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With a strong core and the team's new additions, Johnny Gaudreau sees a big year for the Flames in 2019-20

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson /

Reflecting on the 2018-19 campaign brings up mixed emotions for Johnny Gaudreau.

Finishing first in the Western Conference with 107 points? There is obviously a deep sense of pride in that accomplishment.

Falling in the first round of the postseason? There is no doubt it was frustrating for the 25-year-old.

But from that disappointment, he is re-energized, motivated in a way only dissatisfaction can create.

After assessing the team's playoff performance, his sights are firmly set on what lies ahead.

Dwelling on the past will only hinder future performance and he and the team are focused on what is yet to come.

"We have a great young core," Gaudreau asserts. "Yes, last year's playoffs were disappointing but we know we can be better.

"We will.

"I'm excited to get back, have another great regular season and make another push - a lot deeper - in the playoffs. It was unfortunate this year, the way we went out, but I think all of the guys are eager to get back there and show people we belong there."

The Carneys Point, N.J. product has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about 2019-20.


Video: 'Make another push - a lot deeper - in the playoffs'


Internally, several players - including Gaudreau himself - took didn't just take a step in their careers.

They took full-blown leaps.

Gaudreau's 99 points placed him among the Top 10 in NHL scoring this past year and blew past his previous high of 84 points.

His long-time centreman Sean Monahan whipped off 34 goals, 48 assists and 82 points, all new career-highs for the 24-year-old.

Their linemate Elias Lindholm absolutely shattered his previous career-bests by putting up 27 goals and 78 points, proving he is more than comfortable in a top-line role.

Matthew Tkachuk put the league on notice with his 34-goal, 77-point year at age 21.

The "young and fresh" Mark Giordano? Well, he rightfully landed the Norris Trophy thanks to his 74-point season.

David Rittich settled into the NHL and established a great base to work off of heading into next season, posting a 27-9-5 record with a 2.61 GAA and a .911 save percentage.

Mix in a burgeoning youth movement with the likes of Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Oliver Kylington, Juuso Valimaki, and Rasmus Andersson, Gaudreau is very optimistic about what the future holds for his club.

"We can all build off what we did last year," he notes. "Individually and as a team."


Video: See the best of Johnny Hockey from this past year


Another source of confidence comes from Flames GM Brad Treliving's off-season acquisitions.

On July 1, he shored up the team's goaltending by bringing in free agent Cam Talbot on a one-year deal. In 288 career regular season games, the netminder has put together a 138-112-24 record with a 2.60 GAA and a .915 save percentage.

In the playoffs, Talbot sports a 7-7-0 record with a 2.48 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

"He's a great person, a great teammate I've heard," Gaudreau, who had the chance to catch up with Talbot earlier this summer when they were both in Calgary, says.

"He's hard to score on. I remember playing in Edmonton a lot of times in the past two years and coming out of there empty-handed because he made some big saves on me.

"He's a great goaltender and he's going to really help our team out."

Following the Talbot signing - and in exchange for James Neal - Treliving brought in hulking winger Milan Lucic in a rare trade with the Flames' neighbour to the north, the Edmonton Oilers.

The veteran winger has solidified a reputation as one of the NHL's toughest forwards, regularly tossing out teeth-rattling checks and causing chaos around opponents' nets as he bulldozes his way around the blue paint.

"Looch is obviously a presence on the ice each night. It's hard to play against a player that's that big, that physical.

"He's a great addition to our team and I'm really looking forward to playing with him.

"With him and Talbot coming in, I think we've really taken another step and I'm excited to get the season going.

"Can't come soon enough."

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