The top contenders to be the Calgary Flames’ next captain
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
3 months ago
The Calgary Flames officially announced Craig Conroy as their general manager on Tuesday. A person who has contributed a lot to the Flames organization has finally gotten his chance to be the man making the big decisions.
As for what Conroy plans for the future, he mentioned bringing in youth players to help construct the roster, and he also talked about playing a brand of hockey that was reliant on creativity in the offensive zone but, most importantly, structure on the back check and on defence.
However, one thing that was also mentioned was the high likelihood of a captain being named for next season and how much of a “mistake” it was not to have one earlier.
So, naturally, this gets everyone wondering, who could be the next Flames captain? Who has the best case, and what will a former Flames captain in Conroy look for in the primary leader of the team?
According to the tweet from Francis, he believes Andersson is the front runner to wear the ‘C’ for the Flames in 2023-24. The 26-year-old defenceman has been a staple of the backend since being drafted in the second round of the stacked 2015 NHL Draft. Last season, he scored 11 goals, which was easily his career high, and his ability to transition the puck was a big factor in how the Flames conducted their offence. He’s heading into the prime of his career (if he isn’t there already), and someone who is “homegrown” and such an integral part of the defense core deserves that kind of leadership role.
Another piece of the defence that deserves a look for the captain position is MacKenzie Weegar. Although he’s new to the Flames, in his first season there weren’t many games where he committed errors, especially on the defensive end. He’s physical and defensively sound, with all of the right “hard to play against” attributes. He also is a strong puck mover for a defenceman that focuses on defence primarily. He also isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind, as evidenced by his comments on the Calgary locker room on a podcast. He’s the kind of personality and player on the ice that would embody the kind of team the Flames want to be.
The most tenured Flames forward, Mikael Backlund has been the subject of captain talks for a while now. He embodies the speed, hard forechecking, and structure that the Flames want to play with as they move into an era of youth. He’s a veteran leader in the locker room, and someone the young kids look up to, which is exactly what a captain should be in this current era of Flames hockey. I don’t think it would shock anyone to see Conroy decide to go with Backlund as the captain, especially if they’re able to re-sign him for a few seasons.
The way that Conroy spoke about Lindholm in his press conference signals that he will be an important piece of the puzzle moving forward. Management wants to bring him back, and if they do, there’s plenty of reason to give him a look for the captaincy. Since coming to Calgary from Carolina, he has consistently been a strong presence on the offensive side of the game. Although he did take a hit in production when Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk left (as most players would), he’s a skilled player that has experienced changes in multiple ways. He’s also here
Kadri is an interesting candidate. He’s signed to a long-term deal, he plays very physical, he has proven he can score and play with skill, he’s a strong puck-mover, and, arguably the most important thing, he has experience being a key piece of a Stanley Cup winning team. However, there’s also downsides to his game, mainly in regards to his “storied” history (for lack of a better term) with keeping his discipline, and there were times in 2022-23 where he looked lazy and made stupid mistakes. However, his eagerness to mix it up with the opponent and stand up for his teammates is commendable, which should help his case.
Huberdeau is the player I suspect most people will be against for the captaincy role. He just had the worst point drop off from season to season in NHL history, and he lacks the physicality of a Kadri or Weegar. However, there’s plenty of upside. As Huberdeau said in his interview after the season was over, he’s still the same player. He didn’t lose his skill. And when he’s able to bring his skill to the forefront, which is what Conroy and the future coach are going to need if they want to have sustained success. The stories of Jakob Pelletier and Matthew Coronato going to him when they first entered the league last season are also positives for his leadership qualities and ability to communicate with his younger, less experienced teammates. He’s also here for a long time and wore a letter last season too, which certainly plays into the decision.
Toffoli was the best player for the Flames in 2022-23. He hit career-highs in goals, assists, and points last season, and came through clutch down the stretch when the Flames needed it most. He, like Kadri, also has Cup-winning experience. The key to all of this is whether or not Conroy and his management team decide to bring him back. He was the catalyst for the team’s offence, and the experience he has combined with that is perfect reason for him to be considered. The only caveat is whether or not he’s deciding to come back.
The Flames have plenty of candidates for the open captain position, and they all have unique cases to be considered. The captain that is chosen should reflect the direction Conroy spoke about in his press conference, which is speed, skill, youth, and structure.
Who do you think should be the next Flames captain? Let us know in the comments!
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