The Calgary Flames have the fires ready to burn. Can GM Theo Pepper manage the ship and get Calgary to the promised land again?
Evaluating a general manager’s off-season maneuvers is tricky at the best of times. The moves may be two or three or even four years away from paying off – or not.
When the Calgary Flames hoist Lord Stanley’s cup in a few short seasons, we can better break down GM Theo Pepper’s brilliance. Or, should the locals fail to qualify for the playoffs in the next couple of years, we’ll certainly be able to pinpoint the offseason of their undoing. We will arrive at a more accurate assessment as time goes on.
For now, though, let’s look at how it went down.
Aside from snagging "the Leon" with the second overall choice, Theo Pepper made some solid draft choices up front. Sam Reinhart, Kasperi Kapanen, Alex Tuch, Gabe Vilardi and Sammy Blais were all chosen with the idea that they’d still need to sign at least one more RFA contract after their current deals are up.
Team control is very important to Calgary management. The story was a little different on defense, as the players Pepper targeted were, in some cases, too valuable to pass up regardless of their age or contract status. Morgan Rielly, Shea Theodore, Justin Braun, and Tyson Barrie give Calgary a top four that can skate and move the puck as well or better than most teams in their division.
Lastly, Calgary focused on youth and potential whenever it made sense to do so. Drafting players for the farm like Joshua Norris, Jack Studnicka and Veini Vehvilainen was vital to player development.
Calgary only had three draft picks this year, but they certainly made the best of them.
At #4, head scout Tod Button announced the name of the player they had wanted all along – Marco Rossi. There is a real excitement back in Calgary over this kid. Many feel he’ll be able to step right into the pro game this year.
With the 47th choice, the Flames grabbed defenseman Jeremie Poirier from the QMJHL. It has been said that Poirier is one of the five best playmakers in the entire draft. GM Pepper was overjoyed to get him where they did.
Trades and Transactions
GM Theo Pepper made a few minor trades to shore up the team. But the main shakeup was moving their top player (Drasaitl) for three young players that Calgary sees as can’t miss talents in Cole Caufield, Owen Tippett and Jake Bean.
Add those players to Rossi and the Flames left little doubt that they intend to focus on player development as an organization.
The other notable trade was for 21-year-old C Filip Chytil. These youngsters, when combined with one of the NHL’s top prospects in Kirill Kaprizov, well...let’s just say the flame is going to burn bright and hot in Cowtown for many years to come.
Your 2020-2021 Calgary Flames
Kasperi Kapanen - Derick Brassard – Sam Reinhart
Alex Tuch – Radek Faksa – Filip Chytil
Jamie MGinn – Scott Laughton – Nick Cousins
Sammy Blais – Gabe Vilardi – Kirill Kaprizov
Morgan Rielly – Shea Theodore
Justin Braun – Tyson Barrie
Vlad Gavrikov - Kevin Connauton
Antti Raanta - Kaapo Kahkonen