Late last week we sent out our request for reader grades in our annual report card series. This year we decided to include some fan polls as well to get a sense of where Calgary Flames fans stand heading into a 2021 offseason that promises to be extremely intriguing. It’s safe to say the results were very divided, as is the case with pretty much every important upcoming decision for the Flames, so here are the results of each poll and my thoughts on them.
Q1) Do you think Darryl Sutter is the right coach to lead this team into the future?
- Yes = 54.7%
- Maybe = 24.2%
- No = 21.1%
I would say that the biggest takeaway from this question is that nearly half of Flames fans either don’t think Sutter is the right coach or really don’t know what to think about him behind the bench. This is roughly a 15% drop in people who liked having Sutter as coach when we polled fans shortly after he was hired. 1 in 10 Flames fans jumped directly from the Yes category to the No category over the course of the season. Personally I think he is the right fit for the team and had the team playing the right way down the stretch of the season. With a full offseason and training camp to implement his style, I think the Flames should be in a good spot next season.
Q2) Should Brad Treliving still be the Flames GM next season?
- Yes = 43.2%
- No = 35.8%
- Maybe = 21%
This question was super close over the course of the weekend but the Yes side took a close victory for this one. It has become clear that the clock is starting to run out on Treliving with the Flames, perhaps through limited fault of his own, but he rightly deserves blame for where this season ended up. On paper he has constructed a fairly strong team that just hasn’t been able to live up to expectations, and at some point you may need to gut all of management to change the direction of the franchise.
In my opinion with the shortened offseason, if the Flames were going to make a move at the GM position, I think it would have already been done. I think Treliving’s good still outweighs his bad as he’s done a good job of drafting for most of his tenure along with being very good with re-signing of RFAs. I’d give him this one last year to make a push for the playoffs and to see some sort of improvement.
Q3) Should the Flames enter 2021-22 with a new captain?
- Yes = 61.1%
- No = 21.8%
- Maybe = 17.1%
If there’s any question that really makes me feel like fans are ready for change in Calgary, this is it. With just over 1 in 5 Flames fans confidently wanting Gio back as the captain next year, it’s clear the fans feel that the leadership core needs a major revamp. While I don’t like the idea of stripping the C if Giordano remains in Calgary, I think the Flames do really need to explore the idea of moving him either in the expansion draft or via trade if they are serious about making changes.
With one year left on his deal, the Flames could likely hold back salary to make it more palatable and find Giordano a better situation as he heads into the latter stages of his career. I also don’t think it’s fair to Gio to stay here if the Flames clearly won’t be contending next season. In terms of who could replace him, I could see Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, and perhaps maybe even Chris Tanev being weighed for the role. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see the club perhaps take a year without a captain before making a decision.
Q4) Who was the Flames best player in 2020-21?
- Elias Lindholm = 42.4%
- Chris Tanev = 20.8%
- Andrew Mangiapane = 18.8%
- Johnny Gaudreau = 12.9%
- Other = 5.1%
I don’t think this result is particularly surprising as Lindholm really elevated his game this year as he worked his way into a full-time center role. He finished second on the team in scoring and tied for the most goals with Gaudreau. Combined with his solid play on both sides of special teams, he really has become arguably the Flames most important player. No shocks either at 2 through 4 as all were really good this season as well, especially Tanev who fans didn’t have particularly high expectations for after he signed during free agency.
Q5) Should the Flames 2021 First Round Pick be a trade chip this summer?
- No = 40%
- Yes = 37%
- Maybe = 23%
Obviously this question is still pretty open-ended as it could depend on him the Flames miraculously win a draft lottery or who would be available in a trade to use it for. My personal opinion is that unless its a Top 2 pick, the Flames should and very well might strongly consider using it in a deal this summer. Like it or not, this franchise seems to be set up to go for it based on hiring Darryl Sutter and adding more picks for next year’s draft (ammunition at the deadline for buying?). If the Flames can bring in an elite player, then I’m fine with them trading their pick this year.
Q6) Are you confident in the direction of the Flames?
- No = 73.4%
- Yes = 26.6%
Yeah this isn’t particularly surprising given the massive failure to even come close to reaching expectations for this season. With another year for this core wasted, it’s really hard to understand what the direction for the club will be going forward. They are talking major changes, but at the same time they seem to be built to try and win now but haven’t had success in doing so. With the questions significantly outnumbering the answers, it’s easy to not have a lot of confidence in this team right now. I guess we will see where this number stands after the offseason.