The Calgary Flames are hurting on the back end, so they brought in reinforcements. Will it be enough to keep the Flames in the playoff picture down the stretch? And can this team do some damage after last year’s disappointing first-round capitulation to Colorado?
That may be a lot to lay at the feet of Erik Gustafsson, the erstwhile Chicago Blackhawks defenseman who was acquired by Calgary in a deal that saw the Flames surrender a conditional 2020 third-round pick. Gustafsson made a statement last year when he exploded for 60 points for the Hawks last season but this year has been more of a struggle. Calgary is getting a player who can help out on the offensive side of things, but he is far from a shutdown defenseman and not on the same level as the two guys Calgary is missing right now, Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic.
The other blueliner acquired by the Flames before the deadline was big Derek Forbort from Los Angeles. He was snagged from the Kings for a conditional fourth-rounder and will likely be a depth player moving forward.
But Gustafsson is certainly the bigger name here. He had become a bit of a punching bag for Chicago fans this year, so heading to Calgary will give him a new lease. Having said that, expectations should not be super-high for the Swedish rearguard. Calgary’s power play has been pretty mediocre this year and Gustafsson’s offensive hops may be able to help there, but he’s not going to help much in the D-zone.
The key for Calgary now is for its core players to be better, because the moves made today were tertiary at best. It’s going to be a battle down the stretch and the Flames will need Giordano back as soon as possible. GM Brad Treliving didn’t have to sacrifice much to bolster his lineup. Now the question is, will it be enough in the end?