The 2015-2016 has finally graced us with its presence and its time to get pumped. The Calgary Flames had one of the greatest and most exciting seasons of last season, and maybe even all of the teams’ history. With some positive changes to the team in the offseason, the Flames could potentially have an even better season. Let’s take a look at the team, and what their season could hold.
Building off of last season’s success
The 2014-2015 season for the Calgary Flames was one that absolutely no one could have predicted. For the team to go 45-30-7 in the regular season and even make it to round two of the playoffs was something so off of everyone’s radar. They were the “Comeback Kids” and they wore the title well. They were the team that you found yourself rooting for, even if you weren’t a fan.
With injuries plaguing key pieces of the team, like captain Mark Giordano, the team is looking for a fresh start. Players like Sean Monahan (31 G, 31 A), Johnny Gaudreau (24 G, 40 A) and Jiri Hudler (31 G, 45 A) – among many others – stepped up in a huge way offensively. Others like alternate captains Dennis Wideman (15 G, 41 A) and Kris Russell (4 G, 30 A) were the defensive powerhouses. Of course, you can’t forget about the goaltending displayed by both Karri Ramo (15 w, 9 L) and Jonas Hiller (26 W, 19 L), both of which played phenomenally.
The offseason was a very positive one for the Calgary Flames. Solidifying their blue line was obviously a main focus; adding 22-year-old defenseman Dougie Hamilton from the Boston Bruins, to the mix will hopefully be a huge. Hamilton, a 6′ 5″, 212 pound defenseman is exactly the guy that Calgary needed. With so many smaller built guys filling the roster, adding some man-power to the blue line was something that Calgary knew they needed. Playing against the Anaheim Ducks in the 2015 Playoffs was the indicator that the team needed some bigger guys to fill their lineup.
Signing 27-year-old free agent, Michael Frolik from the Anaheim Ducks in the offseason was another big addition to the roster. Frolik had 42 points (19 G, 23 A) for the Ducks in 82 games in the 2014-2015 season.
“What it does do is add so much depth to our team and add so many different options,” Giordano said per CBC Sports. “Last year we had guys playing close to 30 minutes on the back end and forwards playing well over 20.”
Frolik and Hamilton both add depth to the roster and look to be great additions to the team.
Youth outnumbering the vets
The Flames have been praised for the past year or so for having so much youth on their team, but now those ‘young guys’ are really taking over. The oldest player on the Flames is 33-year-old Deryk Engelland, and he is one of only six players that are 30 or older.
Calgary isn’t looking for a team that has one good season filled with well-adjusted veterans; they’re looking for a young team that has the potential to be good for a very long time. This is such a smart move on their part. They know they don’t have all of the pieces right now, but they are building to get to that point; at the same time, just because they are building doesn’t mean they don’t already have the right pieces for success. Grooming a team of young players for not only current, but also future success is the way that they will be able to thrive for a very long time.
20-year-old Sean Monahan was announced as the team’s third alternate captain on Tuesday afternoon. This is incredibly indicative of the amount of admiration that they have for their youth. Though there are many players on that current roster that may be worthy, appointing Monahan with the ‘A’ shows a lot about the vision that the team has.
Still some uncertainties
There are some uncertainties for the team, but overall, they seem to be set for a successful season. With forward Paul Byron getting claimed off of waivers by the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, the roster sits at 22 players – 3 of which are goaltenders. This seems to be the only predicament that they have currently is deciding which goaltender will stay, but they have time to evaluate and decide which two will be there for the long-haul. The position battle is currently between Jiri Hudler, Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio. Ortio made 6 appearances for the team in the 2014-2015 season, but how long he will be a part of the Flames will be up for debate.
The only way is up
The Flames have the perfect opportunity under Jack Adams Award winning coach, Bob Hartley, to use the momentum from last season going into this upcoming year. The organization has such a good understanding of how to build a team that will last, and it is slowly, but surely, paying off. There success in the present season, and also in the future is inevitable and the only direction that they seem to be heading is up.
Flames opening night roster