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2021-22 Calgary Flames Preview: Free agency flame out

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With just small moves and loss of Mark Giordano, the Flames failed to improve in the off-season.

Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman Connor Mackey (3) celebrates his third period goal against the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome. Flames won 6-2. Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

After a season-long break from one another, the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames are back to being Pacific Division rivals.

For the Flames, it’s two steps forward and one step back. They missed the playoffs this past season after making it in the previous two.

No one knows what to expect from the Flames this season. What happens will largely fall on the shoulders of stars like Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan because Calgary didn’t add much in the off-season to help them out.

Where they left off

The Flames finished the shortened 2021 season with a 26-27-3 record. That worked out to fifth in the weak North Division that only had seven teams and four of them went to the playoffs. The finish left fans scratching their heads.

Things got worse at the expansion draft when captain and top defenseman Mark Giordano was picked to join the Seattle Kraken. The loss hurt the Flames both on the ice and in the locker room, but exactly how much is still yet to be seen.

Just a day later, the Flames traded with the aforementioned Kraken to acquire Tyler Pitlick. They gave up a 2022 fourth-round pick for the 29-year-old forward.

2021 Entry Draft

On draft day, the Flames used the 13th-overall pick to take forward Matthew Coronato. The 19-year-old is on the smaller side, at 5-foot-10 and 183 pounds. He may have room to grow before he finds his way to the NHL. According to Matchsticks and Gasoline, Coronato is most likely headed to Harvard University in the fall.

On Day 2 of the draft, the Flames selected William Stromgren with the 45th pick. The Swedish winger played last season in the SHL.

In the third round, the Flames picked center Cole Huckins at 77th and defenseman Cameron Whynot at 89th. Calgary drafted defenseman Cole Jordan, right-winger Jack Beck, left-winger Lucas Ciona and goaltender Arsenii Sergeev in the later rounds.

Roster

When free agency opened a few days later, the Flames made a few small moves. They traded a 2022 third-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Nikita Zadarov. The restricted free agent filed for arbitration, but the player and team came to a deal before the hearing date. Zadarov will be with the Flames for one year at $3.75 million.

The team also dealt another 2022 third-round pick to the Boston Bruins for goaltender Daniel Vladar. The 24-year-old Valdar has played just five NHL games in his career, but is likely to play backup to the team’s starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom.

As for signings, the Flames added former Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Lewis a one-year, $800,000 contract and forward Blake Coleman to a six-year, $4.9 million deal. Coleman is expected to slot onto the second line and add depth scoring to the Flames. He also brings the toughness that head coach Darryl Sutter likes.

Other small signings include former Sharks’ prospect Nick DeSimone to a one-year, two-way contract. Goaltender Louis Domingue and center Zac Rinaldo were allowed to enter free agency. The Flames qualified 12 of its 14 restricted free agents. Among the players that were tendered an offer was defenseman Oliver Kylington, who has played 95 NHL games for the Flames.

They also made a few small signings in the dead time before training camp. The team inked prospects Glenn Gawdin and Justin Kirkland to two-way deals, they signed 2017 first round pick Juuso Valimaki to a two-year contract with a $1.55 million average annual value (AAV), and RFA Dillon Dube to a three-year, $2.3 million AAV contract.

If there are no new additions between now and the start of the season, Daily Faceoff predicts that the Calgary lineup will look something like this:

Forwards
Johnny Gaudreau — Elias Lindholm — Matthew Tkachuk
Andrew Mangiapane — Mikael Backlund — Blake Coleman
Dillon Dube — Sean Monahan — Tyler Pitlick
Milan Lucic — Trevor Lewis — Brett Ritchie

Defenders
Noah Hanifin — Chris Tanev
Nikita Zadorov — Rasmus Andersson
Juuso Valimaki — Oliver Kylington

Goaltenders
Jacob Markstrom
Daniel Vladar

What can we expect in 2021-22?

The good news for Flames fans is that the Pacific Division is weak. That means the team could sneak into the playoffs with the roster they have now. The bad news for Flames fans is that it won’t be exciting and probably won’t last too long.

Sutter is not known for high-powered offense. He prefers those tight defensive games. While it will likely add some notches in the win column, it’s boring to watch.

The Sharks visit Calgary for the first time on November 9. The Flames' first visit to SAP Center will be on December 7.