The Calgary Flames have had a pretty good week and for the time being, they’re still in the playoff mix. Cautious optimism is the watch-word, folks.
Onto the mailbag!
In terms of what asset would get the Flames the biggest return if traded immediately, it’s likely either Johnny Gaudreau or Matthew Tkachuk. That said, the combination of versatility, high playing level and a sweet, sweet contract make Elias Lindholm a really appealing asset, as well.
The short answer is “it probably depends.” I’m operating under the assumption that Brad Treliving will be returning as general manager – he’s got two seasons remaining on his current contract. So I expect we’ll see some level of coordination between GM and coach, and so we’ll probably see some changes to make the team more Suttery in the off-season.
But you hit the nail on the head: cap space will minimize the amount of changes they can make, so the changes will probably be more like strategic tweaks rather than blowing the whole thing up.
First off, us media types spend zero time around the locker room this year so our ability to corroborate any rumours or whatnot is basically zero.
Generally, the captain’s role is to lead by example on and off the ice and basically be the conduit between the coaching staff and the locker room. If the team needs something, the captain is the one that has to be able to help get it, and he’s usually the guy tasked with figuring out adjustments. But in a pandemic year, a lot of the captain’s usual tools – a night out on the road, a social gathering, or other adjustments – just aren’t possible to utilize. (Remember the beer train ride during Glen Gulutzan’s reign? That was partially initiated by team leadership.)
Historically, the Flames’ captain has been their top player (or close to it), dating back to Jarome Iginla taking on the C in 2003. But as Giordano is 37 and Father Time is finally making his presence known, his ability to put the team on his back on the ice is diminished.
Simply put, it’s the coach’s job to keep the team motivated and running like a finely tuned engine. But it’s the captain’s job to notice any problems and help nip them in the bed so there aren’t any engine breakdowns.
I would expect we see some new faces on the staff next year, yes. Given Sutter’s desire to hire him back when he was coaching the Kings, and the general strong play of the penalty kill, I’d expect Ryan Huska to stick around.
This is why I’m excited for exhibition games so we can see new faces tried out under the new coach. In terms of being able to play a fast, two-way game, I’m curious to see how Matthew Phillips and Jakob Pelletier can fit in within Sutter’s system. I’m a big Pelletier guy, but Phillips has been excellent for Stockton.
Jacob Markstrom will play every single game unless (a) he’s injured, (b) the Flames clinch a playoff spot or (c) the Flames are mathematically eliminated. Louis Domingue has worked hard this season, but he hasn’t played an NHL game in over a year and he failed to get a win in three AHL starts this season. It’d be a bit unfair to throw Domingue into a game with the season on the line just to give Markstrom some rest.
Garret Sparks is on an AHL contract and with Dustin Wolf likely going pro in 2021-22, it makes no sense to sign him to an NHL deal. But the Flames will likely qualify Tyler Parsons and Artyom Zagidulin to keep their rights and satisfy expansion requirements.
That said, it seems more likely that they look for a cheap backup in free agency rather than use an internal option as Markstrom’s backup going forward. (Or they’ll re-sign Domingue.)