The Calgary Flames seem to be done most of their off-season tinkering, aside from Oliver Kylington’s eventual new contract, so now we’re twiddling our collective thumbs waiting for hockey to return… eventually.

Into the mailbag!

The short answer is we’re not sure. The NHL is still officially targeting Jan. 1 as a start date, but that’s increasingly looking unlikely. Depending on when games get going, the NHL likely has set a floor of 48 games – like the two lockout-shortened seasons – and can probably get as many as 60 games in if they can figure out a compressed schedule. Starting as early as possible in 2021 makes it more likely they can hit 60 games.

If they actually play in the “real” Pacific Division in 2020-21:

  1. Vegas
  2. Calgary
  3. Edmonton
  4. Vancouver
  5. Anaheim
  6. San Jose
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Arizona

Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver will be neck-and-neck and could be basically interchangeable. The Flames have improved goaltending and forward depth. The Canucks have a ton of young guys that can take a step forward at basically every position. The Oilers are basically last year’s team with some tweaks, but Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are scary-good and their supporting cast will be a little bit better.

If we end up seeing the Flames play exclusively inside a Canadian Division for a season:

  1. Toronto
  2. Calgary
  3. Edmonton
  4. Vancouver
  5. Winnipeg
  6. Montreal
  7. Ottawa

I really like the changes the Leafs have made – we’ll miss you, TJ Brodie!

We’re gonna get into this in a lot more detail as we get closer and closer to training camp, but for now here’s my back-of-the-napkin lines and pairings:

Andrew Mangiapane – Elias Lindholm – Matthew Tkachuk
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Josh Leivo
Dillon Dube – Mikael Backlund – Sam Bennett
Milan Lucic – Derek Ryan – Dominik Simon
Extra: Joakim Nordstrom

Mark Giordano – Rasmus Andersson
Juuso Valimaki – Nikita Nesterov
Noah Hanifin – Chris Tanev
Extra: Oliver Kylington

Pat Steinberg and I discussed this in some detail a couple weeks back on Facebook Live on the FlamesNation Facebook page, but moving Lindholm to centre really opens up the depth for the rest of the lineup. And mix and match in some of the new faces and suddenly, boom, the Flames could roll four pretty decent lines without having to really blow up the core group all that much.

We’ll get into which are potentially the best lines (and how they could be used) in coming weeks.

Ooh, rapid fire!

  1. Matthew Tkachuk, and it probably doesn’t happen until Giordano retires.
  2. This year’s team probably won’t be Stanley Cup good, but they’ll probably be in the playoff mix. (And if some of the young players take a step, maybe they could surprise people.)
  3. Connor Zary probably won’t make the team given how dang many forwards with NHL experience are already signed. And heck, we’ll probably see a bunch of PTOs, too.

At the time, the trade was thus: the Flames sent Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and Adam Fox to Carolina for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm.

Since then, Ferland went to free agency and signed with Vancouver and the Hurricanes traded Fox to the Rangers for a pair of second round picks (2019 and 2020) – and they traded down in the 2019 draft. So the deal basically boiled down to Carolina getting Dougie Hamilton, a season of Micheal Ferland, Jamieson Rees, Anttoni Honka and Noel Gunler in exchange for Hanifin and Lindholm.

The Flames got some big pieces, especially Lindholm, Carolina got a nice blueliner in Hamilton and a bunch of nice prospect depth when they flipped Fox. The Flames probably could’ve used the added prospect depth, but this is an example of both teams getting what they needed.

Mark Giordano is listed as 6’1″ and 200 pounds. Extrapolating from the average height, weight and shoe size in Canada, I’d reckon that he has size 10 or 11 skates.