2017-18 Calgary Flames Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
After six mostly bad years where they were spinning their wheels, the Flames have made the playoffs in two of the last three years. Now they need to do two things - prove that they are a consistent playoff team and not just a fringe contender hoping for wild card scraps and become a legitimate threat once they get there instead of the team that Anaheim rolled over in four games in the first round.
In pursuit of those two interrelated goals the team had a very aggressive summer, and few teams improved themselves more. They now have one of the best defensive units in the league and an offense with real potential. Goaltending should be more consistent, too. But is it enough? The Western Conference is brutally tough, and as much as they have improved so have Dallas, Edmonton, Chicago and others. And Minnesota, San Jose, Anaheim and St. Louis aren't much worse. And the Kings and Jets could be dangerous, too. The Flames are better - there is no doubting that. The challenge is to figure out if their form of better is good enough for what promises to be a bloody regular-season battle.
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Calgary Flames Offseason Moves
The team had four priorities this offseason - sort out the goaltending, find another top four defenseman, deal with a long list of free agents, and find another forward or two. They checked three of those boxes and took a shot at the fourth. Let's look at each in turn.
The biggest splash was on defense. They had three very good defenseman and three who weren't up to the same caliber last year. Three top defensemen is a bad number because one is always going to be dragged down by their partner. They traded for Travis Hamonic from the Islanders to join T.J. Brodie on the second pairing. He was expensive - a first- and a second-pick and another conditional second. He is an excellent fit for Brodie, though, and should improve what was already a strong defensive unit.
Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson were the new goaltending duo brought in last season. It just didn't work out. Both guys had stretches of brilliance, but neither could sustain it or deliver it when it mattered. The team moved on from both and then tried again. The new duo is Mike Smith and Eddie Lack. Smith is older than is ideal, but he has been very strong for a bad team in Arizona, and he should be solid behind the best defense he has played behind. Lack wasn't great in Carolina but was much better when he was in Vancouver, and he never seemed to mesh with the goaltending coaches with the Hurricanes. There is potential with this group.
The free agents got done, and almost across the board were done cheaper
than expected - a real credit to GM Brad Treliving. Michael Ferland, Sam
Bennett, Kris Versteeg, Curtis Lazar, Brett Kulak, Jon Gillies, David
RIttich - all important pieces who could easily have made more. The lone
cause for complaint is defenseman Michael Stone, who the team grabbed from
Phoenix at the trade deadline last year. He was fine but not great on the
second pairing and is clearly a third-pairing guy now. Signing him in that
role for three years and $10.5 million doesn't make a lot of sense when
young defensive prospects are a strength for this team. It could be worse,
though - the Oilers locked up former Flame Kris Russell for four years and
will come to hate every second of it.
Now the extra forwards. There is an incomplete grade here. The team won a bidding war for Spencer Foo, a highly-touted free agent from Union College. He may not be ready right out of camp, but he should play in the NHL this year. And expectations are very high for Mark Jankowski, a center who has been very patiently developed, to finally deliver. They haven't added a meaningful veteran yet, and they may not - though much of the fanbase is crying for Jaromir Jagr. There is still more that could happen here.
Calgary Flames NHL Outlook
The team is going to be excellent defensively. They should be decent in net. And there is upside offensively. I don't think anything is guaranteed with this team, but they have the real potential to break the 100-point barrier this year. The West is crowded and brutally tough, but I think a lot of people who don't pay a lot of attention to this market are sleeping on what this team could be. They need some breaks, but they are more of a contender than people think.
Calgary Flames Schedule
The Flames have a four-night stretch in February where they play at Vegas and Arizona and then host Colorado. No team has an easier three-game stretch during the season. It's just not possible. If the team doesn't get at least five points over that stretch then they may as well just forfeit the rest of the schedule and start playing golf.
Calgary Flames NHL Futures Odds
Bovada has Calgary at +2500 to win the Stanley Cup, which has them tied with Boston and San Jose and behind 14 other teams. BetOnline has the Flames at +1400 to win the Western Conference, which has them tied with St. Louis and behind eight other teams. They are the fifth choice to win the Pacific Division at +700. The season win total sits at 42.5. Last year they won 45 games.
2017-18 Calgary Flames Predictions
This is the team I have cheered for since they arrived in Calgary when I was five, so some bias is a factor perhaps. While I am aware of that, I can't help but feel like this team is undervalued when you look at them. With the addition of Hamonic the top four defenseman are as good as any team has. I trust this goaltending duo well enough - especially Smith - and in a pinch they have a couple of young guys in the AHL who could step up. They have room to improve offensively, too. The coaching is strong as well. I think the "over" on the season win total is one of the biggest values on the entire board.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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