It has been a long time since there was so much excitement in Calgary on flame.
That says something in a city that just emerged from its first spring battle in Alberta in 31 years.
An off-season rollercoaster that has seen Johnny Goudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan replaced by Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazim Kadri, MacKenzie Wiggard leaves the Flames with a more experienced, more accomplished group that has very few holes or question marks surrounding it.
We start to find out more about how the boys will react on Thursday when the Flames camp opens.
The team’s defense and goalkeeping are among the league’s elite, which means the spotlight will remain focused on the players responsible for filling the net.
Whether the team is better than last year won’t be determined until next spring, but people on both sides of the debate will start getting clues relatively soon.
Current salary cap area: $2.136 million
Director general: Brad Trilling
Coach: Daryl Sutter
Assistant coaches: Kirk Muller, Ryan Hoska and Kyle McClain.
Unsigned players: Adam Rosica
One important question: who plays where?
The Flames contain a lot of the ingredients needed to be a legitimate contender this season, but how to mix them together will be the subject of daily discussions about water coolers in Calgary.
Line groups will be tweeted during every skate, as Daryl Sutter spends camp trying to figure out who’s better with whom?
Sutter wondered aloud last week if Huberdo would be a better winger alongside Elias Lindholm or Nazim Qadri, the first piece of the puzzle to be determined.
Assuming Lindholm remains the main focus, will it be Tyler Toffoli or Andrew Mangyapan playing on the right side?
Will Blake Coleman get the highest test score, or is it better to be alongside Kadri, or in third grade with Mikael Backlund, with whom he has built tremendous chemistry?
Is rookie Kevin Rooney good enough to fend off a camp challenge from the PTO by inviting Cody Eakin, or might Eakin be a serviceable addition on the wing?
Ultimately, everyone wants to know if MacKenzie Weegar would fit in better with Chris Tanev, or anywhere else.
Let the mixing line begin.
The Bootcamp Battle to Watch: Can a Kid Make It?
In a cast full of veterans where 95 percent of the crew shows up, many are curious whether Jacob Pelletier can stand out enough to secure a spot on opening day.
The odds are definitely against it, which is the way Daryl Sutter envisions it with an unproven junior.
Pelletier is a feisty, petite left player whose competitiveness and skill made him one of the most prolific juniors in the Premier League last season, when he scored 27 goals and earned 62 points in 66 games.
The 21-year-old ward could certainly benefit from another heavy workload in the palace, and Sutter has a long history of favoring veterans who can be trusted.
However, the door is open for a third place if the former first coach is able to force the issue with a great camp.
Treliving was open last week about his desire to add more depth to the suite, which he addressed on Monday by signing Sonny Milano to the PTO.
There is still the possibility that another wing could be added on a trial basis, as the team has considered several possibilities.
Pelletier will have to outsmart the eight-year-old veteran, as well as a host of others in the mix, including the versatile Cody Aiken who is also camping on the PTO.
Expected line outside the camp
Huberdeau – Lindholm – Toffoli
Coleman – Qadri – Mangaiban
Milan – Backlund – Dube
Lucik – Rooney – Louis
Hanifen – Anderson
Weigher – Tanif
Zadorov – Killington