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Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Bigger roles on the horizon for several Flames amidst revamped roster

When reshaping their roster over the offseason, the Flames cut a fair bit of deadweight. While that in and of itself is something to get excited about, even better is the door it’s opening up for other players.

A lot of Flames this season will be looking at bigger roles in the NHL than they’ve ever had before. While they won’t all succeed at them, it should still be interesting to see who’s able to rise to the challenge. That adage of wanting the puck on your stick? A lot of these players are going to get the chance to make that their new normal this year.

In this case, I’m not talking about players like Johnny Gaudreau (we already know he’s a top scorer), Sean Monahan (pretty established as the best centre on the team), Mikael Backlund (same, but defensively), or James Neal (a pretty consistent scoring line winger at absolute worst). No – it’ll be the kids and the younger newcomers who have yet to reach their peak that’ll be most exciting to see just how high they can go.

Matthew Tkachuk

Tkachuk is well on his way towards establishing himself as one of the Flames’ best forwards, and it’ll only be his third season as a pro. Handily making the NHL as a full-timer in his first year of eligibility, Tkachuk immediately started thriving in a defensive role, all the while flirting with 50-point seasons. As a rookie he averaged 14:40 a game; as a sophomore, that jumped up to 17:15.

What’s most interesting regarding Tkachuk is just what his ceiling will end up being. He’s likely in line for an increase in ice time, he’ll probably end up breaking that 50-point threshold, but we’re still only at the very beginning of his career. There’s a lot more to come, and his third season will probably start speaking to just what he can truly do.

Elias Lindholm

Hovering around 18 minutes a game for the past three seasons, it’s not quite clear if Lindholm will see a bump in ice time playing for the Flames. He’s got the exact same coach who gave him those minutes before in Bill Peters, but a new cast of (arguably higher quality) forwards to work with, all while being likely to play top six minutes at worst.

One of the main questions, however, is will he end up on a primo scoring line, or a strong defensive two-way line? No matter which it is, a key role is definitely going to be asked of Lindholm in his sixth NHL season – and that’s with a deeper lineup to play with, which could see him rise to new heights.

Derek Ryan

There is always something admirable about the guy who just never gave up on breaking into the highest level of sport. Ryan didn’t make the NHL until he was 30; then, once he started playing regularly there, it turned out he wasn’t half bad.

The main question with Ryan will essentially be: is this as good as it gets? Granted, a career high of 38 points certainly isn’t bad, and Ryan’s probable role will be that of bottom six centre. That doesn’t sound like much until you recall all of the depth problems the Flames had at forward throughout 2017-18, and then suddenly, you’re all the more aware of just how important it is to have quality depth that can step up: and that’ll probably be Ryan’s role.

Nov 13, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Mark Jankowski (77) celebrates his goal with teammates against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Jankowski

Jankowski had a pretty solid, 25-point rookie season. Now, it’ll be up to him to do him one better. A sophomore slump would be unideal, as Jankowski enters a role similar to Ryan’s: quality depth that should be able to step up for the Flames throughout the year, particularly in case of injuries. (Ryan’s presence takes some of the pressure off of Jankowski as well, which can only help.)

Jankowski averaged 13:21 a game as a rookie. With him likely playing on the bottom six to start, that may not go up – but if he can force Peters’ hand, then the Flames’ forward group will be shaping out in exactly the manner Brad Treliving worked to correct from 2017-18. Something that remains to be seen, however, is if his 14.4 shooting percentage from 2017-18 will be the norm from him, or if he had a lucky rookie year.

Austin Czarnik

There normally aren’t bidding wars for 25-year-olds with a grand total of 59 NHL games played, but in Czarnik’s case, there was one. Highly proficient at the AHL level, a lot of teams seem to believe he’s on the cusp of breaking out in the NHL: chief among them the Flames, who worked the hardest to court him, and were probably his best shot at getting a regular spot in the big league.

Czarnik’s career high is 49 games played in the 2016-17 season. He only played 10 NHL games in 2017-18. If he can perform at the level the Flames are hoping he’s able, then he’s going to have a much bigger role, and help round out a forward group that desperately needed it.

Mystery prospect(s)

There’s a spot available for a forward prospect in the regular lineup, and perhaps one on the defence as well. Maybe it’ll go to Curtis Lazar. Maybe it’ll go to Garnet Hathaway. Maybe it’ll be for Dalton Prout. Or maybe it’ll go to a non-veteran who spent most of their 2017-18 in the AHL – or even a junior league.

