Fantasy Hockey: Potential Calgary Flames sleeper picks

Apr 2, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88) celebrates his goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88) celebrates his goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

If you’re like me, it’s the time of year when you’re not only ready for the Flames to get things rolling, but you’re also itching to manage your own squad of NHL players. By that, I mean it’s time to start thinking about your upcoming fantasy hockey draft. Today, we’ll take a look at potential Calgary Flames sleeper picks for your fantasy hockey team.

If the Calgary Flames are going to be in playoff contention this season, it’s no secret at all that multiple players will need to contribute significantly more offence than they did in 2022/23. We’re going to hone in on a handful of guys who had down seasons last year, will drop in Yahoo, ESPN, and other fantasy hockey rankings, and could bounce back in 2023/24, proving to be sneaky selections giving you the edge over those other meatheads in your fantasy hockey league.

It’s also always fun to have a Flame or two on your roster.

Andrew Mangiapane

Calgary Flames fantasy hockey sleeper Andrew Mangiapane
Apr 2, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88) celebrates his goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The biggest bounce-back indicator for Mangiapane is his shooting percentage, which was cut by more than half last season (18.9% in 2021/22 to 9.3% in 2022/23). Since becoming a full-time NHLer in 2019/20, Mangiapane has an average shooting percentage of 15.3%. Removing last season, that number jumps to 18.2%. Relying only on my Statistics 101 course from over a decade ago, it’s almost a lock that Mangiapane puts more pucks in the net this season.

I wouldn’t bet that Mangiapane returns to 35-goal form, but even if he jumps to 25 goals and pairs that with his assist total from last season (26), it would be a fairly safe to assume the tenacious 88 totals 50+ points in 2023/24.

Recommendation: If you can draft Andrew Mangiapane ahead of guys projected to put up 45-50 points, you could put yourself in a pretty good position with some depth scoring in your fantasy hockey lineup.

Jonathan Huberdeau

Calgary Flames fantasy hockey sleeper Jonathan Huberdeau
Mar 2, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Jonathan Huberdeau (10) shoot the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

There are two benchmarks for Jonathan Huberdeau: last season (his first with the Flames) and his time with the Florida Panthers. Depending on how your league’s platform projects Huberdeau, he could be a sleeper candidate.

As a Flames fan, the number I have in mind for Huberdeau is 82.5 points, which would not be an insignificant improvement over his 55-point, 77-game season under Darryl Sutter. With new head coach, Ryan Huska, and new forward/power play coach, Marc Savard, at the helm, it’s no secret that offensive creativity, the man advantage, and Huberdeau himself are all priorities for the Flames. Flat out, if Huberdeau does not have a way better season than 2022/23 with more time on the PP and close to point-per-game production, Huska and Savard will have failed.

Recommendation: Huberdeau is a high risk pick and you’ll need to use your gut to make a call on where to draft him. Personally, I won’t be drafting him with the league’s second tier of scorers (100-point range), but if Yahoo or ESPN projects him to be in the 65 or 75-point range, you could earn yourself 5-20 bonus points over the course of the season by drafting him higher than others projected to score in that range (if you want to wager that he will score 80-85 points).

light. Related Story. The Case for Captain Huberdeau

MacKenzie Weegar

Calgary Flames fantasy hockey sleeper MacKenzie Weegar
Mar 2, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman MacKenzie Weegar (52) controls the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

This is a fun one. MacKenzie Weegar has the potential to be the Flames best defenceman, especially on the offensive side of the puck. After a slower start in his first season as a Flame, Weegar was hotter to conclude the regular season as he started to find his comfort and game down the stretch. Over the final 25 games, the blueliner put up 15 points (nearly half of his 31-point season total), scoring at a 0.6 P/GP pace. During that stretch, Weegar had four multi-point outings and a couple power play points, despite not being Darryl’s go-to PP quarterback.

