The Calgary Flames underwent some franchise altering changes during the 2022 offseason, with a handful of lineup regulars from 2021–22 walking out the door. Newcomers Nazem Kadri, MacKenzie Weegar and Jonathan Huberdeau have settled in nicely so far, but it gets one thinking about how the former Flames are fairing on their new squads.
Former Calgary Flames from 2021–22
A total of six forwards and two defencemen played for the Flames in 2021–22 and finished the season within the organization but moved on to new teams in the offseason. Johnny Gaudreau, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Carpenter, Glenn Gawdin and Erik Gudbranson left via free agency.
Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan were sent out via trade, while Juuso Valimaki was claimed on waivers right before the start of the season. Overall the Flames lost at least one player three different ways, although the bulk of departures came through free agency.
Let’s take a look at how each departing player has faired thus far to begin the 2022–23 season.
Johnny Gaudreau – F – Columbus Blue Jackets
Without a doubt the highest profile departure from the Flames this offseason, Johnny Gaudreau shocked fans this summer by not only leaving the Flames, but by going to the Columbus Blue Jackets of all places. To put it lightly the Blue Jackets are not a very good team. To make matters even worse for Gaudreau, his linemate Patrik Laine lasted only half a game before going down with a long-term injury.
To date, Gaudreau’s most common linemates have been Boone Jenner and Gustav Nyquist. Yikes. Despite the lack of talent around him, Gaudreau has still managed to start the season on a strong note. He’s posted two goals and two assists for four points in four games. His four points leads the Blue Jackets as he’s single handedly carrying the Columbus offence right now.
A point-per-game season looks like a very good bet, although reaching 115 points again is likely impossible on this roster. Gaudreau’s own elite talent should carry him to a point-per-game pace on a bad team at the very least. The good news is the Flames likely won’t ever have to face him in any meaningful games because the Blue Jackets are awful and will be for a long time.
Matthew Tkachuk – F – Florida Panthers
In case you didn’t know, the Flames were the first team in NHL history to lose two 100-point players in the same offseason. The second of which after Gaudreau was Matthew Tkachuk. A big question mark coming into this season was whether or not Tkachuk could continue his torrid scoring pace from last season away from Gaudreau. It’s still early into the season, but so far we may have our answer.
Tkachuk currently sits with two goals and four assists in four games, good for first on the Panthers roster. He’s managed this while playing primarily on the team’s second line with fellow former Flame Sam Bennett and Rudolf Balcers. If he can produce on that line, he can produce anywhere.
Tkachuk may be in tough to reach 100 points again playing on his current line, but it appears as though a point-per-game pace is well within reach, much like Gaudreau. The Panthers have started the year at 3–1–0 and look like a strong contender in the East once again. A Stanley Cup match-up with their former star would certainly be a fun storyline in Calgary.
Sean Monahan – F – Montreal Canadiens
No one was more loyal than Sean Monahan. The longtime Flame gave everything he had to Calgary despite a plethora of injuries and I think it’s fair to say every Flames fan is wishing him nothing but success. The good news is Monahan seems to be fitting right in on the young Montreal Canadiens, taking on a leadership role with the team.
He’s currently lining up on the teams top line… at right wing? Regardless of how absurd that sounds, it’s great to see Monahan playing top-six minutes again. He’s posted a goal and an assist across four games, including scoring in his first game as a Hab last week. He also leads all Habs forwards in CF%.
Despite their 2–2–0 start, the Canadiens won’t be a playoff contender this season. That said it’s great to see Monahan begin to get his career back on track after some tough final years in Calgary. Whether or not he sticks around in Montreal or gets flipped at the deadline, we’ll all be cheering him on wherever he goes.
Calle Jarnkrok – F – Toronto Maple Leafs
A deadline pickup during last season’s trade deadline, Calle Jarnkrok just never fit in with the Flames despite the appearance of a great fit. He managed one single goal across 29 games in Calgary. Unsurprisingly, the Flames weren’t too keen on bringing him back.
Jarnkrok has kicked off his 2022–23 season on a fairly decent note, posting a goal and an assist in four games while playing on the Maple Leafs’ third line. He actually scored just two games into his Maple Leaf’s career, getting on the scoresheet 27 games faster than his time in Calgary.
Ryan Carpenter – F – NY Rangers
Forever a Flame Ryan Carpenter was picked up at the deadline last season but managed to get into just eight games with the Flames, including zero in the playoffs. It appears as though he’ll be a regular in the Rangers lineup this season as he played in three straight games with the Rangers before going down with a scary injury. Fortunately he was alright.
Carpenter has picked up no goals and one assist in 2022-23 so far. His underlying numbers aren’t exactly strong either. His CF% and xGF% both rank third worst on the Rangers. A career fourth liner, Carpenter looks to have found a spot with the Rangers after being an extra forward for the Flames down the stretch last season.
Glen Gawdin – F – Anaheim Ducks
Once thought of as a potential future depth option for the Flames, Glenn Gawdin never translated his AHL success to the NHL level. Despite a change of scenery, it appears as though nothing has changed for the 25-year-old.
Gawdin was hailed as one of the underrated signings of the offseason by the Ducks, as reportedly 20+ teams were interested.
Well, the intrigue didn’t last long as Gawdin failed to make the Ducks roster and was subsequently placed on waivers, which he then cleared. He’s since posted four points in two AHL games. At this point in his career, it appears as though Gawdin is nothing more than a strong AHL player.
Erik Gudbranson – D – Columbus Blue Jackets
Where do we even begin with Erik Gudbranson. A career replacement level player, Flames head coach Darryl Sutter seemingly turned Gudbranson’s career around last season. This led to him signing arguably the worst contract of the offseason, coming in at $4M a year for four years. Despite signing a big ticket contract, Gudbranson has kicked off 2022–23 in a historically bad way.
After just two games in Columbus, Gudbranson had put up some truly horrific numbers. Just take a look.
The deep red in the defensive zone means that the Blue Jackets have bled shot attempts against with Gudbranson on the ice.
Through four games Gudbranson has posted a team worst 31.04 CF%, and 29.84 xGF%. In fact, among 92 eligible defencemen who have played at least 50 minutes this season Gudbranson’s CF% ranks last in the entire NHL. His xGF% ranks third last. Gudbranson is certainly struggling to adjust from life away from Sutter’s system.
Juuso Valimaki – D – Arizona Coyotes
We all knew it was likely the end of Juuso Valimaki’s career in Calgary this offseason, but that didn’t make it any less painful to watch him leave for nothing after showing such promise in Calgary.
Due to US visa issues, Valimaki didn’t make his season debut with the Coyotes until this week in the teams win over the Maple Leafs. Lining up on the third pair, he didn’t post any points but came away with some sparking underlying numbers.
It’s an incredibly small sample size, but regardless it’s nice to see him find some success on a new team after a rough few years due to unlucky injuries.
Teams to watch in 2022–23
The Flames witnessed the most significant departures of any team in the NHL this offseason, giving Flames fans some extra teams to keep an eye on this year. There’s no doubt that we’ll be checking in on the scoresheets for teams like the Blue Jackets and Panthers to see how some former Flames fan favourites are doing in 2022–23.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire