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How does the Calgary Flames’ lineup look early in free agency?

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Photo credit:Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
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The Calgary Flames started off the 2023 free agency season quietly, making zero moves on opening day. In addition to the lack of cap space, the Flames also (on paper) have a pretty full roster.
Here’s a rundown of where organizational depth is at early in the off-season.
Disclaimer: lines are mere educated guesses based on how players have been used in the past and how they could fit together.

Forwards

NHL level:
Dillon Dube* – Elias Lindholm – Andrew Mangiapane*
Jonathan Huberdeau – Nazem Kadri – Matt Coronato
Jakob Pelletier – Mikael Backlund – Blake Coleman
Yegor Sharangovich* – Adam Ruzicka – Walker Duehr
(Dube, Mangiapane and Sharangovich have routinely played either wing at the NHL level.)
Now, it feels like there are some question marks and moderate gaps here. Coronato in the top six feels like a lot to ask of a 20-year-old with one NHL game under his belt. Pelletier on the shutdown line also feels like a lot to ask, but Backlund and Coleman feel like they could teach him (and his skill-set seems like it fits that line). You could easily see Sharangovich higher in the rotation (as in: with Huberdeau/Kadri). Ruzicka feels like a question-mark to me given how last season went for him.
AHL level:
Connor Zary – Ben Jones – Cole Schwindt
Emilio Pettersen – Kevin Rooney – Clark Bishop
Lucas Ciona – Rory Kerins – Martin Pospisil
William Stromgren – Mitch McLain (AHL deal) – Adam Klapka
Extra: Ilya Nikolaev
I could easily see Ben Jones pushing for NHL minutes, too, and Zary or Schwindt could swap over to centre. This group probably has more big question marks than the NHL group, if we’re being honest: after all, Kerins, Ciona, Stromgren and Nikolaev weren’t full-time AHLers last season and it’s a challenge to project where they slot. If Brett Sutter is back, slot him in with Rooney and Bishop on the checking line and things stack up a bit more readily. But it feels like this group is missing a few depth signings.

Defencemen

NHL level:
MacKenzie Weegar – Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin – Chris Tanev
Oliver Kylington – Nikita Zadorov
Extra: Dennis Gilbert
For an alternative set-up, perhaps Andersson, Weegar and Tanev could slot in on the right side, and Zadorov, Kylington and Hanifin can mix and match on the left side. The question is how big a boost the Flames could get from Kylington’s return; he’s such a good skater, he could add a new dynamic to the existing group.
AHL level:
Jeremie Poirier – Yan Kuznetsov
Ilya Solovyov – Nick DeSimone
? – ?
They need to sign more defencemen to fill out the AHL team. And for general depth.

Goalies

NHL level:
Jacob Markstrom
Dan Vladar
AHL level:
Dustin Wolf
Oscar Dansk
Unless there’s a trade, the goaltending group seems set.
How do you like the Flames’ depth early on this off-season? What areas do you think the Flames need to shore up? Let us know in the comments!

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