FN Mailbag – Travis Hamonic and the Flames’ future

June started pretty quietly for the Flames, but it’s been a busy last seven days or so. Once the festivities started, Brad Treliving got busy plugging the Flames’ major roster holes by acquiring G Mike Smith and trading for D Travis Hamonic. Calgary’s entry draft was capped by picking new top prospect Juuso Valimaki, a welcome bonus that adds to an already impressive defensive prospect stable.

So where do the Flames stand now? What’s left to do in free agency? And how do the new additions affect the depth chart?

To start I imagine Gulutzan will go back to the Giordano-Hamilton pairing since it was so successful last year. That means Brodie-Hamonic will be the second pairing.

Things may change down the road, however. One of the “drawbacks” of the Gio and Dougie pairing is it features both of Calgary’s best offensive defenders. If  GG wants to spread out the blueline attack somewhat, he may try playing Brodie with Hamilton and Gio with Hamonic.

We’re going to look into this more over the summer, but it’s true that Hamonic had one of his worst seasons in the NHL last year. In fact, his shot impact/hour dipped below average for the first time in his career, albeit in only 49 games.

A smaller sample of contests and a season shortened/hampered by injury suggests the player might be in line for rebound. At 26 years old, Hamonic isn’t at an age where we’d typically expect a sudden downturn.

The Hamonic deal looks a lot like the Hamilton deal. The latter was an underpayment given Hamilton’s age and ceiling, but the Hamonic trade has a much higher bust risk. Travis isn’t a surefire top pairing guy and he has struggled a bit lately, especially last season. If he doesn’t rebound in a significant way in Calgary, it’s unlikely he will be worth the bounty Brad Treliving paid for him. However, if he does manage to solidify Calgary’s backend and push the team towards contender status, it will seem like a price worth paying.

As for Demers, I am somewhat disappointed the market for him wasn’t investigated a little further because I get the feeling Florida is looking to dump his salary more than anything. He is more expensive than Hamonic, but has put up several seasons of better than average results across the board. It will be interesting to see where he lands and for how much.

Actually, Hamonic spent a lot of his season last year with Nick Leddy and Calvin de Haan, two very capable defenders. In fact, both guys have been his most frequent partners over the last two seasons, so I don’t think we can anticipate a major bump from playing with Brodie.

That said, Tyler Dellow has a deep look at Hamonic’s past here ($ paywall). In the article, he shows Hamonic has previously excelled with players like de Haan and Leddy (while being dragged down by terrible partners like Brian Strait and Andrew MacDonald. Kind of like Brodie last year, in fact). Last season is the lone outlier where Hamonic struggled with everyone, but a broken thumb and a knee injury are (as mentioned) potential explanations for that.

His conclusion:

If you’re willing to treat the past season as a write-off and conclude that it was probably injury/Islanders related rather than decline related, which is the sensible bet to make in the case of a player who doesn’t turn 27 until August. It seems like a very smart risk and, if it pays off, Calgary quite possibly ends up with the best defence in the NHL.

Calgary’s window of contention opens next season, so Brad Treliving is going all in to patch cracks in the foundation with what is available. I don’t like the Smith bet myself, but Hamonic may prove to be the right move given how badly the Flames needed to find another top four defender.

The good news is, the organization’s cupboards are relatively full at defense and in goal. Up front things are thinning out, though with Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Sam Bennett all in the NHL already, Calgary doesn’t necessarily need a pipeline of bluechip forwards feeding the parent club right now.

Aside from improving the club’s right wing depth, Treliving’s next steps are obvious: clear out the bad contracts from the bottom end of the roster and avoid any other Brouwer-like mistakes in free agency.

Probably none of them. Matt Stajan is a capable fourth line C at this point in his career, but he’s way overpaid for that role. Troy Brouwer and Lance Bouma were two of the worst regular Calgary forwards from a shot and scoring chance perspective last year, so trading either of them is a pipe dream as well. At best, Bouma may find himself in the AHL this year so the Flames can clear up a roster spot for a more promising player like Mark Jankowski.

Alex Chiasson might have some value if the Flames choose to re-sign him (but then why would you sign and trade a depth player like Chiasson?). Aside from him, I don’t think there’s an obvious path to moving any of these guys.

Cody Franson is a proven NHL defender, so on the face of it, he would be the better choice. NHL coaches are skittish enough about playing one rookie blueliner at a time, let alone two on the same pairing. That said, I would like to see Rasmus Andersson get some looks at the NHL level this year.

