Calgary general manager Brad Treliving battled the fences in the summer, and he’s as eager as any Flames fan to see if his efforts replaced what was lost.
Bringing forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri into the fold, and landing both long-term contracts, were some of the most successful moves of the NHL offseason.
Huberdeau and Kadri, signed for eight and seven years respectively, somewhat softened Flames Nation’s sour feelings over leading forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk’s refusal to return to the club.
Huberdeau and Kadri’s integration into the Flames begins in earnest Thursday with the first skids of a 67-player training camp.
“We have a lot of questions to answer,” Treliving said Wednesday at the Saddledome. “We’ve had significant turnover when you look at the top of the food chain. How do they fit in? Where do they fit in?
“This camp is very, very important, as everyone is, but to fix everything. I’m like you. I’m interested to see how this goes.”
Gaudreau chose to become a Columbus Blue Jacket through unrestricted free agency.
When Tkachuk, a restricted free agent, indicated he no longer wanted to be a Flame, Treliving traded his rights to the Florida Panthers for a package that included Huberdeau and experienced defenseman MacKenzie Weegar.
In their first full season under head coach Darryl Sutter, the Flames (50-21-11) led the Pacific Division and advanced to the first round of the playoffs for the first time in 18 years before falling to the Edmonton Oilers in five games last season.
Gaudreau and Tkachuk posted professional seasons with 82 goals and 137 assists between them. Gaudreau scored the game winner in overtime of Game 7 against the Dallas Stars that advanced the Flames to the second round.
Huberdeau, a 115-point man with the Panthers last season, is signed to fill the void left by Gaudreau on Elias Lindholm’s left side.
Kadri is coming off a Stanley Cup win with the Colorado Avalanche. The hope is that the 31-year-old center brings that winning pedigree, as well as the production and growl left behind by Tkachuk, to Calgary’s second forward line.
“We all probably put our lines together on a napkin, right? Usually that’s 10 minutes,” Treliving said. “You don’t know where the chemistry is going to come from. That’s why you go to camp.”
The 28-year-old Weegar, who has one year left on his contract, gives Calgary defensive depth in the top five alongside Chris Tanev, Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin and Nikita Zadorov.
Jacob Markstrom remains among the best goaltenders in the NHL despite an average playoff performance against the Oilers.
Tanev, who dislocated his shoulder in Game 6 against the Stars and required offseason surgery, will be on the ice Thursday but will likely sit out the first preseason games, Treliving said.
Defenseman Oliver Kylington is absent due to a personal family matter, and winger Andrew Mangiapane will not skate with the main pack to start camp due to a minor injury sustained during summer skates, the general manager said.
The Flames announced the re-signing of forwards Adam Ruzicka to a two-year deal and Brett Ritchie to a one-year deal on Wednesday.
Left winger Sonny Milano and veteran Flames defenseman Michael Stone were invited to camp on professional trial contracts.
Calgary’s American Hockey League team resides in the same city as the parent club for the first time in franchise history after moving from Stockton, California.
The Calgary Wranglers’ practice facility is located at the WinSport Event Center on Calgary’s west side. The Wranglers will play at the Saddledome.
“Especially in a (salary) capped world, the easiest access to your players is number one,” Treliving said. “Number two, you see them more regularly.
“They can experience what it’s like in a Canadian market. It’s different to play in a Canadian market. People know what’s going on with the team. That’s all part of the development process. Even when you’re with the Wranglers, you see what’s going on. going”. happening in Calgary every day.
“That sets you up because sometimes when you come out of high school, college, Europe, go to the American League and you’re not in that pressure cooker, it can slap you in the face.”
Along with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, the Flames will have all three hockey teams under their umbrella playing games at the Saddledome this winter.
“I haven’t made friends with the training staff,” Treliving said. “It’s going to be a logistical challenge. It’s not just about the games. Sometimes you have two teams playing, then you can have a doubleheader and then you have NHL teams that are waiting to get into a room.
“There are some logistical nightmares, but at the end of the day, we make the decision on what is the best development model for our players and that’s what we decided.”