It’s a new year which means we’ve got some New Years Resolutions for the Calgary Flames for 2019. Let’s check them out.
New year, new me, right? Well, let’s hope that’s not completely the case for the Calgary Flames. This season, they’ve started it on a high note and have done the best at this point of the season in decades. And while there is room for improvement, let’s hope that they don’t completely turn their season around since it’s going quite well.
Currently, the Flames are 24-12-4 through the first (almost) half of their season heading into the new year, which also leads the Pacific Division. It also ties for the lead in the Western Conference and puts them at fourth overall in the league. While it seems very highly likely that they’ll make the playoffs, never say never.
Although their season is going well, there are still areas of concern (looking at you, Mike Smith). Let’s take a look at five New Years resolutions for the Flames for 2019.
5. Figure out what to do with James Neal
James Neal has been an interesting case this season. It seemed like Calgary Flames fans were ecstatic when he came to Calgary. He could be a beneficial member on the second. or maybe even first, line and the Flames top-six would finally be complete.
However, this hasn’t been the case. Well, at least so far. On New Year’s Eve against the San Jose Sharks, Neal scored his first goal in almost two months. And it’s not like he hasn’t been getting chances. He has. But he’s just been incredibly unlucky. His shooting percentage is at a mere 4.5% which is the lowest it has been his entire career. Neal has also always been a consistent 20-goal scorer since the start of his career in 2008-09.
This looks like it’ll be the first year where he won’t hit that 20-goal mark. Unless he goes on some big scoring surge, which is a possibility after finally scoring a goal in almost two months in the last Flames game. But otherwise, he may not hit that 20-goal mark.
The issue is that the Flames are paying Neal $5.75 million AAV for the next five years. For being a very inefficient third-liner, essentially. I’d say the Flames should give Neal one more season and if this continues, they need to figure out a way to get rid of this contract. The good news is that since he has been a consistent 20-goal scorer, the Flames could get some assets from him.
But that’s definitely something they need to figure out. They can’t keep moving him around and trying different line combinations to try and get him going. A player of that calibre doesn’t need to be accommodated to, which is why it’s odd that he just can’t score this season.
All this being said, the Flames really need to figure out what to do with this guy.