Four predictions for the Calgary Flames 2023-24 season
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
We are back with another year of Flames hockey! Making predictions about this Flames team is going to be difficult because of the uncertainty surrounding this team. What is their identity? Are they good? Are they bad? Will they get bounce back seasons from Jacob Markstrom and Jonathan Huberdeau? How will they respond to new systems in the offensive and defensive zone?
But we can’t let that get in the way of having some fun and making some predictions for the upcoming season. With that being said, here are four Flames predictions!
Andrew Mangiapane scores 30 goals
Mangiapane is coming off a tough year for his standards only scoring 17 goals. A down year when you consider he scored 35 goals in the 2021-22 season. But there is a good reason for that. Mangiapane injured his shoulder “first couple games” of the season.
The Flames talented forward is known for his tenacious style of play, ability to win board battles, protect the puck along the walls and score goals around the front of the net. Mangiapane couldn’t do that to the best of his abilities last season because of the shoulder injury.
But he’s back to being 100% healthy heading into the season. That is going to allow him to to be the player he was more from the 2021-22 season rather than the 2022-23 season. Expect a big year in the goal scoring department from the bread man.
Dustin Wolf becomes the Flames starting goaltender by the all-star break
Dustin Wolf may be starting the 2022-23 season in the AHL with the Wranglers. But he won’t be finishing the season there. Wolf will become the Flames starting goalie by the NHL all-star break.
As we all know, Wolf has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is too good for the AHL. His record speaks for itself. He’s been the goaltender of the year in his last four seasons; two in the WHL and two in the AHL. He was the AHL MVP last season. He’s the best goalie not playing in the NHL right now.
Then you look at Jacob Markstrom who is trending in the opposite direction. Markstrom has struggled dating back to the Flames second round playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers.
Among 45 goalies who played over 1500 minutes last season, Markstrom ranked 36th in save percentage (0.892%), and 38th in goals saved above expected (-18.32). He has also tended to let in goals early in games and at inopportune moments which kills momentum and energy for the team in front of him.
There is no doubt that Markstrom will work extremely hard on and off the ice and do everything he can to get back to being an elite goalie in the NHL. I just don’t see it happening. And the Flames can’t wait for him to find his game like they did all of last season. Calgary needs to make the playoffs this season especially when you consider the age of their core and their contract situation. Because of that I think Wolf will take over as the starter by the all-star break at the latest.
Elias Lindholm gets traded
There has been non-stop talk about Elias Lindholm in Calgary over the last five months. Should they re-sign him to an eight-year extension? Should they trade him?
When it’s all said and done, the Flames will end up trading Lindholm by the 2024 trade deadline. I don’t see Craig Conroy and the Calgary Flames paying Elias Lindholm $9M-$9.5M per year on an eight-year contract extension. There is no doubt in my mind that they want to keep Lindholm. He is a very good 200-foot player. But the Flames know they can’t pay that much money to a soon to be 30-year-old player when they already have lots of cap space tied up in Huberdeau, Kadri, Weegar, Markstrom, Backlund, Coleman, etc.
I think the Flames understand how important it is to have cap space in today’s NHL and how careful you have to be when giving out long term contracts. Because of that, and the fact Lindholm is asking for $9M+, I think the two parties will part ways before the deadline.
The Flames have a top 5 power play
There are two additions to the Flames that are going to make a huge difference on the power play this season. Marc Savard and Matt Coronato.
Savard is entering first season as an assistant coach with the Flames. One of his main roles will be to run the power play, which he has had a tonne of success with both as a player and coach.
In Windsor as a Head Coach, Savard led the Spitfires to the second and third ranked power play in his two seasons with the club. In St. Louis, where he was an assistant coach in the 2019-20 season, he took a power play that was 30th two years prior to his arrival and turned it into a top three unit in the NHL.
Savard is a power play savant who is going to do everything he can to put his players in the right position.
Then there is Matt Coronato, who is essentially going to replace Tyler Toffoli on the top unit. He brings a high-end NHL shot from the flank that the Flames are sorely missing. We saw in Penticton and the preseason the kind of damage he is capable of doing.
With the changes and coaching and addition of Coronato’s shot, watch out. This could be a dangerous power play.
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