FlamesNation Mailbag: And now, onto the off-season!
Photo credit:Mike Gould
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
The Calgary Flames failed to qualify for the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs and as the top half of the league begins to battle for the best trophy in sports, the bottom half begins a summer of soul-searching. It’s off-season szn, folks, and the dominoes are beginning to fall.
Onto the mailbag!
We’re going to get fairly in-depth during the next while on the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft, including talking to some of our scouting friends to dig in on a few players we think could be good fits for the Flames in the first round. In advance of that, here are some names I would recommend curious fans read up on:
- D Axel Sandin Pellikka – Skelleftea AIK (SHL, Sweden)
- D David Reinbacher – Kloten (National League, Switzerland)
- F Ryan Leonard – U.S. National Development Program (USHL)
- F Colby Barlow – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
- F Nate Danielson – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
- F Callum Ritchie – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
- F Riley Heidt – Prince George Cougars (WHL)
- F Matthew Wood – University of Connecticut (NCAA)
There’s a lot of high-end talent, especially among forwards. The “trade back or draft at 16” question is going to be pretty fluid, depending on who’s left on the board when the Flames approach their pick.
We’ll get into this in more detail later this off-season, but both Mikael Backlund and Nikita Zadorov were critical of how the Flames’ schedule unfolded this season. Like, their actual schedule. Zadorov mentioned how often they had long flights out east, played once or twice, and then flew back to Calgary… and then flew back east.
I don’t think it explains everything, and generally the Flames’ distance travelled wasn’t much more than what they usually experience, but there may be something to their fatigue levels being impacted by the composition of their travel.
Who is coach will be determined by who the general manager ends up being. A good amount of the time, the incoming GM punts the incumbent coach for two reasons: (a) how good could the old coach be if the team was doing poorly enough to change GMs? and (b) the new GM wants to bring in somebody he knows, likes and trusts.
The uniqueness of Calgary’s situation may challenge that expectation, though. Darryl Sutter has a brand-new ($8.4 million) contract extension, while Treliving more or less left the Flames of his own volition rather than getting a push out the door. But I imagine the topic of the club’s coaching will come up, and whoever gets hired will either be on-board with Sutter sticking around… or persuasive enough to convince Murray Edwards to cut a big cheque.
Let’s just put this out there: Jarome Iginla is currently coaching at the Rink Hockey Academy in Kelowna. Iginla stayed in Boston after retirement because his kids were in local hockey, then moved to Kelowna where he was able to coach at the academy where his daughter Jade and sons Tij and Joe played. He’s coached Joe for the past two seasons.
But Joe’s eligible for the WHL Draft this spring and can become a full-time WHLer starting in 2024. At that point, Iginla’s kids will all be out of the nest. At that point, he may seriously consider some of the coaching offers he’s likely going to be getting. Iginla’s one of the best NHLers in history, and he would have a lot of credibility behind an NHL bench. (Maybe not as a head coach right away, but you never know…)
And I just want to pass along my best wishes to the family and friends of Andy Eide, who passed away last week following a stroke he suffered in mid-March. Andy was a fixture in Seattle hockey coverage over the past decade and we did a podcast together about the WHL for a couple seasons.
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