Calgary Flames 2016 Offseason Plans

            Following a surprising playoff series win in 2014-2015, the Calgary Flames struggled mightily this season. The team will likely drop more than 20 points from last year’s 97. Considering the team’s young stars and offseason acquisitions, it was assumed they would at least be competitive. However, poor goaltending and lower overall scoring will keep them out of the playoffs.

            Calgary’s goaltenders have combined to have the worst goals against average in the NHL. Jonas Hiller has been the most inept, posting a 3.51 GAA and .879 save percentage in 27 games. Youngster Joni Ortio has played relatively well in limited outings. The 24 year has a goals against average of 2.63, similar to fellow goalie Karri Ramo.

            Pending Free Agents: The Flames have many difficult decisions to make this offseason, most important of all to determine who will be their starting goalie next season. Hiller and Ramo will both be unrestricted free agents, with Hiller definitely to be gone. Ortio is a restricted free agent, so if the team sees him as a future contributor, they will need to work on an extension.

            The first priorities to get extensions though are forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Gaudreau is quickly becoming one of the league’s best young players, averaging a point per game this season. Monahan, a year younger than Gaudreau at 21, has 62 points in 78 games played this year. Both players are restricted free agents but the team will likely try to work out long term extensions with both.

            Draft Picks: It is highly unlikely the team will address their goalie issue with one of the first picks in the draft, but they will probably look for one in the middle rounds. Calgary may try to overcome their goaltending deficiencies by adding more scoring punch, so they may look to add the best forward available.

            Free Agent Additions: The free agent goaltender market is pretty thin, with old veterans Cam Ward and James Reimer topping the list. They could try to trade for a goalie like Jimmy Howard from the Detroit Red Wings or pry Matt Murray away from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Murray may be available because with the potential expansion draft on the horizon, teams with two quality goalies will only be able to protect one and would rather trade one than lose him with nothing in return. With the large contracts the team will have to give Gaudreau and Monahan, it will be interesting to see if they will have any more room to sign free agents and stay under the salary cap.

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