Calgary Flames

The Win Column Mailbag: The outlook on the Calgary Flames heading into 2021–22

You heard it here first: The Win Column now has a weekly mailbag!

Well, actually, you probably didn’t hear it here first, considering how we’ve been spending much of the last week asking you all for questions.

Anyway, y’all didn’t disappoint. Quite frankly, we were inundated with your queries on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. If this level of engagement continues, we shouldn’t have any problem answering your questions every Friday during the season.

Most weeks, it’ll be me (Mike!) running the show around here. Down the line, you’ll probably see other members of our crew occasionally taking over as the QuestionMaster (we’re workshopping that title).

Let’s dig into the first question. Questions have been edited for clarity when applicable.

Dillon Dube’s potential

What would you say is Dube’s potential and how close do you think he gets to reaching it this year?

Aman Kurji on Twitter (@AmanKurji)

To this point, I think Dillon Dube‘s production has yet to match the sum of his parts. He’s really skilled but, since he entered the NHL at around the same time as Andrew Mangiapane, his contributions tend to be slightly overshadowed.

Dube is already a perfectly competent middle-six forward capable of scoring 30-40 points (his 22-point 2020–21 campaign put him on pace for 35 in a full season). He’s about to start a nice little three-year deal. Theoretically, these should be the three most valuable years of his career. I wonder whether we might see Dube challenging Blake Coleman for the final spot in Calgary’s top-six… or if Dube taking a step (or two) forward might act as a precursor to him or Coleman shifting to the middle and Sean Monahan dropping to the third line.

According to Evolving-Hockey, Dube is already a 2.9 goals above replacement (GAR) player who provided the Flames with $1.5 million in value last year. I think a reasonable expectation would be for Dube to push 45-50 points during this three-year contract… and, with the right linemates, I can very easily see him challenging for that in 2021–22… but, with his nose for the net, I also think he has the potential to score 30 goals in a season.


Do you think Gawdin could find his way into the lineup this season? What do you think his ceiling is?

Khalid Keshavjee on Twitter (@KMKeshavjee)

Before the Flames signed Brad Richardson, I would have guessed Gawdin would make the 2021–22 Flames out of training camp. Now… I’m far less certain. I still think he’ll be the first call-up in the event of a major injury, particularly if a centre goes down.

That said, Gawdin’s position in the organization has become much more tenuous in the last year. He lost his No. 1 centre job with the Stockton Heat to Adam Ruzicka last season and barely played in his first cup of coffee with the Flames. I like some of Gawdin’s individual attributes, particularly his shot and his occasional belligerence, but I don’t really anticipate him becoming much more than a fourth-line centre in the NHL for a year or two.

What prospects will make the biggest impact at camp? Do you see any chance of a Zary or Pelletier taking a roster spot?

Joey Howell on Twitter (@joesphhowell)

It’s hard to prognosticate about individual training camp performances—for all I know, someone will pull a Josh Jooris and go from obscurity to a mainstay overnight—but the door appears to be open widest for the likes of Gawdin, Ruzicka, Connor Mackey, and even the hard-working but tiny Matthew Phillips. Dan Vladar technically also counts as a “prospect” but he’s virtually assured a spot on the main roster.

Zary or Pelletier will likely start the season in Stockton. Both are likely in similar boats in terms of NHL-readiness. They’re both 2001-born players with similar pedigrees. Having been drafted a year earlier, Pelletier probably has a bit of a leg up on Zary… but there’s really no rush for either of them, particularly when the NHL club is already stocked with veterans.

How do you see Matthew Coronato’s future?

Matthew Coronato Fan Page on Instagram (@matthew.scoronato)

I suspect Coronato will be a fun player to track. He’s a high-volume offensive forward who plays with tenacity and boasts an impressive shot.

I couldn’t tell you how long he’ll stay at Harvard. I also don’t see any reason to think he was lying when he said he wants to play for the Flames. Regardless of where he ends up—and, for the record, I think it’ll be in Calgary—I think Coronato will be a top-six winger capable of scoring 25-30 goals at his peak.

Flames depth roles

Which of the bottom 6 forward additions do you think will have the most productive season for us this year?

C of Red Central on Twitter (@CofRedCentral)

I’ll say Tyler Pitlick. He had a rough year in Arizona but he’s been a solid two-way third-liner in the past. I’ll say he gets somewhere in the vicinity of 10 goals and 25 points in a full 82-game season.

I’m skeptical Brad Richardson will even play 20 games. I think Trevor Lewis will play a little more than half the season but I don’t expect more than five points from him.

All about the jersey

Do you feel like the old western-style Flames alternate jersey was unfairly maligned? Or was it maligned just the right amount? (I thought it had some fun elements in it, but it just didn’t gel.)

