Welcome to Round Table #1 of the 2017-18 NHL season! In this version we’ll tackle some of the hot button topics surrounding the Flames as the regular season is about to get underway. We will also take a stab at some predictions for the upcoming season
- What are your predictions for the Flames record this season? Where will they finish in the Pacific Division and will they make the playoffs?
Samwell9: It would be shameful if they did not make the playoffs. I’ll go with 48-29-5. 101 points. Second in the Pacific, just short of the Oilers.
MarkParkinson14: This team has too much talent to not make the playoffs, but the goalie situation will really dictate things. 46-32-4 (100 pts). I still see the Flames finishing behind Anaheim and Edmonton.
BizzleJ: 48-24-10 (106 pts)
MGMacGillivray: The Flames have room to make a jump in the standings this season and I ultimately see them finishing at 49-28-5 for 108 points.
Renu Sahota: (46-27-9) = 101 points. The Calgary Flames will finish 2nd in the Pacific, after the Ducks, and before the Oilers. They'll also start out winning 8 of the first 12 - as well as breaking the Duck Pond curse on Oct.9th. Home record (27-11-3). Away record (19-16-6). Of course the Flames will make the playoffs.
HockeyGoalieEh: 99 pts. - Prior to the Jaromir Jagr signing, I had the Flames on the outside looking in due to the changes of getting a newer yet older goalie in Mike Smith to go along with the re-signing of a high P.D.O. Michael Stone, the presence of Troy Brouwer on the third line, the acquisition of Travis Hamonic (a move I didn’t like), and Matt Bartkowski’s continued presence on the team. It ultimately felt like the Flames had mortgaged a fair number of assets to perhaps get a wee bit worse. Jagr’s acquisition is huge in that it pushes Brouwer off of the top three lines which seals up the lone weakness those lines had. In an ideal world, he wouldn’t be on the roster which is particularly true if Mark Jankowski makes the roster; coupling Brouwer with Jankowski would create an environment where Jankowski couldn’t be graded much like what happened with Sam Bennett.
- Sam Bennett has been a “disappointment” of sorts for the Flames since he was drafted. He just signed a new deal, how do you see his season playing out?
Samwell9: He is going to be awesome. He looked great in pre-season and now, he is pretty much always going to have 2 quality linemates. If one of them ends up being NHL Legend and play-driving wonder, Jaromir Jagr, I think it is pretty reasonable to expect at least 50 points from Bennett. If things need to get shuffled around, I would love to see a Gaudreau-Bennett-Jagr line at some point this season.
MarkParkinson14: I hope we finally get to see the player the Flames selected with their highest draft pick ever. Bennett’s production was down last season all while playing more games. He looked good in the playoffs as a physical force, but big hitters aren’t drafted that high. The Flames need Bennett to start putting pucks in the net and with different pairings this season he should start to flourish. He is young, so there is time for him to turn into the player we all hope he can be. While adding linemates should help, I’d like to see Bennett create a little on his own. Stars get some help, sometime, but if Bennett is truly a stud player, he needs to make his own luck too.
MGMacGillivray: Sam Bennett has continued to show flashes of brilliance this pre-season and it’s clearly come down to giving him two capable linemates. So why not give him the most experienced player in the entire NHL! Versteeg and Jagr look like they could be two perfect linemates for Bennett and their mentorship will go a long way as well. I think it’s only a matter of time until Bennett breaks out this season, and since he’s on a very team-friendly deal, it could be a major steal.
Renu Sahota: His plus/minus was most concerning, but now with Hamonic-Brodie hopefully the minus-16 both Bennett and Brodie got last season changes.
HockeyGoalieEh: There were very few Flames that performed worse with Brouwer than Bennett. His shot attempt ratio went down ten percent while playing with him. His improvement depends on who he’s coupled with, but going from Brouwer to Jagr is like going from a busted up unicycle to a Porsche.
- Which young Flames player has the potential to make the biggest impact this year?
MarkParkinson14: Jon Gillies or David Rittich. Call me pessimistic, but I don’t like this current Flames tandem of Smith and Lack. Lack has been garbage in the preseason and Smith, I can’t put a finger on it. Is he bad because he’s bad or was he a victim of being trapped on junk Coyotes teams? Could be one, could be both, but we’re about to find out. I think one of the two goalies from Stockton could be in Calgary sooner than later and they could have a major impact this season. Are they ready? Who knows, but the way Smith and Lack have played they better be or this season could get ugly fast.
MGMacGillivray: Sean Monahan. He showed an elite ability to create points in the second half of last season, the playoffs, and again this pre-season. He knows where to go on the ice when in the offensive zone and knows how to win draws which is big for this team. I think this is a year where Sean Monahan really excels and my wild prediction for him is that he’ll hit 40 goals this season.
Renu Sahota: I don't know about youngest, but Hamonic-Brodie pairing will have the biggest impact for the Flames this year. Besides the obvious MVP Tkachuk.
HockeyGoalieEh: Youth is relative, so when talking about “young” I’m going to go with a player with less than two years of N.H.L. experience. By default, that should be Brett Kulak on the third pairing; Bartkowski is a known bad commodity and if he’s seeing the majority of the time in that sixth defensive roll getting ten to 15 minutes a game, that would be problematic. Kulak was a great driver of possession last season who never got a chance for some reason and hopefully that can continue.
- The Jagr is here! What do you expect from him now that he is in a Flames uniform?
MarkParkinson14: I was big on the “let a young player take a spot Jagr would occupy” this summer and I won’t backtrack from that opinion. What I think Jagr will do is help out some of the Flames younger players and he will bring a pedigree and experience level that no one on this roster has. He should be a good mentor and line mate for Sam Bennett and if anything, he gives the Flames an added draw and league wide attention. As for games, he’s been durable over the last 4 seasons, he hasn’t played less than 77 games and he’s had to 60+ point seasons in that stretch.
MGMacGillivray: I expect to fall in love with the man. No but seriously I thought over the course of the summer that he was an addition that made sense for the team. The key is to temper expectations for him this season and enjoy watching him play. He’s an improvement over Troy Brouwer on that line which is automatically a win.
Renu Sahota: I expect the world from McJagr! 20 goals, 50 plus points season. Hope he likes snow - welcome to Calgary JagrMiester! He'll add humour to the locker room, and the young ins will be star struck for sure.
HockeyGoalieEh: Jagr is still an elite player despite the age and anybody that doesn’t view this as a huge coup for the Flames is a fool. This should flip the flames in a heck of a positive direction. Expect assists and possession aplenty.
- When all is said and done, which Flames player will have the most points at season’s end?
Samwell9: Johnathon “Hockey” Gaudreau. If he’s healthy, he is getting around 80 points.
MarkParkinson14: I think you have to go with Gaudreau. Gaudreau got beat up pretty bad on the ice and outside the rink by fans. His “down” season should be motivation enough and I see him having a very solid year in 2017-18. 75-82 points should be the benchmark for this season.
MGMacGillivray: While I think Sean Monahan will lead in goals, there’s no doubt who will be setting him up in Johnny Hockey who I think will finish just under a point per game.
Renu Sahota: Money Monahan - watch for #23s break out season. Just shoot Monny, just shoot.