Of course, this assumes Franson would be willing to sign in Calgary as a cheap, third pairing guy. That may not be realistic.

One thing adding a veteran like Franson does do, however, is protect against injury risk. Franson can likely move up into a top four role fairly easily if Hamilton or Hamonic are hurt. That becomes a tall order for a 21-year-old rookie like Andersson.

The Flames are certainly facing a future traffic jam given their established top four rotation and large collection of young defenders. All of Hamilton, Brodie, Giordano, and Hamonic are locked in for the next three years, while Andersson, Brett Kulak, Oliver Kylington, Keegan Kanzig, Adam Fox, and now Juuso Valimaki could all be pushing for spots within that window.

It’s perhaps the best problem to have in the NHL. As the Hamonic trade proves, quality defenders are highly sought after and can garner attractive returns.

As such, if Calgary starts to see big gains in development from any of their prospects, they’ll have the option of trading one of the established guys and slotting in the kid or flipping the kid to recoup some of their picks. This will obviously depend on a variety of factors such as Calgary’s cap position, the performance of the incumbents, the handedness of the usurper prospect, etc.

What this structure may dictate, however, is a succession plan to ease Mark Giordano out of the number one defender role as he ages. The captain remains Calgary’s best overall blueliner right now, but at 33 years old that is unlikely to continue too much longer. Ideally, as the kids progress, Giordano will be eased down the rotation or potentially traded down the road.

It’s going to be tough to do that this summer.

Treliving’s three priorities entering the offseason were starting goalie, a top four defender, and a top six right winger. He chose to aggressively pursue the first two, which cost a lot in terms of future assets. It’s not impossible that he may court the Vegas Golden Knights to move a Jon Marchessault or James Neal, but the Flames’ bargaining position is now hobbled by their lack of draft picks.

Unless they want to dip into their store of defense and goalie prospects right away to strengthen the wing position, they may have to settle with, say, re-signing Versteeg and hoping either he or Micheal Ferland can play with Gaudreau and Monahan this year.

It’s a very short, not at all inspiring list. Aside from Justin Williams, you have aging gambles like Jaromir Jagr, Shane Doan, Alex Hemsky, and Radim Vrbata. [ed. What, no Jarome Iginla?!] The lone big name guy left is Alex Radulov, but he’s looking for a large, long-term contract from Montreal and probably not in Calgary’s ballpark.

If the Flames are willing to look on the left side, there is Patrick Sharp, Patrick Marleau, Chris Kunitz, and Thomas Vanek. Some of these guys seem to have tread left on the tire, though there are clears signs of decline for all of them.

There’s no impetus for the Flames to charge out of the gate on July 1 at this point. The free agent market will be awash in veteran backups, although the team could just choose to go with one of its kids instead. Same for the bottom pairing defense slot.

As mentioned, the ideal candidate for that role is probably Franson, but if he isn’t keen to come West or play on the third pairing, there’s a lot of guys who will be looking for work later in the summer. Word is Calgary is still talking to Michael Stone, but the numbers probably don’t work if he’s looking for second pairing money again.

If the choice is not to go with kids on the third pairing, whoever is brought in should be on a stopgap-type deal: two years or less and not overly expensive. As mentioned above, Calgary has a lot of hopefuls knocking on the door so it would be folly to stuff the bottom end of the roster with veteran contracts.

Anything at or below the level of goaltending they received last year will be considered a failure, I think. Smith will definitely get at least one season to secure the net and show he’s still a solid NHL starter. If things don’t go well in year one, the Flames may go back to free agency or start to promote aggressively from within to find an alternative.

I imagine Brad Treliving is hoping more than anything that one of Jon Gillies or David Rittich takes a step forward next season and starts pushing for a full-time job. Gillies’ mediocre debut in the AHL has set the succession plan back a bit and thrown doubt on whether the kid can truly turn into a number one goalie. We can only wait and see how things unfold this year.

  • Greg

    The thing I initially missed about the hamonic deal is the last 2nd is actually a flip of picks with the Isles 4th rounder in the same year. It’s still trading down 2 rounds, but that softens the price a bit.

    • jakethesnail

      Draft picks are over-rated, especially since Smith and Hamonic will put the Flames in the top 3 in the Western Conference and lot poorer picks given up as a result.

  • TurkeyLips

    Awesome work these past weeks surrounding the draft. FN + Nation Network, just wanted to say THANK-YOU! Really, thank-you for providing an avenue for Canadian hockey conversation with a platform that isn’t stuck in the 90’s.

