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A Flaming Future in Calgary

Calgary Flames player Connor Zary celebrates after scoring a goal. (Photo Credit: The Canadian Press)

After winning the pacific division in 2022, expectations were high for the Calgary Flames for the 2022-23 season. Finishing the season on 93 points, seven points off the last playoff clinching team, the Kraken, in the Pacific Division. A disappointing season to many Flames fans. Calls for the firing of the head coach and a desire to see more youth were seen all over social media. 

Ryan Huska was the assistant coach of the Flames prior to being named head coach. (Photo Credit Amy Irvin)

The Calgary Flames announced Craig Conroy as the newest general manager after Brad Treliving departed from the organization in April 2023. Since then, he has completely changed the direction the organization is going in. The departure of former head coach Daryl Sutter opened up the opportunity for then assistant coach, Ryan Huska, to be promoted.

Sutter and Treliving had been criticised in the past for their lack of bringing in young talent and that is exactly what Conroy and Huska didn’t do. Since taking over as general manager, Conroy has traded away five players, all of whom were UFA’s (unrestricted free agents) at the end of this season. He also brought in a handful of players off waivers and let some players go.

Tyler Toffoli was the first trade of the new Conroy era. The transaction occurred between the New Jersey Devils who acquired Toffoli in exchange for Yegor Sharangovich and a 2023 third round draft pick. The Flames drafted Aydar Suniev with this pick.

During the offseason, Conroy brought in AJ Greer off waivers from Boston. He also claimed Brayden Pachal from Vegas. Both Adam Ružička and Nick DeSimone were placed on waivers by the Flames in January. Arizona and New Jersey claimed them respectively. Most recently, the Flames brought in defenseman Joel Hanley from the Dallas Stars.

Calgary Wranglers goaltender Dustin Wolf has played a number of games in the NHL. (Photo Credit: Mike Zitek)

Adding youth into the lineup was one of Conroy’s goals this season and that he did. Netminder Dustin Wolf made his debut on the last day of the season under the coaching of Darryl Sutter, alongside winger Matt Coronato. Since then Wolf has been called up a few times this season, playing in six games with one win. Coronato has played in 16 games this season, spending most of his time in the AHL with the Calgary Wranglers. Players like Jakob Pelletier and Connor Zary have also made their mark in the team after being called up. Martin Pospisil is also a new fan favorite as well. 

Nikita Zadorov was the next to be traded. He headed off to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for draft picks, a third round pick in the 2026 draft and a fifth round pick in the 2024 draft.

Elias Lindholm has been a member of the Flames organization since 2018. (Photo Credit: Sergei Belski)

Elias Lindholm also headed off to the Canucks right before the All Star break. In exchange for the center, the Flames received forward Andrei Kuzmenko, defensive prospects Joni Jurmo and Hunter Brzustewicz and two draft picks. A 2024 first round pick and a conditional 2024 fourth round pick. 

Chris Tanev was also moved to Dallas in exchange for prospect Artem Grushnikov, a 2024 second round pick and a conditional 2026 third round pick. This was a three-way trade that the New Jersey Devils were involved in. The Flames and the Stars made another trade with eachother involving AHL prospects. Emilio Pettersen was sent to Dallas in exchange for Riley Damiani. 

Noah Hanifin was the latest to be traded, to the Vegas Golden Knights for defenseman Daniil Miromanov, a 2026 first round pick and a 2025 conditional third round. The Flames signed Miromanov to a two-year deal with an average annual value of $1.25 million. 

Trade deadline day saw Conroy and the Flames bring in Nikita Okhotiuk from San Jose in exchange for a 2024 fifth round pick. 

Conroy walked into a difficult situation for his first year as general manager and for the most part he has done well. Although the Flames may be in a retooling phase and are struggling a bit in the league, there is still a lot to look forward to. Their prospect pool is deep and their AHL team is successful. A good combination of veterans and young players will keep this team going in the right direction.

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