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FlamesNation Roundtable: Will the Flames qualify for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs?
1 year ago
We have officially hit the All-Star break in the 2022–23 NHL regular season.
The Calgary Flames have played 50 games this season and there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered about this team. Now is the perfect time to get the FlamesNation team — Boomer and Pinder from Barnburner, plus writers Colton Davies, Mike Gould, Ryan Pike, Paige Siewert, Shane Stevenson, and myself — together for a roundtable to answer the most pressing questions about the final 32 games of the season.
Let’s get started!
Q: What has been your favorite Flames moment so far this season?
Boomer: I was really happy for Dillon Dube when he scored the OT winner at the Dome against Columbus. Johnny Gaudreau was getting all the attention and it would have stung fans and players if the Blue Jackets managed to win that game. Dube won fitness testing in training camp and had obviously put in the work in the off-season to try and take the next step. He’s been elevated to the top line and hasn’t looked out of place. He’s on pace to top his career bests in goals and points and brings some much-needed speed to the lineup. I love it when good things happen to good people.
Colton: My favorite moment so far is probably Lucic’s fight vs Mathieu Oliver (CBJ).
Mike: Honestly, seeing Jakob Pelletier make an impact in his limited action this far has been terrific. It’s been a pretty disappointing season on nearly every front, but it is always exciting to see a young player come up and make an impact. Pelletier has been terrific and I look forward to seeing what he can do with more ice time.
Paige: Jakob Pelletier’s NHL debut.
Pike: It’s not quite a moment, but there have been so many strong outings from Dan Vladar, and it’s been really enjoyable to see a promising young player start to put it together and build their game and confidence as the season has progressed.
Pinder: I loved the Tkachuk standing ovations at commercial break followed by the incessant booing for what felt like the entire shift that followed the tribute. I thought it was an oddly appropriate response to his return. Flames fans still wish him well, but ‘NOT TONIGHT!’. It was a fun night at the ‘Dome.
Robert: The first game of the season against the Colorado Avalanche. It was our first opportunity to see the new roster in action in the regular season and they did not disappoint. Huberdeau, Kadri, and Weegar all picked up points in a 5-3 win over the defending Stanley Cup champions. That night gave the fan base a feeling that the team was going to be alright without Gaudreau and Tkachuk.
Shane: To be quite frank, I don’t really have one. Nothing major has really happened – the team has a bunch of new people, so milestones aren’t worth too much investment. I’ll pick Walker Duehr getting his first NHL goal, just because that’s awesome to see.
Q: The trade deadline is fast approaching. For the sake of this article, we will assume the Flames will make a trade or two before the deadline. Who do you want the Flames to trade for?
Boomer: Can I say Patrick Kane? There’s zero percent chance of it happening, but I’d love to see it. Maybe just slightly more realistic … Jesse Puljujarvi? Again, chances are slim, but how satisfying would it be if Sutter could unlock Puljujarvi and help him become the scoring winger the team has been looking for seemingly forever?
Colton: Vladimir Tarasenko and Max Domi.
Mike: I don’t particularly want them to move assets for anybody, but they don’t really have a choice — they’ve invested so much into this core. I think Shayne Gostisbehere makes quite a bit of sense as an Oliver Kylington facsimile. They really need someone who can skate the puck up the ice on defence.
Paige: I’ve heard Vladimir Tarasenko’s name thrown around but I think that might be a bit of a pipe dream to land him. I’d like the Flames to pick up some more defensive depth before the deadline. Someone like Jakob Chychrun or John Klingberg if they are able to clear up some cap space.
Pike: I think a forward like Noel Acciari would be a good fit, in terms of giving the team a few different looks for their forward group.
Pinder: I would be surprised if Treliving didn’t make a Fantenberg/Forbort-type swap to steady the 3rd pair. Michael Stone has been superb stepping in as a 7th / 8th defender over the past few seasons but seems to be over his skies in a full-time top-6 role. I wonder what the acquisition cost would be for Luke Schenn, especially after Darryl’s publicly stated admiration of the player ahead of one of the club’s games with the Canucks. A top-nine scoring winger is clearly a need. A right-shot scorer seems to have been on the wish list for the Flames since Iginla left. I’d also like to see how Pelletier does with 91 & 10, to see how dire the need actually is.
Robert: I think Brad Treliving has to make a move or two at this deadline. There is too much at stake this season for them not to go for it. I would like to see them acquire Ivan Barbashev and Niko Mikkola from the St. Louis Blues.
Shane: I just did a trade analysis piece and it really sold me as a JVR buyer. The Flames need someone other than Mangiapane to get to the front of the net and they can fit him without any cap problems. The longer they wait to add they could get a winger and a sixth defenceman to improve upon Stone. My opinion is that Schenn is more of a horizontal shift rather than a vertical improvement, but something for depth needs to be done regardless.
Q: Who do you think the Flames management team will trade for?
Boomer: Depth defenceman. Sutter is on record as liking Luke Schenn so why not.
Colton: Vladimir Tarasenko. The Flames need a top-six winger.
Mike: Luke Schenn feels nearly as inevitable as Tyler Toffoli did last year. I don’t think Schenn is particularly good, but Darryl Sutter has expressed his admiration for what he provides and he made use of Erik Gudbranson, a very similar player, last season. I don’t think they should trade a second-round pick for Schenn, but I wouldn’t put it past them.
Paige: I think the Flames might pick up a defenseman with a lower cap hit and try to spend more on a goal-scorer to help the team like Max Domi or James van Riemsdyk.
Pike: I would be shocked if they didn’t trade for Luke Schenn, if only because he seems like a Flames-type player on the back end.
