In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, Andrew Mangiapane shined at the 2021 IIHF World Championships, helping Team Canada win gold as tournament MVP. Elias Lindholm and captain Mark Giordano also won awards: Lindholm was selected as the Flames’ MVP for the 2020-21 season, while Giordano was named the team’s best defenceman. Johnny Gaudreau received the first-ever Daryl ‘Doc’ Seaman Award. Meanwhile, as the free-agent market looms ahead, rumours have been floating about whether the team should bring back goaltender David Rittich. One player who will not be back, however, is Joakim Nordstrom, who signed a deal in the KHL.
Mangiapane Wins MVP
Before the end of the Flames’ 2020-21 season, Mangiapane accepted an invitation to play for Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships. Unfortunately, he was forced to quarantine on arrival and missed the team’s first three games, but he made the most of the games he played.
In seven games, the 25-year-old scored seven goals and four assists. Not only did he help Team Canada turn their tournament around after a terrible 0-3 start to win the gold medal, but he was also named tournament MVP. This should be a great confidence boost for Mangiapane, who continues to improve every season.
Flames Award Winners
The Flames announced a few award winners last week. First was Giordano, who won the Clayton H. Riddell Award, which is given to the defenceman who “demonstrates throughout the regular season the greatest all-around ability at the position.”
Giordano, 37, had a slow start to the season but was able to pick up his game. His 22:57 of ice time led all Flames, while his 26 points led the defence in points. Despite his success this season, management has some tough decisions ahead with the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, and Giordano may be left unprotected.
One day later, the Flames rewarded Lindholm with the Harley N. Hotchkiss Award, given annually to the team’s MVP. The 26-year-old has been fantastic since joining the Flames via trade before the 2018-19 campaign, and this season was more of the same. Lindholm was their most consistent forward, finishing with 19 goals and 47 points in 56 contests.
Early last week, Gaudreau was awarded the Daryl ‘Doc’ Seaman Award, which is named after the former Flames owner who helped bring the team to Calgary from Atlanta, and will be awarded annually to the team’s leading scorer at the end of the regular season. This is the first season the award has been given.
While Gaudreau went through a rough patch near the midway point of the season, he had a tremendous finish to give him 49 points in 56 games. It marks the fifth time in the last six seasons that he has led the team in scoring.
Return of Rittich?
At the deadline, general manager Brad Treliving traded goaltender David Rittich to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a third-round pick in the 2022 Draft. At the time, the deal made sense. The Flames were well outside the playoff picture, and Rittich was the backup on an expiring contract. Unfortunately, he was used as the Maple Leafs’ third-string goalie and struggled in four games, with a 2.72 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage, which may have hurt his chances to become a starter for another team in free agency.
Given his low market value, the idea has been floated that the Flames should bring back the Czech netminder. If Rittich is open to the idea, signing him would make sense, given that the organization doesn’t have an in-house option to back up Jacob Markstrom next season. Rittich is coming off a two-year deal worth $2.75 million per season, but he may be forced to sign for less on his next contract due to the NHL’s flat cap for next season.
Nordstrom Heads Overseas
Last offseason, Treliving signed multiple one-year deals to help shore up his bottom six, including Nordstrom, who was brought in for his ability to kill penalties and play a physical game. He did both of those things exceptionally well for the Flames, but it wasn’t enough to convince him that another team would sign him for next season.
Though Nordstrom helped on Calgary’s penalty kill, he provided next to nothing at even strength. In 44 games, he registered one goal and seven points. As a result, he chose to sign a one-year deal with CSKA Moscow in the KHL, and this is likely the last we will see of the 29-year-old in the NHL. In 444 career games, which included stints with the Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, and Boston Bruins, he had 32 goals and 75 points.
Former Jr. A player turned blogger. At-large writer covering mainly the Calgary Flames. Co-host of Flames Faceoff and Oilers Overtime podcasts.