The 2020-21 season has not gone as planned for the Calgary Flames. The team, picked by many to challenge for the North Division title, has failed to meet expectations. This begs the question: are major changes on the horizon in the offseason?
This past summer the Flames finally resolved their longstanding issue in net by locking up Jacob Markstrom long term to be their new no. 1 goaltender. They also improved their defense corps by adding Chris Tanev. Combine that with their potent top-six forwards which remained intact from last year and it appeared Calgary had found their recipe for success.
Yet they find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture and running out of time to get back in the race. The Flames sit six points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens and the Habs have four games in hand.
While Markstrom started the year strong, his play has tapered off. Plus, the team’s biggest offensive weapons haven’t been firing on all cylinders and as a result, the Flames have struggled to score. Case and point, Sean Monahan has just seven goals and 22 points in 35 games while Matthew Tkachuk, last year’s team leader in scoring, has 27 points in 37 games.
Hoping to revive his squad, general manager Brad Treliving brought back former Flames head coach Darryl Sutter into the fold last month. Sutter won a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings. The change behind the bench gave Calgary the jolt they needed for a few games, but it appears the effects have already started to wear off.
The Flames are likely to be sellers at the Trade Deadline and missing the postseason could have major repercussions on the franchise going forward in the form of a full rebuild or a roster reset as they like to call it these days. But maybe that’s exactly what the doctor ordered because Calgary’s current core group of players has not lived up to expectations. They have only won two playoff series since the 2014-15 season and are on the verge of missing the postseason for the third time in that span.
If a reset does happen, Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, who have been a formidable duo for the Flames, would be the most likely trade candidates and would constitute a major shakeup. Not to mention Sam Bennett who has been on the block for some time.
If the trend continues, Flames’ General Manager, Brad Treliving, will be a popular man with his peers over the next few weeks and months. The only question left to answer is: who will be on the move and which assets will he target in return?