If one of the Flames’ forward prospects is able to grab hold of a regular NHL spot, though, then you can guarantee that’ll be a step up from anything else he’s ever had in his hockey-playing career. The same goes for the defensive candidates.

Noah Hanifin

It’s easy to forget that Hanifin won’t turn 22 until 2019, considering how he’s played three full NHL seasons already. That just helps show there’s a lot more room for him to grow, though, even after such a fine start to his career. His career ice time average is 18:14, but this past season he played 18:52, and now, for the Flames, he’s going to be counted on to regularly play top four minutes – especially after signing a six-year deal paying him just under $5 million each year.

There is something of a safety net regarding Hanifin: the Flames have three top tier defensive prospects in Juuso Valimaki, Rasmus Andersson, and Oliver Kylington to ensure he doesn’t get comfortable. There may also be an opening for a top spot down the line, considering future expiring contracts and the fact that Mark Giordano will be 35 years old come October.

The Flames lost a top pairing defenceman in Dougie Hamilton to acquire Hanifin’s services, though, so he’s going to have a lot to live up to. Especially considering the guy slated to take over the biggest minutes…

Mar 5, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Calgary Flames defenseman TJ Brodie (7) shoots during warm-ups before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

TJ Brodie

A bigger role isn’t new to Brodie. He was averaging over 25 minutes a game not too long ago; even as a supposed second pairing defenceman in 2017-18, he still averaged 23:41. He’s played in all situations and he’s been relied upon heavily throughout his career, particularly over the last handful of seasons.

But the Flames will be asking him to step back up to a role he hasn’t played in a few years, albeit alongside a partner he has noted chemistry with. This is after something of a decline the past little while, whether that be due to a natural playing curve or having to play with a different partner. Either way, though, the Flames are counting on him to be able to rebound – and Brodie’s performance could end up being one of the major deciders on if the team has a good season or not.

    • Puck Head

      The top 3 fittest players were:
      1) Frolik
      2) Gio
      3) Prout?

      I couldn’t believe a 230 pound guy would finish in the top 3. When you read his interviews he sounds ultra commited and takes his job serious. I’m interested to see how he looks on the ice. Hopefully he can add functional toughness when called upon and can follow it up with steady play.

      • Off the wall

        Good post Puck.

        I was reading his (Prout) comments the other day. Sounds like he’s not too concerned about making friends. He wants a JOB.
        He made no bones about it.

        “I treat everyone with respect. But with all due respect, and everyone can understand that going through the league and in NHL training camps, I don’t need a new friend until Oct. 6. I really don’t. I’m here. True professionals understand that that’s the mentality that’s going to make everyone in the dressing room better. So, if anyone doesn’t agree with that, I don’t want them on my team.”

        Cool..

  • freethe flames

    One question that BP has to address is Matt a scorer or a top two way forward. In order to find out if he has significantly more offense is to move him away from Backlund and that role. It has been written a number of times that BP believes in pairings and likes to shuffle his lines(third guys on a line) so the question remains does he see Tkachuk and Backs as a pairing or Backs and Frolik as a pairing? I’m excited to see what he does on the first day of camp. Does anyone know when they start practicing and who is doing the reporting back to Calgary?

    • freethe flames

      Answering my own question here, the Flames are scheduled to practice about 10 p.m our time so tomorrow morning we have an idea of who BP starts with as line combinations.

      • oilcanboyd

        Peters says he will try different combos for the 2 games. i.e. Each of Tkachuk, Neal and Lindholm will have a shot at the J & M combo.
        I would keep Tkachuk with Backs and Frolik, except on the Powerplay when he plays with J & M. Need at least a couple of lines that are familiar with each other.

    • MDG1600

      Options to break up backs and MT may require splitting up Johnny and Mony or re-creating a void on rw if you move Lindholm to centre. Perhaps a more stronger 3rd line can take a bigger defensive role and free up some better offensive matchups MT and backs.

      • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

        I don’t really understand the desire of some to move Lindholm to center. We have more centers than slots and that is a good thing. Ryan can handle a bottom 6 C role.

        • Kzak

          Because we don’t have anyone else that can be a second line centre. The ultimate line up (and the only one I see getting us to where we want to be) is a second scoring line and a third line of Backlund, Frolik and whoever else. If Janko somehow steps up and takes that spot, we would be in a great position. If he doesn’t, then we must move Lindholm there with the hopes that someone like Czarnik or god forbid Bennett, is able to move into that second line RW position (Tkachuk on LW). Again, ideally, it’s Tkachuk/Janko/Lindolm as a second line but it would take a leap by Janko to make that happen. Fingers crossed.

