The off-season is long. Especially if your team doesn’t make it to the playoffs. But a lot can happen after playoffs have ended and when teams are taking a break and laying low.
First, the Flames have always had a “goalie situation” since the departure of Miikka Kiprusoff in 2013. So it’s no surprise that the Flames were in the market for another goalie during the off-season.
Enter Mike Smith.
Chad Johnson, who was acquired only last season, was traded to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Mike Smith. Even though Johnson didn’t stay with Arizona, Smith has remained with Calgary, where he will most likely get the starting position during the 2017-2018 season. He was a hit or miss goalie during his time with the Coyotes, and I think Calgary will continue with their goalie issues until they can find someone more reliable in net.
Speaking of goalie issues, I have an issue with the acquisition of Eddie Lack. Yes, he’s got a good personality. Yes, he seems like a good young goalie to work through the ranks. But the Flames don’t have that kind of time. They need results now. And with Lack’s previous stint in Vancouver (our arch rivals!) and his 54 wins and 51 losses in the NHL, I don’t have a lot of faith in him.
Maybe Smith and Lack will surprise me. Maybe they’ll come out swinging and prove me wrong. I genuinely hope they do. Because the Flames need some solid goaltending in the wake of a few disasterous seasons.
Offence hasn’t been too much of an issue for the Flames. They’ve penned Monahan, Gaudreau, Backlund, Versteeg, and Tkachuk to contracts and there’s no shortage of firepower from any of those players.
The defensive core has stumbled in the past couple seasons. Giordano and Brodie, once pegged as the most powerful defensive pairing in the NHL, have been pulled apart and paired with other partners. With Hamilton and Engelland, they created the core of the Flames defence and they did pretty well. With the departure of Engelland to Las Vegas, there was an important spot to fill.
And that placement has gone to Travis Hamonic. From what I hear, Hamonic is a consistent d-man and has been known to break out in the offensive zone. He logs an average of 23 minutes per game and his off-ice antics endear the fans. If he’s as good as people tell me, the Flames defence may have just gotten better. And Hamonic will be a key player.
Most of the departures in Calgary didn’t surprise me. As the Calgary Flames handed out qualifying offers to some of the more proactive players, Alex Chiasson was left empty-handed. Lance Bouma was also left in the dust and was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. They were not the impact players that Calgary had hoped for and I knew they were playing on borrowed time.
With the change-up in the roster this season, generally speaking, I think the Flames made some good moves. But they have a lot to prove in order to make it not just through the regular season, but through the first round of playoffs – which is where they’ve been stuck for two of three seasons.
It would be nice to see a substantial playoff run in 2018, but I won’t hold my breath.