Season Preview: The Pacific is Weak, The Flames Aren't Much Better

Well here we go.

The 2021 season sucked, it never really made sense as to why the Flames struggled so badly, they obviously never picked up much steam and this offseason left us with a few big questions.

1. What to do with Johnny Gaudreau? Trade? Re-Sign?

A: Well Brad did nothing with Johnny here, I'm sure they discussed stuff with Gaudreau's camp but obviously it got nowhere. Did he float his name on the trade block? If he did nothing publicly came out so I'm sure their dream scenario was probably to get him resigned probably way under-value around like 7.5 million. Gaudreau himself could probably command something in the 8-9 million range on the open market so there's definitely some seperation there.

2. Will the Flames trade for Jack Eichel?

A: No that didn't work out.

3. Will the Flames retool the core after limited success over past 5 years?

A: No

4: Will the Flames blow it up and enter a full-blown rebuild?

A: No, and signing Blake Coleman to a longer term contract probably means it won't be in the cards next summer either.

So basically not much has changed. The goaltending situation is similar and while they did make an addition to their top 6 in two-way forward Blake Coleman, they also lost their Captain and #1 Defenceman Mark Giordano.

Speaking of the Flames former captain, it appears the Flames will try and replace his impact via committee. On the ice it'll be some combination of Hanifin, Valimaki, Zadorov, Kylington, and Gudbranson but off the ice may pose the bigger issue.

Matthew Tkachuk on the 32 Thoughts podcast told Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek that the Flames room is going to need some serious help, stating that the guys will need to work together to fill that void.

I'd guess that this means the Flames go through 2021-22 without a Captain, probably a good move as I do think this team is about to go through a massive transition.

ANYWAYS 2021-22

Looking at the 2021-22 season, as fans there is justifiable frustration. We thought there would be changes, annnnd there really wasn't.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Flames will get to play in front of fans at the Saddledome this season, and after such a crappy year and a half I'm sure we can all agree that live sports ooze dopamine.

On the ice, the team will undertake their first full campaign with Darryl Sutter behind the bench. Say what you will about his style of hockey, he at the very least is a proven winner and provides some much needed stability behind the bench.

Furthermore there is reason for optimism as to why the Flames could potentially make the playoffs. Namely the Pacific division is pretty bad.

The Flames didn't make the playoffs last year obviously. But neither did Vancouver, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose and of course Seattle. In fact the Flames would have finished 3rd in the Pacific last year behind Edmonton and Vegas. The time to "go for it" is right now as all three Californian teams are in a rebuild.

However, there really is no guarantee here, are they good enough to beat out a team like LA whos young core is on the rise? Are the newly fashioned Seattle Kraken going to take the league by storm as Vegas did? Well we will find out.

But right now there is optimism to be found. As we saw last year anything can happen come playoff time. Montreal went to the cup, the team that snagged the last playoff spot right before Calgarys eyes, so the feeling of just get in and see what happens is definitely valid through some lens.

My prediction for the Flames is that they finish third in the Pacific. Sandwiched between Edmonton and Vancouver, probably closer to the Canucks in this sense.

According @JFreshHockey's twitter poll on projected standings the majority of people agree with me!

His actual model obviously fluctuates with teams roster decisions and what not but he did indicate that the Flames will be right around this area of mediocrity in his own projections as well.

In order to make the playoffs they'll most likely need to finish in the top 3 of the Pacific. The Central is slightly stronger so they will probably take the two wild card spots up.

Anyways if you made it this far I'm gonna ask some of our writers here for their predictions of the season. Let us know what you think on Twitter @CofRUnfiltered

  1. Who leads the Flames in scoring?

  2. Which player is the biggest surprise? Dissapointment?

  3. How many 20 goal scorers will the Flames have?

  4. Do the Flames make the playoffs?

  5. How many games does Erik Gudbranson play?

  6. How many starts does Jacob Markstrom make?

  7. Do we see Jakob Pelletier in the NHL this season?

  8. Who wins the Stanley Cup

  9. Who wins the Calder?

  10. Do the Leafs make it past the first round?

Aidan Thakkar:

  1. Lindholm

  2. Hanifin - Andersson

  3. 13, 28, 19, 23, 88, 11, Maybe Coleman as well

  4. Yeah

  5. Hopefully 0 but I'd guess like 20

  6. 65+ if healthy

  7. No probably not

  8. Tampa Bay 3-peat but thats kinda boring so fun sleeper is Minnesota

  9. Caufield

  10. Nope, L against Boston would be my guess

Taranjot Vining:

  1. Johnny Hockey Baby!

  2. Dillon Dube - Mikael Backlund

  3. My guess would probably be: Johnny, Chucky, Lindy, Mang and Mony

  4. Yes but they barely sneak in

  5. Like Aidan said hopefully he doesn't play in any games at all, but knowing Darryl he'll probably play around 20-25 games

  6. 65+. We all know Darryl loves to play his starters almost all year round (which isn't a bad thing in any way).

  7. Yes. He will probably get a trial towards the end of the season. Darryl will give him 2-3 games.

  8. The Avs finally get past the hump and MacKinnon gets ring number 1

  9. Trevor Zegras. We don't believe the Fraudfield hype (If Habs fans are somehow reading this... I'm sorry).

  10. The Leafs are like the New York Yankees... Hyped up year round but don't deliver when the time comes. They won't end the 18 year drought.

James Johnson:

  1. Matthew Tkachuk

  2. Pitlick - Valimaki

  3. Six - 13, 23, 28, 19, 88, 20

  4. They do, but not until game 82

  5. 47, but should be 0

  6. 59

  7. Not this year

  8. Vegas

  9. Spencer Knight

  10. They finally get over the hump, but lose in round 2

Devon Mckendrick:

  1. Johnny

  2. Dube - Entire team

  3. Seven total, 13, 28, 19, 23, 88, 29, 20

  4. Yes they do - Battle of Alberta off the hop

  5. Between 15 and 20

  6. 62

  7. Yes for maybe one or two games at the end of the season

  8. I think this question deserves a crazy off the board answer so I say the Panthers

  9. Has to be Caufield

  10. Probably not because their Amazon series will jinx them

Thanks for reading! Go Flames Go and stay tuned for more C of Red Unfiltered Content! We will be doing game recaps, rumor analysis, power rankings and more!

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