DRILLING DOWN INTO THE ABBOTSFORD HEAT'S 2013-14 SEASON

Byron Bader
May 27 2014 09:18AM

The Abbotsford Heat, the Calgary Flames former AHL affiliate, wrapped-up their season about a month back when they were bounced in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs by the Grand Rapid Griffins. Despite the early exit, the Heat's season had a lot of positives.  

And now, thanks to Josh Weissbrock and some dynamite tracking of some of the Heat's fancy stats, we can dive in and understand a little bit more about this year in Abby.  Lets have a look.

TEAM STATS

abbotsford

The Heat's possession all year was pretty bad, very rarely crossing over 50%.  Most of the time, their possession was in the 46% range.  Additionally, the Heat's PDO was near the top of the league all year (thanks in large part to Joni Ortio). This suggests that the Heat's record was highly luck driven this year.  

In fact, many of the Heat's leading scorers (Granlund, Street, Hanowski, Baertschi and Jones) had sky-high shooting percentages that would likely not replicate themselves next year.  Take those shooting percentages out of the equation and Ortio's stellar play and the Heat's record could have been abysmal.

Now lets look further at some of the underlying numbers of the individual players.

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Player GP G PTS PPG SOG SOG
/G
SH% On-
Ice
GF
IPP NHLe ES
Gf%
Diff
QoC QoT Age
Reinhart, Max 66 21 63 0.95 166 2.52 12.7 84 75.00% 34 3.93% 49.4 51.9 22
Granlund, Markus 52 25 46 0.88 136 2.62 18.4 61 75.41% 32 4.16% 49.4 52.5 21
Ferland, Michael 25 6 18 0.72 43 1.72 14 25 72.00% 26 -16.67% 48 48.8 22
Baertschi, Sven 41 13 29 0.71 87 2.12 14.9 47 61.70% 26 3.32% 50.2 51.9 21
Knight, Corban 70 18 45 0.64 140 2.00 12.9 68 66.18% 23 9.43% 48.3 53 23
Wotherspoon, Tyler 48 1 9 0.19 45 0.94 2.2 42 21.43% 7 5.09% 50.2 51.4 21
Ramage, John 50 0 1 0.02 55 1.10 0 32 3.13% 1 5.64% 49.8 51.8 23
Elson, Turner 37 2 3 0.08 48 1.30 4.2 7 42.86% 3 5.66% 52 51 21
Billins, Chad 65 10 41 0.63 103 1.58 9.7 86 47.67% 23 9.02% 49.5 51.9 25
Hanowski, Ben 55 13 31 0.56 95 1.73 13.7 45 68.89% 20 -1.84% 47.9 51.8 23
Lafranchise, Kane 34 0 13 0.38 40 1.18 0 37 35.14% 14 -2.97% 45.5 43.7 25
Jooris, Josh 73 11 27 0.37 138 1.89 8 47 57.45% 13 -4.31% 49.7 50.6 24
Lamb, Braden 44 3 9 0.20 63 1.43 4.8 25 36.00% 7 -1.46% 48.5 50.2  
Bancks, Carter 72 3 11 0.15 82 1.14 3.7 24 45.83% 6 2.97% 50.4 51 24
Breen, Chris 41 1 4 0.10 39 0.95 2.6 27 14.81% 4 -22.38% 52 47.6 24
Cundari, Mark 32 4 10 0.31 50 1.56 8 28 35.71% 11 -2.94%  47.9 56.8  24
Street, Ben 58 28 60 1.03 172 2.97 16.3 76 78.95% 37 -8.94% 49.3 49.7 27
Jones, Blair 38 17 38 1.00 122 3.21 13.9 52 73.08% 36 -11.90% 50.1 49.1 27
Locke, Corey 30 4 23 0.77 49 1.63 8.2 34 67.65% 28 0.00%  49.6 41.2  30
Smith, Derek 32 7 24 0.75 89 2.78 7.9 48 50.00% 27 9.30% 49.8 51.8 29
Olson, Brett 75 17 44 0.59 150 2.00 11.3 59 74.58% 21 1.56% 49.3 51 27
O'Brien, Shane 31 3 8 0.26 35 1.13 8.6 30 26.67% 9 0.06% 50.7 51.1 30
Arsene, Dean 42 1 7 0.17 14 0.33 7.1 21 33.33% 6 -7.53% 49.7 50 33
Nemisz, Greg 32 5 9 0.28 36 1.13 13.9 16 56.25% 10 19.61% 49.5 53.5  23
MacDermid, Lane 25 1 2 0.08 29 1.16 3.4 3 66.67% 3 -18.67% 45.5 43.7 24


The table above includes various breakdowns of all Heat players that were with the team for significant amount (25 games or more). The table is broken down into four groups.  

At the top you have the Flames highest-caliber AHL prospects (the under 24 crowd). Next we have the players that were free agent signings who are in that 24-26 range or Ben Hanowski.  These players  have little chance of getting more than a sip of coffee in the bigs.  The third group is the players that are "playing out the string".  These are older players (27 or older) that have never really made a dent in the NHL and likely never will or played in the NHL at one point but will probably end their careers in the AHL. The last group is the players that are no longer with the Heat.  The majority of the team was made up of groups 2 and 3 - both can be characterize as older players with little chance of making the NHL or going back to the NHL. 

THE STANDOUTS

Reinhart and Granlund were obviously impressive in every way this year. Granlund put together one of the best minor-league seasons by a rookie in Flames history.  Only a handful of players have done better, and all those players came through the system in the 80's. Reinhart tripled his offensive output from last year. Both Reinhart and Granlund were getting pretty gravy ice-time (low quality competition, high quality linemates).  However, what they did with the ice-time was impressive. The two of them were clearly driving the boat when they were on the ice, as seen by their IPP (Individual Point Percentage). When the Heat scored with them on the ice, 75% of the time they had something to do with it. 

Corban Knight was also very impressive, as noted by his ES Gf% Diff.  The team was much more likely to score when he was on the ice than when he wasn't.  However, Knight did get some of the easier minutes most nights (as noted by his QoC and QoT).  Next year, I'd like to see him get some tougher assignments to see if he keeps up the impressive ES Gf% Diff.

Michael Ferland only played 25 games but was really starting to find his game in the weeks leading up to his injury.  While he wasn't playing the strongest competition, he also didn't have the strongest linemates and put up some pretty nice numbers and was in on 72% of the goals scored while he was on the ice. This upcoming year is massive for him. If he can improve from his play last year, he could certainly peak the interest of Treliving, Burke and Co.

Baertschi's AHL season can be split in halves.  His first half, he was clearly disappointed to be there. While he was getting lots of shots, his offensive output was zilch.  In the second half, matched up with Knight, Baertschi's output improved astronomically.  If the latter Baertschi shows up to camp, he'll be fine.  If the former shows up, Baertschi might not last the year in a Flames/Heat uniform.  

Of the three other groups, there's not much there.  Yeah Street and Jones put up some impressive stats but both guys are fast approaching their 30's.  They might get a couple more sniffs but I think they'll follow Krys Kolanos into the sunset.

Kane Lafranchise (no relation to Matt Stajan), signed half-way through the year, is one of the only guys that really intrigues me of these other groups.  Initially, I thought Lafranchise was a forward as I noticed he was getting a decent amount of points (13 in 34 games; all assists).  However, he is listed as a defenseman.  He also played with perhaps the worst-caliber teammates on the whole team, but still did quite well.  I'm curious if the Flames re-sign him and if he gets a look in the bigs. 

SUM IT UP

It's clear that the Flames' minor league affiliate isn't ripe with an abundance of young, high-caliber talent quite yet as the majority of the roster is older and the team's success this year was highly luck driven.  

There are a few younger players on the Heat that are showing some real potential and could turn out to be big pieces of the Calgary Flames roster down the road. As well, it can be argued that some of the Flames highest prospects are coming from the NCAA (Gaudreau, Arnold, Jankowski, Agostino) or juniors (Poirier, Klimchuk, their 4th overall pick) and haven't played significantly with the big club or the minors yet.  Nonetheless, the Flames will need to increase the pool of skilled 18-23 year olds over the next few years while they continue this rebuild.

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Byron has a background in psychology, economics and business and is a business researcher/data analyst by day. His love for hockey is as deep as the ocean is wide. Tell him your questions and let him into your heart. Twitter: @Baderader; Email: byron.bader@gmail.com
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#1 Lordmork
May 27 2014, 09:39AM
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Good post. I was pleased at the Heat's season, but it seems worrying that a lot of that success was based on luck and Ortio.

