The 2014-15 Calgary Flames represented the feel-good story of the NHL. Despite being outshot in almost every game and ranking 28th in possession, they were able to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Not only that but the Flames also beat the Vancouver Canucks in convincing fashion to advance to the second round. The fact that a playoff team was this terrible isn’t a surprise to most fans as there is one team that overachieves every year.
Last year, the Colorado Avalanche rode Semyon Varlamov to a playoff spot despite being a similarly-ranked possession team. Also, in 2008, the Sidney Crosby-led Pittsburgh Penguins advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals while being second-to-last in puck possession. So what does a team like the Flames have to look forward to in 2015-16.
For starters, this team started the offseason with a bang by adding Dougie Hamilton for draft picks. Adding a player of his caliber creates a deeper blue-line, which already consists of Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell. Losing that many draft picks in a trade might hurt some teams, but the Flames had enough draft picks to still land players, like Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington. The defense was the focus this year and management made sure the Flames’ blue-line will have depth for years to come.
However, that doesn’t mean this team ignored their forward depth, as they signed Michael Frolik to complement their young stars, such as Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. There wasn’t a negative move made this offseason, so the Flames should be a more entertaining team to watch next season. While they might not make the second round again, they are much better than they were last year.