      • freethe flames

        Why would you need to break up Johnny/Monny? Does Lindholm need to play center?
        Johnny/Monny/??
        Tkachuk/{Janko/Ryan/Bennett}/???
        ???/Backs/Frolik
        Are Bennet/Janko a pairing?

  • everton fc

    Brodie’s comeback is critical. Ryan scares me a bit – will he fall off fast, like Brouwer? I’m not sold on Czarnik.

    Frolik will bounce back – proof is in his fitness test. He’s a 100% committed athlete. Kulak will play 70+ games and shine. Bennett will bounce back. Jankowski will net 20 goals. Rittich will do well, as well Parsons. And I also think Gillies will do well. A good trifecta to deal with.

    Of the “prospects”, Dube may be the one to crack the roster. Andersson will, if they move one of Stone or Kulak. Lazar will not be cut. He’ll be an extra forward, which is fine. Hathaway will be the other, also fine. There’s no need to rush Dube or Valimaki. Those final spots on the 4th line are for Czarnik/Hathaway/Lazar/Foo/Klimchuk/Dube. I see the first three as almost locks. Dube will play in the “A”, versus sitting. So one of Foo or Klimchuk would also stick, if my math is correct. And I think Jankowski should be 3C (Bennett-Jankowski-Frolik) with Ryan as 4C (Hathaway/Klimchuk-Ryan (Dube?)-Ryan/Czarnik/Lazar/Foo. Czarnik will push Foo back to Stockton, where he probably should be.

    My thoughts, this raw, crisp morning. Can’t wait to see how this all unfolds…

    • Skylardog

      Pretty close to how I see things Everton (I’m sure that will have you totally reviewing your entire thought process), except Janko would be a disappointment at just 20. He had 17 last year and wasn’t here for all 82 and had a few streaks where it wasn’t going in. Good season would be 25, I think he can get 30 if used right. He needs his assist totals to grow, that will be the challenge.

      As for lineup to start the season, waivers and contracts will dictate who is here (as you well know but I am sure got trashed for). Lazar, Hath, Klimchuk, and Czarnik will be 11, 12, & 13, that means Prout, Mangi, Foo, Dube as the last of the 14. I am not saying the 14th guy is in the bleachers, just that the last roster spot will go to one of them. Dube would have to be really special in camp to be here as time in the AHL playing big minutes would be preferable to a limited role in Calgary.

        • everton fc

          I won’t be re-evaluation, based on your concurrence! I agree with you on Jankowski’s potential – I just don’t see him getting those chances, if parked on the 4th line. Ryan, to me, is a 4th line centre – remember his linemates in Carolina. He will not be gifted, with someone like Skinner, and he’s slow of boot. His two-way game could be an issue. I hope not… But…

          After hearing Wills on the FAN this morning, I could see Andersson as the #7 d-man, as he has nothing more to prove in Stockton, and could learn how to be a professional, here. But if Prout is this fit…

      • freethe flames

        If Janko scores 20+ goals as the defacto 4th line center I would be excited. If he scores only 20 goals as the second offensive center then I might be disappointed. (Scoring 20 goals in todays’ NHL is not as easy as in the past) A 20 g 20a season Janko would be acceptable progress. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all the possible solid line combinations and as I don’t know enough about Czarnik it makes it difficult. I know the Flames see him having a significant upside but is he really ahead of Mangiapane/Foo/Klimchuk? The only difference is that he is also listed as a center. Time will tell.
        Isn’t Prout a defenceman?

        • canadian1967

          wtf? Super Backs has 2 x 20 goal seasons and only 14 last year for a 3 season average of 19 per season.
          Backs first 20 goal season came as a 26 year old.

          • Toma41

            ^^^^^^^THIS RIGHT HERE^^^^^^^^
            If Janko scores 20 goals as the second center its a dissapointment. If Backlund scores 20 goals hes amazing, one of the best…..

      • Jessemadnote

        You guys have way too high of expectations. Are we expecting at least 20 goals from Mony, Tkachuk, Johnny, Lindholm, Backlund, Neal, Bennett, Ryan, and Janko? That’s nine 20 goal scorers. Tampa bay had 6 last year. Winnipeg had 5. In my mind, Janko would look good as a 15g 15a guy who plays a solid two way game.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Yes, Frolik should easily be back to his normal 40 point level.
      There is no reason to leave Andersson in the minors.
      Kulak may be fighting with Prout to be the #7D.
      Kulak is not an offensively gifted D-man. At least he hasn’t shown it.
      Need more than a handful of points from the 3rd pair.
      Stone-Andersson or Kulak Andersson will be the pairs.

