by OddsShark (@OddsShark)
The Calgary Flames enjoyed a lot of success during the 2018-19 season, parlaying their first Pacific Division title into the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Unfortunately for the Flames, though, they fell victim to the Colorado Avalanche in five games in the first round after winning the series opener 4-0 behind solid goaltending from netminder Mike Smith.
And now oddsmakers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com have the team listed at +1800 (wager $100 to win $1800) on the Stanley Cup odds for 2019-20, putting them squarely in the middle of the pack.
Four straight postseason losses by the 37-year-old Smith made him expendable, so the Flames essentially swapped him for Cam Talbot this offseason in hopes that he might fare better this year and lead them on a longer playoff run. They also should have 26-year-old goalie David Rittich back in the fold, and he had a better record (27-9-5), goals-against average (2.61) and save percentage (.911) than Smith last season.
Calgary would probably be best served making Rittich the favorite to win the starting job considering Talbot (11-17-3, 3.40) was nothing special with the Edmonton Oilers, who ended up trading him to the Philadelphia Flyers late last year anyway.
The Flames also return reigning Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano, who produced a career-high 74 points (17 goals and 57 assists) at the age of 35. Giordano won the award for the first time over more highly-touted defensemen Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, so how he plays this coming season may determine whether or not the team returns to form as well.
The biggest disappointment throughout the year was veteran winger James Neal, who had signed a five-year deal worth $28.75 million after leading the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final. Neal had just 19 points (seven goals and 12 assists) for Calgary following a 44-point season (25 goals and 19 assists) in Vegas.
If Neal can bounce back and produce more like the team’s solid young corps of scorers in Johnny Gaudreau (99 points), Sean Monahan (82), Elias Lindholm (78) and Matthew Tkachuk (77), then the Flames might compete for a second straight Pacific Division title to pay off on those NHL odds once again for futures bettors.