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Gaudreau says Talbot, Lucic could be missing pieces to Cup run for Flames

Additions of goalie, physical forward 'can push us over the edge'

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Johnny Gaudreau is confident the two biggest offseason moves made by the Calgary Flames has them closer to winning the Stanley Cup.

The Flames signed unrestricted free agent goalie Cam Talbot to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on July 1 and acquired forward Milan Lucic in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on July 19 for forward James Neal.

"Obviously we've been looking for a little bit of toughness on our team and Lucic brings that," Gaudreau said after playing in a Checking For Charity game at Flyers Skate Zone on Friday. "I've heard he's a great teammate and he works hard so I'm looking forward to that. Got to meet Talbot when I was in Calgary. Great person, great goaltender. I remember going into Edmonton a lot of games and not coming out with a goal or a win because he stood on his head. I'm looking forward to both of them."

 

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Talbot, 32, went 11-17-3 with a 3.40 goals-against average and .892 save percentage in 35 games (32 starts) with the Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers last season, and is expected to split playing time with David Rittich similar to last season when Rittich split time with Mike Smith (who signed a one-year contract with the Oilers as a free agent July 1).

Lucic had 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 79 games last season but Gaudreau said he's confident the 6-foot-3, 231-pound forward can be a force for the Flames. Lucic, 31, led the Oilers and was seventh in the NHL last season with 259 hits. Garnet Hathaway led the Flames last season with 200.

"You don't really realize how big a presence he is on the ice," Gaudreau said. "When you play against a team like that and you have a player like that who can get into the corners, big body, get in front of the net, he really helps your team. I think that's what we've been looking for in our team. I think he can push us over the edge here."

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What also will help the Flames is another season of growth from their top line of Gaudreau, center Sean Monahan and right wing Elias Lindholm. Last season they combined for 259 points (97 goals, 162 assists). They each set personal NHL-highs for points, and Gaudreau's 99 points (36 goals, 63 assists) tied for seventh-most in the League.

Gaudreau and Monahan played together frequently during their previous five seasons as teammates. Lindholm was added after being acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on June 23, 2018.

"I knew he was a smart player, a good player," Gaudreau said of Lindholm. "You only see him once or twice a year playing in Carolina, you don't realize how good a player he actually is. I didn't play against him much but when he came in I said, 'wow, this guy is a good player and can really help us'. Ever since that first day [coach Bill Peters] put us together, we've never looked back and we played really well together. Great teammates, great guys off the ice, makes it easier to play with them."

However, like the rest of the Flames' offense, they went quiet during a five-game loss to the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Gaudreau had one assist in the final four games of the series, all Flames losses, and the big line combined for four points (two goals, two assists).

"That sat with us most of the summer, pretty much every player," Gaudreau said. "We know we need to be better coming into the playoffs. That's one thing we've obviously learned from the past season, you've got to be playing your best hockey going into the playoffs."

Gaudreau said he's been skating for nearly a month, including captaining a team at the three-day Checking For Charity tournament, which includes more than 40 teams at various skill levels playing games throughout southern New Jersey. Gaudreau's team is playing in the A/Pro Division, and among his teammates is his younger brother, Matt Gaudreau, who plays for Worcester in the ECHL, and Ottawa Senators forward Colin White.

The focus of Gaudreau's offseason has been getting stronger in the gym and learning from Lindholm to be better defensively. But he said he's confident that he and his line can better, and the Flames can improve after they finished with 107 points, best in the Western Conference and second-best in the NHL behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (128).

"That first season we built a lot of chemistry together, learned playing together," Gaudreau said. "We started off quickly getting to know each other, the chemistry on the ice. After a full year like that you grow as a line, grow as a team, get better each day. I think it'll be exciting for us."

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