FlamesNation 2023 predictions: deals, deals, deals (of several types)
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike4 months ago
The calendar has turned over and 2022 has been completed. Up next? The calendar year of 2023, filled with unknown challenges to overcome and untold promise yet to be discovered.
As we get rolling with 2023, here are five Calgary Flames-related predictions for the upcoming year.
The arena deal gets done (again)
We kicked off 2022 with the deal between the City of Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation to build a new arena for the Flames being legally dissolved, a product of supply chain challenges driving expenses beyond what the Flames were comfortable with covering.
But the next thing city council did was reaffirm their desire to build an arena in the Stampede Park area. The City has hired CAA Icon, a branch of the CAA agency that represents tons of heavy hitters in the worlds of sports and entertainment, to represent them in talks with the Flames.
The Flames and CAA Icon are talking. Before cost escalations due to the pandemic scuttled things, the Flames and the City had a deal both sides really liked. Given that CAA Icon are heavy hitters and know how to put deals together – and probably know anybody who has money who might want to become involved – it seems like just a matter of time before a deal is hammered out.
If a deal can be made in the first few months of 2023, expect a ground-breaking shortly after the Stampede is over.
Matt Coronato signs his entry-level deal
2021 Flames first-round pick Matt Coronato isn’t Johnny Gaudreau. He’s not an offensive dynamo. He won’t single-handedly make the Flames a more dangerous offensive team. But there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past 12 months: the kid can play.
Originally drafted as a goal-scoring right wing, he’s spent the past season and a half under head coach Ted Donato at Harvard University rounding out his game. He transitioned to centre to open this season and is the first guy over the boards in every game situation – he’s basically Harvard’s version of Elias Lindholm.
He’s one of the top point-producers in the NCAA on a per-game basis. He’s a very effective face-off presence. He’s a reliable 200-foot player. He was a standout for Team USA at last summer’s World Junior tournament.
Unless Coronato really feels like he has unfinished business in college, it seems quite likely that he signs an entry-level deal whenever Harvard’s season ends sometime in late March. The only question is whether he goes directly to the NHL (and his contract begins right away) or if he spends the balance of the 2022-23 AHL season with the Wranglers on a try-out. Considering his strong college season so far, we’re leaning towards him joining the Flames instead.
Brad Treliving signs a long-term contract extension
It’s admittedly a bit odd that a new contract was announced for head coach Darryl Sutter, but not general manager Brad Treliving. Treliving’s been at the reins of the club since 2014, and it’s hard to argue that the club isn’t in a better spot than he found it in.
Based on the success of the club this season, I would expect a deal to get done for Treliving sometime in the first quarter of 2023 that will keep him around town for at least another three or four seasons.
A significant “hockey trade” happens before the trade deadline
The Flames need a bit more offensive oomph in their lineup. They probably don’t want to move their first-round pick in this upcoming draft – reportedly they were asked to include their 2023 first in the Sean Monahan trade with Montreal, but they declined that request.
If the Flames want to upgrade their scoring, given their asset and salary cap situation they’re bound to make a hockey trade – swapping a player from their existing roster out in an attempt to upgrade the offensive potency of their lineup.
The Flames make the playoffs, but don’t get past the second round
The Flames are right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. They have strong enough goaltending, a deep enough blueline group, and (especially if they make a trade at the deadline) a strong enough scoring attack to find their way above the cutline before the music stops on Apr. 12.
That said, this still feels like a group that is a piece or two away – or the maturation of a few of their existing pieces away – from being a big problem for other teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They likely have enough quality in their lineup to get out of the first round for the second time in as many years, but it seems improbable that they can get much further than that.
Share your Flames-related predictions for 2023 in the comments!
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