Flames News & Rumors: Hanifin, Leivo, Gaudreau, Zary & More

In this Calgary Flames News & Rumors update, defenceman Noah Hanifin will be forced to miss some time due to an upper-body injury sustained in Saturday night’s game versus the Montreal Canadiens. They are also currently without forward Josh Leivo, who was added to the NHL’s COVID Protocol List Friday morning. Meanwhile, Johnny Gaudreau’s most recent goal moved him up on the Flames’ all-time list. To cap things off, prospect Connor Zary, who was taken in the first-round of the 2020 Draft, is lighting it up in the Western Hockey League (WHL).

Hanifin Injury

While Saturday night’s win over the Montreal Canadiens was huge for the Flames, it wasn’t all good news as defenceman Hanifin played just two shifts before exiting the game with an upper-body injury. The 24-year-old got tangled up with Corey Perry and went down awkwardly.

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

Though many thought he sustained a head injury as he appeared to hit his head on the ice, some media members suggested he may have a shoulder injury. That has proven to be true, as the team announced today he will require season-ending shoulder surgery. Hanifin had really branched out this season and was a key factor for this team that is trying desperately to get back into the playoff hunt. It goes without saying that this is a huge loss. In 47 games this season, he registered four goals and 15 points.

COVID-19 Situation

On Friday morning, it was announced the Flames had to cancel their morning skate due to a positive COVID-19 test. Soon after, it was announced that Leivo had been added to the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol List. He was forced to sit out both Friday and Saturday night’s games as a result, and has yet to be taken off the list.

Josh Leivo Calgary Flames
Josh Leivo, Calgary Flames (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

This is yet another blow to what has been an extremely frustrating season for Leivo. While there was hope he could provide this team some secondary scoring, he has managed just five goals and seven points in 36 games. The good news here is that head coach Darryl Sutter said after Friday night’s game that the 27-year-old is feeling good despite having the virus. The hope is that he is able to return to the lineup in the near future.

Gaudreau Passes Otto

After the season appeared to be lost for the Flames, they have somehow creeped back into the playoff picture, and the recent play of Gaudreau is a big reason why. The 27-year-old has nine points in his last seven games, and has only been held off the scoresheet once in that span. Four of those points are goals, and the most recent one helped move him up on the Flames’ all-time goals list.

Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Gaudreau’s second goal of the night on Saturday vs. the Canadiens not only helped his team secure a 5-2 win, but also moved him past Joel Otto for sole possession of 13th all-time in franchise goals. He now has 168 career goals, and trails only Joe Mullen, who had 190 for the most goals in a Flames uniform by an American-born player. Despite receiving his fair share of criticism over the last year or so, there is no denying that he has had a terrific career in Calgary to this point.

Zary Torching the WHL

On the day of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, general manager Brad Treliving traded down in the first round two separate times before selecting forward Connor Zary with the 24th pick. The 19-year-old was coming off of an impressive season with the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL in which he had 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games.

Due to the WHL’s season being delayed this year, Zary got to suit up for nine games with the Stockton Heat of the AHL and did not look at all out of place as he was able to put up seven points. He has since returned to Kamloops and is proving just how special he is. In just 13 games played, he has six goals and 22 points. The next closest in points on his team is Josh Pillar with 14, proving just how good Zary has been.

Connor Zary Kamloops Blazers
Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers (Allen Douglas)

That point total is good enough for top-30 in the entire league, and leads the BC Division. Expect him to continue this for the rest of the season, as well as the playoffs. Given how good the Blazers roster is this season, he could get in a lot of postseason games this year. While it remains early, he looks like a tremendous pick for the Flames right now.

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