Following the regular season, Weegar joined fellow (now former) Flames, Milan Lucic and Tyler Toffoli, at the IIF World Championship tournament. Representing Canada, Weegar was the highest scoring defender in the tournament with 11 points in 10 games, earning the honour of Best Defenceman.

Under Savard, expect Weegar to see increased PP time this coming season. While Rasmus Andersson may get the first opportunity on PP1, Weegar will be in the mix on the man advantage.

Weegar’s best offensive season was the shortened 2020/21 campaign with the Panthers, tallying 36 points in 54 games played (0.67 P/GP). In his final season in south Florida, Weegar had 44 points in 80 games (0.55 P/GP). In 2022/23 as a Calgary Flame, Weegar totalled 31 points in 81 games (0.38 P/GP).

Recommendation: If you believe the 29-year-old Flames captaincy candidate is going to come in hot and remain healthy and your league’s platform has him projected at under 45 points, Weegar could be a fairly safe fantasy hockey sleeper pick. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if 52 eclipses the 45-point mark.

Elias Lindholm

Calgary Flames fantasy hockey sleeper pick Elias Lindholm
Dec 23, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (28) moves the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Oh, Elias. The pain and suspense your contract is causing this fan base is no fun, but you might be an electric fantasy hockey selection this fall.

Arguably the Flames’ best all-round player, Elias Lindholm plays one of the most elite two-way games in the NHL. He can turnover pucks, dish, and he has a ridiculous release. The question is whether or not Huska and Savard can put together line combinations that allow Lindholm to thrive. While I wouldn’t expect Lindholm to centre the best line in the league like he did with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk on his wings two seasons ago, I believe he’ll be a key piece in Huska and Savard’s attempt to unlock Jonathan Huberdeau.

With time on a dedicated PP1 unit (no more PP1A and PP1B), extended looks with Huberdeau on his wing, more team focus on controlling the puck entering the offensive zone, and prioritizing offensive creativity and pressure over sheer shot volume, Lindholm should be due for a better season on the the scoresheet. While he’s not likely to return to P/GP pace, 75 points is not a stretch.

In 2020/21, Lindholm had 47 points (19 goals), skating in all 56 games in the shortened season (0.84 P/GP). In 2021/22, the Swedish centreman put up 82 in 82 and broke the 40-goal barrier for the first and only time in his career.

If an Elias Lindholm contract extension isn’t finalized in the next couple weeks, he may also be playing in a contract year (whether he’s looking to re-sign in Calgary or look for a new job elsewhere). Contract years can be a booster, so keep that in mind as well.

Recommendation: If you believe Huberdeau is due for a major bounce-back, expect Lindholm to be a benefactor. If you can nab him over guys projected to score at a 0.80 P/GP, I don’t think it would be crazy to bet on 0.85-0.92 P/GP for Lindholm in 2023/24.

Watchlist: Calgary Flames players to keep an eye on for your fantasy hockey team

While I don’t recommend drafting any of these Flames for your fantasy hockey roster, I’d throw Walker Duehr, Dillion Dube, Oliver Kylington, and Yegor Sharangovich on my watchlist right away.

Walker Duehr

Duehr had 11 points in 27 games with a shooting percentage of 14.9%. Signed to a one-way deal and with the Flames looking to ice a young lineup this season, expect Duehr to be a full-time NHLer with lots of opportunity. It’ll be interesting to see if he can come close to his pace from last season.

Dillon Dube

Dube has the speed and toolkit to be a regular contributor on the scoresheet, but so far through his career, consistency has been his primary challenge. Coming off of his best offensive season – 45 points in 82 games – Dube could break the 50-point mark for the first time in his career in 2023/24.

Oliver Kylington

The fast, shifty defenceman hasn’t played an NHL game in close to a year and a half. Whether he’s going to be able to jump in and play at an elite level right away remains to be seen, but Kylington will be an intriguing player to follow this season. He’ll be in a contract year and his last season (2021/22) was a breakthrough for him – 31 points in 73 games.

