October 19 2013 11:27AM
Six games in and the Flames are not a disaster, to the eternal surprise of many. The Oilers, on the other hand, still look terrible, so we had more than one question about where the two teams will finish relative to each other this season. Ohter topics in this week's Fan Ask include Calgary's ultimate draft position in 2014 and, of course, Sean Monahan.
Let's start with the Flames vs. the Oilers...
1.)Who will end up higher in the standings, Flames or Oilers. Flames have been lucky to start the season, remember Kent saying something like top 5 in team PDO, while the looking at the Oilers they appear to be injured and unlucky as well.
2.) Do the flames finish ahead of the oilers this year?
It's certainly a possibility. Both teams have roughly the same underlying numbers right now. Edmonton's goaltending isn't going to be this bad forever, but they still have major problems on the blueline and near the end of their roster. The Flames lack Stajan, Jones and Cammalleri currently while the Oilers are missing Sam Gagner. Both teams have been putting up goals at above average rates as well.
Edmonton has the superior top-end offensive talent and I expect that to win out over the long run all things being equal. That said, if the Flames get a break here and there (better goaltending, stay healthier), they could end up finished ahead of Edmonton by the end of the year.
3.) Been stewing on this one for a bit because I think I am blinded by my bias, but does Brodie have a realistic chance of having a Duncan Keith upside?
It's always a bit dangerous to compare young kids to outliers like Duncan Keith, but more and more it looks like Brodie will have above average upside at the very least. He's facing the toughest minutes on the Flames right now and is thriving despite this being just his third year in the league.
Keith broke into the NHL at 22-23 years old and by the next year he was facing the other team's top lines regualrly, albeit from a zone start north of 50% (Brodie is currently below 40%). Keith broke the 30-point plateau at 25 years old.
I personally doubt Brodie will ever break the 60+ point margin as Keith has done once, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if TJ settles into a defender who regular sees the other team's best and collects 30+ points a year.
4.) Do the flames now have too many centers in the organization? As in not able to give young guys decent chances and decent minutes.
I don't think you can have too many centers, for the simply reason that it is a lot easier to convert centerman to wingers than vice versa. So if a guy looks to be a quality player but can't get ice time down the middle thanks a log jam, it probably takes a couple of practices and a few games for him to settle onto the wing. I say that as a guy who played both positions growing up.
5.) Is there an online collection of data and/or articles that support the anti-fighting side of the debate?
Depends on what you mean by "anti-fighting" - my personal beef is with the role of the enforcer, which I judge to be useless at best and probably harmful at worst. In general, there have been numerous studies who have tried to find any sort of positive influence of fighting on a team's outcomes, and pretty much all of them can't find any signficant relationship.
If you read this article of mine from a few weeks back, it includes four links to those kinds of studies.
6.) I was pumped to see the clip of Johnny G's set up in the first BC game of the year. I rewatched the clip today.... Is it possible that the defence on the other team just can't skate? at all? They look like they are stuck in the mud.
That's certainly possible, but that's also an artifact of playing against Johnny Gaudreau, who is one of the most sublime offensive talents that college has seen in awhile. He routinely makes the opposition look foolish.
7.) Will the flames draft lower than 6th this year? Or are we destined for eternal mediocrity?
By "lower" I assume you mean 1st-5th.
A few injuries and a bad run of luck could see Calgary drop to the bottom-5 this year, though right now they look much more likely to be in the 10-ish area. That's good news becasue if Calgary is legitimately closer to the middle than they are to the bottom, they won't need as much work to become contenders again. Especially because guys like Brodie and Backlund (and soon Baertschi and Monahan) are the new backbone of the organization, rather than expensive, fading stars. Meaning, there's upside and improvement on the horizon, rather than hopelessly trying to run in place.
Calgary will also have a lot of cap space in their pockets over the next few seasons, which means they could very well attract a few key free agents to kickstart things. The Minnesota Wild, for example, are putting up league leading possession rates this year after being terrible forever, thanks to the cumulative additions of Jason Pominville, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin.
8.) If Monahan does some how make the team. Do you see him as a top Calder candidate given his performance right now?
It will strongly depend on how his ice time shakes out once Cammalleri and Stajan are back. Monahan's SH% is going to drop at even strength and he's not going to get much PP time once the team is healthy, so his scoring will likely dry up a bit. Most kids who win the calder either put up noteworthy scoring stats or they step in and become above average guys at the top of a team's rotation.
Monahan has a very mature game and if he sticks and develops rapidly over the season, he could challenge for the rookie of the year. I tend to think he'll get burid down the depth chart a bit though.