Diving into potential Calgary Flames line combinations for 2023-24

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
7 months ago
The Calgary Flames will soon assemble for training camp to kick off the 2023-24 hockey season. Through a few subtractions and a few additions, the Flames will have a forward group next season that’s both familiar and quite a bit different from what they trotted out in 2022-23.
So what could their forward units look like?

The 12 most likely forwards

Due to waiver statuses, prior experience and performance, the anticipated dozen forwards the Flames will have on opening night are likely Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund, Blake Coleman, Elias Lindholm, Yegor Sharangovich, Dillon Dube, Matt Coronato, Jakob Pelletier, Walker Duehr and Adam Ruzicka.
So let’s dive into how they could be used!

The status quo

We take the most common lines from 2022-23… and we slot new faces in!
Dube – Lindholm – Sharangovich
Huberdeau – Kadri – Coronato
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman
Pelletier – Ruzicka – Duehr
These lines are fairly balanced. They keep the Backlund shutdown line together. They group Pelletier/Ruzicka/Duehr together (and allow that line to be sheltered). But it also sorta spreads out the top offensive weapons a bit, in a way that might make it tough to really take advantage of offensive situations.

The top-heavy approach

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Mangiapane
Sharangovich – Kadri – Coronato
Dube – Backlund – Coleman
Pelletier – Ruzicka – Duehr
This approach loads as many established offensive weapons onto the top two lines! (You could also accomplish something similar by rotating Sharangovich, Dube and Pelletier around a bit, depending on which winger you want taking the tough match-ups with Backlund and Coleman.)
Yes, we’re aware that Huberdeau and Lindholm didn’t click together last season. But Huberdeau was learning the ropes of a brand-new system, and Lindholm was being relied upon to carry the mail offensive for the club. It didn’t work last season but considering how central each player is to the club’s success, we imagine they’ll be paired together to see if they can develop some chemistry.

Rotating some wingers around (but keeping the aces together)

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Dube
Pelletier – Kadri – Coronato
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman
Sharangovich – Ruzicka – Duehr
This keeps Huberdeau/Lindholm and the Mangiapane/Backlund/Coleman units togeether, and then attempts to maximize the other lines offensively by mixing and matching wingers a bit.

Hey now, Dube’s a centre

So, here’s the thing: Dube and Coronato can both play centre, and Ruzicka was in and out of the lineup (so just assuming he’ll get a centre slot may be premature). So, let’s try out Dube as a centre and see how that looks:
Huberdeau – Lindholm – Mangiapane
Sharangovich – Kadri – Coronato
Pelletier – Backlund – Coleman
Ruzicka – Dube – Duehr
That’s not bad, but if you swap Pelletier and Ruzicka, Pelletier/Dube/Duehr could be a heck of a forechecking/speed line. But how would Ruzicka fare on a shutdown line?

Hey now, Coronato’s a centre

How about Coronato up the middle instead?
Huberdeau – Lindholm – Mangiapane
Sharangovich – Kadri – Dube
Ruzicka – Backlund – Coleman
Pelletier – Coronato – Duehr
There’s a good mix of size, speed and two-way skill on each line.
What forwards do you want to see the Flames group together next season? Which forwards do you think should stay apart? Let us know in the comments!

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