      As far as the 4th line and extras go, what has Lazar done to stay in the NHL.
      Hathaway offers an energy that draws penalties and goes on the occasional
      scoring run. More so than Lazar. Klimchuk seems to be getting a lot of
      consideration even though he has less success or NHL experience than Mangi.
      If you consider Bennett-Ryan-Frolik(Czarnik) and ??-Janko-Czarnik(Frolik) as the bottom 6, I don’t think Klimchuk fits the need for scoring. Mangi-Janko-?? is a better scoring threat. The extras could be Hathaway and Rychel/Foo/Peluso.
      Each of those guys provides something different to add on the 4th line. Dube is
      probably ready as well, but I would like to see him get some reps in the AHL and come in as a injury callup. Lazar gets waived and tries to repair his game in the AHL.

  • MDG1600

    Jankowski can do himself and the team a lot of favours if he improves his face offs and defensive play. That is what will get him solid 3rd line minutes and I think more offence will result. With his size and good hands I am optimistic he can be one the teams most improved players along with MT. We can’t just expect the new guys to come in and make things better, carryover players need to improve.

  • Vernon30

    This is a very exciting year. The expectations are high, but at very least, I’m looking forward to seeing a fast, high-pressure style. GG’s style was not entertaining, and was not suited for his talented players. Scoring will be up, and entertainment value will be, too.

  • Raffydog

    As excited as I am for this season with all the great moves Treliving has done, my biggest concern is still the defence. Swap out Hamilton for Hanifin and it’s essentially the same under performing group from last season. I worry that they are still to soft and to easy to play against. You could have the best goalie in the world but if your defence can’t clear the zone and constantly gives up high quality scoring chances, you’re not going to have much success. And if it all depends on Brodie somehow finding his game again, well forgive me for feeling somewhat pessimistic, cause Brodie has been hot garbage the last couple seasons. I just hope Peters installs a more structured system and with the improvements at forward, maybe we won’t spend so much time in our own zone.

    • Off the wall

      I don’t understand why the trash?
      Raffy makes a decent argument.
      Even Brodie made the comment that he needs to be better defensively.

      As much as I’m excited about our offensive possibilities, I’m still a bit concerned about our D.
      Hanifin is a great hockey player, but he’s still very young and prone to mistakes. Ask any Carolina fan, they will say the same.

      It hinges on Brodie being able to stay on the 1st pairing with Giordano.

      While I’m confident in Peters, and our new coaching staff, it is
      imperative that Brodie shows well this season.

      • freethe flames

        Isn’t the key whether each year whether the pairings find chemistry and are given the correct role? Defense and goaltending can be enhanced by better team defense, under BP last year the Hurricanes gave up fewer chances and took less penalties that our team with much less talent than we have. This suggests the Flames will be much more disciplined than last year.

      • supra steve

        “I don’t understand why the trash?”
        You’ve been around long enough to know that ANY post can and will be trashed. A pro world peace post will get trashed, there is no shock in that.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Difficult to replace Hamilton’s 17 goals, but his defense was at times suspect. He also took a lot of meaningless penalties. You are correct this is mostly the same group…unless, Stone and Kulak are alternates and Andersson is the RD. He’s a better defender than either. Add that to the fact that Brodie was not a good fit on LD with Hamonic. If Brodie has faults, they were disguised by Gio in the past. If his decision making impacted Hamonic, then getting back to Brodano chemistry will help the top 4. Also remove Bart from the mix.

      For all the talk from Gully of a structured, team oriented breakout, last season was not that at all. Brodie would carry the puck himself or perhaps Hamilton, but the rest of the time it was guys like Stone and Hamonic firing 50 foot passes up the boards. Part of that was caused by overhandling of the puck by the goalie, and also by the fleeing the zone by the forwards. A two person forecheck played havoc with Gully’s “systems”.

      • Mickey O'Reaves

        Peters’ philosophy is to get the puck out of your own zone as quickly as possible, and to take the creative shackles off the players up the ice. Let them do thing thing, and don’t worry so much about structure.

        Gulutzan wanted each player on the ice to touch the puck at least once, with “crisp” 20 foot passes along the way. That sounds great in practice, but he seemed to forget the opposition is trying to take the puck away from you at the same time.