    Alas, may we Flames fans console ourselves in the midst of Oiler fan fever with regards to the Hamonic trade? All across the interweb, that fanbase puts those febrile delusions on full display. Just a couple hand-picked quotes:

    “lol mortgaging their future”
    “Burke’s Kessel trade”
    “dumpster fire”

    Taking a look at recent ON comments provides a clear enough picture. Let’s wipe those oil-stained goggles for our fossil fuel friends up north, shall we? Clear up the picture some.

    • TurkeyLips

      In an attempt to shore up Oil defense, Chiarelli traded the most feared partner Draisaitl will ever sniff besides McDavid (how’s the German’s contract going to look driving his own line?) for a #2 D. First overall draft pick Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, while Flames get Hamilton for a song and dance. The acquisitions are both #2’s, but we didn’t toss a perennial + elite heart-and-soul roster player (Hall was treated like disposable trash) to get it done. Alright.

      Right-shot Brandon Davidson was traded for a rental. Alright. “Norris-Calibre” Schultz (oh the irony, really) – an expansion draft protected defenseman boasting back-to-back Stanley Cup championships – was traded for a 3rd. Alright? Not quite. Now the Oilers need a powerplay quarterback after having Schultz and Ristolainen in their palms. Alright!

      Nothing beats Chia pet in getting Reinhart, a vaporized magic bean, for a 1st + 2nd rounder going the other way. One of the worst trades of the decade (scouts recommending that one? Still enjoying a nice Oil paycheque). Then the Fossil Fans bark when Tre does a similar style transaction, giving up an additional 2nd, but getting a 4th rounder + NHL proven Hamonic back, who’s on a contract cheaper than Kris Russell’s. Now that’s rich.

      • TurkeyLips

        Just to twist the dagger a little more, check the depreciation of those Oil drops. Once they hit market, it’s like black friday for GM’s around the league. While we’re at it, let’s bless the heavenly heart of Garth Snow. No analysis is necessary to say Eberle for Strome (embarrassment for Canada at the 2016 WJCs!) is a net loss for Oiler offense.

        And what happened to that other guy…the Russian? At least Daigle quit, Yakupov first overall draft pick = peanuts because he was destroyed. Truly a great loss. How about wasting a 2nd round pick just to sign Chia, who’s still forgotten about the backup goalie position…the list goes on.

        This was fun. May our rivalry last forever…I think there’s enough beef in Alberta hockey to surpass the Flyers/Penguins crown for most rivalled fanbases. I just hope little Johnny Hockey or any Oilers fans don’t fall over when he’s handed that massive silver cup this season.

        • Al Rain

          I would suggest that the solution is to get thicker skin. But if you really need consoling, perhaps keep in mind that the Flames were not built on #EpicWelfare.

        • Raffydog

          C’mon really, I understand the need for optimism, but there is no chance in hell the Flames are hoisting anything next season, except their garbage bags on locker clean out day. The core of this team is still the same one that got destroyed by Anaheim in the playoffs, the same core that got spanked all season by the oilers, and the same core that limped into the playoffs with something like 4 wins in there last 10 games. So we have Smith instead of Elliott, which is basically a wash, Hamonic is here now, but coming off the 3 worst seasons of his career; can anyone say Dennis Wideman 2.0. It does look like the Flames are going all in this season, but they’re playing with a losing hand, and I’m calling their bluff

          • jakethesnail

            Well, for starters, Smith has a 15-3 record against the Oil; he can steal games (unlike Elliott who cost us points). Hamonic is >> Stone. They now have a top 4 d that is now the envy of the Oil and most NHL GMs.
            There is bound to be regression on the part of the Oil, especially on D with Sekera out for 6 months and Russell – well we all know that he is one hard shot to the cayonnes or ankles that could put him out for months….

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            From what I am hearing… Oiler fans will be able to say Wideman 1.0 since rumour has that there are negotiations taking place. Good luck with that. I am a little worried when Oiler fans say Calgary is playing with a losing hand….because who in sports would know what a losing hand is better than a modern day Oiler fan. Now back to the Drive through window… those fries aren’t going to serve themselves.

          • Newbietwo

            Seriously? That’s your response?

