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2014-2015 NHL preview: Calgary Flames

Calgary will hope Jonas Hiller provides stability in their net
Calgary will hope Jonas Hiller provides stability in their net
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Calgary Flames are kind of an interesting team, at least for a team that doesn't really have any interesting players. They weren't good last year, but they weren't really all that bad either. Yes, they had the fourth fewest points, and the fifth worst goal differential, but the truly bad teams were clearly worse. Additionally, their main problem was goaltending, which is an area I feel they clearly improved upon this year. They have a new General Manager in Bras Treliving, who is well thought of, and I think the Flames could be on the cusp of relevance again. Although, they may have done that a season too early.

Their key addition this offseason, with all due respect to Mason Raymond, was netminder Jonas Hiller. Hiller became expendable in Anaheim due to the presence of John Gibson, and Calgary took the opportunity to seize a legitimate starting goalie. Sure, Hiller only had a .911 save percentage last season, but that would have tied him for the best SV% on the Flames, and his career SV% is .916. Hiller will be an improvement in net. He's 32 now, but he should be able to regain some of his old form, enough to be a league average goalie. That's not nothing.

On the other hand, the Flames lost Mike Cammalleri, one of their only real point, and goal, producers last season. However, guys like Sean Monahan and Sven Baertschi and Markus Graslund should be able to provide more offense this season. Monahan, in particular, seems like he has potential. In the 2014 NHL Draft, the Flames also added Sam Bennett, a center with the fourth overall pick, and maybe he will contribute this year. The defense isn't flashy, but it should be decent, led by Mark Giordano.

I don't necessarily expect Calgary to be good this year, but they should definitely be better, perhaps even significantly so. Making the playoffs seems like a bit of a stretch, but if, say, the Flames finished ninth in the West, I wouldn't be surprised. It isn't a good division. I mean, it is, but it is top heavy, with the King and Ducks atop. Oh, and maybe the Sharks, because clearly stripping Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau of their "leadership responsibilities" is the magical thing that will take them to the promised land.

The thing is, as I alluded to earlier, and as I discussed in depth in the Buffalo Sabres preview, this is a draft where you want one of the top two picks, and even a top five would be nice. If the Flames improve, but not enough to make the playoffs, they will be in no man's land in a bad season for it. Calgary wanted to get better, but they may have gotten better too quickly.