The Calgary Flames finally snapped their seven-game losing streak with a win over the Winnipeg Jets who have been hot. But before thinking the Flames are instantaneously going to turn things around, it’s tougher and more complicated than just winning one game.
Though goaltending and defensive play hasn’t been at the level it was last season, scoring is the real problem that needs to be tended to. The team lost Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk in the offseason and many thought the production could be replaced by Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri to some extent. Both new additions at forward have surprised; Kadri for the better and Huberdeau for the worse.
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It’s difficult enough to replace two 100-point scorers in one offseason, but it’s another thing to hope chemistry with the new players can be formed. It just hasn’t been there with Huberdeau, and it hasn’t helped that Elias Lindholm hasn’t been himself either. Kadri is leading the charge regardless of how well he knows his new teammates yet. It is a work in progress and only a handful of games into the first of seven years with the two new stars. As the lines continue to be altered and players eventually start to find chemistry, the offence will get better.
Flames Need Scoring Help at Forward
“The Flames’ general manager Brad Treliving is someone who isn’t afraid to do things and the team has been looking for another forward,” Elliotte Friedman said on 32 Thoughts: The Podcast. “I’m watching the Flames right now and wondering if there’s any way he shakes them up that way,” as in utilizing their wealth on the back-end to acquire a forward.
Other teams with high expectations have also gotten off to slow starts and they may not be able to turn things around this season. Then there are the obvious bottom feeders who are exactly where they were expected to be. Whether it is a good team, a bad team, or a good team that is struggling, the Flames have more than enough resources on defence to intrigue a number of them.
MacKenzie Weegar, Noah Hanifin, and Rasmus Andersson are not likely to be moved, so that leaves lots of options with other teams who have an interest in making their back end better. The top trade candidate on the Flames’ defence continues to be Oliver Kylington. He hasn’t played a game this season and had a strong breakout campaign in 2021-22. He proved to be a top-four defenceman with the opportunity, but won’t get it in Calgary with the strong depth they have. His $2.5 million cap hit off the books would be a start to what the Flames would likely have to move out in order to get what they are seeking at forward.
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The Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators are two teams Treliving can start discussing a potential trade with if he hasn’t already. Injuries to key defenders on other teams could also play a big part in engaging with the Flames for a potential trade.
The Time Might Be Now for the Flames to Acquire Forward Help
The Flames were struggling enough before Huberdeau started to miss games. The team was not great on their seven-game losing streak offensively or defensively, scoring only 16 goals. Compared to what is expected of them with the talent on their roster, that’s a low number of goals to be producing. They are 6-6-2 and sitting outside of a playoff spot looking in with good teams above them.
The Flames have just six forwards with more than five points, and one of them is injured (Huberdeau). That’s not nearly the production that is needed. Last season the lack of scoring throughout the forward group was manageable considering the top line was the best in the league and carried the offence. The defence and goaltending were also elite. Adding a new face to the forward group could light a fire under multiple players currently struggling and make the lineup much deeper.
Before things go from bad to worse, Treliving should work his magic and try to once again make the Flames better. A scoring forward is the obvious hole they’ve needed to address since before the season started and have both the assets and potential trade partners to make a deal.