By J.M. Kavanagh and J.P. VoorheesThe Calgary Flames have made significant progress in rebuilding their franchise in the past few years, but the Flames have also made some notable strides in the front office, according to former NHL general manager Ron Hextall.
The team has been one of the NHL’s most aggressive front offices in the construction of new players since Hextell joined the organization in 1999.
Hextll took over the franchise from Glen Sather after he was fired in 2007.
The Flames acquired a handful of key free agents from the Toronto Maple Leafs before the 2011-12 season, including defenceman Luke Schenn and forward Matt Duchene, both of whom went on to make significant contributions to the franchise.
Hextell led the Flames through a decade of rebuilding and in doing so, won two Stanley Cups in the process.
But in 2018, he left to join the Toronto Blue Jays, where he guided the Blue Jays to a franchise-record 53 consecutive playoff appearances.
In addition to the Leafs, Hextill was the architect of a deal to acquire Ryan Kesler from the Colorado Avalanche in 2018.
In six seasons with the Blue Jay, the two-time Stanley Cup champion scored the first and only goal in a Game 7 win over the Anaheim Ducks in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.
He was also responsible for signing former Montreal Canadiens centre Brendan Gallagher, who was acquired in the trade that brought the team’s first-round pick in 2018 to the Flames.
The Calgary-based Flames were eliminated from the playoffs in their last two seasons and have not won since.
The Blue Jays were not included in the blockbuster trade that sent veteran centre Edwin Encarnacion to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2018 for right-hander Alex Reyes.
The organization’s core remains intact, but many other pieces are being acquired or acquired in pieces from the outside.
One of the most notable acquisitions in recent years was defenseman Mitch Marner, who is coming off a career year that saw him score 33 goals in 70 games.
The 19-year-old, who has spent the past two seasons with Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League, has spent time with the AHL’s Flint Firebirds and will be one of two players selected in the NHL Draft.