The St. Louis Blues had a fantastic season in 2015-16. However, some key pieces are now with the Calgary Flames, making some wonder if the teams will flip flop positions.
The St. Louis Blues had a fantastic year last season. They rode their horses all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
Now, some of those horses moved on to the Calgary Flames. That has prompted some Blues fans to wonder if the Flames are going to pass the Blues, or at least catch up.
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The Flames are definitely an up and coming team. They have a lot of good young talent.
Johnny Gaudreau is going to be one of the next stars of the NHL as long as he stays healthy. Sean Monahan could be one of the league’s better playmakers soon and Sam Bennett is showing promise as well.
The Flames’ problem to this point has not been talent, but a lack of leadership. Similar to the Blues when they had Oshie, Perron and Berglund all together but not enough veterans to help bear the load.
Calgary now has better players than the Blues did then. The question in front of them is whether they have added that bit of grit and know how to help those young players take the next step.
The Calgary Flames made significant changes to their team during the offseason. Those changes came in all the categories: draft, trade and free agency.
From a standpoint of what the team needed most, Troy Brouwer might be the biggest addition to the Flames. He won’t add a ton in terms of production they did not already have, but just think of how he altered the Blues locker room.
He was a huge addition to the dressing room. The Flames probably have more pure talent offensively than the Blues did and now Brouwer will help them in the pursuit of the next step.
The other member of the Blues now playing for the Flames is Brian Elliott. That one is the big deal to a very vocal section of Blues fans.
Sep 30, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames goalie Brian Elliott (1) makes a save against Vancouver Canucks during a preseason hockey game at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
While I remain content in the Blues’ decision to go with Jake Allen, it will be difficult to adjust to life without Elliott. Whether he was a true starter or a great backup, he provided great goaltending in the playoffs and was a big part of the Blues going as far as they did.
That said, his failings have usually come when he has been handed the reigns with nobody to push him. With no Allen behind him, it is uncertain which Moose the Flames will be getting as well.
Interestingly, the Flames revamped their entire crease. In addition to Elliott, the Flames picked up Chad Johnson.
Johnson played in 45 games for the Buffalo Sabres before arriving in stampede country. He won 22 games and kept his save percentage high with a reasonable goals against.
Perhaps the most intriguing addition is Matthew Tkachuk. A player with ties to the Blues through his father, Tkachuk is close to playing in the league already.
He’s only 18 and already has the height and size to be able to hold his own and isn’t done growing yet either. The Flames are holding onto the right to send him back to his junior team, but it would not be shocking to see him in the NHL this season.
Given the additions the Flames made in net, they didn’t lose too much all things considered. However, Jonas Hiller has shown he can be a good goaltender when hot.
Karri Ramo also seemed poised at one point to be the next big Finnish goaltender. Both were free agents and since both are currently unsigned, their time in the NHL may not be long for the future.
On paper, Joe Colborne would be a rather large loss. He seemed to be coming into his own over the last three seasons and a 19 goal, 44 point season.
The Flames are overloaded with centers though. Colborne was just excess parts in their own scheme of the roster.
It’s hard to imagine the Flames going from outside of the playoffs to championship contender in one season. They’ve made some very strong moves, but that’s too much of a jump.
So, in that aspect, there should be no worry they will supplant the Blues at this moment and time. However, the Flames are going to be a team to be dealt with.
St. Louis is going to have something to prove. They have not fared well against former goaltenders, with the exception of Jaroslav Halak, and will be going against an extremely motivated Elliott.
It won’t be long before these meetings occur. The Blues travel to Calgary for a game on Saturday, October 22 before an immediate rematch on Tuesday, October 25. The rubber match will be on Saturday, March 25.