The 2023–24 NHL season is just around the corner with the Calgary Flames’ opening game on October 11 against the Winnipeg Jets. It’s a highly anticipated season for the team and fans alike. With a new coaching staff in place, there are high hopes for bounce-back seasons from individuals who suffered career lows in 2022–23.
With statistics in mind, there are some Flames projected to hit career milestones this upcoming season. These are 15 Flames players to follow on the stats sheet this year.
Points – 500
GP – 950
Backlund will be hunting multiple milestones this year, notably his 500th point. With 492 career points currently, it should be one to watch for within the first few weeks of the season.
Usually, I wouldn’t consider increments of 50 as huge milestones for games played, but 950 is a special number in the Flames franchise.
Backlund’s currently at 902 games played and without injury trouble should easily hit 950 this season. That milestone will move Backlund past former Flames captain Mark Giordano for second in franchise history. Backlund will then only follow Jarome Iginla in the category whose staggering 1,219 games played would take the new Flames captain until the end of his freshly inked contract to accomplish.
Points – 200
GP – 500
Coleman has been a fan favourite since the Flames signed him during free agency in 2021. The forward has been as consistent as they come, combining with Backlund to anchor the best defensive line on the team the past two seasons.
Coleman sits at 197 career points and will be one to watch for early in the season. Pickles is also sure to play his 500th career game around the halfway mark of the season, currently sitting at 464 games played.
Points – 600
GP – 800
Lindholm is due for a big season and is approaching some significant milestones this year. Elias will project to play his 800th career game around the quarter mark of the season, having played 743 games thus far.
Lindholm’s 600th point is quite the opposite timing-wise. Currently sitting at 513 career points, Elias will need a career-high 87 to reach the mark this season. The Swede will have to bolster his performance from last year to hit the mark, only recording 64 points. His career high came in 2021–22 with 82 points, centring a line with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. It’s a lofty goal for the Swede but with new linemates and a contract pending, there’s no better time to have a career season.
Points – 200
Goals – 100
GP – 400
Andrew Mangiapane will be seeking three career milestones this season. With 95 goals right now, Mangiapane will likely hit the 100-goal mark early in the season. While his point total sits at 175 through his career, the 200-point mark will hopefully come sooner rather than later.
The 400-game mark for the career Flame will come after the All-Star break, having chalked 342 games thus far. Mangiapane has been on the verge of a breakout season for the past few years. Last season was notably frustrating as the forward battled injuries and found his shot on the wrong side of the post many times.
Points – 200
GP – 400
Anderssen follows suit with his teammates in pursuit of games played and point milestones this season. The power play quarterback has made Flames media waves this offseason with his notable leadership, challenging for the captaincy before Mikeal Backlund signed his contract.
Rasmus has played all 377 games of his career in Calgary and will look to hit the 400-game mark around December, barring any injuries or scooter collisions. Andersson has posted 161 points in his career. After a 50-point season in 2021–22 and a 49-point performance in 2022–23, it’s likely he also hits the 200-point mark later in the season.
Also, keep an eye out for the Swede’s 30-goal milestone. With 27 docked thus far in his career, maybe we even see him surpass 40 goals this season?
Goals – 50
GP – 600
Noah Hanifin could be some of the first individual milestones we see this season. The defenceman is only one goal shy of 50, logging 49 in his career.
Even if we don’t see a goal from him in the first few games, he will surely play his 600th game this season. With 598 career games played under his belt, Hanifin will make his 600th appearance on October 14th in Pittsburgh.
GP – 300
Dube enters the season as a crucial piece of the Flames team. He’s found himself as a full-time NHLer the past three seasons and made himself a prominent asset in the forward groupings.
Dube has logged all 282 games of his career in Flames silks and will look to log his 300th in late November.
Blocks – 1,500
Tanev has been the heart of this Flames team the past few seasons, laying everything on the line. So much so, that one of Tanev’s 1,445 career blocks came off the back of his head last season.
The veteran is as tough as they come and dedicated to his craft as a stay-at-home defenceman. Barring injury, I’d expect Tanev to reach the milestone before Christmas.
Tanev is currently 35th all-time on blocked shots and 18th among active players. Former Flame Mark Giordano holds the crown with 2,078.
