Why the Calgary Flames’ Window is Wide Open

When Brad Treliving signed his multi-year extension this past summer, Calgary Flames fans rejoiced in a collective happy dance. The heir to the Boston Pizza kingdom has served more than his fair share of mouthwatering cap-friendly contracts, and delivered on his promise of making the Flames competitive again. He gave us Dougie Hamilton and Travis Hamonic. He gave us Kris Versteeg and Michael Frolik. He gave us Deryk Engelland and Troy Brouwer! Okay, some of his signings embody pineapple on pizza, but by and large, most of his moves have placed the Flames in a position  to compete for the Stanley Cup now and into the future.


Window 1: 2017-2020

With the big additions of Hamonic, Mike Smith, Spencer Foo, and Jaromir Jagr(?) this offseason, it’s clear the Flames organization feels that they have a legitimate chance to win now. They’ve built a team with a defense that can compete against the high flying offense in Edmonton and look poised to challenge for the division this year. This window is structured to span 3 years based on the contracts of  T.J. Brodie, Frolik, Smith, and Hamonic.

The Flames have continually improved in all three zones. They are creating better scoring opportunities, and giving themselves a better chance of winning on a nightly basis. The Flames have trended up in their Corsi For percentage, finally getting rid of the ghosts of Hartley’s past.

Though this is not the full picture, it is a positive metric that can’t be ignored. They have spent the past year improving under Glen Gulutzan’s new systems. Despite getting swept in the playoffs, the Flames belonged in the postseason and probably deserved a better fate. If things fall into place, they could go much deeper in the coming springs. As Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, and Hamilton continue to improve, this team is poised to be a contender throughout this first window.


Window 2: 2020-2024

At this point, many of the fixtures in the Flames current lineup have matured and developed a sense of what it takes to be a contender. Gaudreau and Monahan enter their prime and Hamilton is consistently in the Norris Trophy conversation. Tkachuk overtakes Brad Marchand as the most hated 30-goal scorer in the league and Mikael Backlund solidifies his place as an elite two-way center in the league. Most importantly, the bad contracts that are left expire, providing cap relief and more flexibility to acquire players in the offseason or at the trade deadline.


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The defense corps will still be terrifying to play against, as it is a certainty that prospects will graduate into full-time NHL blueliners. Whether it is Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, Adam Fox, Juuso Valimaki, or any combination, the Flames’ defense will see constant upgrades as the development of these players progresses.

Smith will likely retire and the Flames will welcome a budding superstar between the pipes in Tyler Parsons. While we still have our fingers crossed that Jon Gillies can still one day be a bonafide NHL goaltender, it’s fairly obvious that Parsons has become the number one goalie, assuming the Flames properly manage their prospects. With any luck, the goaltending woes that have plagued the team since Miikka Kiprusoff’s retirement in 2013 will be resolved once and for all.


Window 3: 2024-2030

With the way the Flames’ prospect cupboard is loaded, it’s hard not to jump ahead and envision what our team might look in the future. The aforementioned depth in defense has many other teams envious of the Flames’ drafting; a feeling that is new and exciting for Flames fans.

Captained by Monahan, the Flames could boast a high flying offense featuring Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane, Matthew Phillips, and their future late-round draft steals. In tandem with their elite defense corps and superstar goaltender, they still remain perennial cup contenders.

Although these speculations are premature, it is not far fetched to think that Treliving did in fact set the Flames up for long term success. He has strategically managed their current and future assets, relying on the “defense wins championships” mantra. Hopefully his efforts will prove to be fruitful, and Flames fans can look forward to many Aprils, Mays, and Junes spent on the Boston Pizza patio, overlooking the Red Mile, cheering on the boys.


 

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