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Treliving, Flames eager to get 2016-17 season started

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Calgary Flames.

A disappointing finish last season prompted Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving to spend the summer making sweeping changes. Treliving didn't hesitate to completely overhaul parts of the Flames, and those changes have him hopeful about Calgary's fortunes heading into this season.

"We have lots of reasons to be optimistic," Treliving said. "Our young people are a year older. I think our team is just going to be more mature. Obviously, having said all that, there are things we're going to have to change."

After finishing 35-40-7 and 10 points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, the Flames began their off-season by firing coach Bob Hartley on May 3.

Hartley, who won the Jack Adams Trophy as NHL coach of the year 11 months prior, was replaced by Glen Gulutzan on June 17.

"He's going to have a big impact," Treliving said of Gulutzan. "I know there's certain things we've talked a lot about of how we want to play. There's going to be an adjustment. It's going to take a little bit of time, but I think he's going to have a big impact with our group."

Gulutzan spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks.

"There's going to be a definitive style change," the 44-year-old said. "We're going to change the style of game. We want to play a little quicker. We're going to be a lot more determined to deny entries into the zone. Our gap and the way we play rushes will change significantly. The way we break out the puck will change. Those are fundamental changes."

Gulutzan inherits a roster that has seen significant change.

The Flames moved away from the four goaltenders who played last season -- Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller, Niklas Backstrom and Joni Ortio -- and combined for an NHL-worst .898 save percentage and allowed a League-high 257 goals.

The Flames acquired goaltender Brian Elliott in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on June 24 and signed unrestricted free agent goaltender Chad Johnson to a one-year contract a week later.

Elliott led the NHL with a .930 save percentage (among goalies who played more than 13 games). His 2.07 GAA was second to Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning (2.06).

"It starts in net for us," Treliving said. "We've stabilized the position. We've got two guys coming in who are hungry to do well, have had good track records. I think the chemistry will be right. We have to continue to find ways to keep the puck out of our net. That's not just relying on the guy in net. Yeah, we need to be stable in the position, but it's how we defend, it's how we play in front of them."

The Flames also made changes to their forwards. They didn't tender a qualifying offer to Joe Colborne or Josh Jooris, or to prospects Kenny Agostino, Bill Arnold, Drew Shore or Bryce van Brabant.

Instead, the Flames added Alex Chiasson in a trade with the Ottawa Senators, signed veteran Troy Brouwer, and selected forward Matthew Tkachuk in the first round (No. 6) of the 2016 NHL Draft.

The Flames' biggest off-season challenge has been coming to terms on a contract for restricted free agent forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Gaudreau (78 points) and Monahan (63) finished first and second in scoring for the Flames last season.

"I know people are looking for the magic reason here," Treliving said. "You need two sides to make a deal. We continue to work at it. Both sides continue to work at it. We're real comfortable in saying we're going to get a contract done. It's when. These things … you can't force it. You just continue to hammer away at it and make progress. That's what we'll continue to do."

Author: Aaron Vickers | NHL.com Correspondent

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