2016-17 NHL Preview: Calgary Flames Hoping To Renew Playoffs Hopes With Gulutzan
It’s now August and hockey is again just a month away, with the World Cup of Hockey in September, which means — yes — it is that time of the year again! This month we will be previewing each team’s 2016-17 season. Tonight, it’s the Calgary Flames.
Additions: Brian Elliott, Troy Brouwer, Chad Johnson
Subtractions: Jonas Hiller, Joe Colborne
After making the playoffs in 2015 only to be eliminated by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round, the Calgary Flames took a step back in 2016, finishing fifth-lowest in the League standings with just 77 points. They had the league’s worst defense with 257 goals-against and averaged 3.13 GA/GP. In the end, Calgary’s poor performance ended up costing Bob Hartley’s job.
Now in comes Glen Gulutzan who was hired on June 17th of this year. Gulutzan spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach for the Vancouver Canucks and coached the Dallas stars from 2011-13. With Gulutzan, the Flames also brought former Ottawa Senators head coach Dave Cameron on board.
Aside from changes from behind the bench, the Flames also retooled their goaltending bringing in Brian Elliot, who was acquired at the NHL Draft from the St. Louis Blues, and signing Chad Johnson as a back-up, who is a former Buffalo Sabre. It’s no secret that goaltending was one of the major problems for the Flames as Jonas Hiller just did not have a good year in the NHL. Of course, that doesn’t help very much if you have the League’s worst defense and your goalie’s been subpar. This move to bring in Brian Elliott helps solidify that role in net, especially given how Elliott helped the Blues to their first Western Conference Final in 15 years. He was their clear number one, and while I’m still not exactly sure why the Blues gave up their no. 1 starter, this does definitely give Flames fans something to cheer about. With Chad Johnson as a back-up, you have a pretty formidable tandem in net. It’s also worth noting that both are signed to one-year deals, so after this coming season, they’re UFA next offseason.
Troy Brouwer had 18 goals and 21 assists in 82 games for the Blues last season after being traded from the Washington Capitals.
Alex Chiasson, who was acquired from the Senators, had 8 goals and 14 points in Ottawa.
Hunter Shinkaruk had 27 goals in 62 AHL games last season with the Utica Comets.
I think this may be the year the Calgary Flames get back on track. As I mentioned earlier, they now have a formidable goalie tandem. They’ve added more experience and leadership with Troy Brouwer. They’ve also added a new voice in the locker room. I’d maybe add another top-six forward into the mix, but to me this team has a real shot at making the playoffs this year.
Prediction: Calgary grabs the second Wild Card spot in the West.
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