloche
  • S- Connor Mackey, Oliver Kylington (IR)


  • Jacob Markstrom
  • Dan Vladar

The Flames’ line combos are just about right but are slightly different than originally projected. The defence pairings are a bit mixed up due to Kylington being out to start the season. This allowed Nic Meloche to step up and seize the third pairing role instead and likely stick as the seventh defenceman upon Kylington’s return to the lineup.

Related: Flames’ 2022-23 Line Predictions

The pairing of Hanifin and Andersson was the top duo for the Flames last season, and since they did very well, I would expect them to once again take up that mantle. Since Kylington is out, Weegar and Tanev have been put together to form a really solid shutdown pairing, possibly even better than the other pair. Hanifin and Andersson will provide more offence with some strong play in their own end, while Weegar and Tanev can form an effective shutdown duo with some offensive capabilities. Head coach Darryl Sutter will likely use them equally while he has both as options to start the season.

Noah Hanifin Calgary Flames
Noah Hanifin, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Zadorov played the amount that was expected of a third-pairing defenceman last season alongside Erik Gudbranson and should start 2022-23 beside Meloche, who had the same role with the San Jose Sharks. Meloche beat out Mackey and now-former Flame Juuso Valimaki for the spot in training camp, but it’s still a win for the Flames and Mackey who impressed enough to be on the starting roster. He has impressed in the American Hockey League (AHL) and deserves this opportunity, even if it is just for a short time as the seventh defenceman.

Now to shift our attention to the forwards, as Sutter couldn’t have crafted the top two lines any better. It’s what I projected before camp, and it works to help improve the depth of the forward group as well. Many thought Coleman would be playing on the second line, but Sutter really likes the two-way winger and Backlund together because they are very good defensively. In that case, Dube gets a better shot and an opportunity to take the next step offensively. He scored 18 goals and 32 points last season, playing under 13 minutes a game. On the second line, his ice time should increase by two or three minutes per game, and all that time will be spent with better players.

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The right side was the weak area going into camp, and nobody stepped up enough to help improve that. They tried Sonny Milano in the second-line right-wing role, but he was eventually released from his professional tryout. They experimented with Coleman there too, but he’s better on the third line, as previously mentioned. So, when asked about Dube assuming the second line role, Sutter said, “Because nobody else has yet.” What will start as a move that could be construed as a last resort should turn out to be a great choice by the end of the season.

The bottom-six lines to start the season are what I have a bit of an issue with. It’s a smart decision for the Flames to have kept Ruzicka on the roster, but a young player who showed talent and potential last season should be in the starting lineup. Ritchie and Lewis are players that should be playing 40-50 games at most this season, while Ruzicka gets a real chance in the lineup most nights.

Trevor Lewis Calgary Flames
Trevor Lewis, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The lack of depth on the right wing really becomes clear looking at the bottom-six. Lewis should be rotating in on the fourth line, not starting on the third line. Rooney played nearly 14 minutes a game last season with the New York Rangers and was used all over the lineup. He proved he can easily handle a third-line role and could be an option for the Flames this season. He and Ruzicka could alternate as the fourth-line centre and the third-line right wing, limiting Lewis and Ritchie’s role in the lineup. Neither provides much offence for the Flames, but Lewis is the better option since he is more reliable and stronger defensively.

What to Expect as the Season Gets Going

There are a couple of things to watch for as the season gets going. The first thing is the return of Kylington. He will no doubt be inserted back into the top-six on defence, so that means they’ll have to make a choice between Meloche and Mackey as to who the team will send down. From how the starting lineup projects, Mackey will likely be the player sent down. He is the team’s top defenceman in the AHL and will once again really help out and shine down there, but he will have to pass through waivers. Valimaki was already claimed by the Arizona Coyotes, so losing two top defensive prospects in a short time would hurt.

Connor Mackey Calgary Flames
Connor Mackey, Calgary Flames (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

As I mentioned previously, Ritchie shouldn’t get in more than half of the games. The Flames will add at the trade deadline, and their top target will be someone who can play on the right wing in the top-nine. Another likely option is to recall Jakob Pelletier before the trade deadline or near the end of the season. He was expected to make the opening night roster and play on the third line with Backlund and Coleman, but the team opted to get him more development in the AHL, where he dominated in 2021-22. If he starts the same way he did last season, the Flames will be forced to promote him and give him a shot, especially if their depth struggles to produce.

The Flames’ top-six, defence, and goaltending look very strong and provide a ton of confidence. But I am still worried about the bottom-six. Sutter does like his veterans, but there is a point where the prospects must take over some roles as they are the future. The Flames are set to battle for the top spot in the Pacific division and push deeper into playoffs this season.