Flames trade deadline preview: Expect heavy lifting to come in off-season

Clearly a significant overhaul is in order for the Calgary Flames.

Responding to the pressures of a tight playoff race by losing eight of their last nine has proven conclusively that after years of being questioned the core of this team needs to be significantly altered.

And that likely starts with Johnny Gaudreau.

Gaudreau has one year left on his contract before being able to walk without compensation, and the organization can’t repeat what it did by letting Jarome Iginla go for next to nothing.

With the intensity of a playoff race ramped up, Gaudreau is floundering once again. We’ve seen similar struggles in his last three playoff performances and we’re seeing it under Darryl Sutter, for whom he’s scored twice and added two assists in 14 games.

A gifted playmaker who has become one of the game’s stars while living on the periphery, he has regressed under Sutter’s demands for grittier, defence-first, dump-and-chase hockey.

After sputtering in last year’s playoffs, the organization made a conscious effort to shelter him and Sean Monahan on the second line. It hasn’t helped, as the two former 30-goal men have combined for a paltry nine even-strength goals this year.

Both former faces of the franchise mark starting points for how the Flames need to drastically reshape a team that has taken turns demonstrating work ethic issues, and now, a stark inability to score goals.

That said, none of the heavy lifting required to…

Click here to read the full article at Sportsnet >