The Flames have clearly improved their prospect pool, but this seems to indicate that they need at least a few more years of careful and lucky drafting to make up for the past. I'd argue that having an AHL team with capable players to serve as injury replacements and where prospects can learn the team's system is crucial for teams hoping to seriously content for the cup. Hopefully Flames management agrees, and I hope we don't see a lot of prospects traded, unless it's to address existing holes in our prospect pool.

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#2 PrairieStew
May 27 2014, 10:10AM
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Good job.

Lafranchise turns 26 today and he is not a big guy -under 200 lbs. His offense is not great either it would seem - a pair of 30 + point seasons in the ECHL. If you are looking at medium to smallish defensemen - Billins is a year younger and has way more offense; Cundari is 2 years younger and seems to have some moxie, and Ramage is 3 years younger. Ramage also putting up some points in the playoff run in Alaska - 12 in 14 games. I think they will be adding size and Lafranchise is likely out of luck.

Agree with you on Street and Jones - would rather see some young guys get a chance to grow their game at the AHL level.

Very excited for Max - love to see that steady progression every year. Hoping that Granlund plays top AHL minutes and only gets called up for top 6 injury replacement role.

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#3 mk
May 27 2014, 10:42AM
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This is a stark contrast to how the team was being portrayed by local (Vancouver area) media during the season, before the playoffs. It seems like success in the AHL is always a combination of several great prospects passing through a team (but not instantly-great enough that they jump straight to the NHL) and wily AHL veterans (a la Kolanos, Jaffray, etc.). Hopefully our next crop of prospects to hit the AHL can experience this.

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"Kane Lafranchise (no relation to Matt Stajan)..."

Gold. I dread the day Matty Franchise leaves and we won't see the Matt Damon picture on pre-game or post-game posts.

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#4 Walter White
May 27 2014, 11:22AM
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" Take those shooting percentages out of the equation and Ortio's stellar play and the Heat's record could have been abysmal."

So: if we had scored less and let in more goals, our record would have been worse? Interesting......

I'm starting to come around.....these advanced stats are really something!

WW

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#5 SmellOfVictory
May 27 2014, 11:24AM
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mk wrote:

This is a stark contrast to how the team was being portrayed by local (Vancouver area) media during the season, before the playoffs. It seems like success in the AHL is always a combination of several great prospects passing through a team (but not instantly-great enough that they jump straight to the NHL) and wily AHL veterans (a la Kolanos, Jaffray, etc.). Hopefully our next crop of prospects to hit the AHL can experience this.

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"Kane Lafranchise (no relation to Matt Stajan)..."

Gold. I dread the day Matty Franchise leaves and we won't see the Matt Damon picture on pre-game or post-game posts.

I'm sure the A-Flames will be quite good next season. This season saw a lot of guys playing essentially their rookie year in the AHL, and many of them will end up playing at least part of next season in the AHL purely because you can't have an entire NHL roster filled with rookies (see: Oilers, Edmonton).

Add to that the new guys coming in like Kulak, Poirier, and Culkin, and I like the look of the upcoming farm team.

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#6 McRib
May 27 2014, 11:27AM
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Great Piece, these two comments below especially were bang on as it will be a make or break season for these two. They both have the talent, but can they put it together...

"Michael Ferland only played 25 games but was really starting to find his game in the weeks leading up to his injury... If he can improve from his play last year, he could certainly peak the interest of Treliving, Burke and Co."

"Baertschi's AHL season can be split in halves... If the latter Baertschi shows up to camp, he'll be fine. If the former shows up, Baertschi might not last the year in a Flames/Heat uniform

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#8 Parallex
May 27 2014, 11:42AM
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@SmellOfVictory

Klimchuk isn't old enough to play in the AHL yet. He'll be back in Regina.

The A-Flames will still have a lot of rookies (albeit older ones). Guadreau (Maybe), Arnold, Agostino, Van Brabant, Wolf (Maybe), Poirier, Kulak, Culkin... that's pretty close to the number of rookies they had last year no?

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#9 Walter White
May 27 2014, 11:55AM
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Parallex wrote:

Klimchuk isn't old enough to play in the AHL yet. He'll be back in Regina.

