Calgary Flames : 2018/19 NHL season preview

With James Neal, Noah Hanifin an Elias Lindholm now on the roster, are the Calgary Flames a playoff team? A look at the team heading into 2018/19.

Calgary Flames : 2018/19 NHL season preview
Calgary Flames: 2018/19 NHL season preview (Photo: hockeypngs.com/Ty Fisher Vavel.com)

The 2017/18 season was not a great one for the Calgary Flames, they were very inconsistent and their mediocrity cost them a playoff spot in the end.

They finished the last ten games of the season with a 2-8 record and missed the playoffs by 11 points. Overall, they did not meet expectations finishing fifth in the Pacific Division with a (37-35-10) record.

As a result, the organization went through and made major changes this off-season. Most notably with the blockbuster trade that sent star defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Carolina Hurricanes.

They also found themselves a new coach as Bill Peters was hired to replace Glen Gulutzan.

Heading into 2018/19 there will be several new faces on the Flames’ roster, including Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Derek Ryan and James Neal.

Management hopes the facelift given to this team will be good enough make them a playoff team again next season.

Projected lineup:

Forwards:

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - James Neal

Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Elias Lindholm

Sam Bennett- Derek Ryan - Michael Frolik

Mark Jankowski - Austin Czarnik - Garnet Hathaway

Extra Forward: Curtis Lazar

 
Defense:

Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie

Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic

Brett Kulak - Michael Stone

Seventh defenseman: Dalton Prout

Goalies:


Mike Smith


Dalton Prout

Best case scenario


- Johnny Gaudreau becomes a top-five scorer in the NHL.

- Elias Lindholm and James Neal both score at least 20 goals for the Flames.

- Sean Monahan is able to take his game to the next level and become one of the top two-way centers in the NHL.

- Noah Hanifin becomes a 40-point defenseman for the Calgary Flames

- The Flames are able to win more than half their games at home.

Worst case scenario

- James Neal scores under 20 goals for the first time in his career.

- Noah Hanifin doesn't pan out and it looks like the Flames miss.

- Elias Lindholm scores less than 40 points.

- Mike Smith’s age (36) catches up to him and his game begins to decline.

- The Flames remain a bottom five team in scoring next season.

Prediction

On paper,  the Flames look like a playoff team.  They don’t have too many holes on their roster and the off-season moves they made might have addressed most of their concerns.  

They have arguably one of the best top-four defensive cores (Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Noah Hanifin, and Travis Hamonic) in the league and elite young talent (Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan) just entering their prime.

Adding a proven scorer like James Neal should improve the offensive woes that have hindered this team for the past several years.

The biggest question mark will be whether Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin are able to contribute more than Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland did in years past. Additionally, whether the Flames are able to stay consistent all year and win more close games.

If all that comes into place, they could be as good as anybody in the West and might even surprise some people in the playoffs.

Right now, a top-three spot in the Pacific should be the goal and anything less than a playoff spot should be considered a huge disappointment for this team in 2019.

How do you think the Calgary Flames will do in 2018/19? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to give us a follow on Twitter by searching (@VAVELNHL_ENG).