To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.
Today’s team: Calgary Flames
2014-15 record: 45-30-7, 3rd in the Pacific
How they finished: Lost in five games to Anaheim in the Western Conference Semifinals
Coach: Bob Hartley (4th season)
Notable additions: D Dougie Hamilton, RW Michael Frolik
Notable subtractions: D Raphael Diaz
Schedule against the Capitals: Tues. Oct. 20 at Calgary, Fri. Nov 13. at Washington
Outlook: Calgary shocked the hockey world by not only making the playoffs last season, but advancing to the second round. Though the Flames are full of talent, their success last season was as inexplicable as it is unsustainable. Calgary was one of the worst possession teams at five-on-five last season with a Corsi for percentage of 44.5. They also had a lot of late-game comebacks, managing to win or force overtime 14 times when trailing after two periods. The Flames simply cannot expect that success to continue next season without better possession numbers and better starts.
Having said that, there's a lot to like about this Calgary team.
The team managed to keep every key player from last season and also added two key pieces in Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik, both of whom will help the team's possession stats. The Hamilton addition also helps shore up a defense that had limited depth. Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie are very good as the top pairing, but everything behind them was essentially a question mark. With Hamilton in the fold, the Flames have a solid top three and can cycle Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Smid, Deryk Engelland and Kris Russell to find where each player best fits.
Offensively, you hope to see the young players continue to develop. Johnny Gaudreau turns 22 in August and had 64 points last season. There is definite superstar potential there. Jiri Hudler is playing the best hockey of his career and at 31-years-old the Flames should be able to get one or two more years out of him before he really begins to decline.
Calgary was in the top ten last season in scoring. With their young players still developing, the addition of Frolik and a healthy Giordano back on the blue line, this offense may be shockingly good this year.
In net, the Flames bring back Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo. Hiller took control in the regular season, but both goalies appeared in seven games in the playoffs. The Flames need Hiller to establish himself as a top netminder not just over the regular season, but in the playoffs as well.
Neither goalie looks good enough to carry the team, but with the offense and an improved defense, they won't have to.
Expectations: One reason the Flames were able to sneak into the playoffs last season was the decline of Los Angeles and San Jose. While Los Angeles could return to playoff form this season, both Vancouver and San Jose look to be on the decline. Calgary is not.
Anaheim showed Calgary that there is a difference between a playoff team in their series last year. The Flames do not look to be on that level yet, but they are on the right track. They will be good enough to make the playoffs again, but it would be a surprise to see them really challenge for the division or the conference.
MORE CAPS: Caps get a good deal with Johansson contract
See more team previews:
Chicago Blackhawks 8/8
Colorado Avalanche 8/9
Dallas Stars 8/10
Minnesota Wild 8/11
St. Louis Blues 8/13
Winnipeg Jets 8/14
Boston Bruins 8/15
Buffalo Sabres 8/16
Detroit Red Wings 8/17
Florida Panthers 8/18
Montreal Canadiens 8/19
Ottawa Senators 8/20<
Tampa Bay Lightning 8/21
Toronto Maple Leafs 8/22
Carolina Hurricanes 8/23
Columbus Blue Jackets 8/24
New Jersey Devils 8/25
New York Islanders 8/26
New York Rangers 8/27
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29
Washington Capitals 8/30