Calgary Flames ready to ride Gaudreau back to playoffs
Brad Treliving, the general manager of the Calgary Flames, could have spent the offseason basking in his team's unexpected playoff appearance last spring.
Instead, Treliving examined the season and came to a different conclusion.
''Last year was a good year,'' Treliving said. ''We did some things that would be a challenge.''
Indeed, the Flames won nine of 13 games in overtime, won four of seven shootouts and had 10 come-from-behind victories. While proud of his team's accomplishments last season, Treliving is acutely aware that the way the Flames played in 2014-15 is not sustainable model for long term success.
''We'd like to play with the lead more,'' he said.
Some things to watch for with Calgary this season:
DOING THE DOUGIE: What to get a team that already has a good defense? Send three draft picks to Boston for a top 22-year old defenseman in Dougie Hamilton. Last season, Hamilton had 10 goals and 32 assists in 72 games. Treliving said he was excited to add the ''big, right-handed shooting'' Hamilton to fit in with his group.
CAPTAIN'S MARK: In most cases, the expectation for Hamilton would be that he would become a team's No. 1 defenseman. Not in Calgary, where Mark Giordano is firmly entrenched on the top pairing. The captain of the Flames was second on the team in points for defensemen with 48. That number would have been significantly higher had he not missed the final 21 games of the season and the playoffs with a torn bicep.
JOHNNY BE GOOD: Skill was never the question about Johnny Gaudreau, just whether his 5-foot-9, 150-pound frame would hold up. All he did in his rookie NHL season was pile up 24 goals and 64 points in 80 regular-season games. He added another nine points in 11 playoff games. What is his ceiling?
''Johnny had a really good year,'' Treliving said. ''When you have that kind of skill set ... He's determined.''
PRODUCTION LINE: Executives, coaches and players often speak of the importance of offensive production throughout the lineup. But it is unlikely many teams took the message to heart in the same manner as the 2014-15 Flames. Eleven players finished with double-figure goal scoring, led by Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan, both of whom had 31 last year. As impressive as that was, 17 players finished in double-figure point production, with Hudler's 76 leading the team.
EFFORT LEADS TO SUCCESS: One of the themes about the Flames is their work ethic. To that end, Treliving's other offseason addition, Michael Frolik, brings coach Bob Hartley another solid cog. Frolik recorded 42 points (19 goals and 23 assists) in 82 games with the Jets last year.