January 14 2016 12:00PM
The next few months are bound to be an interesting time for Calgary Flames observers and a very challenging time for general manager Brad Treliving. With the club in the third season of its rebuilding project, the team is faced with the challenge of furthering the development of their organization's young players while having an NHL roster that's chock full of established NHL bodies without a bunch of upside - and that are clogging up spots that could be used to evaluate emerging AHL bodies.
Take, for example, Jakub Nakladal. The Flames have seven NHL defenders on one-way deals (and who are all making $2.6 million and above), which makes it basically impossible - logistically and cap-wise - to give Nakladal a shot at the NHL despite him being strong in the AHL and worthy of a promotion. When your top AHL performers can't get a shot at a big-league call-up, it could have an impact on the performance of the whole team - if Morgan Klimchuk sees Derek Grant stuck in the AHL quicksand despite killing it, he might not grow to the same extent as he would in an environment with upward mobility.
The Flames might not make the playoffs this season. They're definitely not winning a Stanley Cup. Treliving is a smart guy. He's likely aware of this, and has his eye on the team's long-term development. Here's a position-by-position look at what the Flames need to do to fuel their future growth.
January 14 2016 10:00AM
We're just over halfway through this season of Calgary Flames hockey, and the season is both clearer than when it started, and murkier as well. The Flames set themselves behind with a horrific opening month, but since then have rebounded to respectable play, putting them in contention for a playoff spot - but, at the same time, a lottery pick.
What's a hockey team to do? We'll find out, but in the meantime, here are thoughts, reflections, favourites and least favourites of the 2015-16 season to date, as brought to you by Flames Nation's arsenal of writers.
January 14 2016 08:00AM
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports
The Flames played a very composed, overall dominant game of hockey. Their 6-0 win was the greatest margin they've won by this season, passing their previous best, which was a 4-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
This win was very different from that one, though. While the victory over the Avs was a victory of depth, there's one player who stole the entire show against the Panthers, and he only needed one period in which to do it.
January 13 2016 10:36PM
(Sergei Belski - USA Today Sports)
The Florida Panthers came into the Scotiabank Saddledome as one of the hottest clubs in the National Hockey League, having just seen their 12-game winning streak snapped by the Vancouver Canucks. But rather than look at the Calgary Flames as potential slump-busters or the beginning of a new streak, by the end of the first period the Panthers looked downright terrified of the Flames and ready to go home.
Calgary looked like an unstoppable force tonight, handily beating the Panthers by a 6-0 score in the final game of their current home-stand.
January 13 2016 08:38PM
Sam Bennett's Hat Trick Hats!! pic.twitter.com/qK5A1S1594— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) January 14, 2016
A lot is expected out of Sam Bennett. He's a fourth overall pick, after all: the highest ever in Calgary Flames franchise history. Not only that, but he started off his NHL career with a bang, including playing on the second line of a team that made the second round of the playoffs, and not once looking out of place.
So when Bennett went 18 straight games without a goal, well, it was disappointing. Not worrying, because he was doing everything but putting the puck in the back of the net, but a little disappointing.
Disappointing no more, because Bennett now has his first career hat trick - and he's the youngest Flame ever to get one.