In this Calgary Flames news & rumors update, Milan Lucic did the Flames a huge favor this past week, agreeing to waive his no-movement clause (NMC) for the upcoming expansion draft. Meanwhile, Johnny Gaudreau has been putting the puck in the back of the net more often as of late, and his head coach Darryl Sutter may have a lot to do with it. That wasn’t the only interesting news involving Sutter this week, as the veteran coach chose to put Glenn Gawdin in the lineup Sunday night for just the sixth time this season. Also, speaking of putting the puck in the net, both Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund were able to put lengthy goalless droughts to bed, and as a result, help keep their team’s slim playoff hopes alive.
Lucic Waives NMC
Brad Treliving and the Flames got a major favor from Lucic early last week, as the 32-year-old agreed to waive his NMC for the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Had he not, Flames general manager Brad Treliving would have been forced to protect him and his cap hit of $5.25 million, which still has two seasons remaining.
This move will give the Flames one extra player to protect, though there will still be some tough decisions. Still, it was a great team move from Lucic, especially considering he said that he does not want to leave Calgary. While he is now unprotected, it doesn’t seem likely the Kraken will take him regardless, but is still a risk on his behalf.
Gaudreau Shooting More
Though Gaudreau’s point totals haven’t been as great as fans would have hoped this season, the 27-year-old is currently on pace for what would be 30 goals over a full 82-game schedule, a marker he has only hit twice before in his career. He is heating up as of late, with four goals in his last six games, and a big reason for that may be due to the advice he was given from Sutter.
Sutter explained to the media that he told Gaudreau to start shooting the puck more. (from ‘Wes Gilbertson: Flames coach Sutter urging Gaudreau to shoot more … and for good reason’, Calgary Sun, 05/05/21). He believes that a lack of shots is a big part of the reason why Gaudreau hasn’t put up the numbers we are accustomed to from him. According to the bench boss, his five-on-five numbers are at their best when he is shooting the puck, something he got away from earlier this season. The advice certainly seems to be paying off, as he has put up 15 points in his last 15 games.
Gawdin Getting a Shot
The Flames made a somewhat surprising decision to put Gawdin in the lineup in what was a do-or-die game against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night. Whatever the reasoning was, the 24-year-old made the most of it, registering an assist on a Michael Stone goal for his first-ever NHL point.
It was expected that players like Gawdin may get a few games to end out the season with the Flames, however, most thought that would come once they were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Despite being a bit older in terms of a prospect, Gawdin has impressed in the AHL and has a shot to become an NHL regular. If he plays well in these final few games, it could give him an inside shot to cracking the Flames’ roster next season, although he will need a new contract before that is to happen.
Tkachuk and Backlund off the Schneid
Both Tkachuk and Backlund were able to score in Sunday night’s 6-1 win over the Senators. Not only were the goals huge for the team, but they also ended lengthy goalless droughts for both players. Heading into last night’s contest, Tkachuk had not scored in 13 straight games, while Backlund hadn’t found the back of the net in 11.
While many Flames have struggled this season, Tkachuk may be the most disappointing. The 23-year-old has just 11 goals and 37 points in 52 games, which is far less than anyone was expecting. Hopefully, he is able to build off of this goal and finish the season strong. Backlund hasn’t been as dependable as years past either and has just nine goals and 28 points on the year. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Flames choose to protect him in the expansion draft.
Playoff Hopes Not Dead Yet
It is shocking to be writing this, considering they have been on the brink of elimination for quite some time now, but the Flames have yet to be mathematically eliminated from the postseason. They currently sit eight points back of the Montreal Canadiens for the fourth seed in the Scotia North Division but have two games in hand.
In order to make it, they would need to win their four remaining games, which are all against the Vancouver Canucks. That isn’t all, however, as they also need the Habs to go pointless in their final two games, which both come against the Edmonton Oilers. If Montreal is able to pick up just a single point, they will officially clinch a playoff berth. While it remains very unlikely for the Flames, it is not yet impossible, which at the very least has allowed for these past few games to remain exciting.
Former Jr. A player turned blogger. At-large writer covering mainly the Calgary Flames. Co-host of Flames Faceoff and Oilers Overtime podcasts.