            Let’s take Edmonton first

            – They have no back up goalie! And their starter had a career year which means he is bound to regress by a little say .05 SVP or 10 more goals which equals roughly four more lost games
            – Their D after the first pairing is useless and small not physical at all.. you have benning and Russel who is below 6ft tall..
            – You just lost a 20 goal scorer and a total of 52 points and replaced it with 30 points.. that’s a bit difference although yes you hope last years fin steps in a bit. You also have Maroon who will not score at that pace next year I guarantee it.. same with Draisaitl because you are weak at Centre so one injury and you are asking Drai to carry a line which drops both his line and McDavids. On the forward front I will say you will have roughly 20 plus less goals in total which means you lose a further 8 to 7 games at least..

            So Edmonton as it stands right now will lose 10 games at least compared to last year and I’m being conservative because McDavid is gonna be checked like in a prison cell

            Now Calgary
            – We had a terrible start to last season with a new coach and system new goalies etc etc so I will say we will come out the gates as a 6 and 4 team.
            – We add Smith who has guts and wants to win badly and prove himself and he will have a banger year. Yes it’s a risk but it’s one I truly believe will pay off as this guy is fit as hell.. oh and he will have an amazing top four d like top five if we add Stone so Smith will have SVP of roughly .935 to .940
            – Our defense now allow the flames the ability to better hold down match ups on the road.. No one seems to get this very very major part because the Flames now will be awesome on the road and road games will be tighter which opens up scoring for us. No more road loses by 2 plus goals and likely a lot of our losses will be overtime if that’s the case
            – Our forward group is steady and returning. Another thing forgotten is that our top two players had very bad starts to the season and overall a very down year so you can expect 10 more points for Johnny and same for Mony. Bennett will have a breakout year and finally show what he is made off.. Bennet will score 15 goals and have 45 points im confident. Chucky will have the same as last year. Our biggest weakness last year was our bottom 6 and that will change this year.

            Now let’s look at our division
            – Anaheim roughly the same team and they are still the team to beat in the division and conference no doubt about it
            -San Jose they lose two pretty big parts of their team and you can expect Mr Norris to kick it that high again and they lost a D..
            -Vancouver will be better and that’s just a fact they will still however not be near play off better
            -Arizona will also be better overall but again not in the picture to compete for play offs yet
            -Nashville is basically the same team but during a season they still lack scoring in their forwards.. I say they again make play offs but not as a Top 3 division
            -Dallas has gaps in D and at Centre and it will continue to be a problem for them but they will have better goaltending
            -LA has the same problems they had last year and that is scoring period and their D is slumping
            -Chicago will have the same sort of year as last year
            – Colorado let’s face it ain’t making the play offs they just need to continue to develop until they actually have a D core those problems will keep existing
            -Minnesota has a balanced solid team for the most part the same at last year. They do well in their bottom 6 but top scoring is inconsistent
            -St Louis is a team that’s finally gonna balance size with speed and scoring watch out with Allen also getting is ceiling
            -Winnipeg has a good team and if they can address goalie situation they get a wild card spot I believe

            I’m not even mentioning Vegas.. so for play offs you will have

            Central Division
            -Chicago, Nashville, St Louis, Minnesota first wildcard spot and as mentioned Winnipeg if goaltending gets better the second

            Ducks,Calgary, Edmonton and San Jose wild card if not Winnipeg

          • Dr

            Hamonic is ok, but is he the piece that puts the Flames over to the top. This was a team that had ten game winning streak (12% of the season), and then was a 500 team the rest of the season (88% of the season). What is the true team? Was that all on Eliott? Is the team overrated? They had four regulation wins against playoff teams between December 5 and the end of the regular season. Will a 35 year old goalie and a 2nd pairing defenseman going to make them contenders?
            I would worry about the future. The facts are that Treliving has traded 9 draft picks (including the conditional draft pick in the Mike Smith deal, a 35 year old goalie whose best season was in the 2011/2012) in the last three summers. Put aside your love of the team and assess it objectively. Ask yourself, is giving away 9 picks a sustainable model for building a team in the long term? These are first and second round picks, not 6th and 7th picks.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      This is no different than what many of us were saying about the Hall/Larson trade. My only concern is that irrespective of age, Hamonic has a lot of mileage on his body. Lucic is an even better example since his skating has always been suspect so his drop could be far more pronounced. Hamonic has played the hardest minutes against tough competition, he has had 3 knee injuries and various other injuries. On the other hand a player like Gio didn’t start getting heavy minutes and key assignments until much later in his career and he has really only had one major injury.

