A season to forget for the Calgary Flames as they didn't make the cut missing the postseason finishing just two games above .500. What seemed like a transition year, the Flames showed some bright spots throughout the 2017-18 campaign but it wasn't enough to push them into a playoff spot. There is talent on this team but that talent is going to have to show up in order to take this team to the next level. Young talent developed, a key free agent signing and star players continuing to shine, the Flames could be looking at a much improved team next season.
Calgary is beginning to witness some of its promising talent step up to the challenge and that was probably the biggest positive for this team last season. Although the results didn't come through as the Flames hopeful would have wished, the future looks bright for this already younger team. Players like Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan, who just had a career year, are showing offensive skills and offensive intelligence. Throw in generational talent like Johnny Gaudreau and you have a winning offensive force. However, there is still an issue with putting pucks in the net. Something isn't clicking in the forward lines and this could be due to a lack of depth up front. The Flames finished 27th in the NHL in scoring in the 2018 season and that of course is going to have to improve a lot.
It's difficult to win games when you are simply not scoring enough goals. When that's the case, near perfect goaltending is required to even give yourself some kind of a chance. The goaltending in Calgary has been far from perfect as the Flames finished 13th in goals against with 243 which averages out to 2.9 goals against per game. Mike Smith is a solid goaltender but when you are containing a modest 2.65 goals against with a team that is having a hard time scoring goals, that certainly is not a recipe for success. The goaltending will improve when the defense in front of him will improve. Not all of this is to be blamed on the goaltenders. The defense must be held responsible for their mistakes as well.
Speaking of improvement, the Flames made a splash when a trade was announced involving the Flames and Carolina Hurricanes. Dougie Hamilton, Adam Fox and Michael Ferland were sent to the 'Canes in exchange for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm. A solid move for both teams, Hanifin has been groomed into becoming a solid all-around defenseman that although doesn't have a lot of upside, will keep the scoring chances for the opposing team down. Losing a player like Dougie Hamilton is never easy but in the NHL in order to receive you have to give. What this trade really comes down to is if this new look on the blue line will end up paying off. Forward, Elias Lindholm will positively contribute along side another big move made in the free agency signing of James Neal. The offense and defense certainly looks better going into next season and the Flames who are already competing in a very talented division could be giving some teams a run for their money.
The Flames missed the playoffs last season but it was a strange year for the group as a whole. A roller coaster ride of a season, a lack of general consistency didn't help the progress of this team as they were struggling to hold on as the months went by. Falling apart towards the end, the offseason was going to be an opportunity to strengthen some weak areas and I think the Flames have been successful in that. How will all of this change translate to the ice? Only time will tell. At least the Flames broke the curse of Honda Center this season and don't have to worry about that cloud hanging over their heads any longer.
Here is Calgary's infographic for the 2017-18 season.