Calgary Flames

Flames Sunday Census: Calgary’s new year’s resolutions

The Calgary Flames enter 2022 returning from a team-wide COVID pause that lasted for most of December. Finishing off 2021 on a high note, they beat the Seattle Kraken for the first time in franchise history to snap a four-game losing skid prior to their pause. Turning to 2022, what new year’s resolutions should the Flames focus on as a top priority? We asked, you answered.

New year, new to-do list

Calgary’s new year’s resolutions all circle around actions that could perceivably happen in the near future, particularly in 2022. The four selected all represent major happenings for the Flames that will impact the team both immediately and for years to come. Everything needs to be done eventually—some items have less pressing deadlines—but each to-do item does in fact lead to good things for the Flames one way or another.

Which resolution should happen first? Sorting out the arena deal, naming a captain, making a trade to contend, or re-signing one of their four restricted free agents?

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Let’s make a trade

Based on how the Flames have fared in the 2021 portion of the 2021–22 season, they have sound reasons to make a strong push at the trade deadline or perhaps even prior to it. Of all positions they can add, a scoring forward to bring a higher level of scoring threat to their game could bode very well for this team.

If they are serious about contending for the Stanley Cup this postseason, this resolution virtually turns into a must-have. Of course, there is the potential route of turning to the AHL to see which Stockton Heat players might be NHL-ready, but it’s never guaranteed. The Flames making it clear that they are surefire buyers and mean business is the better option.

In terms of trade chips, they have five 2022 draft picks: their own first-, second-, fifth-, and seventh-round draft picks, as well as the Florida Panthers’ second-round selection acquired in the Sam Bennett trade. They also have have all seven of their picks in both 2023 and 2024.

However, they are also nearly at the cap ceiling, which means adding scoring talent would require some careful navigation around subtracting from their current roster in ways that their trading partner would be willing to entertain. Barring injuries to a key player and having a miraculous return to good health just in time for the playoffs, the Flames have no other choice other than being willing to pay the price to get deals done. It’s a good a year as any to go all-in—let’s get it done.

The arena saga continues

Just when everyone thought the Flames and the City of Calgary saw eye to eye and a new arena would be on its way, a new crack in the foundation has led to the status of the arena once again being undecided. All this happening while ground was expected to break within weeks.

The latest details surrounding the arena have been documented—and it’s clear that the Flames already got one incredible deal from the City of Calgary, yet pulling out of the agreement now makes it an incredibly disappointing outcome.

It’s a little bit baffling that a billion-dollar corporation is arguing over millions, but at the end of the day a business is a business. Investing in one’s business by building a state-of-the-art event centre to generate future revenue for years on ned seems like a sound business decision—especially when taxpayer money is paying for a large percentage of this investment. But what do I know about being a billionaire?

This saga has gone on for way too long. It’s a new year and it’s time to turn over a new leaf. Just get this deal figured out and get Calgarians excited for a new development that won’t be backed out of.

Re-signing key players

The Flames have four restricted free agents come this offseason, and some are due for big extensions. Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane, Oliver Kylington, and Adam Ruzicka all need new contracts.

From a player perspective, there’s less incentive to sign an extension in the middle of the season as being on a contract year and betting on yourself can lead to better leverage come season’s end. That said, the Flames and fans alike would love to get a bit more certainty about the future of this team’s roster and re-signing their RFAs as soon as possible.

The trio of Tkachuk, Mangiapane, and Kylington will all undoubtedly command more money, while Ruzicka is likely looking at a league-minimum deal if he’s re-signed. The Flames will have to get creative with their salary cap, finding ways to unload some contracts will be the only way to make the cap work.

Not to mention the Flames also have Johnny Gaudreau entering unrestricted free agency too. Getting him to re-sign would be a huge plus for the team for now and the future, and his upcoming contract will be a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to making the team cap-compliant for 2022–23.

Realistically, no one expects any of the RFAs or Gaudreau to sign an extension midseason. It can happen, but it’s not something worth holding your breath for. It will make for an exciting offseason though, to say the least.

In search of a captain

The Flames are willing to play the 2021–22 season without a captain, but that likely won’t last into the next season. They are one of four teams playing without a captain this season alongside the Arizona Coyotes (previously Oliver Ekman-Larsson), Buffalo Sabres (previously Jack Eichel), and New York Rangers (Ryan McDonagh in 2017–18).

The Flames returned to this season with the same trio of alternate captains in Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, and Tkachuk, while Chris Tanev was named as a new alternate. It’d be weird to see the Flames continue past the 2022 offseason without officially naming a new captain, but as the Rangers have demonstrated, it’s not unheard of to go years without a captain.

It’s definitely a nice-to-have and not a need-to-have, but the Flames can easily resolve to name a captain and award the player they think deserves it the most with the honour. Whether that happens in the upcoming offseason or later is anyone’s guess.

Year of the Flames

The Flames are in great shape right now, arguably the best shape they’ve been in for years. Being first in the Pacific Division based on points percentage is exactly where they want to be. With game delays and thus total games played gaps large between teams, points percentage is significantly more telling than total points.

That said, there’s never a wrong time to improve. Calgary has a lot of things they can tend to both on and off the ice in 2022. Here’s to hoping that these resolutions will come to fruition instead of being shelved for longer than it has to be.

Which resolution should be done first? Which other new year’s resolutions should the Flames tend to? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.

Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

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