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Photo Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: What holes in the roster need to be fixed?

With the way the Flames have played this season – to say nothing of how they ultimately bowed out of the postseason dance – there’s little to look forward to but next year. So, while the corpse is still fresh, we ask: what changes need to be made to this roster so that this time a year from now we’re all excited and not disgusted?

Here is a rough composite of what the Flames looked like throughout the 2017-18 season:

Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Micheal Ferland
Matthew Tkachuk Mikael Backlund Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett Mark Jankowski Garnet Hathaway
Troy Brouwer Matt Stajan Curtis Lazar
Mark Giordano Dougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak Michael Stone
Mike Smith
David Rittich

Players that are decidedly not problems are: Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk, Backlund, Giordano, and Hamilton. That’s two-thirds of a first line, another elite winger, a shutdown centre, and a top defence pairing.

That also leaves two full lines, the entire right forward side of the ice, two defence pairings, and two goaltenders that need help. Yikes.

Hope

Frolik typically has better years than this, and is in the midst of posting his worst shooting percentage since he was buried in defensive zone starts in Chicago five seasons ago. It’s reasonable to think he’ll have a better season next year.

Hamonic had to adjust to a new team, but has looked increasingly steady as of late. Perhaps, after his first full season in the Western Conference, he’ll look even steadier over the course of the 2018-19 season.

Jankowski has held his own rather well as a rookie, though of course more scoring would be nice, especially considering the offensive zone starts he gets. But also: rookie. Plenty of potential to have a better season next year, now that he’s experienced the rigours of the big league for almost a full season.

Kulak is in the same boat as Jankowski: plenty of potential, even if, in his position, he isn’t expected to score as much. At worst, the Flames do have a bottom pairing defenceman who isn’t a liability out there.

Concern

Ferland is a pretty good player, but is he cut out to be consistent first line material? If he isn’t frequently putting his effective shot to use, then no, probably not. That doesn’t mean he has to be jettisoned, but it does suggest that if the Flames can put him in a position where they’re less dependent on him having constant success, they may be better off.

Bennett was chosen fourth overall for a reason, and we’ve seen that reason in flashes over the course of his first three seasons. But that’s all they’ve been: flashes. When he’s gotten the chance to perform in the playoffs, he’s been outstanding, but he’s got to help his team make it there first. Is the player who made himself a top draft selection still in there?

Brodie has gone from being a perfect partner for Giordano to flailing whenever he’s paired with anyone else. He’s still an excellent skater, but short circuiting has led to far too many questionable decisions this season, a number of which have resulted in goals against. Is there any hope he regains his prior form, or is it time to cut bait?

Smith has been outstanding for half the season (27 games with a save percentage of .920 or above), and atrocious for almost the whole other half (22 games with a save percentage of .910 or below). Smith helped win 17 of those first 27 games (and ensured at least a point in 23 of them); in the worse half, the Flames were only able to win eight out of 27 times. Can Smith be more Jeykll than Hyde next season?

Rittich is along the same lines as Jankowski and Kulak: a rookie who hopefully has more to offer, though when it comes to goaltending, there’s no safety net. Either he sinks or swims. Jon Gillies is in a similar boat.

Abort

Hathaway should not be playing on the third line. He’s probably alright as a 13th forward occasionally filling in on the fourth line, but nothing more than that.

I’m loathe to say “abort” to the fourth line, because they haven’t been the worst part of the Flames as of late, but they don’t quite fit into the other categories. Brouwer and Stajan clearly can’t play at the levels their salaries dictate, but that won’t be a concern for Stajan much longer; meanwhile, though Brouwer is one of the weaker Flames overall, in reduced circumstances he isn’t all bad.

Lazar is a mystery: while he’ll probably never turn out as good as the Flames must have hoped when they traded for him, as a depth player, there are certainly worse options to have.

Stone simply isn’t adding much to the Flames, and when you take his cap hit and the number of defensive prospects the team has waiting behind him into account, he isn’t providing much value.

What’s most pressing?

The Flames need more scoring power up front. They can improve on Ferland; if that involves Tkachuk playing on the top line, then they’ll need to find someone else capable of playing in a shutdown role. The Flames also need both Bennett and Jankowski to take a step forward; if they don’t, then they’ll be left with an underwhelming bottom six, again.

Brodie has to figure out what’s going on; if that isn’t possible, then the Flames will still be looking to fix their top four – though this time, they may have internal options at the ready.

Goaltending is a total mystery. Do you put your faith back into Smith, Rittich, and Gillies? Can they improve on this season? Because if they stagnate, and the Flames can’t fix their scoring woes, the team may be in trouble next season, as well.

What would you do?

How do you fix the scoring problems up front? Try to sign John Tavares? Trade for Mike Hoffman or Brendan Gallagher after all? Ship out Bennett in hopes of someone better? Hope and pray a prospect will be ready in six months?

What about forward depth? Is what they have adequate? Will Nick Shore make for a suitable regular centre? Would it make sense to re-sign Kris Versteeg?