Pinder: Rental depth D, middle-six winger.
Robert: James van Riemsdyk and Luke Schenn. There is a lot of chatter around the Flames and JVR. And Darryl Sutter has talked publicly about how much he appreciates Schenn’s game.
Shane: I kind of answered it above there –—I dream for Meier but that would end as a pure rental and the bidding cost for him is going to get massive. I want to do more diving, but JVR is where I’m at right now. I’d prefer they actually solidify their position in the playoff picture before adding anyone.
Q: Will Matthew Coronato sign with the Flames after his college season comes to an end?
Boomer: I believe he will. There is a lot being made lately about the difficulty young players are having to break into the roster with Darryl Sutter, but with the cap commitments the Flames have there will be a need for some players on entry-level deals to make the club over the next few seasons.
Colton: Yes. I believe he will.
Mike: I think he’ll sign, but I don’t think he’ll play NHL games this year. Maybe he’ll draw into the season finale.
Paige: I think so. Despite what’s going on for the team on the ice, I’m sure that relationship has been nurtured off the ice. At this point, I don’t have a reason to believe he wouldn’t sign with Calgary.
Pinder: Yes. Assuming that Coronato has ‘DOMINATED’ NCAA competition handily, I would suggest his agent (or ‘financial advisor’) would love to start burning the ELC. If he waits for free agency, he won’t play his first NHL season until 2025-26, which could cost him many millions delaying his debut.
Robert: No. Based on the Flames’ contract situation, there is not a spot for him on the roster this and next season. I don’t see Darryl Sutter guaranteeing him a spot on a veteran-heavy NHL roster. I can’t imagine Coronato will want to leave Harvard to play in the AHL next season.
Shane: It’s a prestigious school and the lure to go back for a third season will be strong. He’s got the skills to jump right into the professional level but I’m sure things like learning how to be a pro will get in his way. If he’s going to leave college early, it’s going to be for the premise of an NHL spot and not time in the AHL – The Pelletier experiment could theoretically leave fewer spots for him and someone would have to drop off the roster. Coronato can score though – something they need more of pretty badly.
Q: Will Jonathan Huberdeau be a point-per-game player in his final 32 games of the season?
Boomer: No. Not to suggest he won’t contribute but unless something significant changes (luck, usage, linemates) I don’t see it.
Mike: No — I think he’ll score 22 points in those 32 games.
Paige: No, I don’t think so. I am not expecting to see the type of production we’ve come to expect based on his season last year.
Pinder: No. Sadly he hasn’t looked (nor has the data shown him) to be nearly as dynamic an offensive player this season as he was in FLA last season, heck even his career averages. He’s spent a month of the season with a fourth-line winger on his opposite flank, and that certainly could be significantly upgraded. That said, I’ll say he JUST misses the 32-point threshold.
Robert: No. I haven’t seen anything from Huberdeau to indicate that he can get to that level for the rest of this season. I think he’ll finish with 24 points in his final 32 games.
Shane: If he has to play the majority of those games with Lucic on his line, no. If it’s someone who’s actually catered to play with Huberdeau instead of forcing the square peg in the round hole, it can work. 115 points last year — this guy could go off at any moment if he truly wanted to. He’s playing within Sutter’s structure and it’s costing him on offence.
Q: Will the Flames make the playoffs?
Mike: Yes, as the final seed in the West.
Paige: While I would love to see the Flames in the playoffs again, I have a bad feeling they’re going to narrowly miss this year.
Pike: Yes. They’ll be one of the two wild card teams.
Pinder: Yes. Still lots of room for improvement in SV%, defensive structure, finishing, and power play. If this team starts to look more like a DARRYL team they have the type of schedule where they’ll collect enough points to get there.
Robert: Yes. They’ll make it as a wild card.
Shane: Right now, I want to say yes just because their schedule is so easy, but if they can’t figure out how to beat the bad teams they aren’t going anywhere but to the basement with them.
Q: If you answered yes to the last question, how deep do you think the Flames will go in the playoffs?
Boomer: Depending on the opponent obviously, I can imagine a scenario similar to last year. I can also see it being “a waste of 8 days” if they pull a Colorado in round one.
Colton: The second round.
Mike: I think they win two playoff games.
Pike: It depends on the matchup. Best case, they get out of the first round and then run out of gas in the second. I like a lot of pieces on the team, but they just don’t seem built for a long playoff run right now. (They don’t have enough reliable depth to sustain through multiple rounds of battles and attrition).
Pinder: It’s a tournament that has all kinds of weird results. The Habs went to the final just a few seasons ago. Could the Flames get elite goaltending for a few weeks and get rolling? Absolutely. Could they get quickly dusted off by a team like Edmonton again? Absolutely. I don’t know that this group — if it gets more saves — looks that different than the Islanders club that went to the Eastern Conference Final two years in a row. Those teams really weren’t that dominant in the regular season. I could honestly see almost any outcome. Crapshoot tournament.
Robert: They’ll lose in the first round. Having said that, Calgary has the potential to do some damage if they can sneak in. Darryl Sutter-coached teams are a tough out in the playoffs. The key will be Jacob Markstrom. He needs to be their best player if they want to do damage in the post-season. I just don’t see that happening with the way he’s played this season.
Shane: Here’s the thing about Darryl Sutter-coached teams – as long as they make it in, they can do serious damage. I know in Calgary our history is a bunch of first-round losses, but he showed in Los Angeles what his style can accomplish. If Calgary just gets in they could win the whole thing. The problem is getting in.
We’d love to hear what your predictions are for the rest of the season. Let us know your answers in the comments section!
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