As the NHL gets ready to kick off their season, the 2020-21 campaign will be much different for the league and the teams within it. While fans will remain out of most buildings and the divisions have been mixed and matched, the actual game itself will be a much similar product to what we’ve seen in year’s past.
With that, it’s a brand new year for the Calgary Flames and general manager Brad Treliving who made a number of offseason moves to try and improve their overall depth – something Treliving says the team will need to prove is a strength moving forward this season.
Treliving spoke to the media prior to the season kicking off to discuss just how important it is for the team to buy into the overall goal of their squad, whether it be sharing ice-time or finding a way to create balance up and down the lineup.
Flames’ Offseason Changes
While the Flames lost a few players this offseason, including Travis Hamonic, T.J. Brodie and Cam Talbot, the team did bring in some key additions in the form of Christopher Tanev, Jacob Markstrom, while re-signing Andrew Mangiapane who proved to be a role player for the team last season.
The team also added goaltender Louis Domingue, defenceman Nikita Nesterov and forward Josh Leivo who could potentially all play roles for the Flames in this shortened, condensed 56-game season.
Domingue, while playing third string to Markstrom and David Rittich, offers the team some NHL experienced depth in net if there is an injury or long-term issue with one of the other goaltenders.
On top of that guys like Leivo, Mangiapane and Zac Rinaldo – who was designated to the team’s taxi squad – can also provide other intangibles throughout the lineup. Leivo and Mangiapane have the potential to provide some kind of secondary scoring on the bottom six, while Rinaldo – if he gets into games – can deliver some extra punch to the Flames’ lineup.
Either way, while the team did lose some key pieces, they added just as much this offseason that the depth Treliving is talking about should be an asset for this Flames squad. The key will be whether or not they can capitalize on it in the NHL’s all-Canadian North Division.
Flames Amongst Canada’s Best?
With all things considered, the Flames could come out of the Canadian division as one of the better clubs. With the Ottawa Senators still in the midst of their rebuild, the Montreal Canadiens a slight unknown and the considerable goaltending issues likely to be a factor in Edmonton with the Oilers, the division could see the Canucks, the Flames and the Maple Leafs atop their standings once it’s all said and done.
Don’t worry Jets fans, I haven’t forgotten about you folks in Winnipeg. But with their major changes on the back end over the past couple of seasons and the questions surrounding Patrik Laine’s future with the team, it could be just too much to overcome.
In the end, it won’t only be the top players on each team that will get their groups to the top of the division. It’ll come down to depth and playing roles as Treliving mentioned in regards to his Flames.
If the Flames are able to do just that, there’s no reason why Markstrom can’t backstop this club to a top three spot in the North Division this season.
The Flames will open their 2020-21 season on Thursday against the Jets in Winnipeg.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.