2017-18 season preview: Calgary Flames

All eyes will be on Mike Smith to see if he's as good as billed for the Flames. Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames: 45-33-4, lost in the first round, $5.2 million in cap space.

Biggest changes: With the possible exception of Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars, no NHL general manager made more intriguing moves to improve their club than Brad Treliving. The Flames' general manager patched up a glaring hole in net by acquiring Mike Smith from the Arizona Coyotes. An All-Star considered among the league's top puck-handling goaltenders, Smith gives Calgary its first established franchise goalie since Miikka Kiprusoff left after the 2012-13 season. Eddie Lack was also acquired, from the Carolina Hurricanes, to provide an established backup and no doubt an amiable locker room presence. The changes didn't end there as the defense, already considered among the league's standout units, got even better when Treliving executed a trade with the New York Islanders for Travis Hamonic.

Case for: Smith will be operating behind one of the league's most impressive blue lines. A versatile bunch already boasting Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie was bolstered by the acquisition of Hamonic. Deadline acquisition Michael Stone was also re-signed to provide important depth. All that swift skating from the back end should flourish in coach Glen Gulutzan's high-paced system, which is driven by two of the world's top young forwards in Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Add one of the top two-way forward units of Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk and every piece appears to be in place for the Flames to win their first playoff series since 2015 and just their second since their run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.

Case against: Vaunted as this group is on paper, the Flames suffer from a glaring lack of playoff reps. Despite making the postseason two of the past three seasons, they have only five wins to show for those appearances. They were outgunned for stretches while being swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round last season and will also have to contend with a competitive Pacific Division -- not to mention a provincial rivalry that was very one-sided: The Edmonton Oilers swept all four games against the Flames last season, outscoring their longtime rival 21-11 while posting a 27.8 percent success rate on the power play. Calgary will have to first win the Battle of Alberta if it wants to have any chance of winning the Western Conference.

Trade bait: Every indication is that this is the unit with which Treliving and Gulutzan will go to war, and the team should stand pat after being so active during the summer. But should the need to add pieces or shed salary arise, veteran forwards Matt Stajan or Kris Versteeg could become available, if their modified no-trade clauses can be worked around.

Goalie situation rating: 8. With Smith providing an established No. 1 and Lack providing a stable backup, the goaltending, long considered an area of weakness, hasn't appeared this stout in years.

Scout's take: "I think they've nailed their goaltending situation for the short term. I've seen Mike Smith play some wonderful games where he's stopping 45 shots and still being the Mike Smith of six, seven years ago. You've got the speedster in Gaudreau, you've got Giordano, you've got the centerman Monahan who is very underrated. He's as good a defensive forward as I've seen in a long time at such a young age. If I picked a dark horse, a team that may surprise somebody, it might be the Calgary Flames."

Prediction: 3rd in Pacific

Depth chart/Combos


Micheal Ferland-Sean Monahan-Johnny Gaudreau

Matthew Tkachuk-Mikael Backlund-Michael Frolik

Kris Versteeg-Sam Bennett-Troy Brouwer

Curtis Lazar-Matt Stajan-Garnet Hathaway


Mark Giordano-Dougie Hamilton

T.J. Brodie-Travis Hamonic

Matt Bartkowski-Michael Stone


Mike Smith

Eddie Lack

Jon Gillies