Bill Peters was hired as coach April 23, replacing Glen Gulutzan, who was fired April 17. The Flames added defenseman Noah Hanifin and forwards James Neal, Elias Lindholm and Derek Ryan through trades and free agency, putting an emphasis on adding right-shot forwards, addressing shallow right-wing depth, and improving in the face-off circle.
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The Flames finished fifth in the Pacific Division (37-35-10) and were 11 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Their 17-20-4 home record was the fourth worst in the NHL, their power play was 29th (16.0 percent), and they scored an NHL-low 61 third-period goals.
Here is what the Flames look like today:
James Neal, F: The 30-year-old signed a five-year, $28.75 million contract on July 2 as an unrestricted free agent. He had 44 points (25 goals, 19 assists) in 71 games with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18 and has scored at least 21 goals in each of his first 10 NHL seasons. … Elias Lindholm, F: The 23-year-old was acquired with Hanifin in a trade from the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, forward Micheal Ferland and defenseman prospect Adam Fox on June 23. Lindholm, a right-shot forward, had 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists) in 81 games last season. … Noah Hanifin, D: The 21-year-old had NHL career highs in goals (10) and points (32) in 79 games with the Hurricanes last season. … Derek Ryan, F: The 31-year-old signed a three-year, $9.375 million contract on July 1. Ryan, who had 38 points (15 goals, 23 assists) playing for Peters with Carolina in 2017-18, is another right-shot option and adds forward depth. … Bill Peters, coach: The 53-year-old was 137-138-53 and never made the playoffs in four seasons with the Hurricanes.
Dougie Hamilton, D: Hamilton’s 17 goals were tied with Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning for most among NHL defensemen last season, when he was a fixture on Calgary’s top pair with captain Mark Giordano. The 25-year-old led Flames defensemen with 44 points and was third on Calgary with an average of 21:32 of ice time, behind Giordano (24:47) and TJ Brodie (23:41). … Micheal Ferland, F: He had NHL career highs in goals (21), assists (20) and points (41) in 71 games last season playing primarily on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, but he scored one goal in his final 27 games and two in his last 35.
On the cusp
Austin Czarnik, F: The 25-year-old signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract July 1 as a UFA. After splitting the past two seasons between the Boston Bruins and their American Hockey League affiliate, he’ll have the opportunity to play a prominent role for the Flames this season. He had four assists in 10 games with the Bruins in 2017-18, when he was third in the AHL with 69 points (25 goals, 44 assists) in 64 games with Providence. … Andrew Mangiapane, F: Selected by Calgary in the sixth round (No. 166) in the 2015 NHL Draft, the 22-year-old could slot in on a youthful fourth line. He was minus-3 in 10 games with Calgary last season but led Stockton of the AHL with 46 points (21 goals, 25 assists) in 39 games. … Spencer Foo, F: Signed as a UFA out of Union College on June 27, 2017, the 24-year-old is entering his second season of professional hockey. He had 39 points (20 goals, 19 assists) in 62 games with Stockton of the AHL last season and scored two goals in four late-season games with Calgary. … Rasmus Andersson, D: The 21-year-old could be the Flames’ most NHL-ready defenseman prospect. Selected by Calgary in the second round (No. 53) in the 2015 draft, he played 10 games with the Flames in 2017-18, when he had 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists) in 56 games with Stockton.
What they still need
The Flames addressed several areas that plagued them, but they could benefit from adding depth on defense this offseason. General manager Brad Treliving also has to sign Hanifin and Lindholm, each a restricted free agent.
It seems to be the annual fantasy question surrounding the Flames: Who will play right wing on the top line with Gaudreau, a left wing, and Monahan, a center? That elite duo finished tied for fourth in the NHL in 2017-18 with 41 team goals when each player had a point, and that was in a season when Monahan played through multiple injuries. The Flames could go in several directions to choose the third member on that line this season. Peters could move left wing Matthew Tkachuk to the opposite wing, or one of their newcomers, Neal or Lindholm, could play in that spot. Neal’s fantasy value peaked when he played on Evgeni Malkin‘s wing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011-12, but he’s been more of a secondary scorer in recent seasons with the Nashville Predators and Golden Knights. Lindholm likely will play center and wing in Calgary’s top nine but may not see much line stability. Tkachuk, who finished in the top 100 in Yahoo’s rankings in each of his first two NHL seasons, is the safest bet of the three to return fantasy value and is worth reaching for in the sixth round of a 12-team fantasy draft with potential top-line exposure. — Pete Jensen
Johnny Gaudreau — Sean Monahan — James Neal
Matthew Tkachuk — Mikael Backlund — Elias Lindholm
Sam Bennett — Derek Ryan — Michael Frolik
Andrew Mangiapane — Mark Jankowski — Austin Czarnik
Mark Giordano — TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin — Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak — Michael Stone