FlamesNation Mailbag: Talking lines, Matt Coronato, and the Flames’ future

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
For the first time this season, the Calgary Flames have won four games in a row. With five games left on the calendar, they sit two points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the final wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference. And they have a crucial back-to-back set on Tuesday and Wednesday that will probably determine their season.
With all those factors in mind, let’s dive into the mailbag!
There are two things I feel pretty confident in: 1) The Calgary Flames really like Matt Coronato and think he has a bright future. 2) They don’t want to throw him into the pressure cooker that is a playoff race considering how slim the margin for error is for them right now.
If the Flames are mathematically eliminated or hit a slew of injuries, we’ll see Coronato in a game. But probably not until then.
If it were up to me – spoiler: it’s not – I would roll with these lines, presuming that Darryl Sutter would let me pick lines but not change up the forward group that’s dressed from game to game:
Huberdeau – Lindholm – Toffoli
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman
Dube – Kadri – Duehr
Lucic – Lewis – Ritchie
Mangiapane/Backlund/Coleman is one of the NHL’s top possession lines. Duehr and Dube as speedy wingers with a finisher like Kadri would be fun. Huberdeau distributing to a pair of finishers like Lindholm and Toffoli has worked in the past. The fourth line is essentially just “here’s who’s left,” but Lucic and Lewis have been pretty consistent.
I love and hate this question, because I have no real handle right now on how much the Flames change off-ice this summer – in terms of general manager and coach.
But assuming the same group is more or less back off-ice, I would suggest that Matt Coronato and Jakob Pelletier will get chances to be regulars next season, Connor Zary and Dustin Wolf will get opportunities for call-ups, and Jeremie Poirier feels like somebody who becomes a call-up option mid-season.
Here’s the thing with Tyler Toffoli: he’s played over 700 NHL games and he’s scored at a 25-goal pace for his entire career. Even if you think he might be riding a bit of a percentages heater – and he might be – he still feels like a known quantity in terms of upside and downside, which mitigates the risk somewhat of a longer-term deal.
That said, the X-factor here is what stomach the front office will have for another long-term deal at big dollars considering they already have Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau combining for $17.5 million for the next while. There has to be some balancing of risks.
If it were me: have a conversation with Toffoli as soon as this season is over and see what his appetite would be in terms of being in Calgary long-term. And then model out what a market value for him would be, particularly as he ages, and see if that’s something the Flames can live with. He’s a goal-scorer, and a consistent one, but at a certain point there’s only so much money left to spread around.
My disclaimer is that, again, I’m not sure what happens this summer. But I’m generally an optimist, and the Flames are a possession beast that has found ways to lose games due to poorly-timed mistakes and bad puck luck. But the bones of the team are strong, and you could easily run back the exact same roster with a summer to decompress and get a completely different (better) result. They’re going to tinker and try to improve their roster this summer for sure, but the general bounce-back from bad luck and the injection of some new, young faces makes me optimistic.

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