Ever wonder what a lineup of your favourite team would look like if they didn’t trade away that young talent too soon or were able to bring back that top-end player that left in free agency? Well, look no further because this series is designed to analyze all the former and current active players that have played for the Calgary Flames and form the best lineup from that list. It will look at where the players are right now in their careers and show what a dream team of all the best players to come through the organization would look like today. This is of course not taking into account the salaries of the players, so think of it as ‘Be a GM’ mode in a video game where the salary cap is turned off. Enjoy.
Forwards Currently Playing for the Flames
The Flames may have lost two 100-plus point-getters from last season, but they also gained one in Jonathan Huberdeau, who put up 115 points, tied for second in the league and was fifth in Hart Trophy voting. His other two projected linemates for next season are Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli who have both had impressive careers. Lindholm had a career year scoring 42 goals, played at a point per game, and is undoubtedly the number one centre. He centered the best line in the NHL while Toffoli is a former Stanley Cup winner and goal scorer who was acquired mid-season by the Flames in 2021-22.
The entire projected second line of the Flames next season also makes the cut as Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund, and Blake Coleman all bring something different to the table and are effective. Mangiapane broke out and scored 35 goals last season, many of which were on the road. Backlund is a solid all-around centre that has played for the Flames his entire career and always gets Selke Trophy consideration for being great defensively. Coleman probably shouldn’t be playing on the second line next season, but the Flames’ depth is a bit weak. Regardless, he works hard and is also great defensively.
Dillon Dube is on the rise but should have a middle-six role for the Flames next season. He is a physical player that has shown the ability to score goals, and he is only going to get better as he gets more opportunities and playing time next season.
A current member of the Flames that has fallen from grace, Sean Monahan, can still be effective but will have to come back from a season-ending surgery he had last season and prove he can still compete. He was once their top centreman but was forced down the lineup with his play. He hasn’t been the same player over the past couple of seasons, but still warrants a spot on this team. Lastly, someone who just made the cut is Milan Lucic. He may be overpaid, but looking past that and what he actually brings to the table, he is a solid bottom-six forward. He has a combination of toughness and consistency that any team would want in a fourth-liner.
Forwards No Longer Playing in Calgary
This one may sting a little as two of these players just moved on. Johnny Gaudreau signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets while Matthew Tkachuk informed the Flames he wouldn’t sign long-term and forced their hand in dealing him to the Florida Panthers. Gaudreau was the team’s leading scorer and second in the NHL last season with 115 points. One of the members of his line, Tkachuk, also had a very good season scoring 42 goals and 104 points. However, he brings so much more to his team than just points, as he plays a gritty game and is a pest that other teams hate to play against.
Sam Bennett was moved in 2020-21 and instantly showed why the Flames drafted him fourth overall in 2014. He just needed a change of scenery, but he continued to play very well through last season, amassing 34 goals and 64 points in 81 games with the Panthers. He was nothing more than a third-line player at best for the Flames but is a lock on the second line in Florida.
Derek Ryan barely makes the cut, but he is an effective bottom-six player for the Edmonton Oilers and was for the Flames. He is very good in the faceoff circle, can kill penalties, and play centre or the wing. The Flames get pretty thin at the bottom of their lineup, but on their dream team of current and former active players, he just makes it in.
What the Flames’ Forward Group Would Look Like
Johnny Gaudreau – Elias Lindholm – Matthew Tkachuk
Jonathan Huberdeau – Sam Bennett – Tyler Toffoli
Andrew Mangiapane – Mikael Backlund – Blake Coleman
Dillon Dube – Sean Monahan – Derek Ryan
The first line has to be Gaudreau, Lindholm, and Tkachuk who formed the best unit in the NHL last season. They were one, two, and three in plus/minus last season and have amazing chemistry. Two of the three members that are expected to play on the Flames’ top line next season shift to the second line here as Huberdeau’s playmaking should work well alongside Toffoli’s underrated goal-scoring ability. Bennett has familiarity with Huberdeau as well as they worked very well together last season on the Panthers.
