Calgary Flames

32 Thoughts: Hanifin not here for a rebuild, Huberdeau and Flames have to work together

On this week’s Friday 32 Thoughts Podcast hosted by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek, they broke down the “tough situation” in Calgary and postulated on where things may go after a brutal start to the 2023–24 season.

Decisions on Calgary’s pending free agents

Reports last week indicated that the Calgary Flames and Noah Hanifin had made significant progress on contract extension talks, however, Sportsnet’s Eric Francis, along with Friedman, poured cold water on that this week.

After a very rough start to the year that has seen the Flames rack up five consecutive losses, the team is using a wait-and-see approach with all decisions surrounding their slew of pending UFAs, including Hanifin. Friedman said that the extension was extremely close to being completed, but the team is going to give it a couple of weeks and see how things go. Hanifin isn’t going to be here for a rebuild.

Friedman has talked about the November first shadow deadline for years—teams that are at least four points out of the playoffs on November first only make the playoffs 15% of the time. This year, the four teams are the Flames, Edmonton Oilers, San Jose Sharks, and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The writing is on the wall.

More opportunities for the kids

They talked about how despite the loss to the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night, who are a very good team, Connor Zary’s debut impressed a lot of people. He was the best player on the ice wearing red, and this could signal the Flames giving more opportunities to their top prospects to play NHL games.

It’s probably the right thing to do, but it’s not an easy thing to do.

Elliotte Friedman on the Flames letting their top prospects play more NHL games

Of course, the most likely name they threw out was goaltender Dustin Wolf. However, based on their play in the AHL, this list could include Ilya Solovyov, Jeremie Poirier, Adam Klapka, and Martin Pospisil.

Today, the Flames announced that Matt Coronato has been sent to the AHL Wranglers after a less explosive start than was expected from him, but the team recalled Pospisil to fill his spot. Pospisil has six points in six games for the Wranglers so far this season.

Calgary and Huberdeau need to work together

The podcast ended on a note about Jonathan Huberdeau. Friedman discussed how he is not blameless and needs to give the Flames everything he’s got, but the Flames are working very hard to make things fit better for him in Calgary.

They are looking at all ways to make his environment one where he can be more successful, including adding players to the roster who complement Huberdeau better.

You’re in year one of eight, you can’t just throw up your hands and say “I’m done here.” You don’t have to award him with ice time he may not deserve, but you do have to work on creating an environment where he can be successful.

Elliotte Friedman on Jonathan Huberdeau’s situation with the Flames

A pivotal month

November looks to be a very critical month for the team, not just for the 2023–24 season but for years going forward. The product on the ice will dictate how the team approaches their future.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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