The Calgary Flames made significant moves in the off-season and hope the new hires translate to Stanley Cup Playoff success. The challenge is getting everyone on board and creating a cohesive unit to push deep into the post-season.
The Flames snagged two former Vancouver Canucks in goalie Jacob Markstrom and defenceman Chris Tanev.
Markstrom signed a six-year contract worth $36 million as a free agent, while Tanev inked a four-year deal worth $18 million. They both signed on October 9.
“We had an opportunity, being in the same division, to watch [Markstrom and Tanev] through the bubble, so we’ve got a lot of confidence in those two guys in terms of what they’re going to bring to our group,” head coach Geoff Ward said.
Markstrom and Tanev helped the Canucks reach the second round of the playoffs, their deepest post-season run since 2011.
The netminder was a workhorse, finishing fourth in save percentage among the 22 goalies to play at least 40 games last season. His .918 save percentage was a personal best in the six seasons in which he played at least 23 games, so he’ll definitely want to maintain that level of play for the Flames.
Other new faces for Calgary include forward Dominik Simon, forward Joakim Nordstrom, forward Josh Leivo, and defenceman Nikita Nesterov.
The Flames are hedging their bets on defenceman Juuso Valimaki, who had surgery last season on a torn ACL and should at last be set to make a full-time push into the NHL. The blueliner has been skating with Ilves in Liiga, where he’s been playing on loan from Calgary.
Valimaki played 24 games for the Flames in 2018-2019 and posted three points, showcasing tremendous poise for his age. Calgary is hoping that his stint in Finland will pay off and there’s every reason to believe the 22-year-old will be ready to rock. He has 17 points in 17 games for Tampere Ilves.
The Flames have two other left-handed shots on the blueline, which means Valimaki won’t have to face needless pressure right out of the box. Ward could stick the youngster with Tanev or Rasmus Andersson, both of which would be solid partners.
With a pile of new faces and a fresh Valimaki ready to bounce back, the 2020-2021 season should be exhilarating for the Flames and their fans. It’ll be even more thrilling if they can push this roster to some serious playoff success.