In honour of the dog days of summer and the NHL offseason, let’s have a little fun and take a look at an all-time North American Calgary Flames roster. Unsurprisingly the Flames have had a plethora of talent from North American suit up for them since coming to Calgary in 1980. In fact, most of the franchise’s best players hail from North America, which made this a very difficult team to construct.
First let’s lay down some ground rules.
- The roster will be constructed of 20 players (12 forwards, six defencemen, two goalies). They must represent a North American country.
- The 12 forward spots can be filled by forwards of any position (RW, LW, C) but we’ll try to maintain each players natural position. The only restriction is that we must have at least four centres.
- The seven defencemen can have any handedness with no limits on RD or LD.
- The players will be selected based on their accomplishments with the Flames and not their overall careers. For example, Brett Hull won’t qualify.
- This is for Calgary Flames players only, no Atlanta Flames players.
Without further ado, let’s see how this team stacks up.
Johnny Gaudreau – Joe Nieuwendyk – Jarome Iginla
Iginla is the greatest Flame in history, sitting atop the Flames all-time lists for points (1,095), goals (525), PPG (161), and games played (1,219), while also ranking second in assists (570). He’s also the only Flame to ever win the Rocket Richard. There isn’t much else to say, he is and always will be the face of the franchise. Seeing him play with a bonafide top line centre, something he never truly had as a Flame, would be a dream.
At centre you’ve got the man who was eventually dealt to bring in Iginla. Before that however, Joe Nieuwendyk was a dominant centre for Calgary from the moment he donned the Flaming C in 1986–87. Across his nine seasons in as a Flame he racked up the most points, and goals among any Flames centre ever. His 1.07 points per game is the highest in franchise history among player with at least 500 games played. No one was taking this spot from him.
Lastly I have Johnny Gaudreau on the top line as well, an obviously divisive player in Calgary these days. Regardless of what you think about his decision to leave, you can’t deny just how incredible he was as a Flame. Gaudreau left the Flames as the fifth highest scorer in franchise history with 609 points in 602 games. He’s one of only four Flames in history to play at least 500 games in Calgary and post over a point per game.
His 115 points last season is the second highest total in franchise history. Had he stuck around, he very likely would’ve passed Iginla as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
Matthew Tkachuk – Doug Gilmour – Theo Fleury
First off you’ve got Theo Fleury, the second best right wing in franchise history behind Iginla. Fleury posted 830 points in 791 games as a Flame and sits second all-time in franchise history for points and goals, and third for assists.
At centre I have Doug Gilmour, by far the most skilled option available after Nieuwendyk. Even if his time as a Flame was short, his impact will always be felt. Despite playing just 266 games in Calgary, he ranks as the fifth highest scoring North American centre in franchise history. He was integral in their only Cup win and deserves this spot as Team North America’s 2C.
Like Gaudreau, Tkachuk is a divisive name in Calgary after leaving last summer. However there’s no doubt he was one of the most talented wingers the team’s ever had. He’s one of only seven Flames to ever register over 100 points in a season, and one of five from North America. He only played 431 games in Calgary, but he’s the 14th highest scoring forward in franchise history. Another 100-point season would’ve placed him in the top seven. Pain.
Joe Mullen – Sean Monahan – Lanny McDonald
As mentioned above the Flames have incredible depth at right wing in their history. For that reason franchise legend and hall of famer Lanny McDonald drops to the third line. McDonald is iconic in Calgary and was a key piece of the dominant Flames of the 80s. His 66 goals in 1982–83 are still a franchise best. Overall he ranks fifth for goals in franchise history. Not bad for your third line.
It’s easy to forget just how good Sean Monahan was as a Flame before the injuries took over. Monahan posted at least 20 goals in seven straight seasons to start his career in Calgary. He ended his tenure fourth among centres in franchise history for points, and second for goals behind only Nieuwendyk. He also ranks third all-time among any Flame for game winning goals. It’s a crime we only witnessed a healthy prime Monahan for a couple seasons.
At left wing I have Joe Mullen playing out of position. Mullen was an integral part of the 1989 Stanley Cup team. He ranks 13th in Flames history for points and ninth for goals despite only spending five seasons as a Flame. His 110-point season in 1988–89 is the third highest in team history. His biggest impact was in the playoffs though. He’s the franchises all-time leader in playoff goals with 35, while also holding the record for most points in one playoff year by a forward with 24 and goals with 16.
Gary Roberts – Joel Otto – Jim Peplinski
Jim Peplinski wasn’t a big point producer, but he was as dependable as they come. A gritty winger who garnered Selke votes during his time as a Flame, Peplinski spent his entire 15-year career in Calgary. Over that time he played the eighth most games in franchise history and ranks 11th all-time among Flames forwards for points and seventh for assists. He also served as the team captain for six seasons and captained the ’89 Cup-winning team.
Joel Otto was the obvious choice to round out the centre group. Otto spent 11 years in Calgary and sits 13th all-time for points and seventh for games played. He’s also the fifth highest scoring centre in franchise history and the third highest from North America behind only Monahan and Nieuwendyk. Known as an elite two-way player, Otto received Selke votes seven times as a Flame and finished as a finalist twice. He’s the only Flame to ever be named a Selke finalist more than once.
Rounding out the fourth line is Gary Roberts. At his peak Roberts was an elite scoring forward in Calgary. He’s one of only seven Flames to ever register 50 goals in a season. In fact, his 53 goals in 1991–92 are the second highest single season total in franchise history. Across his 10 seasons in Calgary he totalled the eighth most points and fourth most goals in franchise history.
