First off, I apologize for my lack of activity since the "free agent frenzy" passed. My family and I moved into our new house, and unpacking is far from simple with two young children. With August being a slow month, you can expect a slight drop in content, but I will certainly do my best to continue providing read-worthy content during these quiet times.
Anyways, onto what I came here to discuss...
So far this offseason, the Calgary Flames have committed slightly fewer major changes than most of us expected. Still, Brad Treliving has brought in pieces that fit head coach Darryl Sutter's style, constructing a roster that should be tough to play against.
Yes, there are still opportunities for more change, but I wanted to take the time and inspect portions of the current make-up, identifying some strengths and weaknesses. The best place to start is Calgary's likely top-six (as of now).
If the season started today, the Flames would likely roll out a top-six forward group that looked like this:
Johnny Gaudreau - Elias Lindholm - Matthew Tkachuk
Andrew Mangiapane - Sean Monahan - Blake Coleman
For the most part, I think most people feel these are Calgary's top-six. However, one could slide in Mikael Backlund into Monahan's spot if they felt inclined to do so. Anyway, for this post, let's assume the Flames have Monahan centering the second line and Backlund centering the third.
Obviously, a team's top two lines are where you want to see a majority of the point production, and there are some legitimate concerns that this current group just won't cut it.
In my book, Gaudreau and Tkachuk are both top-line quality wingers. Though Lindholm can hold the fort as the team's 1C, imagine how much of a better place Calgary would be if he could inhabit the 2C instead. Still, the top line is far from terrible, especially if the Flames have a second line that can produce their fair share of points as well.
Herein lies the problem. I'm not convinced that this currently constructed second-line can be counted on to do so. In terms of Mangiapane, I think he is a great winger on line-two. Monahan (if he's even on the roster) is a huge question mark for me. Obviously, last year was bizarre, but I can never count on a player bouncing back until they show me they can do so. Although I love the Coleman addition, I really think this is a guy a team would rather have in a third-line role. Still, Calgary could roll out far worse.
To me, I still think Calgary's current top-six leaves something to be desired. If this is what they have for the first game of the year, they will be okay. However, I think they really need that bonafide 1C to really give this team a deep playoff run (as does most teams in the NHL).
Now allow me to get a bit crazy here...
Let's slide Jack Eichel into the picture. Assuming Buffalo wants more futures than anything else, maybe the top-six could look like this:
Johnny Gaudreau - Jack Eichel - Matthew Tkachuk
Andrew Mangiapane - Elias Lindholm - Blake Coleman
Now I put Monahan in my potential trade deal, allowing Lindholm to slide into the 2C position easily. Of course, this rendition of the top-six looks amazing. That is why Treliving really needs to go all-in on bringing Eichel to Calgary. As I have mentioned in the past, it's "win or get fired" time for Calgary's current GM. If he puts together a package that makes the Flames top-six forward look I mentioned, we are looking at a team that could make a nice run in the postseason.
As currently constructed, Calgary's top-six is one of two areas that could use a bit of improvement. Obviously, that is much easier said than done.