CALGARY, AB -- Don Maloney has been around the game long enough to know.
And he’s seen enough of the Calgary Flames to get excited about joining the organization.
“I really like our team,” said Maloney, hired last week by the Flames as a pro scout after serving nine seasons as the Arizona Coyotes executive vice-president, GM and alternate governor. “I like our centre ice. I think our blueline can be as good as anybody in the West. Getting Elliott is as good as get as any this summer in terms of filling in an organizational need, and Chad Johnson is a very capable No. 2 goalie.”
Under Maloney, Arizona went 326-291-87. The Coyotes qualified for the playoffs three times under his tenure, and Maloney received the inaugural NHL general manager of the year award in 2010.
He spent 10 seasons in the front office of the New York Rangers prior to joining Arizona, and amassed 214 goals and 564 points in 765 career NHL games with the Rangers, Hartford Whalers and New York Islanders.
He’s seen a lot.
And Maloney sees a lot in the Flames.
“What excites me is the core of players,” he said. “The bulk of the core players are young and growing and maturing. Sean Monahan, he’s just starting to hit his stride. He hasn’t even hit it yet, and we know how good he is. Johnny Gaudreau is a star in this league.
“Then you start looking at (Sam) Bennett and I’m a huge fan of (TJ) Brodie. You have Dougie Hamilton. There’s a great young player coming in Matthew Tkachuk.
"You look at that core group."
In the infancy of a rebuild, the Flames qualified for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs and advanced to the Western Conference Second Round for the first time since 2004.
But Calgary stumbled in 2015-16, finishing with a 35-40-7 record and 10 points back of the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card entry into the playoffs from the Western Conference.
The Flames reshuffled their netminding by bringing in Elliott and Johnson, and signing forward Troy Brouwer in the offseason.
Calgary also swapped coaches, bringing in Glen Gulutzan after relieving Bob Hartley in May.
“I thought Bob Hartley did a very good job, but a change was needed … fresh voice, fresh ideas, probably somebody who can relate to the younger player better, and that’s what we have in Glen Gulutzan,” Maloney said. “He’s one of those coaches that everyone knows is real good.
“Hopefully this is the opportunity he’s going to have to put his stamp on hopefully a championship team.
“The leap forward is right in front of us.”