With school now back in session, and before training camps officially open next week, over the course of the next few days we’ll be bringing you up-to-date on how each of the seven Canadian NHL teams have spent their summers.
Current cap space: $2.58 million
GM: Brad Treliving
Head Coach: Bill Peters
Assistants: Ryan Huska, Geoff Ward
Unsigned players: None
– James Neal, five years, $28.75 million
– Derek Ryan, three years, $9.375 million
– Austin Czarnik, two years, $2.5 million
– Jeff Glass (PTO)
Free Agent departures:
– Matt Stajan
– Kris Versteeg
– Nick Shore
– Matt Bartkowski
– Tanner Glass
Biggest Summer Splash
Truth is, it was the NHL’s biggest swap of the summer.
Hamilton was the league’s top goal scorer amongst defencemen, who resided alongside Mark Giordano on the top pairing and the power play.
It puts big expectations on Hanifin, who inked a six-year, $29.7 million deal last week.
Other notable additions and subtractions
Lots of change this summer for an organization that worried about the fortitude of some of its players.
The Flames parted ways with hockey operations president Brian Burke, fired its entire coaching staff and brought in Bill Peters in an effort to add more accountability to a team that failed to live up to expectations last year.
The signing of James Neal was a pricey coup of sorts for a team that needed to add scoring depth more than anything else.
Austin Czarnik and Derek Ryan were also inked as UFAs to add to the team’s depth up front.
Troy Brouwer was bought out and long-time Flame Matt Stajan wasn’t offered a deal, so he went to Germany.
Other Summer Headlines
• Dougie Hamilton trade makes clear problems persisted in Calgary
Hamilton was the poster boy for a team that had far too many players okay with losing down the stretch, so he was the key to the five-player deal that significantly shook up the Flames’ roster and dressing room.
• Bill Peters arrives in Calgary having learned from his past mistakes
Peters replaced Glen Gulutzan with a promise to be “demanding without being demeaning.”
Gulutzan was considered to be too easy on the players, who perhaps took advantage of the affable coach’s easy-going nature.
Treliving chose not to interview anyone other than Peters, believing the long-time Hurricanes coach is just hard enough on players to get the most out of them.
• Fatherhood has matured ever-thoughtful Travis Hamonic even further
A big issue for the Flames last year was its second pairing, which saw TJ Brodie struggle alongside newcomer Travis Hamonic.
With the Hamilton trade Brodie will return to the top pairing with Giordano, giving Hamonic and Hanifin a chance to improve the duo, which is key for a team that appears to have its offensive shortcomings shored up.
• Flames complete buyout of Troy Brouwer’s contract
Treliving did his best to undo the mistake he made by signing the veteran to a four-year, $18 million deal two years ago.
Brought in to up the character, experience and offensive depth, Brouwer simply didn’t work out, so the Flames cut their losses and opened up a roster spot for any number of promising youngsters who will be pushing for a spot on the right side.
• Flames’ Tkachuk healthy, has high expectations for new season
No one plays a more emotional, gritty game in Calgary than Tkachuk, which is significant given intensity is what lacked at times with the Flames.
It wasn’t a coincidence that a late-season injury to Tkachuk came at the same time the team folded down the stretch.
There will be plenty of talk about the massive deal Tkachuk will undoubtedly sign next summer as an RFA, but in the meantime the 20-year-old power forward will play as important a role as anyone for the Flames on the ice.
Key questions heading in to training camp
• Who will ride shotgun on the top line with Gaudreau and Monahan? Is it James Neal’s job to lose or will Lindholm get first crack at it? Peters has also talked about trying Matthew Tkachuk on his off-wing on the top line in pre-season.
• Will the Flames be able to adjust to Bill Peters’ system and style quickly?
• Can Brodie return to form now that he’s replacing departed Hamilton alongside Giordano on the top defensive duo?
• Is Monahan able to bounce back from the four surgeries he had at the conclusion of last season?
• Will Derek Ryan or Mark Jankowski be the team’s third-line centre?
• Can Hanifin help Hamonic improve the second pairing?
• Who will replace Ferland’s physical presence?
• Can Mike Smith stay healthy and return to the form that made him an all-star the first half of last season?
• Is this the year Rasmus Andersson or Juuso Valimaki can step into the Flames’ blue line ranks?
• Will Sam Bennett be able to finally start living up to the expectations that came with being picked fourth overall?
• Will Czarnik, an AHL hot shot, be able to make an impact at the NHL level?
What Vegas is saying about the Flames…
Stanley Cup odds: +2500
Hart Trophy odds: Johnny Gaudreau +5000