FlamesNation’s 2024 All-Star break roundtable

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Robert Munnich
5 months ago
Friends, it’s the All-Star break! It’s time to take a break, take stock, and momentarily take a breather before everything hits the mid-season frenzy leading into the trade deadline. The Calgary Flames are a .500 team, with a 22-22-5 record through 49 games.
To reflect on the first half (or so) of the season, we’ve called together our writers for a roundtable session!

What are your thoughts on the first 49 games of the Flames season?

Jeff: There are some positive things to take away from the first 49 games, but overall, I think it’s safe to say that this team is not worthy of a playoff spot and should do everything to sell off their movable assets.
Justin: As much up and downs as there has been, the club was predicted to be fighting for a wild card spot. It has felt rocky but I would say it is going about as predicted.
Mike: Meh. As I outlined in my column a few days ago, they’ve looked like a team without direction. I think they have good players but they’re not on the pathway to winning a Stanley Cup, which is all that matters.
Raz: The Flames have been mediocre through 49 games played and I think it’s about what’s expected from this roster. From what we have seen from the younger players so far I think this franchise has the potential for a bright future.
Robert: It’s been a mediocre season for a mediocre team. Some nights they’re really good. Other nights they look like one of the worst teams in the NHL. It’s been a frustrating season in that regard.
Ryan: They are, more or less, who we thought they’d be. While the team seems a bit more consistent and cohesive than they did a year ago, they’re a team without game-breaking players that has to play a really structured, disciplined, high-pace style to win hockey games. It’s a tough brand of hockey to maintain over 82 games.
Shane: I understand and have respect for the organization’s directive to not accept losing hockey or welcome in a losing culture, it’s evident on a nightly basis. The team may lack the pieces to be in contention, but they do work their butts off every game.

What has been your favourite moment of the season so far?

Jeff: Definitely the dad’s trip and all of the content that came from it.
Justin: The Heritage Classic. Very cool environment and at the time it felt like an important game for two teams who stumbled out of the gates.
Mike: Oliver Kylington making his triumphant return. I missed that guy so much.
Raz: My favourite moment so far this season has been watching the role players keep this team relevant in the standings during a somewhat disappointing season from Huberdeau and Lindholm.
Robert: The night of the win in Arizona at Mullett Arena. The building was packed with Flames fans. It was the dads trip. Yegor Sharangovich scored a hat trick. And the Flames won 6-2. That was the most fun and enjoyable night of the season so far.
Ryan: Hands-down, Oliver Kylington’s return to the lineup.
Shane: I’m enjoying the influx of young talent in the forward corps – actually trying out the young assets after developing them is a new concept in Calgary. I’m eagerly anticipating Kiprusoff night coming up – that will be number one no matter what.

Who is the Flames team MVP?

Jeff: Jacob Markstrom, for obvious reasons.
Justin: Jacob Markstrom is the reason this team is staying afloat. A 8-9-3 record and .891 SV% when he’s not in net. Those are Ottawa Senators goaltending bad numbers.
Mike: It kind of has to be Jacob Markstrom, although I’ll throw an honourable mention to Connor Zary. Markstrom has probably made this team better than it should be.
Raz: I could name a few candidates, but the one guy who gets my vote is Jacob Markstrom. A bounce-back year from him and he has done everything a team can ask from a goaltender so far.
Robert: Jacob Markstrom is the reason why the Flames aren’t in the basement of the league right now. He’s actually hurting their draft position which might not make him the MVP in the grand scheme of things but he’s been excellent this season.
Ryan: Blake Coleman. He’s been a consistently effective two-way player, their most consistent offensive contributor, and he’s been equal parts blunt and eloquent when dealing with the media.
Shane: 100% it’s Jacob Markstrom – honourable mention to MacKenzie Weegar. Markstrom is playing at a Vezina level right now – without him they are right with the Ducks in the standings.

Which player has been the biggest disappointment?

