2018 Calgary Flames Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
I live 10 minutes, in good traffic, from the home of the Flames. All but three of the hundred or more NHL games I have been to have been here. Everyone I know is a Flames fan to some extent - which only means that they live in Calgary, because this city loves their team. And among those fans there is a notable shift. The desperation for the playoffs entering last year quickly turned into frustration as the wheels fell off. But this year it feels different. People are quietly confident and more optimistic than they have been in a while. This has been an offseason full of big changes, and people feel like they will be positive and that this team is going to take a step forward. People have been optimistic before, of course - it's an annual thing here in Calgary. But there is less resignation hiding right behind the optimism this year. People like this team, and they hope that the league will be forced to take notice.
Calgary Flames Offseason Moves
Sit down - this could take a while. We'll start behind the net, where Glen Gulutzan was fired after two underwhelming seasons, and replaced with Bill Peters, who took the job hours after resigning in Carolina. Peters and GM Brad Treliving worked together on Canada's World championship entry last year, so they know each other. The head coach job in Calgary has been less stable than the drumming gig in Spinal Tap in recent years, but this guy is easier to get behind than many. And he has assembled a solid coaching staff.
The marquee move among the players was the trade of Dougie Hamilton. It's not often that a team trades away a young top pair defenseman, but this is the second time Hamilton has been moved on by his team. Rumors are aplenty about why he can't stick with a team, and the theory is that it has much more to do with off the ice than on it. The most convincing stories I have heard are that his mother is an active presence and not a positive one. Whatever the reason, he was dealt to Peters' old team for younger defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Elias Lindholm. Both guys have since signed long-term deals. This deal is more about upside than current production, but both guys will have a chance to play a major role on the team.
Gone in the Hamilton deal as well was Michael Ferland, who had played left
wing on the top line almost by default for parts of the last two years. He
was fine but never consistent enough. Lindholm might take his place, but it
seems more likely that James Neal will after joining as a free agent from
Vegas. The team also added center Derek Ryan, a late bloomer who played for
Peters both in Carolina and in junior with Spokane, and Austin Czarnik, a
top AHL player looking to take the next step. To make room for the new
faces, they bought out roster anchor Troy Brouwer and let veterans Kris
Versteeg and Matt Stajan move on. This is a heavily overhauled team -
especially in the top nine on offense, where production hasn't been running
deep for the team in recent years.
The team's first draft choice this year came in the fourth round, so the impact will be slow to come. There are a slew of young guys from past drafts fighting for what should be an open spot both up front and on defense, though, so there will be a youngster presence.
Calgary Flames NHL Outlook
The Flames have probably gotten better. With so many changes, chemistry is going to be a big issue. And goal remains a concern. Mike Smith was great when healthy, but once he got hurt the goaltending was abysmal. He's not young, and doesn't typically stay healthy, so the backup race between two of the team's farmhands will be one to watch. This team is ready to be in the playoff race. But so are 11 other West teams, including six on the Pacific Division alone. There is a serious logjam, and this is one of the logs. The potential is there to be a playoff team for sure, but not making it wouldn't be a shock, either. It is going to be a very tense season for fans and management of West teams this year.
Calgary Flames Schedule
What stands out most in the schedule is the balance. No road trips of more than four games. Just one homestand of five games, and nothing longer. The team has faced extremes is past years like most teams in the West, but this year the schedule feels manageable.
Calgary Flames NHL Futures Odds
At +3300 the Flames are the 17th team in Stanley Cup futures at Bovada . With 16 playoff spots, that is the crying hole, though - and they actually trail nine other West teams. After a dismal 84-point performance last year, the season win total sits at 93.5. It took 95 points to make the playoffs last year. The team's star, Johnny Gaudreau, is a Hart Trophy long shot at +5000.
2017-18 Calgary Flames Predictions
It probably goes without saying that I am reasonably optimistic. I like the changes, and the roster is better on the ice - and hopefully off it - than it was last year. Things will be very tight at the bottom of the playoff hunt, but I lean solidly to the over on the total.
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