In the bottom six, the Flames would have a goal-scorer, two-way player, and gritty all-around player forming their third line. A line of Mangiapane, Backlund, and Coleman would be very frustrating to play against. As for the fourth line, Dube gets bumped down but has shown he can be effective playing fewer minutes. Monahan can still play at a high level on occasion and could surprise, while Ryan is solid in a fourth-line role. Lucic could be a substitute if there needs to be more physicality and someone to drive the net hard.
Defencemen Currently Playing for the Flames
Four of the defencemen currently playing for the Flames make their dream team of active players. We start off with their top pairing of Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson who had 48 and 50 points last season. Hanifin has come into his own, scoring 10 goals for the second time in his career, while shattering his career high of 33 points. Andersson isn’t known for scoring goals as a defenceman, but he surprised everyone and went under the radar by reaching 50. His ice time increased and so did his commitment to defence by blocking a ton of shots.
MacKenzie Weegar is a very underrated and underpaid defenceman that the Flames just acquired in a trade. He should slot in on their second pairing next season and has received Norris Trophy votes each of the past two seasons as he continues to improve his game. He may not get as much ice time as he did in Florida, but he should still be effective on a team that is trying to stay competitive after losing their two leading scorers from 2021-22.
Chris Tanev is the fourth member of the Flames who makes this team as he is a solid shutdown defender who put up a respectable number of points last season beating his career high and actually receiving one fifth place Norris Trophy vote. He’s not the most flashy player, but he gets the job done.
Defencemen No Longer Playing in Calgary
The Flames have let some great talent on defence go over the past few seasons. To acquire Hanifin, they moved on from Dougie Hamilton and an unsigned Adam Fox. Fox refused to sign with the Flames, but once arriving in Carolina, also refused to sign with them. The rest is history as he won a Norris Trophy in his second season and finished fifth last season in voting playing for the New York Rangers.
As for Hamilton, he played on three different teams by the age of 25 and just kept getting traded. Calgary was his second team and other than his rough season last year with the New Jersey Devils, he had received votes for the Norris Trophy five seasons in a row. He is the Devils’ number one defenceman and is paid as such. He should have a bounce-back season in 2021-22 and is definitely good enough to be on this dream team.
The final player not playing for the Flames is T.J. Brodie, as he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs after playing 10 seasons in Calgary. Regarded as better defensively, he still recorded 30 points six times and was a staple on their blue line for a decade.
What the Flames’ Defence Core Would Look Like
Noah Hanifin – Adam Fox
MacKenzie Weegar – Dougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie – Rasmus Andersson
The right side would be very deep and it is unfortunate that the Flames only have one of those defencemen left on their roster. Fox and Hamilton are elite and number one defencemen on their teams and it would allow the Flames to have a scoring threat on the ice at all times. Hanifin and Andersson are partners on the actual Flames team, but there is no justification to either slot Hanifin in the lineup much lower or Andersson higher than one of the two stars on the right side. Tanev comes in as the seventh defenceman and gets beaten out slightly by Brodie due to the side of the ice they play on. Swap in Tanev if you will, playing on his off side.
Goaltending of the Flames
The Flames are pretty elite in this category as they would have current Vezina Trophy finalist Jacob Markstrom and the Ottawa Senators’ new goaltender, Cam Talbot, as their starter and backup.
The first season after he signed with the Flames was a tough one for Markstrom and the team, but he bounced back very nicely and should remain one of the top goaltenders in the league with the Flames’ defence only getting better with their recent trade. As for Talbot, he had a career year in Edmonton winning 42 games in 2016-17 before things went downhill. It was when he signed in Calgary for a season where his career was revived and he turned into the Minnesota Wild starter, playing well over the past two seasons.
Talbot may not be the Vezina calibre goaltender he once was, but he is still a strong starter and what would make one of the most dangerous duos in the NHL.
This Flames’ dream team is definitely an improvement over their current team as was to be expected. Their forward depth is a little weak but their high-end talent is strong throughout their lineup. I hope you enjoyed this fantasy team article as there are more to come for the rest of the NHL in the coming days and weeks.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News, trade talks, and daily betting guides.
You can find more of his work here.