4 predictions for the 2022-23 Flames season
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
3 months ago
The 2022-23 season is finally upon us. There is some uncertainty around the Flames this season. This is the biggest shake up of core players in franchise history. It may be difficult to make predictions about this team, I am going to attempt to do it anyway.
Here are four predictions for the 2022-23 season.
1. Andrew Mangiapane will lead the Flames in goals
Andrew Mangiapane is in for a huge season. The 26-year-old is coming off a career year in which he scored 35 goals playing in a secondary scoring role at 5 on 5 and on the power play. I believe that is going to change this season.
To start the year, it looks like the Flames are going to go with a top line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Elias Lindholm, and Tyler Toffoli. My prediction is that Toffoli will be replaced on the first line by Mangiapane within the first 20 games of the season. If this does come to fruition, Mangiapane will be in a prime position to build off his 21-22 campaign.
Mangiapane has been an elite 5 on 5 goal scorer despite playing on second and third lines for most of that time. Mangipane has scored 53 goals at 5 on 5 over the last three seasons, which is tied for eighth in the NHL over that span. He has scored more 5 on 5 goals than Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Sebastian Aho, and Jake Guentzel (all those players have had similar games played to Mangiapane). Mangiapane also ranks 11th in the NHL in goals/60 minutes played.
Imagine the type of numbers he could put up playing on a first line and first power play unit with Huberdeau and Lindholm? The sky is the limit for Mangiapane. He has the potential to score 40+ goals if put in the right situation.
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2. The Flames will score 40 fewer goals than last season
The 2021-22 season was a historic one in many ways for the Flames, including goal scoring. The Flames scored an incredible 293 goals last season, the most they’ve scored in the post lockout era. They had the most dynamic line in hockey and also had incredible injury luck throughout the season. Two thirds of the top line is gone, and don’t expect them to be as healthy as they were last year.
Brad Treliving replaced Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk with Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri which is a slight down grade in terms of pure offence. Both Huberdeau and Kadri are coming off massive career years in which they both hit point totals they haven’t come close to hitting before in their careers. It’s going to be difficult to replicate that on a new team, with new linemates, and playing in a new system.
Calgary scored five or more goals in 26 of their 50 wins last season. They would have won 18 of those games had they only scored three goals. That goes to show you that the Flames will still be a successful team, even if they don’t score as much.
3. MacKenzie Weegar becomes the undisputed number one defenseman on the Flames
If you have read any of my articles about Weegar, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of this player. I think the Flames got themselves a true number one defenseman in the NHL. He is going to prove that this season.
One of the biggest reasons for optimism is what Weegar has done over his last three seasons. Over that span among defensemen who have played over 1000 minutes at 5 on 5, Weegar ranks tied for 11th in points, tied for 13th in assists, tied for 19th in goals and 10th in points/60 minutes played. Weegar has essentially done all of his scoring at 5 on 5. Imagine the type of numbers he could put up playing regularly on the first or second power play unit?
Not only does Weegar put up strong counting numbers, he also has had some of the best underlying numbers in the NHL as well.
|Weegar||56.07% (1st)||56.59% (4th)||57.70% (13th)||56.73% (5th)||55.46% (12th)|
(Weegar’s stats from 2019-20 to 2021-22 seasons, among 155 defensemen who played over 2000 5 on 5 minutes)
One other thing to mention is that he is going to start the year on a pairing with Chris Tanev. And what does Chris Tanev do to for defense partners? He makes them a lot better. This pairing has the potential to be one of, if not the best pairing in hockey next season. Weegar is going to put it all together this season and establish himself as a true number one defenseman not only on the Flames, but in the NHL.
4. Calgary will allow fewer than 200 goals this season
It’s going to be tough for the Flames to be better defensively in 2022-23, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they will be. Calgary ranked third in the NHL in goals against with 206. The only teams ahead of them were the Carolina Hurricanes (200) and New York Rangers (204).
On paper, this should be a better defensive team. As mentioned above, the Flames added a number one defenseman to their team in Weegar. He replaces third pairing defenseman Erik Gudbranson. That is a massive upgrade for the team. They now have two high end defense pairings that they can trust in almost any matchup. Not many teams can say that.
An under the radar storyline up front is that the Flames got faster and better defensively. Gone are two of the worst skaters in the NHL in Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk. In are Nazem Kadri and Kevin Rooney, who is actually an upgrade on what Monahan was providing the Flames last season. The Flames also slot better. They now have three high-end, two-way centers which they haven’t had since the early 90’s. They are bigger, faster, and better defensively in all areas of their lineup.
On top of all that they still have the reigning Vezina trophy finalist in Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar who is looking to take his game to the next level. He could be in for a nice season is the preseason is an indication on how things are going to go for him.
What are some of your predictions when it comes to the Flames season? Put them in the comments section below!
(All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick)
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