The fantasy season is upon us. Another year of tears of joy and heartbreak.
To help you along, here’s your fantasy outlook for all the Calgary Flames
2022-23 Fantasy Outlook: Calgary Flames
Last season: 50-21-11, 1st Pacific, 6th overall. GF: 6th, GA: 3rd, PP: 10th, PK: 6th.
It was an incredible turnaround under Darryl Sutter. After being the long-term replacement following Geoff Ward’s firing and Ryan Huska’s two-game interim stint, Sutter coached them to a 15-15-0 record the rest of the way and missed the playoffs in the one-off North Division. One summer later, the Flames were one of the best all-round teams in the league, playing well at both ends of the ice with arguably the best scoring line in hockey, a mobile defense and very good goaltending. It was the first time Sutter had coached a team to 50 wins and he was awarded the Jack Adams for his work.
However, the off-season has been anything but celebratory, with the Flames having to pivot quickly following a series of unexpected roster moves. It’ll be a big task to re-group quickly and re-establish themselves as a contender with a different identity to avenge a premature playoff exit at the hands of their provincial rivals.
Best fantasy option: Jonathan Huberdeau, LW
He’s the most obvious choice after Elias Lindholm was the pick last season, and Huberdeau is projected to lead the Flames with 95 points, according to THN’s Pool Guide, and BetMGM has set his over/under at 105 points. His numbers will take a hit because Lindholm isn’t as good as Aleksander Barkov and the third member of their line will be TBD, but anything around 95 points would still put him somewhere in the top 20 in the league. Huberdeau’s physical game is somewhat underrated with 99 hits last season; while that doesn’t add a lot of value in banger leagues, it’s significant enough that it should put Huberdeau in front of other LW scorers who offer little else beyond just points.
Hidden gem: Mac Weegar, D
Weegar was a bit of an afterthought in the Huberdeau trade but his inclusion just made the Flames defense arguably the best in the league. He scored a career-high 44 points in 80 games last season along with 203 shots, 156 blocked shots and 179 hits, finishing in the top 20 in all three categories among defensemen. He did all of this without getting a lot of time on the power play, and the same scenario will likely happen in Calgary with Rasmus Andersson running the point, but Weegar is their best option at 5-on-5. THN’s Pool Guide has projected Weegar to score 52 points, third-highest on the team, and if you include his contributions in the other categories, Weegar is easily a top-tier defensemen in banger leagues.
Darryl Sutter does not care about load management. He was (in)famous for starting Miikka Kiprusoff 70-plus games back in the day, and though some of it was by necessity, Sutter leaned on Jacob Markstrom heavily last season. Markstrom started 63 games, the third-highest in the league and he was only one of five goalies to surpass the 60-game mark. He has always played better when he faced a lot of shots (like in Vancouver) and he responded with a career season, establishing new bests in wins (37), shutouts (9), save percentage (.922) and GAA (2.22), and finished second in Vezina voting. Dan Vladar was not a reliable backup last season so expect Markstrom to be a workhorse yet again, this time playing behind an improved defense, and in most standard leagues has a very good chance to be a top-five goalie.
The Flames are the same but different. Expectations are still very high especially after Brad Treliving turned this team from being on the cusp of a potential teardown into a contender in a span of a month, adding Huberdeau and Weegar in a trade and then landing the biggest free agent available late in the summer in Nazem Kadri. Sutter has a rep for being a defensive coach, but he’s also never had a roster that was this talented and deep. The Flames will be a popular team to target in fantasy because they offer up a plethora of options, which also includes depth scoring in Mikael Backlund, Tyler Toffoli and a potential breakout candidate in Dillon Dube, who could score at least 40 points this season if he can get some top-six minutes.