Drinking the Flames Kool-Aid during the heat of the summer
Photo credit:Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
By Angus Hout6 months ago
Have you been drinking the Kool-Aid this roller-coaster summer with the Calgary Flames? I know I have been, especially since the Calgary Flames are looking like the early winners of the @Matthew Tkachuk trade. One of my favourite times of year is just after the mayhem of free agency when you can start looking at the team and start believing every single player will take a step forward in the next season and the team will be better. This year is a very exciting year for that.
Here are my three hot mid-summer predictions for the Flames in the 2022-23 season.
Dustin Wolf takes Daniel Vladar’s job
To say that @Dustin Wolf had a great year with the Stockton Heat is still a massive understatement to say the least. Wolf was an AHL All-Star as a rookie – named to both the First All-Star Team and the All-Rookie Team – and we can’t forget he was the 2021-22 AHL Goaltender of the Year. The 21-year-old AHL rookie had a 33-9-4 record in the regular season with a .924 save percentage and 2.35 goals against average.
Although I don’t believe Wolf will be taking the starter’s job with the Flames, I think his time will come when an injury inevitably occurs and I think he will be given a chance to play one game in the NHL. Gord willing it’s a great game and the Flames have to choose between Wolf and @Daniel Vladar. Both men are on inexpensive deals but Vladar’s is set to expire at the end of the 2022-23 season. If Brad Treliving is looking to save a little bit of money going into 2023-24, taking the risk on Wolf now would make sense and the Flames could pick up a decent little return on Vladar if another contending team is looking for a back-up goaltender.
Don’t get your hopes up that Wolf is with the Flames come Game One of the season, I’m willing to bet Wolf is in the AHL for half the season and joins the Flames later in the season.
Huberdeau and Lindholm score a combined 180 points
Both @Elias Lindholm and @Jonathan Huberdeau had career years last season. Lindholm scored 82 points in 82 games and Huberdeau scored 115 points in 80 games. Both men are in their late twenties and have that sweet pinnacle of their careers.
Daily Faceoff projects Huberdeau and Lindholm playing together on the top line which makes total sense; those two are the best forwards on the Flame as of right now. If there is any sort of magic between them and Huberdeau has the passing touch and offensive touch like he did with the Panthers last year and Lindholm can continue his scoring ways, don’t be shocked if we see some high numbers between those two forwards. I will say Lindholm will score 47 goals and will have 48 assists, while we will see 28 goals and 57 assists from Huberdeau. (I almost wonder if Darryl Sutter would try Blake Coleman on the top line with Huberdeau and Lindholm.)
Flames finish third in the Pacific, but beat the Oilers in the second round
Last year was unbelievable for the Flames considering how rough things were for them in the shortened 2020-21 season. As great as last season was I think it was a bit of an anomaly for the Flames. I mean the Flames had two 100 point players last season, that has only happened four times including Johnny Hockey and Matty Tkachuk since the start of the salary cap era, @Sidney Crosby and @Evgeni Malkin in 2008-09, @Nicklas Backstrom and @Alex Ovechkin in 2009-10 and @Connor McDavid and @Leon Draisaitl in 2021-22.
Even if the Flames lose out on the majority of their goal scoring ways as long as they can win the majority of their games, they should be set for another playoff run. The scoring might not be there for the Flames as much this next season but their defensive core has taken a step forward and I highly doubt goaltender @Jacob Markstrom will regress this upcoming season.
As of right now I’ll predict the Flames finish the season with 96 points, behind the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks (in that order). I think the Canucks will roll into this season with a chip on their shoulders as they just missed the playoffs by five points this past season. I think the Canucks will push the Flames to six games in the first round but the Flames will win the series 4-2. In Round Two we will see another classic Battle of Alberta. I believe the Oilers will roll into the series cocky and full of swagger but they will fall to the Flames in five games in the second round.
Based on the moves the Flames have made so far, what are your predictions for the upcoming season? Let us know in the comments!
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