It would have been impossible to predict the wild path the Calgary Flames took on and off the ice in 2019 with its rise to the top of the west, its spring crash, and the Bill Peters affair.
With that in mind, we’ll take a stab at what lies ahead in 2020 with three bold predictions:
Johnny Gaudreau will be traded
If the Calgary Flames fail to win at least one round of the playoffs, no one will be held more accountable than the former 99-point winger who had just one assist last spring.
After this season he has two years left on a cap-friendly deal ($6.75 million AAV) that will make him attractive league-wide, especially out east where it’s believed the Jersey product will sign as an unrestricted free agent.
Plenty of lessons have been learned from the mishandling of Jarome Iginla’s fruitless trade, and the franchise can’t afford to wait too long to try ensuring they receive ample compensation for dealing the face of the franchise.
This is the year he will have to prove he can indeed step up his game when it matters most, or the core changes GM Brad Treliving will have to make would have No. 13 near the top of his list.
If so, those changes would come this summer or at this time next year.
Travis Hamonic will sign a lengthy extension to remain in Calgary
The 29-year-old is in the final year of a seven-year, $27 million contract that has made the heart and soul defenceman one of the best deals around.
The second-pairing blue liner embodies everything the Flames need more of, given his legendary willingness to do whatever it takes to win games and protect teammates.
The selfless Manitoban gives as much on the ice as he does off it, where his charitable endeavours are virtually unmatched league-wide.
He loves living out west, where the husband and father of two young children seems destined to stay long-term.
Rasmus Andersson will be a top-pairing defenceman next fall
The right-handed shooting Swede’s progression is such that he is already the natural replacement for TJ Brodie alongside captain Mark Giordano.
With Brodie destined for the open market this summer, Andersson’s ascent will be complete.
Popular in the dressing room, the son of former NHLer, Peter, is armed with a heavy shot and a strong hockey IQ that will see him manning top-line minutes for the Flames for the foreseeable future.