Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson is prepared for whatever the 2023-24 campaign brings after a whirlwind offseason for the franchise.
“I’m ready to embrace the chaos,” Andersson said, per Sportsnet’s Eric Francis.
He added: “When you play in a Canadian market you can’t have a quiet year. There’s a lot of media and passionate fans evaluating everyone. You can’t hide from it. You’ve just got to embrace it and stick with it, and believe in guys in management.”
The Flames missed the playoffs this past spring, one year after winning the Pacific Division with 111 points. Failure to meet expectations prompted the club to part ways with general manager Brad Treliving and head coach Darryl Sutter.
On top of changes to the staff, the direction of Calgary’s on-ice future was in question as core players Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, and Mikael Backlund – all unrestricted free agents next summer – were common subjects in trade rumors with their desire to play in Alberta reportedly waning. The club traded last season’s leading scorer Tyler Toffoli after he said he wasn’t interested in an extension.
“We all know what happened last year, and I get all the speculation with people,” Andersson said about his teammates on the trade block.
“A year left on their deals, with Connie (GM Craig Conroy) and (coach Ryan) Huska coming in, a new coaching staff – I get it, there are a lot of questions, and rightfully so. Lots of people question what kind of team we can be.”
The Flames are no strangers to offseason drama. In 2022, the club traded Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers and saw Johnny Gaudreau walk in free agency. Andersson believes the departures of the two leaders held Calgary back last season.
“There were a few new players, and the dynamic of the team changed quite a bit when Matthew and Johnny left – everyone kept looking around the room, wondering, ‘who’s gonna be the guy?’ instead of just grabbing it.”
The Flames collected 93 points in 2022-23 and missed the Western Conference playoff cutline by two points. Their effort included a league-leading 17 overtime losses.
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