What a regular season the Calgary Flames had last year. They won 50 games, the most in the Western Conference and second only to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Their 107 points was also tops in the Western Conference and tied with the Boston Bruins for the second most in the entire NHL. But that’s where the fun ended for the Flames. They were upset by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs, losing four out of five games in their series. It was an extremely disappointing end to a season that was so promising on so many levels. Young stars Johnny Gaudreau (99 points), Sean Monahan (82) and Matthew Tkachuk (77) had excellent years, as did fellow youngster and newcomer to the team, Elias Lindholm (78). They also got solid goaltending by veteran Mike Smith and 27-year-old David Rittich.
With Smith gone, though, as he signed with the Edmonton Oilers, and with a quiet offseason, can the Flames repeat last year’s regular season and make it further in the playoffs this year? Let’s take a look at their outlook.
In short, the Flames didn’t do much at all in terms of adding talent to their roster this offseason. They replaced the departed Smith with veteran Cam Talbot (who used to play for the Oilers) and also got rid of the disappointing James Neal. In order to do that, though, they had to take on the equally disappointing Milan Lucic, who has only totaled 16 goals in the last two seasons combined.
Much of the Flames’ offseason has been spent trying to lock up Tkachuk to a long-term contract, which they have been unable to do thus far. He’s a restricted free agent and will need a new contract heading into the season. The team obviously hopes they can settle things before the puck officially drops in early October.
Ultimately, if the Flames are able to improve on last year’s results, they’re going to have to do it with a very similar lineup to the one they rolled out last year. The good news is that it’s a star-studded team, with a first line of Gaudreau, Monahan and Lindholm following by a second line of Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik. The defense is strong, too, with Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Noah Hanifin and Travis Harmonic making up the top four.
The Flames are currently one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, according to sportsbooks. Their odds of 20-1 are the eighth lowest in the NHL. In fact, they rank behind only Vegas, Colorado, Dallas and last year’s champions St. Louis in the Western Conference.
Despite not adding much in the offseason, the Flames still have plenty of talent to repeat last season’s regular season numbers. Even though they didn’t have a good playoff run last year, the exposure to the bright lights and pressure of the playoffs for their young guys should prove to be very valuable.
It wouldn’t be a total shock to see the team make huge steps in growth together and make some noise in the Western Conference. If you’re interested in seeing the Flames’ odds to win the Stanley Cup or other prop and game lines, check out one of the online sportsbooks below.
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