Report: Big changes coming to Flames' defence corps

Gustafsson out. Hanifin out? OEL in? Crazy rumours in the Stampede City!

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Any way you look at it, the 2019-20 was tremendously disappointing for the Calgary Flames.

The Flames came into the season as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and... well they fizzled out yet again. Things could have REALLY went off the rails when head coach Bill Peters was dismissed mid-season, but full credit to interim and now official head coach Geoff Ward on keeping his team on track. But, it's probably pretty safe to say that there are bigger problems in Calgary now.

Core players like Johhny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Mark Giordano and Noah Hanifin were non-factors in the team's 10 post-season games. Goaltenders Cam Talbot and David Rittich were average at best. The fact of the matter is that the Flames need some pretty serious tweaks if they're going to have a better showing in 2020-21 and and all indications are that GM Brad Treliving is going to perform an overhaul of his defensive corps.

According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, pending unrestricted free agent Erik Gustafsson is NOT expected to return after a quick 17 games with the team (regular season and playoffs combined).

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And interestingly enough, a discussion on Sportsnet 690 radio in Calgary has spurred rumours that Noah Hanifin could be on his way out of town in favour of Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman Larsson.

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I don't know who was expecting Hanifin to be a #1 D, Norris Trophy type guy, but that was NEVER going to be the case. Not in Carolina, not in Calgary, not anywhere. Frankly, I see him as a Jay Bouwmeester type guy. The kind of guy who is very understated and brings a lot of stability to a lineup. Hanifin, like Bouwmeester, is never going to be a superstar in this league, but he's going to be a damn good defenseman for a long time who has a long career in the NHL.

Ekman Larsson is similar to be honest, but he obviously has more high end offensive ability. I could see him fitting in well with the Flames and he seems like the type of guy who could use a change in scenery to kick start his career. Sounds kind of like Johnny Gaudreau, doesn't it? OEL for Johnny Hockey straight up?