If you want to boil the Calgary Flames’ past two seasons down simply, you could do worse than this:
In 2014-15: Bob Hartley won the Jack Adams Award.
In 2015-16: The Flames fired Bob Hartley.
The Flames finished this past season with 77 standings points, missing the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven years.
While Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan survived the sophomore curse, the Flames couldn’t survive in their own end. No team allowed more goals than the 260 Calgary surrendered last season. It cost people some jobs, most notably that of Hartley.
Naturally, the first big change in Calgary comes with Glen Gulutzan replacing Hartley behind the bench.
Much like the team he’s coaching, Gulutzan needs to get over some past failures (he failed to make the playoffs during his two seasons coaching the Dallas Stars) but is young enough (45) to argue that the best days are ahead.
To little surprise, the Flames decided that Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio isn’t necessarily the group of goalies to get things done. The Flames brought in two-time All-Star Brian Elliott to try to right the ship.
The Flames didn’t stop there, adding Chad Johnson as Elliott’s backup. With a .917 career save percentage, Johnson could very well keep Elliott on his toes.
Aside from big improvements behind the bench and in the net, the Flames’ most noteworthy work came in extending Sean Monahan,* picking up Troy Brouwer and landing Matthew Tkachuk in the draft.
Calgary is making a lot of strong moves, but did they make enough to climb back into the postseason in 2016-17? PHT will explore these factors on Saturday.
* – Naturally, the biggest move needs to come soon: also handing an extension to Gaudreau.