  • TKO

    This is by far the most forward depth the team has had since I started watching hockey 18 years ago. Maybe defense as well. Now, if we could just have 03/04 Kiprusoff back…

  • freethe flames

    So is safe to assume that the non China players can begin to practice tomorrow? That leaving this rookie group one last chance to impress. So the PTO’s, non China trip guys, AHL contracts, tweeners, and remaining prospects should be together soon. These guys will in turn make up the bulk of the guys who play the first 4/5 NA preseason games. What does that list look like?

  • canadian1967

    Janko has a very good shot. I’m pretty sure that he will be a 12 -16% shooter for a few seasons to come. Good release and not afraid to shoot when in the box. I see him as a for sure 25 goal guy, maybe not this year, but for the next 5 seasons after that.

      • mrroonie

        I guess if you can say that Feaster had a finest hour as Flames GM, that would probably be it.

        – Traded down from 14th to 21st in the draft to pick a long-term project player who wouldn’t play his second NHL game until his 6th post-draft season while there were good players available who would have made an impact sooner. I like Janko but there were players available at 14 that are equal to or better than Janko who have played a lot more NHL games and have a lot more points already. When everyone is talking that the Flames goalie situation is tenuous, you have to wonder if Vasilevsky was on Feaster’s radar at all.

        – Traded Iggy and JBo for a couple of bags of pucks and two 1st round picks. Used those two first round picks to draft players who have played a combined 9 NHL games in their 5 post-draft seasons.

        – Offer-sheeted a player that would have had to be waived and would not have cleared waivers meaning the Flames would have lost both O’Reilly and the 6th overall pick used for Monahan. Thankfully for the Flames, the Avs GM decided to match the offer sheet.

        Feaster was the guy that was brought in to run the rebuild. His trades and his other drafting outside of Monahan (no-brainer pick) and Johnny (much more Tod Button’s pick than Feaster’s) was unremarkable, a term that is good to hear when having a prostate exam but otherwise, not very good.

  • JoelOttosJock

    I have 3 main concerns going into this season, in no particular order they are..
    1. Goaltending
    2. Defence
    3. Coaching/player usage.

    1. Goaltending. I have let it known on this site, that I am not a believer nor supporter of Mike Smith. He is not the awnser in my opinion. He is too old, not talented enough, and too hot headed. He is a perennial loser. Playing in a place like Arizona long enough will do that to a guy. I will eat my words if he has an amazing season, but he is not the savior. He is not in the top 1/3 of the league and is definitely trending downward. Rittich is not an NHL goalie. Backup, starter, just not good enough. I really hope Mr. Gillies is capable of showing what so many scouts and fans seen in him.

    2. Defence. Well, start with the captain. He is definitely trending downward at his age and amount of hard minutes he has played. The game is getting quicker and he is slowing down. Gio would be better off slid into a #2 pairing or a 1a/1b. Brodie always atrocious last season. Blaming it on playing the other side is garbage. If Brodie is that much of a specialist that he has to play the right side, trade him now! I doubt he regains past success with Gio. I heard on the radio how the boys were talking about bodies commitment to drivin 7 hours a day to skate with Gio. I would not call that commitment. I would call that stupidity. 7 hours? Dude, you’re a millionaire. Meet in the middle, move, get a hotel. 7 hours? Hamonic doesnt concern me. He more than passed my eye test last season. He is what he is. A great shut down guy who can play tough pk minutes. Hannifan is a wild card. I believe he has uber amounts of upside and potential. Kulak, Stone, Prout, Ras and Valimakki are all wild cards. Whoever earns it, let them take it and run with it.

    3. Coaching was the biggest disappointment over the last 2 years. GG was terrible with player placement. Beating a dead horse..but Hathaway on the third line? Ferland on the first line? Hopefully Peter’s comes in and doesnt stick to anything from the past. Blend it all up and go with what works. If he seems it best that Bennett is a center so be it. If he deems that Bennett is a winger..so be it. Maybe Johnny ends up playing with Lindholm and Tkchuck. Maybe he keeps the 3m line together..just dont stick with garbage lines that everyone knows what you’re doing and they’re not working. Lessen the work load on Smith and Gio.

    I am quite optimistic about the season. I do see holes, but every team has holes. I know I’d like to see Frolik, Brodie, and Stone shipped out for other pieces and picks, but let’s give Peter’s a real chance. Say till American Thanksgiving to see what he is able to do.

