Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Calgary Flames
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – The offseason changes represent a big upgrade in terms of the offensive potential of the forwards, as well as the two-way potential of the defensemen. The Flames recognized that they needed a sixth scoring forward, and Ferland wasn’t it. Michael Frolik’s offensive talents seem to be waning a little, Mark Jankowski isn’t ready to take a step forward and ditto for Sam Bennett. With the additions of Ryan, Lindholm and Neal this team now has seven legitimate forwards who can get 40 points over and above what Frolik, Bennett and Jankowski do. And if Czarnik, a small, skilled player with upside, can make an impact then so much the better.
On defense the Flames took a big hit for offense by giving up Hamilton, but Hanifin is on the cusp of being a top two-way defenseman in the game – he didn’t get the defensive minutes in Carolina, he was actually pretty sheltered. But he drove possession in the situations that he was given and he’s ready for a bigger role. Furthermore, under new coach Bill Peters, the power play should improve – thus inflating the production from the blueliners.
Ready for full-time – Czarnik is a high-scoring AHL player and a former college star who couldn’t crack Boston’s lineup on a regular basis. The Flames signed him to a two-year, one-way contract and they signed him rather quickly once free agency opened, indicating that they are serious about giving him a chance. It’s pretty silly to stick the 5-9, 160 pounder on the fourth line so if he does get a chance – it will be a good one on a good line. Not worth drafting, but worth grabbing very quickly off the waiver wire the minute you hear or see anything positive about him. (Click here to see Czarnik’s scouting profile)
Rasmus Andersson was drafted high (53rd overall) in 2015 and after dominating the junior ranks he has acquitted himself well at the AHL level. He got into 10 NHL games late last season and didn’t look out of place in a depth role. He’s ready to be an NHL regular, though the offense probably won’t come right off the bat as he gets eased in. (Click here to see Andersson’s scouting profile)
One player who could take the roster spot from Andersson – or they could co-exist – is 19-year-old Juuso Valimaki. Normally I don’t believe a 19-year-old defenseman would make an NHL team but Valimaki, drafted 16th overall in 2017, is special. He also has NHL size at 6-2, 204 pounds. He has a bit of an uphill battle for the Flames to rush him and it’s likely he spends more than half the season in the AHL. But he’s getting closer. (Click here to see Valimaki’s scouting profile)
David Rittich was Calgary’s backup goalie to end last season and he’ll start there this year. But will he get in the games as a backup? Or will the team call up Jon Gillies to play them as needed? Gillies can be sent down without having to go through waivers (one more year), but he is their Golden Boy. He was drafted high for a goalie (75th overall in 2012) and brought up through the system. He’s also 6-6, which has been the NHL trend (taller goalies) over the past decade. He outplayed Rittich in Stockton last year. That being said, Rittich had a great 2016-17 AHL season and was a star in his final year in the Czech Republic. Look for Gillies to be the No.1 guy in Stockton, but if Mike Smith goes down for any length of time I think Gillies will get the call to play more games than Rittich. (Click here to see Rittich’s scouting profile)
Calgary Flames prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – Teams always seem to do better in the first year under a new coach so definitely expect a short-term increase. And Peters’ improved power-play should increase the numbers a little further. The Flames are now a deep team with a younger roster. Their prospect pipeline is strongest on the blue line but they have a couple of good prospect goalies on the way as well. Their forward prospects leave something to be desired. The team is steadily improving in terms of fantasy hockey assets.
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was C+)
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