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The Calgary Flames' biggest need is more offense up front. In particular, somebody who can score goals.
Generating shots was not an issue. They averaged 64.37 shot attempts per 60 minutes at 5v5, good for 1st in the league.
Generating chances was not an issue. They averaged 28.74 per 60 minutes at 5v5, good for 4th in the league.
Putting the puck in the net *was* an issue. A big one. Despite their ability to pile up the shots and chances, they finished 27th in 5v5 goals – ahead of only Buffalo, Montreal, Vancouver and Arizona.
Even up a man they had trouble scoring goals. The team's power play looked lifeless for the vast majority of the year and only three teams scored PP markers at a lesser rate.
With a clear need for goal scoring, ideally on right wing, you'd think the Flames would be interested in someone like Ilya Kovalchuk, a right-handed shooter who happened to enjoy a lot of success while playing opposite side of Zach Parise on the Devils.
I mean, he's one of the most natural scorers the NHL has seen in this generation and his KHL numbers – 63 goals, 141 points in 113 regular season games over the last two years – suggest he still hasn't lost his fastball.
It'd take ~$6 million annually for two or three years to get a seat at the table. A reasonable ask, in my opinion. Yet the Flames reportedly aren't among the teams in on Kovalchuk.
Excerpt via FRSHockey
“I’m going to give you a list of teams that I believe are interested in Ilya Kovalchuk,” noted Dreger during a Tuesday morning radio hit on Monteal’s TSN 690. “And I’m going to qualify that level of interest. Detroit, as I tweeted earlier today, definitely made a push. The St. Louis Blues have interest, Anaheim, Dallas, the New York Islanders. I’d put that group as potential dark horse teams.
“And then beyond that, probably more solid contenders include the likes of San Jose and Los Angeles, and I’d put the Boston Bruins in that group and maybe the New York Rangers as well. So there’s a total of nine teams.
Maybe the Flames have other plans they're confident will come to fruition that would erase a need for Kovalchuk. Maybe he would sign elsewhere even if the Flames tabled a competitive offer.
It's just a little surprising they're not expressing interest in someone who would check off a lot of boxes for the team, especially considering it'd only take money. Most of the other goal scorers rumored to be available this summer would cost valuable trade assets.
I'm really interested to see how Brad Treliving goes about addressing the team's lack of finishing. I thought taking a run at Kovalchuk made a lot of sense
but apparently he doesn't feel the same way.
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