    • Squishin

      Nice post. It’s good that no one is complaining about the forward depth anymore. If we don’t get goals, I’m stymied as to what more Treliving could have done.
      A couple thoughts:
      Goaltending is definitely the biggest concern for me. Personally I think that Mike Smith has one good season left in him, especially with proper rest from the coach. I think he can get us in the playoffs at the very least.
      I also think we can expect at least one more season out of Gio where he can be the #1. Brodie seems to be an outlier, a weird case. It may not be so much about “regaining his form” as it is about Gio being able to cover defensively for him, just like he did with Hamilton. I don’t think Hamonic was able to do it.
      Peters is known for throwing his lines in the blender quite often, so I don’t think we have to worry about him beating the same lines to death.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      I strongly disagree almost entirely with most of your first two points. Rittich is better than Gillies, and there is no sign that Gio is declining.

      • JoelOttosJock

        Well he wasnt a good leader last season. Lack of leadership falls directly on the captain. As far as declining, he has to my eye test. Giordano is no longer in talks of top defenceman in the league. He has lost a step, and just wasnt very good last year. Could be the system, coaching, partner, team..hopefully he regains it, but I’d be cautious. I’d be playing the top 4 as all 4 get equal ice..no sense In wearing him down before a playoff run.

        • HOCKEY83

          Most every game I watched last season always ended in talk from the announcers about what a great leader Gio is…what a great captain he is…what a great Dman he is. The entire team played poorly last season. That doesn’t mean Gio has lost a step. It’s very hard to play at your very best when everyone around you has given up. Until he plays this year you have no idea what he’s lost

      • JoelOttosJock

        Mmmmmm DDD…DDD food and hockey on TV would be perfect though..there an idea..a food show dedicated to sports fans. Go to stadiums in the 4 major north America leagues and try specialties. Like pocket dogs at the dome etc..anyone care to finance? I am more than willing to travel North America watching g sports and eating. I think Off The Wall would be a great writer..WW could be a great regularly appearing guest..1967 co host with me..

        • Off the wall

          My adopted son speaks.
          I’d love to do that Joel, however I just spent a fortune on new gear, thinking it would make me better at hockey.

          It didn’t. I still suck. But I look good.

          I’d need a RICH sponsor, cuz I likes to eat and drink beverages.
          (So much for being a writer, see grammar)
          Hmm, maybe I should cut down on eating and drinking, maybe that might help?

          Where the heck is WW?
          We could just audio tape his comments, they’re all the same!
          Backlund sucks, Byng is generational, Oilers sure know how to waste 1st round picks… Good times!

          Did I get it right WW?

          • canadian1967

            It’s not just WW, I also have been saying bad things about Backlund and Corsi on here for many (6?) years now.
            I like Backlund, I just don’t like him as anything more than my 3C, that’s all.

            It’s also been kinda nice for the last year or so to not have everyone going on and on about Corsi.

  • buts

    Cutting dead weight is an understatement, the flames will be way better just by having a coach who can see chemistry and utilizes his players better. Neal and Tkachuk will make whoever centers them a dangerous, gritty line. There’s lots to look forward too.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I am really hoping Janko is not on the 4th line since historically that line has been the whipping line. If the team has a bad game then the team makes changes to the bottom line primarily. If the 4th line is comprised of Mangi/Janko/Czarnik then the team will still try and get a Lazar or Hathaway in for some games. I can’t see BP sitting Ryan, Frolik, or Bennett…so who is left.

  • redwhiteblack

    I am real curious to see how Bennett plays under Peters and with less pressure to score. With more talent around him and more maturity he could find the confidence to net 40-45 pts. That would be awesome to see. Also very interested in what Foo, Mangy and Dube do to make this team. Would be nice if they all could help us win this season. The pre season will be very interesting. Stockton should also look good this year.

  • Mickey O'Reaves

    No doubt Tkachuk is going to continue his growth. Peters absolutely gushes about him, and lumps in Tkachuk with a guy like Marchand, saying there isn’t 5 guys in the league that can do what Chucky does.

    Young Byng will continue to draw penalties (more than anyone), except this time he’ll be the first over the boards for 1PP every time.

    Geoff Ward is known as a solid powerplay guy, and he’ll get the most out of the pieces at his disposal. Tkachuk isn’t just great at tipping pucks, he’s also a master of playing below the goal-line. Get the d-man turned around wondering what the hell Tkachuk is up to behind him, and you’ve got a recipe for success.