2015-16 Calgary Flames Season Preview

Like the surprise of Ottawa in the second half last season, Calgary was the darlings of the West as they surprised everyone to make the playoffs.

What works in their favor last season is they benefited from Los Angeles and San Jose collapsing late in the season. They also had a lot of things working in their favor such as a lot of come from behind wins or forcing OT when trailing after two periods (14). Bob Hartley will be in his fourth season and returns pretty much everyone on his roster. The Flames could be just as good as they were last season.

On defense, they got better with the addition of Dougie Hamilton from Boston. He’s 22 years old, talented and has the potential to be a Norris Trophy candidate in the future. Hamilton got to learn from one of the best D-men in Zdeno Chara and will take that experience to Calgary where he will boost a strong defensive corp.He’s expected to be paired with Kris Russell but Hartley may favor pairing him with Dennis Wideman. The top unit of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie are expected to carry the team and see a lot of time on special teams., Giordano could be a Norris contender if he can stay healthy.

The Flames have the most security in goal, but they are approaching a fork in the road. Jonas Hiller and Kari Ramo are both in the final year of their contracts. It’s pretty certain management won’t keep both of them next summer so this will be a great audition to determine who is the goalie of the near future. They rotated playing time last season and we should expect more of the same this season. Fantasy players should use caution when determining to draft a goaltender from this team.

As for their forwards, they are led by young guns Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. People thought Monahan would have a sophomore slump last year but he went against the grain with a 31-goal campaign, more than anyone from the 2013 Draft class. Sam Bennett will have a full season to show that he can play the way he did in the playoffs, as he missed most of the regular season due to injury. Michael Frolik was added to the roster to help get them creeping higher in the goals-for category. Jiri Hudler played some of the best hockey of his career last season and should continue his performance this year. Emile Poirier is one of their top prospects in Stockton and should be their first call-up is there’s any injury.

Hartley – the Jack Adams Award winner last season – has expectations for the first time in Calgary. They weren’t viewed as a playoff contender last season but expectations were defined to even win a playoff series. Anaheim showed them what a real playoff team was last season and they know how high the bar is if they want to make a playoff run. Of all the teams in the division, Calgary could be the team most prepared to challenge Anaheim. They have the pieces provided everyone stays healthy. Even if they regress slightly, they should still be in the playoff talk come March.

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