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FlamesNation mailbag: waiting for restart news

We’re into the dog days of November and maybe, just maybe, we’re going to get some clarity about what’s happening with the 2020-21 National Hockey League season soon. Will it start on January 1? January 15? Later than that? Hopefully we find out soon.

In the meantime? Mailbag time!

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Here’s what I would probably aim for, presuming everyone is healthy:

Andrew Mangiapane – Elias Lindholm – Matthew Tkachuk
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Dominik Simon
Dillon Dube – Mikael Backlund – Josh Leivo
Milan Lucic – Sam Bennett – Derek Ryan
(Extra: Joakim Nordstrom)

My focus here is depth, with a secondary focus of keeping some pairings and units together. Mangiapane-Lindholm-Tkachuk was excellent last season. Simon played with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh, so putting him with Gaudreau and Monahan could work. I would expect Backlund to remain getting tough minutes, so putting Dube and Leivo gives him a couple strong forecheckers (and allows Dube to grow his role). Finally, Bennett and Ryan can alternate on draws, while Lucic gives them some beef. (With Bennett as the least experenced centre, it would make sense for him to have Ryan on his flank as backup.)

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There, four reasonably good lines (and no clunkers).

Dube was second on the team in shots during the playoffs, which is wacky as heck. Let’s assume he’s sixth (or so) in shots in 2020-21. Based on 2018-19, an 82-game schedule, that would give Dube something around 180-190 shots on goal. Based on his 2019-20 shooting percentage (10%), we could probably pencil him in for around 18 or 19 goals. If the season is around 60 games, though, maybe pro-rate that to 13 or 14.

I can’t see them winning a Canadian Division, as they probably don’t have the horses to edge Toronto over a 60-game season. But I have them clumped together with Edmonton and Vancouver in the second tier, probably slightly ahead of those two clubs in second place.

As we get more details about the 2020-21 season structure, we’ll dive into the Canadian Division in muc more detail.

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More games at centre? Bennett, as Lindholm probably gets some time on the wing.

More minutes played at centre? Lindholm, because even if Bennett plays more games at centre he’ll get less time on ice per game so Lindholm ends up winning this one handily.

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As far as I’ve heard, Scotiabank will be the title sponsor through the end of the lifespan of the Saddledome in 2024.

As of yet, nope.