      After seeing the return for Larson and Hamonic you can see why organization’s will covet 1-2 D above all. I was disappointed that Calgary didn’t draft Tolvanen or Vesalainen but now I know why. Valamaki has a ceiling of being a 1-2 D and we have not been able to say that for awhile.

      I love when a GM identifies a plan and then executes on it. Kudos to BT for not buckling in the negotiations by giving up a core piece like Ferland/Bennett or key prospect like Ras/Janko. It is easier on the fan base to lose a number over an invested player.

  • Greg

    Also, I’m hoping they do prioritize a 5th D over another winger in July 1st. Playing 2 rookies on the third pair will become a lot riskier when they inevitably get an injury in the top 4. That has a higher chance of sinking the season then monahan and Gaudreau having to rotate through sub-optimal wingers does.

  • brodiegio4life

    IMO their biggest need right now is a 3rd line winger. Assuming they resign versteeg which they definitely should, you have bennett and versteeg on the 3rd line. Chiasson could theoretically fit there, but he’s really more of a 4th liner. I’d love to see bennett at centre with two capable wingers to see what he can do

  • everton fc

    Whilst I agree w/the risk of pairing Kulak and Andersson as our 5/6… And recognize the risk of Rittich backing up Smith (they’ll sign Johnson, Versteeg and Stone, re-sign Chiasson… A lot of status quo, so my comment is a hypothetical, perhaps…)

    I’d still like to see Kulak/Andersson as our 5/6. If not, I’d like to see Kulak get the chance, over Anderrson. Kulak/Stone would be an adequate 5/6 pairing. Unfortunately, Bartkowski will be the #7, though I hope somehow Wotherspoon’s that #7 guy.

    • TriPPiNvdUb

      What are Anderson and Kulak gonna log a night, 10 mins? I see little risk in that, especially as the season moves along and they become more acclimated to the NHL game. If these guys can show they belong they could potentially put us over the top going into the post season. That’s allot of ifs but the risk is worth the reward

  • wot96

    I wonder what the appetite would be to put Ras with Brodie and Kulak with Hamonic to provide some youth and experience on both the second and third pairings and keep the right/left split. GG could then shorten the “D” bench, as necessary, in close games or when behind, etc. and Kulak and Ras would get eased in instead of being thrown together on a talented but inexperienced third pairing.

    • Puckhead

      The reason you have two top lines is so that the D don’t get outmatched as often when playing away. From a developmental standpoint what you suggest makes perfect sense, but teams would be looking to exploit it. Best to keep them lower in the rotation so that they play against weaker 3rd and 4th line players.

  • RKD

    The open market for RW this offseason is garbage, I would love if Tre could get Marchessault. Imagine him on the top line with Monahan and Gaudreau. Marchessault would light it up. Most of the RW are veterans in their 30s, pure RW snipers are really hard to find. Regarding Hamonic he was injured playing with some questionable rotating partners playing 25 minutes. If he’s on the second pairing playing with a guy like Brodie and can stay healthy I think he will be just fine. I would be okay with bringing back Stone but if he walks then a Kulak-Franson 3rd pairing would also look great.

  • CFArrow

    Ok.. Jerome would be a perfect fit with Johnny and Sean. They did pretty well with a mature Yuri on the wing. Ferland Bennet and Tkachuk would be amazing, Mark and the Mikes would be another 3M combination and the rest would be centred by Stajan. Looks like a cup contender

        • Raffydog

          It would be nice if you could think of some counter arguments instead of insults so we could have a discussion. I disagree with a lot of what’s said on here, but I have never, nor would I ever resort to insults because I don’t agree with what someone says. At the same time, I understand that’s how some people deal with denial, so I wish you all the luck in the world with that.

          • Puckhead

            If you look above you will find plenty of threads with counter arguments.

            It’s the pointless negativity and trolling that I have a problem with. That also goes for Flames fans who do it on other sites.

            The fans on this site are fully aware of the teams strengths and weaknesses in the past, present, and going into the future. If you go back and look at some of my previous posts you will note that I have some knowledge of what is going on.

            I can only assume that you have never played on a competitive team based on your comments. Anyone who has understands that there are so many variables that come into play during the course of a season, many of which can not be neatly categorized or explained by statistics or logical arguments – injuries to key players, trades, luck, winning streaks, players gaining confidence and taking that step forward…

            Who frickin’ cares how the Flames season ended? Thankfully the fans on this site do not blame it on the refs because they have a good understanding of the game.

            It’s a new season.

