The 2023 offseason was far less eventful than the franchise-altering 2022 offseason for the Calgary Flames, however they still had quite a few departures. The season has gotten off to a less-than-ideal start in Calgary, but how about the players who went on to greener pastures? Let’s take a look at how some former Flames have fared so far this season.
Former Calgary Flames from 2022–23
As mentioned the Flames didn’t exactly see many important departures this offseason. The only major one of note was of course the team’s leading scoring Tyler Toffoli who was traded to New Jersey. Past that, the Flames let Trevor Lewis, Milan Lucic, Nick Ritchie, and Troy Stecher walk in free agency. Ritchie is currently a free agent so we won’t feature him below.
Let’s take a look at how each player has done so far this season on their new teams.
The Flames were never going to win this trade. Toffoli starting the year on fire while his replacement is played on the fourth line doesn’t help either. Toffoli, as expected, has been a picture-perfect fit on a loaded New Jersey offence. He’s lined up on the team’s top line alongside superstar Jack Hughes and is racking up goals to start the season.
His seven goals are currently first on the Devils and tied for third league-wide. In fact, his seven goals are more than Elias Lindholm, Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and his replacement Yegor Sharangovich combined. There’s no way around it, Toffoli was a massive loss for the Flames. Watching them score just 19 goals in nine games while Toffoli tears it up in New Jersey just makes an already painful season even more painful.
The Toffoli deal was Craig Conroy’s first as a general manager and thus far it isn’t looking very good. It was already questionable at the time but Toffoli’s torrid start makes it look even worse.
As mentioned, Toffoli was the only major departure for the Flames this offseason. The next most notable name was veteran Milan Lucic who went back to where his career started in Boston. Thus far, Lucic has only played in four games for the Atlantic-leading Bruins due to injury, notching two assists and no goals. So far he’s averaging 11:58 minutes a game which is actually an increase on his 11:18 from last season in Calgary.
It also didn’t take long for Lucic to somehow find his way onto another first line.
After the last couple of seasons, it was very clearly time for Lucic and the Flames to break up. The Flames were able to add some much-needed youth to their lineup and Lucic got to go home to Boston to finish his career. A win-win for everyone.
Another casualty of Darryl Sutter’s firing was veteran Trevor Lewis, a favourite of Sutter’s the past two seasons. Just like Lucic, Lewis went back to where his career began and signed in L.A. So far this season Lewis has shown some surprising offensive touch, posting two goals and four points in eight games. For context, Lewis had just 36 points across 162 games in Calgary the last two years.
His four points would actually rank fourth on the Flames in scoring, ahead of the likes of Kadri, Dillon Dube, and Mikael Backlund. He’s done this while averaging just 11:10 minutes of ice time, the fourth lowest total on the Kings.
Despite most assuming the Flames would try to bring Troy Stecher back this offseason, he actually ended up returning to Arizona and signing with the Coyotes. Stecher has bounced in and out of the Coyotes lineup so far this season as he’s been a healthy scratch on two occasions. In his five games he’s posted just one assist and no goals while averaging 18:17 minutes a night.
Stecher was a solid late-season addition to the Flames last season and it’s a shame they weren’t able to bring him back as they could certainly use the depth.
Better starts elsewhere
It’s hard for players to not have better starts on other teams when the comparison is to the 2–6–1, 31st place Flames. At this point it almost feels like the next batch of players to look at will be who the Flames sell off this season too, if that’s even a direction they’re willing to go. After a terrible October, the team needs to pick a definitive lane or risk losing not just games, but players, fans, and revenue too.