Can you clear up the defence at all? Is it time to trade Brodie? Or could Brodie perhaps find a new home on the bottom pairing, and make way for, say, Juuso Valimaki alongside Hamonic?

Do you go after Antti Raanta on the free agent market? Do you try to trade for someone else? Or do you maintain faith in the goalies the Flames currently have in their system?

What would you do? How would you plug the holes in this roster?


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  • RIPScorch (2014-2014)

    Has anyone considered promoting Hathaway and Jankowski to the first line next year? Hear me out. Jankowski is a pure scorer and has explosive speed, plus is adjusted to the NHL game better than most veterans! Hathaway brings it every night, and he’s not as much of a pure scorer as Jankowski, but still definitely a scorer. If we actually made those changes and maybe bumped Gaudreau and Monahan down to the third line (so they are not so exhausted and can really utilize their potential with 15 ish minutes per game), we will easily be contenders.

  • BendingCorners

    Handedness matters. Not just on the PP where a mix of RHS and LHS lets the puck be moved more easily and makes one-time shots more likely, but in all situations. The coaching staff made things worse and should be replaced, but the team has eight top nine forwards and none of them are RHS. It would be great to get rid of all the 4th line guys and bring in four top-nine RHS and have twelve top nine forwards, but I think that’s a fantasy. The cap gets in the way, so picking up the missing RHS means moving out some LHS. And yes, cleaning up the 4th line so it has young cheap guys instead of overpriced old guys is also necessary, not least because it helps with the cap issue. Johnny, Mony and Chucky are here to stay and Backs is probably not going anywhere for the next three years. That means replacing two of Bennett, Frolik, Ferland and Jankowski with middle-six (or higher, if possible) RHS and probably getting one more top-line RHS by moving a defenceman or two, possibly with a prospect attached.
    That adds up to a fairly significant makeover of the team and some good players will get moved out, but standing still won’t bring the Cup to Calgary.

  • Nick24

    The Flames should look into bringing in Philipp Grubauer or Antti Raanta for help in the goal tending department. One of the two could easily split the games with Smith, or you could let Smith back one of them up. Smith just seems too volatile to bet another season on. Bringing in another top-six forward would be fantastic, too. There is a lot of interesting things that the Flames could do to try to improve, be it trying out some of their WHL grads on the forth/third lines with some combination of Foo and Mangiapane. Looking at Benoit Pouliot, Reily Nash, Rick Nash, or Micheal Grabner may also be worth it if you want to try to shore up more depth in the forward ranks. Provided they can get one of these players for $2-$3 million range for 2 or so years. The Flames should also look into moving a defenseman. Be it Stone, Brodie, or Hamonic.
    As for Bennett, figure out what you want to do with him. If they keep him, he should get a prolonged look on the top line. If they won’t really see what he can do they should move on.

  • Hockeyfan

    What holes? They signed the backlund to a 5.5 per for half a decade. oh yah, way overpaid and too long for a barely adequate defensive forward that does nothing w/out the Byng.

  • Korcan

    I would like Calgary to target Mike Hoffman in the offseason. He is a consistent goalscorer (on a defense-first team) who would also improve our team speed. I also like Brown and Kapanen from Toronto. I think Calgary’s best trading chips are Brodie, Ferland, Frolik, and even though I hate to consider it — Bennett.

    My lines for next season would then be as follows:
    1st
    Gaudreau – Monahan – Hoffman
    2a
    Bennett – Jankowski – Tkachuk
    2b
    Dube – Backlund – Brown
    4th
    Lazar/Mangiapane – Shore – Frolik
    13th
    Lazar/Hathaway
    Gone
    Ferland, Brauwer, Stajan, Versteeg

    My defense pairings:
    1-2
    Giordano – Hamilton
    3-4
    Kulak/Stone – Hamonic
    5-6
    Kulak/Stone – Andersson
    7
    Wotherspoon
    Gone
    Brodie, Bartkowski

    Goal:
    I would like Antti Raanta/Smith
    Gone
    Rittich or Gillies (hopefully the latter)

  • canadian1967

    I like this:

    Tkachuk Patrick Konecny
    Bennett Monahan Foo
    Janko Backlund Ferland
    Klimchuk Shore Lazar

    Mangiapane/Brouwer

    Giordano Hamilton
    Kulak Andersson
    Valimaki Hamonic
    Stone

    Smith/Bernier or Raanta

    Trade
    To Philladelphia Gaudreau, Brodie & Fox
    To Calgary Patrick, Konecny and Jori Lehtera (to make the $ work) and a 2018 or 2019 First (protected)

    Trade
    Frolik somewhere for something (a 2018 2nd?)

  • Fan the Flames

    The Flames are still lacking on the right side . Ferlie has flashes but he should be on the 3rd line . If we don’t have either Foo or Gawdin step up and we can’t trade for an upgrade without losing one of our top 6 we are in trouble again . I would like to see Brodie play forward and befor you go all ballistic he is dangerous at both ends of the ice now and he is a great skater. This would let Hamonic and Kulak and Andersson with either Valamaki or Kyshillington with Stone in the cheap seats or traded.

  • The Beej

    Oh for crying out loud just get some right handed right wingers in here. Here is shopping list:

    Kapanen
    Marner
    Nylander
    Stone (melnyk is cheap… would Bennett Fox + start a conversation)
    Silvferberg (ducks probably not into it)
    Zuccarello (kinda old though)
    Simmonds (pipe dream)

    The list aint that long and the leafs seem to be our best trade partner. They have 5 rh wingers worth pursuing. Hyman, Brown, Nylander, Marner, Kapanen. If I was Treliving I would work very hard to make something happen here. Potential for a real hockey trade. We can provide defense they have a slew of rh wingers that would all slot somewhere in our top 9.

    I feel some of our prospects are maturing now so the holes further down the roster wont be much of a concern with guys like Lazar Shore and Mangiapane around. Dube and Phillips will start pushing. If anything Hathaway and Lazar may get pushed out.

    Move a Dman for a RW. Start working in the prospects on D and I think things will slot nicely.

    Is Bennett + Brodie for Marner + Kapanen out of line? If we had to sweeten that I would still pursue it. It would create an opportunity for a prospect on D and allow enough good linemates to balance the lines and prioritize player development and chemistry.

    When ready you could have Dube learn the ropes on Backlunds wing and tkachuk play with Jankowski.

  • Big jim

    The problem is most of you see through rose colored glasses Val i’s no different then Kyl no defense only offense will not work at the NHL level kyl has a hard time now with the second line AHL players Will never be able to play in the NHL just watch the place he makes when I send out highlights from Stockton

  • Stockton's Finest

    Down 5-0 to a last place team. Yevenko has no business being on the ice. At least Texas lost, albeit in a shootout. Need to sweep Texas. Doubt Rittich comes out for the 3rd. He is ppppiiiiissssseeeeedddd. Bad defense in front of him is not helping him out.

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      Are you sure thats not the Flames playing in Heat uniforms?
      Sorry, but I’m a little skeptical about the heat making a come back this game….
      I’m also sorry that the Heat have decided to mirror the big club at the worst possible time of year…
      Someone needs to Reverse the Curse put on these two teams…. OK I’ll Do it!
      Reverse the Curse put on our beloved teams!
      Send it back to the sender and the teams to which they believe
      No more bad luck, No more missed opportunities, No more tips in front going into our twine
      This Curse is rescinded and past back yo the creator in his own dime
      Begone and never return but to good results will forever be in time.
      So let it be written… So let it be Done.
      Cheers~! 🙂
      (Hope that helps)

      • dontcryWOLF

        What we call “a curse” is really jyst a psychosomatic fabrication. It’s like a bad kind of placebo effect. You convince yourself you’ve been “cursed”, and your brain makes it happen. It’s a subtle, imperceptible change, where you start seeing the goalie, and not the net (one example). This organization needs to bring in coaches and leaders who see past that crap.

          • dontcryWOLF

            Once you’re committed to believing in curses, a counter curse can be effective. What you need to understand is that it isn’t the tiny fictional plastic toy making the change. It is the players believing that to be the case. It’s in their heads.

    • dontcryWOLF

      He can be when he wants to be. Very strange player that way. I think he’s been trying to imitate what Monahan does. But really, he’s a grinding power forward at his best. And Monahan is not that.

    • loudogYYC

      I agree, he has flashes of brilliance but he’s not consistent enough so that’s a player you have to shuffle between where he belongs (3rd line, no PP) and the scoring lines as his play dictates. Unfortunately I don’t think he’s a smart enough player to play as a shut down winger so now might be the time to cash in big on Ferly. One year left before UFA at a nice cap hit will be attractive to teams looking for scoring. Ferly to Buffalo for Sam Reinhart or to Ottawa for Mark Stone could probably be done but still wouldn’t address 1RW.
      Gaudreau-Monahan-??? = 80+ goals
      Tkachuk-Jankowski-Reinhart or Stone = maybe 60+ goals but not likely
      Bennett-Backlund-Frolik = 45 goals
      Klimchuk/Mangiapane-Shore-Lazar = 15 goals

      Stajan and Versteeg move on, Brouwer to Vancouver at 50% RS or bought out. What a terrible signing he was.

  • TheWheeze

    I suppose everyone by now has read this morning”s Sun article in which Tortorella is imploring the Flames to give GG another chance as he is an amazing coach and the one to do the job. If anything Tre is unpredictable. Who knows what is gonna happen here. Fans and management seldom see eye to eye in any professional sport.

  • Graham

    The Flames simply have to much money tied up in the ‘d’ corp, and need to move at least one of the big names.
    Use our strength to plug holes elsewhere. I think you move one of the d man as part of a package to add a first line RW, or to recoup our first rounder. Either way, our first off season priority is to add a first line RW and upgrade the bottom six forwards, starting with the 4th line. The Flames don’t like to buy out players, so Brouwer likely sticks around. New coach, upgrade the forwards, and bring in some of the prospects.