Gameday 7: Blasty Is Simply Rapidash For Calgarians

You want a Recap of last night’s game? The Pittsburgh Penguins lost 6-3 against the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton. Got it? Okay, moving on.

A quick bus-ride down Alberta Route 2 for the Penguins (yeah right, they probably flew) as they look to shake off their first regulation defeat of the season with a game against the Calgary Flames. Calgary, winners of the Pacific Division last year after their best season since winning their first and only Stanley Cup in 1989, are second in their division with a 4-1 record and tonight will be the halfway point of their season-long eight game homestand. Last season, despite having the sixth-best offense and the third-best defense in the League, they struggled to put away the offensively-challenged Dallas Stars in the first round of the playoffs (needing a Game 7 win in overtime to finally do so) before being run over by the Oilers in five games in the following round. Two of the key forwards for the Flames in that failure of a postseason, Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, did each notch a point-per-game, but it wasn’t enough and general manager Brad Treliving decided to make some big changes this past offseason.

With Gaudreau walking away in free agency, Treliving pulled a sign-and-trade with Tkachuk on July 22, sending the high-scoring winger to the Florida Panthers with a conditional fourth-round pick in 2025 in exchange for center Jonathan Huberdeau, winger Mackenzie Weegar, forward and prospect Cole Schwindt, and Florida’s first-round pick in 2025. Treliving wasn’t done making moves to retool, as he also sent the streaky Sean Monahan to the Montreal Canadiens with Calgary’s own first-round pick in 2025 for future considerations, e.g. salary dump.

Darth Vladar

These moves helped the Flames give out extensions to Huberdeau and Weegar, but also to give extensions to other depth pieces on the roster such as Andrew Mangiapane, Oliver Kylington, Dan Vladar, Brett Ritchie, Michael Stone, with enough room to also grab Nazem Kadri in free agency as well. These moves to help maintain the team’s depth for relatively cheap comes with fingers crossed: with the exception of backup goaltender Vladar and the newly-acquired Kadri, those other guys have struggled to stay in the lineup in recent years. Right now, only Kylington is out of the lineup for Calgary, and the results have been pretty good thus far.

It is telling that the draft picks mentioned above are for three years out and not within the next year or two. Evidently Treliving and the rest of the front office see an open window right now for the Stanley Cup, and why not? They had a great season last year, only derailed by Edmonton’s two-headed monster of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatl (we know how that is). Their chief competition in the Pacific Division right now is Edmonton (which we all know hasn’t got much depth of its own, as evidenced by their own walloping by the Colorado Avalanche in last postseason’s Conference Finals), and Vegas, who don’t seem to know whether they are coming or going, but hey, at least they’ll have a Reverse Retro that glows in the dark AND lights up under ultraviolet light. Calgary doesn’t have to worry much about the rest of the division at this point, so they’ll have to take their chances now and for the next couple of years.