The Flames enter the 2016-17 season as a team in transition. Last season was a disappointment after 2014-15’s playoff run. Former head coach Bob Hartley paid the ultimate price as he was sent packing by Flames' management at the end of the season. Glen Gulutzan finds himself behind the bench this season in charge of a young team eager to get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Flames have been busy this offseason and two of the highlights of their aggressive rebuild were the drafting of Matthew Tkachuk and trading for St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. Goaltending has been an issue for the Flames since Miikka Kiprusoff retired in 2013 and getting a keeper like Elliott was an absolute necessity. The Flames will also look for Dougie Hamilton to continue his upward trend from the second half of last season and young players like Michael Ferland need to start making a larger impact if they don't want to get replaced by hungry prospects.

The big question mark remains when will Johnny Gaudreau sign with the team? Calgary locked up half of its future this offseason by inking its stud center Sean Monahan to a seven-year, $44.625 million dollar deal. The Gaudreau signing is not only key to the Flames' long-term success, it will also be a huge factor in the team’s early season successes or failures.

-- Mark Parkinson

THREE QUESTIONS

  1. Is Sam Bennett ready to take that next step?
  2. Can Mikael Backlund repeat his career year from 2015-16?
  3. Has Brian Elliott lived up to expectations?

Get the answers at Matchsticks & Gasoline.

BEST CASE SCENARIO

The best case scenario for the Flames is that they ink Gaudreau long-term and put this behind them. Ideally the Flames would come out the gate flying and be much more successful early on than they were last season. Obviously the playoffs are the best case scenario for this team. The talent is there and they have filled some of the glaring holes they had on the roster last season.

WORST CASE SCENARIO

The Gaudreau signing drags on into the season and the Flames trip coming out of the gate like last year. A lot is riding on Elliott and if he falters early, this season could quickly become a disaster like 2015-16 when Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller, and Joni Ortio didn't show up. The Flames don't need any distractions and any of those scenarios could completely derail this season at the start.