Ryan Pike on Twitter @RyanNPike

I think it was definitely maligned exactly the right amount. No hockey jersey has ever felt more “designed by committee” than that one. The weird number font with the upside-down 2 masquerading as a 5 … the triangular shoulder yokes … the tacked-on Flaming ‘C’ … the fact that Mark Giordano‘s script jersey featured both that ugly 5 and no fewer than three ‘C’s on the front …

Yes, there are cool elements to the uniform. I like most of the black elements — the Flames need to continue really leaning into black on their alternate jersey designs — and the shoulder patch is pretty cool. I also think white numbers make a lot more sense than black ones on a red Flames jersey.

Sadly, there’s just no getting past that crest.

Any hope for Blasty being permanent third in future?

Noah Adler on Twitter (@noahadler1)

I suspect we’ll see the Reverse Retro program act as a gateway of sorts for many teams to reintroduce those jerseys as dedicated third uniforms. “Blasty 2.0” was one of the most popular Reverse Retro designs. In this business, money talks.

Forecasting the future

If the Flames had a playoff series against every Pacific division team, what are your predictions for each series?

Jon Tovell on Twitter (@journalismjon)

CGY vs. LAK: Flames in 6. The Kings have a lot of nice young talent to go along with effective standbys Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. On defence and in net are where things start to get really shaky.

CGY vs. ANA: Flames in 5. With all due respect to Trevor Zegras, the Ducks aren’t close to contention at this point. They’d still take one game at the Honda Center, just for old time’s sake.

CGY vs. EDM: Oilers in 5. If you think the Flames were torn to shreds by Nathan MacKinnon in 2019, just wait until Connor McDavid takes on a Giordano-less Calgary team. I don’t think it’d be pretty.

CGY vs. VGK: Golden Knights in 5. As they did in the Mark Stone sweepstakes, Vegas would beat Calgary in a playoff series. Calgary is outmatched at every position.

CGY vs. VAN: Flames in 7. The Canucks weren’t particularly good to begin with and they just replaced Nate Schmidt and Alex Edler with Tucker Poolman and the ghost of Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Even still, I think they’d be able to push Calgary to the brink.

CGY vs. SJS: Flames in 6. The Sharks have a terrible cap situation … but just because their best players are overpaid doesn’t mean they’re all bad (although some of them definitely are). I think Tomas Hertl, alone, is good enough to extend this series to a sixth game.

CGY vs. SEA: Kraken in 7. It would be just perfect if Giordano won his first playoff series in Seattle after going 15 years without winning one in Calgary. There’s a long and storied history of Flames defencemen leaving Calgary and immediately going on long playoff runs. Seattle’s roster is far from perfect but it certainly has potential. This is the type of matchup Calgary would find a way to lose.

I’m surprised by the ‘lack of love’ for the off season shown by the fan base and publications. I.M.O. the top 7-8 scoring forwards will all improve in production, Markstrom will do better, overall team defence will be way better, and team toughness will intimidate visitors. Is winning 3-2 less desirable than losing 6-4? How does Calgary not make the playoffs and do better than 1 round is my question.

Peter Turner on Facebook

I definitely think there’s room for the Flames’ top forwards to experience an offensive resurgence. Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan have more to give. If he comes as advertised, Blake Coleman will be hugely impactful. Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube could thrive with increased responsibility.

That said … I don’t put a whole lot of stock into “intimidating visitors” and I think it’s a huge stretch to say the Flames’ overall team defence will be “way better” after replacing Mark Giordano with Nikita Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson. Even with Darryl Sutter behind the bench for a full season, it’ll be extremely difficult to offset the loss of the team’s best puck-moving defender.

Winning 3-2 is absolutely more desirable than losing 6-4 … but I’m skeptical the Flames will be able to score three goals on most nights. They were held to just one goal on 14 occasions in 2020–21 and twice failed to score, ultimately ranking 20th in the league with 156 goals. Those 16 games with a maximum of one goal made up 29% of Calgary’s schedule.

I think we could see a lot of 3-2 or 3-1 losses. They might be able to sneak into the playoffs but I’d be floored if they got past Vegas or even Edmonton in the first round.

On the Okotoks Oilers

Which Okotoks Oiler has the best shot of making the NHL?

Conrad Krausert on Twitter (@ConradCasts)

I really like what I’ve seen so far from 17-year-old forward Rieger Lorenz. He’s a big, mobile centre who’s already committed to the University of Denver for the 2022–23 season. If he challenges for the team scoring lead, I could very easily see him being an appealing mid-round draft choice next summer.

Burning questions

That’s it for the first iteration of TWC’s Flames mailbag. Follow along for our prompts to send in your questions for next week!

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