Calgary Flames

Comparing the Flames and Oilers player by player for 2022-23

The 2022 Battle of Alberta playoff series did not go the way the Calgary Flames or their fans wanted. Hot off a clutch Game 7 win over the Dallas Stars in Round 1—where the Flames managed to overcome one of the best single-series goaltending performances in recent history by Jake Oettinger—they were feeling confident and ready to take on the Edmonton Oilers in Round 2.

Of course, that confidence and readiness evaporated almost instantly, as the Oilers took down the Flames in five games.

However, many look at the Flames now as a better team. With star players Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and MacKenzie Weegar joining the fold, it looks like the Flames will be a better and more balanced squad despite losing their two best—and two of the league’s best—forwards in the summer.

Are they good enough now to take down the Oilers in a playoff series? Let’s take a look player by player. For line combinations, we’re using those provided by Left Wing Lock.

Flames versus Oilers position comparisons


Roster SlotFlamesOilersEdge
1CElias LindholmConnor McDavidEDM
2CNazem KadriLeon DraisaitlEDM
3CMikael BacklundRyan McLeodCGY
4CKevin RooneyDevin ShoreCGY

The Oilers come out ahead at centre. With arguably the two best players on the planet playing down the middle, there might not be a single team that can boast a better collection of centres than Edmonton. Even with two premier players in Elias Lindholm and Kadri, the Flames lose the top-six centre battle. Against most other teams in the NHL they would likely come out on top.

The Oilers are thin in the bottom-six though, and Mikael Backlund might be the best 3C in the NHL if he does end up slotting there. Ryan McLeod showed promise in the playoffs but Backlund is an experienced two-way beast.

Edge: Oilers

Left wing

Roster SlotFlamesOilersEdge
1LWJonathan HuberdeauEvander KaneCGY
2LWAndrew MangiapaneRyan Nugent-HopkinsCGY
3LWJakob PelletierDylan HollowayTie
4LWMilan LucicWarren FoegeleEDM

Evander Kane is one of the most unique players in the NHL, and he would come out on top against most teams when comparing 1LWs. However, Huberdeau is arguably the best playmaker in the NHL outside of maybe McDavid, so he gets the edge there. Mangiapane is coming off a 35-goal season and a whole career of dominant play-driving ability, whereas Nugent-Hopkins has lost a step in recent years. Calgary definitely comes out on top when looking at the top-six.

On the bottom-six, both teams are currently projected to have a rookie start at 3LW, so that comparison is likely a wash. Holloway may have a higher offensive ceiling, but Pelletier had could have easily won the AHL rookie of the year award with how impressive his first professional season went.

Foegele gets the edge over Lucic simply because of his age and speed. Lucic can still contribute defensively and brings a physical element that very few players can, but at the end of the day I would much rather have Foegele on the team than Lucic at this stage.

Edge: Flames

Right wing

Roster SlotFlamesOilersEdge
1RWTyler ToffoliJesse PuljujarviTie
2RWBlake ColemanZach HymanEDM
3RWDillon DubeDerek RyanCGY
4RWTrevor LewisKailer YamamotoEDM

Right wing is definitely one of the weaker spots on the Flames’ roster. This has been true for years and this year isn’t any different. Toffoli’s history as a goal scorer likely gives him the edge over Puljujarvi, but at full potential I think Puljujarvi can be an impact power forward every single night. Because of the uncertainty here, the 1RW slot gets a tie.

Hyman has been exactly what the Oilers have needed for a long time. He’s a fantastic player and as much as I like Coleman, Hyman is the superior player here. Easy edge to Edmonton. As well, Yamamoto gets the obvious edge over Lewis. Yamamoto could easily play higher in the lineup and likely will, but he’s currently projected on the fourth line.

The third line could also be a tie, but Dube has a lot more room to grow than Ryan at this stage of his career. Dube has the speed and grit to be impactful in a third line role, whereas Ryan, now a winger instead of his natural centre spot, doesn’t have the same utility as he once did.

Edge: Oilers

Right defence

Roster SlotFlamesOilersEdge
RD1Rasmus AnderssonCody CeciCGY
RD2Chris TanevEvan BouchardCGY
RD3Oliver KylingtonTyson BarrieTie

The Flames’ defence corps might be the best in the NHL, so it’s no surprise they come out on top on basically every blueline position. Andersson and Ceci are both fresh off career seasons, but Andersson’s saw him put up 50 points and finish 20th in NHL scoring by defencemen.

Tanev is arguably the best defensive defenceman in the NHL and despite Bouchard’s projection of a top offensive defenceman, Tanev gets the edge over him at this stage without a doubt.

Kylington and Barrie is an interesting comparison. Kylington is young and smooth and just had a fantastic season with 31 points, whereas Barrie is an experienced offensive defenceman who put up 41 points in a down year. However, Barrie is brutal defensively which takes off some of that offensive shine, so this one is a tie. Even if we give it to the Oilers, it doesn’t change who wins this section of the roster.

Edge: Flames

Left defence

Roster SlotFlamesOilersEdge
LD1Noah HanifinDarnell NurseCGY
LD2MacKenzie WeegarPhilip BrobergCGY
LD3Nikita ZadorovBrett KulakTie

Once again, the Flames are big winners here. Hanifin over Nurse may make some Oilers fans upset, but Hanifin is the superior player in all three zones. The only thing Nurse has over Hanifin is his physicality. Hanifin’s 48 points last season was a career-high and more than Nurse’s career-high set all the way back in 2018–19. Hanifin gets the edge here.

Weegar could be the most underrated defenceman in the league. His impacts in all three zones was at an elite level in Florida, and his untapped potential on the power play could open up a slew of options for the Flames this season. Over the still rookie eligible Broberg, this one isn’t close.

Zadorov and Kulak on the third pairing is a tie simply because of how different each player is. They are tasked with very different things, but both do their jobs very well.

Edge: Flames


Roster SlotFlamesOilersEdge
G1Jacob MarkstromJack CampbellCGY
G2Dan VladarStuart SkinnerEDM

With Vezina Trophy runner-up Markstrom in net, the Flames get the edge in starting goalies. Among goalies with at least 25 starts last season, Markstrom finished fourth in SV%, third in GSAA (goals saved above average), and fourth in 5v5 SV%. In comparison, Campbell finished 17th in SV%, 13th in GSAA (goals saved above average), and an incredibly poor 29th in 5v5 SV%.

Of course, Markstrom couldn’t stop a beach ball in the BOA playoff series, but you have to assume that performance won’t be repeated in a rematch. If it does, I’ll be the first person to admit I was wrong, but looking at an overall season-long comparison, Markstrom wins over Campbell.

In the backup position, Skinner gets the edge over Vladar. He’s a more promising young goalie in the NHL, and despite how good Vladar was last season, he just doesn’t have the untapped potential that Skinner does. However, Markstrom played 63 games at an elite level last season and will likely play a high volume of games this season as well. With the imbalance in deployment, Markstrom’s edge holds much more value.

Edge: Flames

Flames versus Oilers rosters verdict

Overall, the Flames have the edge on left wing, left defence, right defence, and in goal. The Oilers have the edge at centre and right wing. On paper, it looks like the Flames have the edge over the Oilers this season. Time will tell how that plays out, but this should be a great season to watch on both sides of the QE2.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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