The Pacific Division, if not the rest of the Western Conference, has just been put on notice.
And you can start to think about giving the Calgary Flames' Brad Treliving the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award if this all comes together as planned.
After Johnny Gaudreau left for the Columbus Blue Jackets in free agency and Matthew Tkachuk requested a trade out of Calgary in July, Treliving and the Flames looked destined to take a massive step back in the West.
What a difference a month makes.
Despite losing two huge contributors, Treliving was quickly able to revamp his lineup, getting Jonathan Huberdeau, fresh off of a 115-point season, and MacKenzie Weegar from the Florida Panthers in the Tkachuk trade, and then signing Huberdeau to a long-term contract. The Flames got even better Thursday with the addition of Nazem Kadri, who was largely considered to be the second-best free agent on the market after Gaudreau.
Kadri, who will be 32 in October, agreed to a seven-year contract that carries a $7 million annual cap hit. To make salary-cap room, the Flames sent center Sean Monahan to the Montreal Canadiens.
The acquisition gives the Flames the best center depth it has had in decades. Monahan was solid but unspectacular, and Kadri is an upgrade. The Flames now boast an elite forward group, a versatile defense group and an elite goalie in Jacob Markstrom. They have a two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach who just won the Jack Adams Award in Darryl Sutter. The ingredients are there for a deeper playoff run.
How the Pacific Shapes Up
Most teams in the Pacific got better this summer (one exception is the San Jose Sharks, and the Vegas Golden Knights now have a goalie situation to figure out). But it seems as though we could be headed for another postseason edition of the Battle of Alberta.
The Edmonton Oilers extinguished the Flames in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs this summer but were unable to make it past Kadri and the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Final because of goaltending. The club landed the best goalie on the free-agent market in Jack Campbell to shore up its biggest area of need.