Jeff: Well, my answer was Elias Lindholm, but he’s now in Vancouver, so I’ll say Matt Coronato for the simple fact that he wasn’t as impactful as many wanted him to be and thought he would be.
Justin: Andrew Mangiapane. Had high hopes he would be closer to what we saw in 21-22 but it looks like that contract isn’t going to get to market value for the remainder of his term in Calgary.
Mike: I was going to say Elias Lindholm, but he’s now in Vancouver, so I’ll shift gears to Matt Coronato. I think he has a very bright future but he’s struggled to play at an NHL pace in his games with the Flames. I have a high bar for what Coronato can become and he’s taken big steps forward in the AHL of late, so I think he’ll be just fine.
Raz: The only answer to this for me is Jonathan Huberdeau. From his stature to his past performances and contract with the way he has produced it just hasn’t been anywhere near acceptable. He has improved as of late but just not at the level this team expects from him.
Robert: Jonathan Huberdeau. We thought last season was bad when he put up 55 points. Well, he’s been even worse this. year. He’s on pace for only 10 goals and 44 points. He’s also last on the Flames in +/- with a -15. Yuck.
Ryan: Given his prominence and cap hit, it’s not hard to imagine more offensive output was expected from Andrew Mangiapane.
Shane: In terms of monetary value vs. on ice value it is still Jonathan Huberdeau, although he has picked it up in the new year. On defence my answer is Jordan Oesterle.

What makes you excited for the rest of the season?

Jeff: More young players and more assets coming in with the addition of no expectations for anything other than selling off pending free agents is a liberating feeling, so not having expectations.
Justin: After the All-Star break could be one of the most significant stretches in Calgary Flames history. Stoked to see what the trajectory of this team is after the trade deadline.
Mike: More Kylington, more Zary, and the prospect of selling off and picking high in the draft.
Raz: I’m excited to see what Conroy does at the deadline and who actually ends up being resigned or moved.
Robert: The trade deadline. I think the Flames are going to be a busy team between now and March 8. It’s going to be fascinating to see what they’re able to get for some of their players.
Ryan: It feels like we’re going to get a glimpse into the future, with the integration of more and more young players. I’m especially curious as to how Jakob Pelletier looks after his injury.
Shane: I’m excited to keep tracking the games and check on the development of the young players. Looking for patterns in what works and what doesn’t to try and better understand where the Flames are going.

How many players will be traded between now and the trade deadline?

(Editor’s Note: Robert sent out the questions to our panel and got several answers back before Elias Lindholm was traded.)
Jeff: Two.
Justin: Lindholm and Tanev are gone at the deadline. I would like to see at least three moves to give me a clearer sense of the direction.
Mike: Lindholm notwithstanding, I’ll say three.
Raz: I am going to go with two. Lindholm and Tanev
Robert: Four. Tanev, Hanifin, Vladar, and Lindholm.
Ryan: Three.
Shane: I think we lose Tanev for sure – a shame he’s meant so much to this team. If Hanifin doesn’t have dry ink on an extension he needs to be gone as well – no matter how much they want to keep him they can’t afford another Gaudreau situation.

Are there any players outside Lindholm, Tanev, and Hanifin who you think will be traded?

Jeff: Jacob Markstrom feels like the most likely candidate, but given what we’ve heard, I don’t think he’s going to be moved. I could see Andrei Kuzmenko being flipped, potentially.
Justin: I think a name of interest would be Blake Coleman. Value is never going to be higher and he has some term left.
Mike: I could see a team giving up a low pick to add Jordan Oesterle as a depth defenceman for a playoff run.
Raz: I don’t think so but with the way Blake Coleman has been playing this year, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked to see the Flames possibly sell high on him. Markstrom is another name I’ve heard that could be moved if the perfect deal comes about.
Robert: I think Dan Vladar is going to get moved. There are too many teams who need help in net and Vladar has been good as of late.
Ryan: I’m thinking we may finally see a Dan Vladar trade.
Shane: Before his injury I wondered if A.J. Greer had worked his way back up to being worth a low draft pick to a contender. I think that’s all they move really – unless they want to flip Kuzmenko which I doubt they do.

Will the Flames make the playoffs?

Jeff: No.
Justin: No. The Flames are out of a playoff spot with some of their team at full strength. It’s not going to get better when some significant pieces get dealt at the deadline.
Mike: Absolutely not.
Raz: With the way the season has gone so far and considering how many teams are in the mix right beside them in the standings I’m going to say no they will not make the playoffs.
Robert: Nope.
Ryan: No.
Shane: Oh Robert, this is a funny question my guy. I appreciate you – no, they won’t make it.

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