            “Anything is possible in this life”

            Go 🔥 Go!!!

          • Eggs Bennett

            A counter argument implies there was an arguement made in the first place, requiring a premise and a conclusion. Seeing your comments, I believe you have neither but fall into the category of “trolling”, which merit only non-intelligent replies. Now go fetch boy!

          • Puckhead

            Also, although we poke fun at our neighbours to the north, they are kick ass fans and some of the best around. They had a tough run but thankfully the team has pulled it together. Heaven knows they deserve it. Let them eat their cake and enjoy it.

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            Dude…don’t pretend to take the high road when you come onto FN with the sole intention to rattle cages. If you want people to agree with you stay on ON. If your intention is to create dialogue then you need to go back to school and learn some humility. I read some ON comments to get a laugh but I don’t engage…. You should try it.

          • Raffydog

            If you want to bury your head in the sand and pretend last season didn’t happen, then go ahead if it makes you feel better. But it did happen, and the team coming back next season is basically the same team that failed last season. I find it funny that before we got Smith, all the people praising him now, were all no to Smith, anyone but Smith, now he’s a Flame and suddenly he’s going to win the Vezina. And the day before we got Hamonic, an article was printed about why we shouldn’t get Hamonic, and everybody on here was all, no thank you, anyone but him, but now that he’s in a Flames jersey, he’s suddenly Norris trophy candidate. So I don’t understand the optimism, just give me one good reason for it, one reason to change my mind, cause I want to feel that as well, but this team is the same one from last year, and I’m just not feeling it

      • jakethesnail

        Well, if you watched the series instead of licking yourself you would know that the reasons the Flames imploded because Elliott couldn’t make a save to save himself and the reason Tre said Good-Bye to Elliott. Flames have a number one goalie with experience as a number one goalie and can steal games for the Flames as well as maintain his dominance over the Oilers. Add Hamonic and the D is Dyno-mite! Be afraid, very afraid ..dog

          • piscera.infada

            Sure. But there’s no chance a ridiculously ill-timed cratering of their shot-percentage went a long way towards that happening… Right? They went from a middle of the pack team (in terms of shooting percentage) at 7.60%, to shooting at just 1.94% during the playoffs at 5v5.

            I’m not saying the Flames deserved to win that series. But you know, as well as I do, that they deserved a much better fate than a sweep–and that’s even with just better goaltending (to say absolutely nothing of shooting at their season average). If you can’t admit that–instead falling back on your “destroyed by the Ducks” line–then you aren’t be intellectually honest with yourself.

  • Franko J

    Oh I remember a time where Calgary on paper had the best defense with Bouwmeester, Regehr, Phaneuf, and Giordano. However when it came to the on-ice product the defense was less than stellar. Hamonic is a big acquisition, however I will reserve my judgement until the games actually matter. Suffice to say there were plenty of Hamilton detractors in his first season as well.

    This year’s Free agency is very weak and I would sooner see the team focus on promoting from within the players they have in the system.

    • piscera.infada

      In absolute fairness, that team you’re thinking of (I believe it was Keenan’s second season?) was one of the best Flames’ teams we’ve ever seen. They lost 3 of their top-5 defensemen going into the playoffs that year. That’s going to hurt any team. Then, Sutter overreacted and broke the band up with ludicrous player personnel moves because of the first round exit. It was the beginning of the end.

      I get what you’re saying though. We went through all of this two years ago when Dougie was first brought in. Hamonic, for all his warts, should be an upgrade on what the Flames have had in that 4-hole for years. Hell, the Flames have completely rebuild their defense in 2 years. Remember when it was Gio/Brodie, and bunch of JAGs? All sincerity though, yes, let’s watch some meaningful hockey before we make any proclamations about “best top-4, blah, blah, blah…”. Remember, Nashville didn’t even get to see their newly acquired “best top-4” until about game 60 last season, due to injury**.

      **As an aside I absolutely loathe when people treat Nashville as some sort of playoff “Cinderella” story, just because they were the 16th team to qualify for the playoffs. Or, that they fit some sort of “just get in” narrative. That was always a phenomenal team. The injury issues they had throughout the season were immense, but them making a legitimate playoff run was unequivocally not a “fluke”.

  • Mahaloeh

    Food for thought, Hamonic hasn’t played anywhere close to a full season other than the shortened lockout season! Not the d-man everybody thinks he is. Snow held out to get full value knowing he had 5/6 better d-men in front of Hamonic!