Mark Giordano – Al MacInnis
Al MacInnis is without question the best defenceman in Flames history. He leads the franchise in points (822), goals (213) and assists (609) by defenceman. On top of that he’s the franchises all-time leading playoff scorer with 102 points. His 31 points during the 1988–89 playoffs are still a franchise best. His 103 points during the 1990–91 season are the most by any Flames defenceman ever. He’s also the only player in franchise history to win the Conn Smythe and finished as a Norris finalist three times while in Calgary.
Alongside him it’s Mark Giordano, the franchise leader in games played by a defenceman. Across his 15 seasons as a Flame, Giordano racked up the second most goals by any Flames defenceman ever, and the third most points and assists. He’s also the only Flame in history to win the Norris Trophy. Lastly, Giordano was the second longest tenured captain in team history behind only Iginla. A legend through and through.
Gary Suter – Paul Reinhart
Paul Reinhart spent eight of his 10 seasons in the NHL as a Flame. He racked up the fourth most assists, goals, and points from the blueline in franchise history. He’s also one of only four Flames defencemen to put up at least 70 points in one season and his 23 goals in one season are the most by any defender not named MacInnis. Lastly, his 72 playoff points are the second most in franchise history among any position.
On the left side I have Gary Suter. Had he not been in MacInnis’ shadow during his time in Calgary he would certainly garner more attention. Suter was incredible as a Flame and currently sits second in franchise history for both points and assists by a defenceman. His 0.91 points per game ranks second all-time by a Flames defenceman. As well, his 91-point season in 1987–88 is the second best in team history by a defender, as are his 70 assists that season.
Jamie Macoun – Robyn Regehr
First off is Robyn Regehr. The gritty defender was a staple on the Flames blueline in the 2000s. Never a big point producer, Regehr was as reliable as they come on the backend. Across his 11 seasons in Calgary he logged 827 games which is the second most among any defenceman in franchise history. Regehr embodied what it means to be a Flame.
Lastly I have another low event shutdown defender from a different era in Jamie Macoun. Macoun played for the Flames for nine seasons beginning in the early 80s. He never garnered a ton of attention due to his stay at home style, but he was undoubtably one of the best shutdown defenders of his era. He ranks sixth all-time in Flames history for points and games played by a defenceman.
Mike Vernon – Rejean Lemelin
Mike Vernon is one of the best goaltenders in franchise history, and was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was the team’s starter during their most dominant era in the 80s and helped guide them to their only Stanley Cup. He ranks second all-time in Flames history for games played by a goaltender, wins and shutouts. That said, it’s his work in the playoffs that really stands out. His 81 games played and 43 wins in the playoffs are both franchise bests. Among North American goalies, he was the only option as the starter.
At backup I went with Rejean Lemelin. After Vernon Lemelin is clearly the best goalie in Flames history from North America. Lemelin played in 303 games for Calgary during the 80s, posting 136 wins. Both totals are third in franchise history. He’s also third for both playoff games and wins. The pickings were slim but Lemelin is fully deserving of this spot.
Just missed the cut
Craig Conroy – The current general manager of the Flames, Craig Conroy also had a successful stint as a player in Calgary. He’s the fourth highest scoring North American centre in franchise history, and one of only four Flames to finish as a finalist for the Selke. He would’ve been the next man up at centre but his point production and accolades in Calgary just didn’t stack up to the other names.
Daymond Langkow – Daymond Langkow wasn’t flashy, but he was an incredibly consistent and underrated Flame at his peak. He ranks sixth all-time in franchise history among North American centres for points and fourth for goals. He was also an underrated two-way gem. Like Conroy, his numbers just weren’t at the same level as the other names.
Dion Phaneuf – I nearly put Dion Phaneuf on the third pairing, but eventually bumped him out. During his peak, he was dominant in Calgary and looked like one of the best defenders in franchise history. He’s one of only three Flames to ever finish top two in Norris voting. The problem is his peak was just so short and only lasted a couple seasons before his play declined and he was shipped out.
T.J. Brodie – T.J Brodie was never flashy, but boy was he dependable. The current Maple Leaf logged 634 games as a Flame between 2010 and 2020, the fourth highest total in franchise history among defencemen. He also added 266 points, the fifth highest total among defencemen in team history. In the end I felt names like Macoun and Regehr made more of an impact as a Flame.
The final Flames North American team
|Johnny Gaudreau||Joe Nieuwendyk||Jarome Iginla (C)|
|Matthew Tkachuk||Doug Gilmour||Theoren Fleury|
|Joe Mullen||Sean Monahan||Lanny McDonald (A)|
|Gary Roberts||Joel Otto||Jim Peplinski|
The easiest line on the roster to construct was the top line. You’ve got the best right wing, the best centre and the best left wing in franchise history and they all hail from North America. The second line would be a nightmare to play against. Three incredibly skilled players who also bring a level of grit and snarl to the game. Due to a plethora of options at right wing, I bumped Tkachuk to his drafted position of left wing.
Like with lines one and two, we’ve got one current NHLer on a line with two retired Flames. Three high-end goal scorers in their primes, this trio would rack up the goals. Lastly you’ve got a gritty fourth line who can still put the puck in the net when needed. This would be an elite shutdown group.
|Mark Giordano (A)||Al MacInnis|
|Gary Suter||Paul Reinhart|
|Jamie Macoun||Robyn Regehr|
I don’t think anyone will debate this top pairing. If you asked someone who the two best defenceman in Flames history are, they’d name Giordano and MacInnis. On the second pair it’s two offensive defenders who were staples on the blueline on the dominant 1980s rosters. There were a plethora of names available for the third pairing, however I went with a pure shutdown pairing.
There really weren’t a huge group of options available in net, but regardless the Flames goaltending duo during the late 80s was an easy choice.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire