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Five Questions with Matchsticks & Gasoline

Before another epic Battle of Alberta, we asked Arik from Matchsticks & Gasoline five questions about the Calgary Flames.

1. Most people expected the Flames to struggle this season, given the low expectations would you consider this season to be a success or a failure?

I think it's ending up in the "success" region. Most of us expected Calgary to be in the Edmonton/Buffalo region, and while they're close, they're at least a step better. More importantly though, there's a lot of really positive indicators for the future: Monahan didn't fall on his face, Giordano established himself as one of the best defensemen in the league, TJ Brodie is fairly dominant, and Mikael Backlund has finally proven himself to the Burke and Hartley. It's not sunshine and rainbows in Calgary, but this season certainly exceeded expectations.

2. Is Brian Burke the right person to be in charge of the Flames' front office right now?

I'm not sure "right" is the correct word, but he's not as bad as advertised. He talks a lot, and that gets him into trouble, but he's shown himself to be a fairly shrewd evaluator of talent. And really, pretty much anyone is better than the last three GMs Calgary has had: Feaster, Sutter, and Button. You could probably toss Coates on there as well. And Risebrough. Really everyone but Fletcher has been fairly awful.

3. Looking at the Flames' future, have the Oilers struggles made people in Calgary think twice about a lengthy rebuild?

Absolutely. A lot of people don't realize that Edmonton's lengthy rebuild isn't due solely to "rebuilding", but also to a lot of bad processes going on. So they see this team with all these high picks and talented players doing awful and start screaming about "LOSING CULTURE" and whatnot. Sure, a rebuild isn't a magic cureall, but it'd be hard to fail at it as hard as the Oilers have.

4. The Oilers stared their first rebuild by dropping Sam Gagner into the deep end, what have you thought of Sean Monahan's first season in the NHL?

Granted, I'm not super familiar with how Gagner was deployed in his rookie season, but I'm pretty happy Monahan has gotten a lot of easy zone starts and soft competition. Management may have rushed him to the NHL, but they're not rushing his usage and deployment. He's had a fairly good season, and aside from that post-injury stretch where he was awful, he's shown a lot of improvement over the year.

5. What's the Flames number one priority this offseason, and who fills that need?

I think the main priority needs to be young top end skill. Obviously every team wants that, but Calgary really needs it. There's a lot of good players who move the puck in the right direction, but nobody with the elite talent to make Calgary a contender. I think even Monahan tops out as a 70 pt/gm player, which is (of course) fantastic, but alone that's not enough to make Calgary a contender, or even an also-ran.