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FlamesNation Mailbag: What record gives the Flames a decent playoffs shot?
By Ryan Pike11 months ago
Friends, the Calgary Flames have about a month left in their schedule. Are they out of the playoffs? Not entirely. Are they in the playoffs? Not exactly. They live in that middle ground, where both playoff hopes and dreams and first-round draft possibilities are on the minds of fans.
With that in mind, let’s delve into the mailbag!
The Flames, based on points percentage, would be drafting 14th pre-lottery – they’re tied in points with Florida, but the Panthers have more regulation wins.
Right now, the players expected to be available in and around the 14th slot would be the likes of Swedish blueliner Axel Sandin Pellikka, American winger Ryan Leonard, OHL scorers Colby Barlow and Callum Ritchie, and Brandon Wheat Kings forward Nate Danielson.
We’ll drill down into who could be the best fit for them when it’s clearer where they’re going to finish in the standings. But suffice it say: there’s nobody who’ll be immediate help, but there are some really promising young players available. The 2023 draft class is highly touted.
To be eligible to play for an NHL club after the trade deadline (e.g., in the remainder of the regular season or the playoffs), a player must be on that club’s reserve list as of the trade deadline. Because Kristians Rubins was acquired from Ottawa after the NHL trade deadline but before the AHL trade deadline, he’s only eligible to play in the AHL.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being it’s a guarantee, I’m firmly at an 8.5. I think all the ducks are getting in a row, so to speak, and all indications are that talks are going very well.
That said, I won’t be 10 out of 10 until there are shovels in the dang ground.
I think the Flames are pretty selective with who gets to use numbers they feel are special. They didn’t just let anybody use 25, for example, and Jacob Markstrom actually called up Joe Nieuwendyk to get his blessing, as the story goes. So if a promising or important player wants to use a number like 2, or 13, and so on, I think they’ll weigh the pros and cons of it. When you’re wearing a number associated with a prominent alumni, you’re inviting comparisons, and I think they want to ensure players are set up for success in as many ways as they can – including with a number that doesn’t carry baggage or invite unfair comparisons.
A lot of that depends on what Winnipeg and Nashville and Colorado do.
The Flames have 16 games left. They have one back-to-back set (Anaheim and Los Angeles), and have just five games against teams currently in a playoff spot. Realistically, they need to probably win 12 games (and get up to 96 or 97 points) to have a fighting chance for a playoff spot.
They’re fully capable of winning that many games – they’ve shown flashes of brilliance – but they’ve struggled to string wins together to that degree. I don’t know if you should expect them to go on that kind of a run, but they have the ability and the talent on the club to be capable of doing so.
If the Flames want some guys to push for spots, here are the guys to keep an eye on:
- I’m operating under the assumption that Dennis Gilbert, Jakob Pelletier and Walker Duehr are on the team going forward. They’ve been good, they’ve earned their opportunities, and they’ve taken advantage of them.
- Behind them, the next couple guys to make a push are Matt Coronato and Connor Zary. Coronato has been really good in the NCAA, while Zary has been one of the consistent bright spots for the Wranglers this season. I don’t expect a goalie to be moved, but Dustin Wolf is legit and he’ll get a shot… eventually.
- Two dark horses: Ilya Solovyov projects as a third pairing defender, but he’s a really reliable, consistent shutdown guy. No frills, just meat and potatoes, but he’s predictable in the way coaches like blueliners to be. And Lucas Ciona has been part of a juggernaut Seattle team in the WHL. He’s big, he’s smart, and he can score. He might “only” project as a Micheal Ferland type physical depth forward, but Ferland was really useful for the Flames and had a good NHL career before his concussion problems set in.
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