Yegor Sharangovich

Acquired in a trade for last season’s highest scoring Flame, Tyler Toffoli, Sharangovich’s production is tough to predict. If he lands on a line with Huberdeau and Lindholm (which would have him or Huberdeau on their off-wing), he could be eligible for a career-best breakthrough season. With the Devils, Sharangovich totalled 30 points in 54 games (2020/21), 46 in 76 (2021/22), and 30 in 75 (2022/23) for a career average of 0.37 P/GP.

Reacting to Puck Prose’s Calgary Flames to target for your fantasy team

A couple weeks ago, Jim Lynch at Puck Prose took a look at three Flames to target for your fantasy team (Jacob Markstrom, Nazem Kadri, and Matthew Coronato). These wouldn’t be my top Flames fantasy hockey recommendations, but let’s take a look.

Jacob Markstrom

As someone who’s had Markstrom on his fantasy roster the past two seasons, I can tell you firsthand that the first of those two seasons was an absolute riot and the second was insufferable pain and frustration, as the Flames’ netminder dropped from 37 wins to 23 (his save percentage also fell from a .922 to .892).

Recommendation:  Stay away from Markstrom unless you can get him late as a second or third goalie. While the Flames need him to step up big time, it’s too high-risk. There’s also a big question mark as to how Conroy, Huska, and the Flames goaltending department want to handle three goalies in Calgary this year, so Markstrom is not likely to start 63 games like he did two seasons ago and probably not 58 like last season either.

Markstrom Update (Sept. 18, 2023):

Yahoo average draft position (ADP) data is now available and according to Brock Seguin at Daily Faceoff, Markstrom’s ADP is 131.3:

"Round 11: Jacob Markstrom (CGY – G) | ADP: 131.3Dustin Wolf is coming, but the Flames’ crease should still belong to Markstrom in 2023-24. During his first three seasons in Calgary, Markstrom is fourth in the NHL in starts (164), tied for sixth in wins (82), tied for ninth in GAA (2.59), and tied for 20th in SV% (.907). Last season could have been better for Markstrom, and he was the No.4 goalie off the board and being drafted in the third round. Now, falling to the 11th round is a massive overreaction. There’s still plenty of talent in Calgary. Darryl Sutter is gone, and the Vegas Sportsbooks still think this is an above-average team. They have an implied point total of 94.5, the seventh-highest in the Western Conference. Getting Markstrom as your No.2 fantasy option allows you to be more selective with his matchups (avoiding teams like Edmonton) and gives you a workhorse with plenty of bounce-back appeal."

Nazem Kadri

Optics suggest Kadri fell off in a massive way in his first season as a Flame, dropping from 87 points over 71 games with the Avalanche in 2021/22 (1.23 points per game) to 56 points in 82 games with Calgary last season (0.68 P/GP).

But if we zoom out a bit, Kadri’s 2021/22 season was more of an anomaly than 2022/23. Over the past five seasons (2018/19 – 2022/23) – with time spent as a Leaf, Av, and Flame – Kadri has averaged 0.77 P/GP.

Recommendation: Don’t expect Kadri to become a P/GP player again in 2023/24. If you think he will have his second best season ever, grab him when guys in the 0.80 P/GP range are getting scooped up – anything earlier is too risky. Otherwise, wait to grab him when you’re looking for players projected to put up 63-65 points.

Matthew Coronato

I’ll be brief here. Unless you’re in a league with massive rosters and 14+ teams, Coronato probably isn’t someone you’ll need to draft. While Flames fans are hopeful he’s on the opening night roster, Coronato as a full-time NHLer is not guaranteed.

Recommendation: Don’t draft him, but keep your eyes on Coronato early in the season. He’ll likely be available in free agency.

Good luck and happy drafting to all Flames fans gearing up for another season of fantasy hockey.

Next. Flames captaincy updates and candidate rankings. dark