Starts – 50
Dan Vladar has been nothing but reliable in his first three seasons in the NHL. Vladar has started 47 games in his career, 42 of those with the Calgary Flames. With Dustin Wolf waiting in the wings and Vladar’s consistent play over the past few years, Vladar’s been a central topic in trade talk this offseason.
With only three starts remaining to reach the 50-game mark, it will come within the first few weeks of the season. Vladar will also look for his 30th career win during his first start, currently sitting at 29.
GP – 100
The Calgary Flames love Adam Ruzicka. The hulking forward has shown great spurts of play through the first 75 games of his career. The issue has been consistency.
Ruzicka will be pushing for a full-time role with the team coming out of training camp. With it looking as though Ruzicka will start the season as an everyday player, he will likely hit his 100th game before Christmas. With 31 career points, we could see him increase his season high in points and hit the 50-point milestone.
Points – 600
Goals – 250
GP – 900
Nazem Kadri had a hot start to the year last season after winning the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2022. The NHL veteran will look to play his 900th career game this season if he can stay healthy. Appearing in 821 career games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames, Kadri will need to suit up for 79 of 82 games this season to hit 900.
His points and goal milestones will be much more easily attainable, sitting at 243 career goals and 568 career points. With a start like last season, we could see him accomplish his goal milestone within the first few weeks, while his points total could come closer to Christmas.
GP – 400
MacKenzie Weegar looks to have an impact in his second season with the Calgary Flames. The 2013 seventh-round draft selection has logged 81 of his 387 games with the Calgary Flames and with his notable durability, should reach the milestone early in the season.
With a fresh $50.0M USD contract kicking in this season, Flames fans can look forward to eight more years of Weegar. With that much time left in Cowtown, Weegar could hit the 1,000-game mark with Calgary. At that rate, he’ll have to leave his beloved Saddledome behind around game 800 and play the final 200 in a new arena.
Hits – 1,600
GP – 600
The sharpest-dressed Flame enters his 11th season in the NHL with 1,591 hits in his career. The Russian’s aggressive play style has served him well in 567 career games. Both milestones should be easily achievable this season.
With only nine hits until the 1600 mark, we could see him surpass the milestone within the first few games. Zadorov will be a big part of the defensive core this season. With a new zone defence being implemented under Ryan Huska look for Zadorov to thrive in the system with his long reach and heavy play style.
Wins – 200
Aside from Jonathan Huberdeau, Markstrom had arguably the most disappointing season of any Calgary Flame last year. The veteran goaltender was visibly frustrated with his play last season and rumours of riffs with Darryl Sutter had no one surprised when they surfaced this offseason.
Markstrom could return to Vezina calibre this season and lead a strong goaltending group with the Flames. With 192 career wins Markstrom sits 13th among active goaltenders in wins. Hopefully, the puck-stopper can post the eight wins needed to achieve the milestone early in the season.
Points – 700
Assists – 500
GP – 800
Jonathan Huberdeau has the most on his shoulders entering the 2023–24 season across the entire league. After a record-setting drop-off in points last season and major friction with former head coach Darryl Sutter, Huberdeau will look to surpass his offensive milestones as early as possible this season.
Entering the year at 668 points and 455 career assists in 750 career games, the winger could achieve all three milestones around the same time. Points will come first, but games and assists are a toss-up. If we really do see the amazing playmaker from Florida two seasons ago, 45 assists in 50 games is manageable, to say the least.
More to play for in Calgary
The Calgary Flames have a pivotal season in the franchise’s history approaching and many players are striving to accomplish individual goals. Obviously, the end goal is to win, but it’s great to acknowledge these personal achievements when they happen.
The Flames will have their eyes set on a playoff spot this season and will be playing with certain individuals in mind. There’s sure to be several Flames dedicating this season to someone they all know. After the crushing news that assistant Flames GM Chris Snow passed away, hearts are heavy entering the Flames season.
It doesn’t feel right to analyze players individual milestones without acknowledging Chris and his wife Kelsie’s impact on the community. If there’s one member of the Flames community to acknowledge from this article, it’s Chris. The milestones Chris and Kelsie achieved as ambassadors for ALS will continue to positively impact people suffering from the disease for generations.
The Snowy Strong campaign has raised over $575,000 dollars towards the fight against ALS while Kelsie shared their extremely difficult and personal journey as a family through Chris’ battle.
Chris’ legacy will live on in the C of Red and remain intertwined in the Calgary and ALS community for years to come.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire