Calgary Flames face three questions

NHL.com is providing detailed analysis for each of its 32 teams from Aug. 8 through Sept. 8. Today, three important questions are facing the Calgary Flames.

[Flames 32 in 32: Season preview | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown]

1. Have the Flames scored enough after two key events?

Calgary, which finished sixth in the NHL with 291 goals, lost its top two scorers after last season: Johnny Gaudreauwho led the Flames and was second in NHL scoring with 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists), signed a seven-year, $68.25 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on July 13; Matthew Tkachuk who was second with 104 points (42 goals, 62 assists), was traded to the Florida Panthers on July 22.

Gaudreau and Tkachuk were responsible for 28 percent of Calgary’s goals.

“When two big names leave at the front, there is room for players to step up, and I am included,” continued Andrew Mangiapane said the Flames website. “That includes some other players as well. There is space, there is an opportunity, and now it is our duty to fill their place and continue our own growth as well.”

The Flames got on Jonathan Huberdeau in the trade that sent Tkachuk to the Panthers. He tied Gaudreau for second in League scoring and set the NHL record for assists by a left wing (85).

Video: Jonathan Huberdeau signs 8-year contract with Flames

2. Can others replicate their career years from last season?

Playing with Tkachuk and Gaudreau, center Elias Lindholm enjoyed his best NHL season to date, a 42-goal, 82-point performance that earned the 27-year-old a nomination for the Selke Trophy as the League’s best defensive forward. Mangiapane, who signed a three-year contract with the Flames on Aug. 2, scored an NHL-high 35 goals.

Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar that each of them is coming off their most productive seasons with the Panthers, and the pairing of the Rasmus Anderson (four goals, 46 parts) and Noah Hanifin (10 goals, 38 goals), along with a duo of Oliver Kylington (nine goals, 22 goals) and Christopher Tanev (six goals, 22 assists) also set new highs in points.

Even Jacob MarkstromVezina Trophy final as the NHL’s top goalie, turned in his most efficient season to date, setting personal highs (37), goals against average (2.22) and save percentage (.922).

3. Will they name a captain?

Mark GiordanoThe departure of Calgary to the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft left the Flames without a captain. Giordano, who played 15 seasons in Calgary after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2004, has been a captain since the start of the 2013-14 season.

No one else was named before last season. The Flames instead opted to roll a team of alternate captains, including Tanev, Old Monaghan, Mikael Backlund and the recently departed Tkachuk. Gaudreau was also an alternate when Tanev was absent in the Stanley Cup playoffs due to injury.

Backlund could be the strongest candidate. The 33-year-old is the longest-tenured member of the Flames (14 seasons) and is tied for third on the all-time games played list (826).

Huberdeau, who signed an eight-year, $84 million contract extension on Aug. 4, could develop into another candidate despite having yet to play a game with Calgary. He was an alternate captain in Florida.

“Obviously I’ve been there for a lot of years,” Huberdeau said. “I haven’t met the boys yet, but I’m getting [into] September, I’m going to skate with the guys, get more comfortable. I want to be a leader on and off the ice and for the community, to give back a lot. That’s the type of person I am and that’s what I want to do.”

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