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Calgary Flames 2023 off-season predictions

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Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
10 months ago
This tumultuous season has finally come to an end for the fan base as the Flames finished off their season with a nice win over the San Jose Sharks.
We are potentially going to see major on ice and off ice changes to this organization as early as this weekend. With that in mind, let’s make some predictions for this off-season.

Brad Treliving will not return as general manager

Treliving’s nine-year tenure as GM of the Calgary Flames will come to an end this off-season. Treliving will make the decision to step away from the franchise. It has been rumoured that the Flames have offered Treliving a contract extension around the same time as Darryl Sutter signed his extension at the beginning of the season and he declined it. His time is up. He has had nine years to build a winner and all he has to show for it are two victories in the second round of the playoffs. It hasn’t been good enough and it’s time for Treliving and the Flames to go their separate ways.
If Treliving does decide to move on, he will have a lot of different opportunities at his disposal both in the NHL and outside the NHL. In the NHL, Treliving will be in high demand for open general manager positions and potentially be looked at as a candidate for a president of hockey operations role. Outside the NHL there would be opportunities for Brad to help out with the family business as his father Jim is an entrepreneur who is involved in many business, most notably Boston Pizza.
Treliving is respected around the league. He has the reputation of being one of the hardest working GM’s. He has done a great job in Calgary from a leadership perspective. You can criticize his hockey decisions all you want, but there is no denying that Treliving is a great person and was an excellent ambassador for the city of Calgary and the Flames.

Darryl Sutter returns as head coach

This is going to be a controversial decision by the Flames ownership group, but I believe that they will bring Sutter back for another season. Sutter signed a two-year extension in October of 2022, a two year deal worth a reported $8.4 million dollars. Do Murray Edwards and the rest of the Flames ownership group want to spend $4.2 million a season for two years to keep Darryl away from the team? That money could be the difference between making or losing money in the 2023-24 season.
All indications is that Sutter has a great relationship with the ownership group which will play a large factor in this decision. You could make the argument that Sutter was a major component in saving the franchise in 2004 with their run to the Stanley Cup final. He also revitalized this team in 2021 leading them to their best regular season since the early 1990s and a second-round playoff appearance for only the third time since their Stanley Cup victory in 1989.
There is no denying Sutter is an excellent coach when it comes to tactics and in game adjustments. Where he has fallen short is in developing relationships with his players and building a positive work environment. Those will be two areas that he will need to work on if he is brought back to coach again. And they are things that he can change. But the question is will he be willing to make those changes at his age and given his track record of success. Only time will tell.

The Flames hire a new general manager with ties to Darryl Sutter

If the Flames are to hire a new GM, you would think Sutter would play a role in hiring the new manager. Sutter is one of the only people in the hockey department who has a contract beyond this season (It’s rumoured that Don Maloney and Craig Conroy have signed contract extensions, but that hasn’t been confirmed.) Because of that you would think he will have a large say in who the organization decides to bring in as the new GM.
This new GM will have to work in unison with Sutter. Because of that you have to go back and look at who Sutter has worked with in the past that would be willing to become the next GM in Calgary. Two names come to mind for me.
Bob Murray. The former GM of the Anaheim Ducks had a ton of success in Orange County. He led the Ducks organization from 2008-21 where he oversaw a team that won five consecutive Pacific Division titles from 2012-17 and made it two western conference finals. Murray brought in Sutter as a coaching consultant in 2019. Sutter worked with the Ducks for a couple seasons before being brought back to the Flames in 2021 during the bubble season.
Mike Futa. Futa was the assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Kings when Sutter led that organization to two Stanley Cup championships. Before becoming assistant GM, Futa was the director of amateur scouting for the Kings. These two have a solid relationship and have proved they can work together in the past. Futa is currently working with the Hurricanes in an advisory role. There were rumors in the 2021 off-season that the Flames were close to hiring Futa in a hockey operations role. I wonder if they revisit bringing Futa to Calgary in the coming weeks.

The Flames bring back mostly the same roster

The Flames will largely bring back the same team next season, assuming the mandate from ownership is to make the playoffs next year. I don’t think they have many different options at their disposal.
The Flames already have over $82 million committed to their salary cap next season. Realistically there is not much they can do with this roster. There is zero cap flexibility.
Maybe there are some trades you can make? Maybe there is a Hanifin/Lindholm/Hamilton/Ferland trade out there to be had. But those are difficult to make and rarely happen.
This team did a lot of good this season. If they got some saves and a little more finishing ability, they would likely be starting the first round of the playoffs on home ice.
I could also see this management group/ownership wanting a quiet off-season and some more stability after a roller coaster summer of 2022.
It’s going to be fascinating to see how things play out this summer. I think some changes are coming, but it might not be as monumental as some have indicated.
I would love to hear what your predictions are for the 2023 off-season. Let us know in the comments section!

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