In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, Matthew Tkachuk made it abundantly clear on Friday that it is time for this team to start performing. Meanwhile, general manager Brad Treliving tried to explain why he has been unable to do much with his roster this offseason. In other news, both Connor Zary and Jakob Pelletier let it be known that they are looking to earn a spot on the Flames roster for the 2021-22 season. Last but not least, the Flames and Edmonton Oilers rookies squared off on Saturday night, in which was a hard fought battle at Rogers Place.
Tkachuk Expects More from Flames
The Flames’ struggles in playoffs in recent years, mixed with the fact they missed the postseason all together in 2020-21, has many fans frustrated. This team has talent, yet seems to struggle to put it all together. On Friday, Tkachuk confirmed that the players hold the same frustrations when it comes to their lack of success as a team in recent years.
“It’s kind of enough is enough right now,” Tkachuk said at the NHL/NHLPA Player Media Tour on Friday. “Time is ticking, and average isn’t fun, and that’s what we’ve been. We’ve been making playoffs, missing playoffs, make the playoffs, lose first round, it’s not been fun. It’s time for us to really do something, take that next step, but I think guys really have to dig in from the start.”
Most will agree with these comments from the 23-year-old, though he will also need to be better. He took a step backwards last season compared to what he had done in the two prior, posting just 16 goals and 43 points in 56 games. Hopefully his frustrations will lead to more team success for the 2021-22 campaign.
Treliving Explains Lack of Moves
As mentioned, Flames fans are frustrated with the way their team has failed to perform in recent years, and much of that frustration has been directed towards Treliving. Despite being with the team for seven years, he has failed to make any changes to the core, and was expected to finally do so this offseason. Instead, he once again kept it intact, and tried to explain why this past week.
“I know everybody screams for change, and we talked about that, but we can only do things that are available to you,” Treliving said. “I can’t click my heels and make things happen. You have to have a trade partner. Nobody is ever done in this business – you’re always looking to improve. But it has got to make sense.
“It doesn’t make any sense for us to give a player away for 50 cents on the dollar. It’s great to say, ‘go get this guy.’ Problem is, this isn’t fantasy hockey. The idea that you can go pick ‘this player’ off the player tree … it doesn’t happen that way.”
This is likely a make it or break it year for Treliving, whose team has won a single playoff series during his time as the Flames GM, along with a win in last years play-in round against the Winnipeg Jets. Unless he makes a significant move ahead of the 2021-22 season, he will be relying on the core he assembled to finally figure things out in order to help save his job.
Zary & Pelletier Aiming for Roster Spots
Both Zary and Pelletier, who are both first-round picks of the Flames, are looking to make the roster out of camp this year. Zary, 19, was taken 24th overall in 2020 and is one of the teams best prospects. Due to the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) season being delayed in 2020-21, he was able to suit up for nine games with the Stockton Heat in the American Hockey League (AHL), and didn’t look even slightly out of place, scoring three goals and seven points in nine games. That gave him a lot of confidence, and has him wanting to play at an even higher level in 2021-22.
“For both of us, we put in a lot of work this summer and you come into camp not worrying about the depth chart,” Zary said in regards to both him and Pelletier. “Everyone has to do their job, and everyone has to perform. Just because your name is higher than someone else’s on the list doesn’t mean they can’t come out here and be better than you. So, I think every day you’ve got to put your head down and go to work.”
In the 15 WHL games he was able to play in with the Kamloops Blazers last season, Zary scored six gaols and 24 points. Making the Flames roster this year is a long shot, but regardless of whether or not he is able to, he is a very promising prospect for this team.
Pelletier, 20, was taken 26th overall in 2019. He has put up exceptional numbers in all four of his seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), and is hoping to impress the Flames brass enough to earn a roster spot this season.
“We kind of know who the players are, to be honest,” Pelletier said when asked about veteran players he and Zary will be competing for roster spots against. “But we’re here to play. There’s a whole staff that is going to make some decisions. Our job is just to play here. The goal is to make the Flames team for sure.”
Like Zary, Pelletier’s chances of cracking the Flames roster out of camp this year are quite slim, but you have to love the confidence each of them possesses. Both are extremely valuable to the franchise and if developed properly have a real shot at becoming key components to the Flames roster in the not so distant future.
Flames Rookies Blow Lead to Oilers
On Saturday night, the Flames and Oilers rookies clashed in a battle that took place at Rogers Place in Edmonton. The Flames youngsters began the game with a 2-0 lead after goals from Walker Duehr and Ryan Francis. The Oilers made it 2-1 soon after, but the Flames responded thanks to a goal from Martin Pospisil and led 3-1 at the end of the first.
Unfortunately, the Oilers were able to tie it back up in the second period, and scored the go ahead goal in the third period to make it 4-3, which ended up being the final score. Despite the loss, the Flames controlled the majority of play throughout the game and deserved a better fate. The good news here is that several prospects played very good games, and will look to continue doing so Monday evening where the two teams are set to face off once again.
Though there is some frustration amongst fans, they are undoubtedly excited for the 2021-22 season to get underway. Training camp being just around the corner means games will be starting quite soon. First up for the Flames will be an exhibition tilt against the Oilers on September 26, and then another against the rival Vancouver Canucks the very next day.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.