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Flames hoping for 'chemistry' following offseason moves

After acquiring Smith, Hamonic, GM Treliving ready to 'let the crop grow'

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Having made substantial moves after reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in eight seasons, the Calgary Flames are hoping their old and new players mesh.

"We've tried to upgrade positions," general manager Brad Treliving said Saturday at the 2017 YoungStars Classic. "And we've got people coming. Once you have a little bit of a base set, you've got to let the crop grow a little bit. I think we're at that [point]."

After the Flames were swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference First Round last season, they shored up their goaltending by acquiring Mike Smith in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on June 17, then acquired defenseman Travis Hamonic in a trade with the New York Islanders on June 24.

 

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"We've tried to be aggressive," Treliving said. "It doesn't mean all the moves are necessarily going to work, but I like how our defense looks on paper, but now we'll see if there's a chemistry."

Calgary's top four defensemen are expected to be captain Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Dougie Hamilton and Hamonic.

It's time to step back and let the moves play out, Treliving said.

"You can't be in a situation every year of out with the old, in with the new," he said, "but you get it to a base, especially with our defense, that we can let it grow and young people can come in at the right spots and let it mature a little. That's when you can become a high-achieving and high-functioning team, when you've got internal competition for ice time and who you'll play with.

"But when you genuinely have guys coming in that can push people for jobs, then you're cooking."

Video: LAK@CGY: Giordano's long-range shot finds twine

The Flames have their eyes on a few prospects who appear ready to push for jobs.

One is forward Spencer Foo, 23, signed as a free agent from Union College on June 27. Foo had 112 points (49 goals, 63 assists) in 113 games in his three-year collegiate career.

Another is center Mark Jankowski, 22, the No. 21 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, who had 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) in 148 games in four seasons at Providence College, and 56 points (27 goals, 29 assists) in 64 games last season with Stockton of the American Hockey League.

"It's not like he [Jankowski] is 18 [years old] trying to make the jump," Treliving said. "This should be his time. Will it be in October, November, next October? He'll determine that.

"We have a young group up front as it is, but we have a couple of young guys that are ready to make a push. Are they ready? We'll see in training camp."

Treliving said he prefers to focus on the sense of progress the organization felt last season, rather than the loss to the Ducks.

"It was validation for the growth of our team," he said. "We had a difficult start (11-13-2 at the end of November). I'm most proud of our team because we were clunky at the beginning. We were clunky at camp with some guys missing. It was all over the map.

"But I really liked how we grew. I saw growth in how we adapted to how [coach Glen Gulutzan] wanted to play. And then you see individual growth. It validated the message he was preaching and you need some success to get there. It was a short stay in the playoffs, but it gives you a little bit of a base to build on.

"Getting into the playoffs brings belief."

Treliving also spoke of validation Saturday when discussing the hiring of Gulutzan before last season.

"He's got real strong views on how he wants to play," Treliving said. "A lot of things really impress me with Glen, but one is that there were bullets flying in October and November, but he stayed the course. There was no deviation, no panic, or trying to come up with some new thing. His belief was that it was coming. The results sometimes lagged behind the work, but he really felt that it was coming and there was belief and we had to stay with it.

"That's a difficult thing to do when everything's going on around you and you stay the course. There's a real steadiness to him, which is very impressive, and it validates his belief."

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