After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2020-21 regular season, which is targeted to start Jan. 1. Today, the Calgary Flames:
The Calgary Flames are hoping the addition of a No. 1 goalie and top-pair defenseman will help them take the next step after their Stanley Cup Playoff run ended by allowing seven straight goals.
Jacob Markstrom signed a six-year contract with the Flames on Oct. 9 after he helped the Vancouver Canucks to two postseason series wins last season. Christopher Tanev, a fixture on Vancouver’s first defense pair with rookie standout Quinn Hughes last season, followed Markstrom to Calgary, signing a four-year contract the same day.
“I think [Markstrom is] the best goalie in the League,” Tanev said. “He stood on his head for us in Vancouver in the last few years. He works extremely hard and he’s been the MVP of our team over there the last two or three seasons.”
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Markstrom replaces Cam Talbot, who helped the Flames defeat the Winnipeg Jets in four games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers but allowed four goals on 15 shots when Calgary was eliminated by the Dallas Stars in a 7-3 loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round.
Geoff Ward signed a multiyear contract Sept. 14 to remain Flames coach. Ward, who replaced Bill Peters on Nov. 29, 2019, was 24-15-3 in the regular season before he guided Calgary to a postseason series win for the first time since 2015.
Here is what the Flames look like today:
Jacob Markstrom, G: The 30-year-old represented the Canucks in the NHL All-Star Game last season, when he was 23-16-4 with a 2.75 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and two shutouts in 43 games. He went 8-6 with a 2.85 GAA, a .919 save percentage and one shutout in 14 games in his first NHL postseason. … Christopher Tanev, D: The 30-year-old scored 20 points (two goals, 18 assists) in 69 games last season and played a role in the development of Hughes, who was voted a Calder Trophy finalist as NHL rookie of the year. Tanev scored seven points (one goal, six assists) in 17 postseason games, including the series-winning overtime goal against the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of the Qualifiers. … Louis Domingue, G: The 28-year-old has been a reliable backup and/or third goalie over the past two seasons for the Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils and Canucks, going 24-14-2 in 43 regular-season games over that span. Domingue signed a one-year, two-way contract Oct. 10. … Joakim Nordstrom , F: Signed to a one-year, $700,000 contract Oct. 19, the 28-year-old scored seven points (four goals, three assists) in 48 games for the Boston Bruins last season and had two assists in 13 postseason games.
Cam Talbot, G: Was 12-10-1 with a 2.63 GAA, a .919 save percentage and two shutouts in the regular season before going 5-4 with a 2.42 GAA, a .924 save percentage and two shutouts in 10 postseason games. Talbot signed a three-year contract with Minnesota on Oct. 9. … TJ Brodie, D: Scored 19 points (four goals, 15 assists) in 64 games last season and four points (one goal, three assists) in 10 postseason games. Brodie signed a four-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 9. … Erik Gustafsson, D: Scored 29 points (six goals, 23 assists) in 66 games last season for the Flames and Chicago Blackhawks. He signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 12. … Travis Hamonic, D: He’s an unrestricted free agent after he played the past three seasons with Calgary.
On the cusp
Juuso Valimaki, D: The 22-year-old missed all of last season following surgery on his right knee but is playing for Ilves of Liiga, the top professional league in Finland, until the Flames begin training camp. He scored three points (one goal, two assists) in 24 regular-season games for the Flames and 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 20 games for Stockton of the American Hockey League in 2018-19.
What they still need
More depth at defenseman. Although the Flames replaced Brodie with Tanev, who likely will play on the first pair with Mark Giordano, the third pair is unsettled after the departures of Gustafsson, Hamonic and Derek Forbort (signed one-year contract with Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 11). They could go with Valimaki, one of their top prospects, in one spot and possibly Oliver Kylington or a more experienced option through a signing or trade in the other. Another reliable defenseman would go a long way in helping Markstrom replicate his success from last season.
Markstrom will be Calgary’s clear-cut starter and could finish among the 10 best at the position this season. He was tied for 11th in the NHL in wins, 11th in save percentage and tied for ninth in even-strength save percentage (.925) last season. He’s proven to be consistent over the past three seasons, with at least 23 wins and a save percentage of .912 or higher in each, making him worthy of being selected as a top 15 fantasy option at the position. — Rob Reese
Johnny Gaudreau — Sean Monahan — Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk — Mikael Backlund — Andrew Mangiapane
Milan Lucic — Sam Bennett — Dillon Dube
Zac Rinaldo — Derek Ryan — Buddy Robinson
Mark Giordano — Christopher Tanev
Noah Hanifin — Rasmus Andersson
Juuso Valimaki — Oliver Kylington