The next team in the 2023 Fantasy Hockey Team Preview is the Calgary Flames. This team is an interesting one with all the going back and forth from their top players on expiring contracts. At the moment, things are looking brighter for the future. But things could change at any moment. If the roster the Flames currently have goes into the season with new coaching, I think they will do just fine.
With no positive moves, it’s hard to really believe that the Flames will be the dominant team they were two seasons ago. They have a strong lineup throughout, but it’s about putting it all together. There will have to be bounce-back seasons from certain players as well as young players stepping in and stepping up. It is asking a lot for them to be a powerhouse, but there will still be many relevant players in fantasy hockey this season. Let’s get into each position and the fantasy value you can expect from players in Calgary this season.
Calgary Flames Fantasy Hockey Preview
Last season wasn’t a great one for the Flames’ offense when compared to previous seasons. Many forwards in particular disappointed, but I would view 2022-23 as a settling in season. Many players didn’t mesh with former head coach Darryl Sutter, so things should go better offensively this time around.
Flames’ Projected Top Line
Jonathan Huberdeau might be the player most positively impacted by the coaching change as he had a major drop-off in points from 2021-22 to 2022-23. He is a point-per-game player, and at the very least, should return to that on the Flames top line. His confidence was very low and his shot volume dropped 94 from the season prior. Huberdeau’s shots should get back up over 200 for the season, ice time increased, and overall performance jump back up. He is a natural playmaker, but that doesn’t mean he can’t put the puck in the back of the net. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hits 80-90 points on an improved Flames team.
While we’re discussing top Flames performers, Elias Lindholm’s name should be included. He too had a down season in 2022-23. He lost both of his elite wingers in one offseason and had to adjust to new linemates quickly. He still has a major defensive impact, but that doesn’t help a ton in fantasy. He is good for 25 goals and a near point-per-game. If he decides he doesn’t want to stick around, his situation could get better part-way through the season.
Yegor Sharangovich looks to be the player who will get a shot on the top line to start. He came over from New Jersey in the Tyler Toffoli trade. The Flames seem to have confidence in his ability moving forward. Fantasy-wise, he could be a sneaky pick. He might not stick on that line all season, but being linemates with Huberdeau and Lindholm will boost him while he is.
Rest of the Flames Forwards
The Flames may very well have had the best third line in hockey last season. It featured Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane, and Blake Coleman. Of the three, you can count Coleman out from being that relevant in fantasy. As for the other two, Backlund is coming off a career year. He put up 56 points and was great at both ends of the ice. He might be a safe bet again for fantasy hockey owners. Mangiapane, on the other hand, has the potential. Last season hit him hard. He dropped from 35 goals to 17 goals. I’m not sure if 35 is realistic again just yet until we see some proof of a turnaround. 17 is also a bit low. If he can get somewhere in the middle, Mangiapane isn’t a bad late round pick.
As expected, Nazem Kadri returned to his normal scoring pace last season. It might have looked like a bad season, but in reality, his numbers in 2021-22 were just an outlier. He will likely be the second line center again, but will surely have young wingers alongside him. 25-30 goals and 55-60 points is fantasy relevant this season and he plays a gritty game.
The final relevant forward for fantasy on the Flames is Dylan Dube. He had an impressive coming out party last season. While he may start with Kadri, he could very well move into the top line role if the Flames like him there better than Sharangovich. Jakob Pelletier and Matthew Coronato are two young players to watch, but I would wait on them for now.
The Flames’ defense will look very similar to last season. Rasmus Andersson has stepped up and become the go-to on the power play and the number one defenseman in many people’s eyes. He had 11 goals, 49 points, and led the team with over 24 minutes of ice time per game. It was a down season for the Flames offensively, so expect even better numbers.
Noah Hanifin is definitely worth a pick at one point in the draft, just not early. Although he only recorded 38 points after scoring 48 in 2021-22, he has now proven he can put up points regardless. I would rank him second among Flames’ defensemen in points by the end of the season, especially if he continues playing on the top pairing.
MacKenzie Weegar’s role will likely grow further this season. He has made it clear that he wants to stick around and make the Flames better. Some of the other defensemen haven’t been as vocal about similar views. There’s a possibility that we see him play on the top pairing, but that would break up the chemistry already formed between Andersson and Hanifin. Either way, Weegar will get lots of ice time and he can contribute to many categories. Other than these three, I would stay away from the rest of the team’s defenders.
Like the offense and much of the Flames, the goaltending didn’t have a great season. That is set to change as well. Jacob Markstrom might not finish second in Vezina Trophy voting, but he also isn’t likely to post a .892 SV% and have a repeat of his worst NHL season. The numbers suggest he will be able to bounce back. His SV% over the seven seasons prior is .914. I expect he hovers around a similar number and fights to be a top goalie again. As for the backup Dan Vladar, he won’t be that relevant unless Markstrom struggles a lot again. Vladar could even be dealt. That would alter his fantasy value and we would revisit him.
The Flames have a lot to work with and I don’t expect as disappointing of a season as they had last year. The overall numbers should go up and it will likely benefit many players. They are worth taking a chance on. Next up in the 2023 Fantasy Hockey Team Preview is the Edmonton Oilers.
Make sure to check out all of the sleepers and breakouts of the 2023 fantasy hockey season!
Make sure to check out all of our Fantasy Hockey Team Previews as they roll out over the coming weeks!
Looking for more great fantasy hockey analysis? Check out our 2023 Fantasy Hockey Draft Kit for team previews, rankings, and all the sleepers you can shake a stick at.