The A-Flames will still have a lot of rookies (albeit older ones). Guadreau (Maybe), Arnold, Agostino, Van Brabant, Wolf (Maybe), Poirier, Kulak, Culkin... that's pretty close to the number of rookies they had last year no?

When is Kanzig going to join them?

WW

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#10 Ryan Pike
May 27 2014, 12:01PM
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@Walter White

Klimchuk and Kanzig are both pros in 2015-16.

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#11 mattyc
May 27 2014, 12:10PM
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Parallex wrote:

Klimchuk isn't old enough to play in the AHL yet. He'll be back in Regina.

The A-Flames will still have a lot of rookies (albeit older ones). Guadreau (Maybe), Arnold, Agostino, Van Brabant, Wolf (Maybe), Poirier, Kulak, Culkin... that's pretty close to the number of rookies they had last year no?

@Ryan

Didn't Klimchuk play some games with the Heat in the spring? Or did I imagine that?

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#12 Ryan Pike
May 27 2014, 12:16PM
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He did, but only after the Pats got knocked out.

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#13 seve927
May 27 2014, 12:16PM
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mattyc wrote:

@Ryan

Didn't Klimchuk play some games with the Heat in the spring? Or did I imagine that?

They can play once their CHL team is done for the season.

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#14 Stubblejumper
May 27 2014, 12:31PM
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I would be curious to hear information about the "B" D-men prospects and their potential to make the big team versus fill out the AHL roster.

In particular Culkin, Kulak, Martin, Ramage and Rafikov are almost identical in size (6'1"; 180-200 lbs).

So...of these 5 prospects who is most likely to be able to step up and make the show, if any? Who has the best potential as a puck-rusher, skater, defender, good 1st passer, strong possession, point shot, or powerplay quarterback?

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#15 Kent Wilson
May 27 2014, 12:44PM
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I'd say the Heat's main problems were roster turn over (they got raided by Calgary all year) and that blue line, which was absolutely abysmal by talent/experience standards.

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#16 SmellOfVictory
May 27 2014, 01:00PM
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Parallex wrote:

Klimchuk isn't old enough to play in the AHL yet. He'll be back in Regina.

The A-Flames will still have a lot of rookies (albeit older ones). Guadreau (Maybe), Arnold, Agostino, Van Brabant, Wolf (Maybe), Poirier, Kulak, Culkin... that's pretty close to the number of rookies they had last year no?

Ugh I keep forgetting. Thanks for the correction.

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#17 SmellOfVictory
May 27 2014, 01:10PM
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Parallex wrote:

Klimchuk isn't old enough to play in the AHL yet. He'll be back in Regina.

The A-Flames will still have a lot of rookies (albeit older ones). Guadreau (Maybe), Arnold, Agostino, Van Brabant, Wolf (Maybe), Poirier, Kulak, Culkin... that's pretty close to the number of rookies they had last year no?

I think age will play a substantial role in ease of transition for a lot of the new guys, but you're right, that is still a substantial number of rookies.

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#18 SmellOfVictory
May 27 2014, 01:14PM
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Stubblejumper wrote:

I would be curious to hear information about the "B" D-men prospects and their potential to make the big team versus fill out the AHL roster.

In particular Culkin, Kulak, Martin, Ramage and Rafikov are almost identical in size (6'1"; 180-200 lbs).

So...of these 5 prospects who is most likely to be able to step up and make the show, if any? Who has the best potential as a puck-rusher, skater, defender, good 1st passer, strong possession, point shot, or powerplay quarterback?

None of them will be with the big team next season, barring a minor miracle, but aside from that I think Kulak is likely the guy with the highest ceiling (best potential in all aspects that you mentioned). Martin is pretty much a career AHLer, Ramage is already on the verge of washout status, and Culkin is kind of like Kulak lite in terms of his raw skillset. Not so sure about Rafikov, given where he plays; I've heard good things about him, but given that he's an unknown I'm kind of leaving him out of the discussion.

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#19 Baalzamon
May 27 2014, 01:35PM
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Stubblejumper wrote:

I would be curious to hear information about the "B" D-men prospects and their potential to make the big team versus fill out the AHL roster.

In particular Culkin, Kulak, Martin, Ramage and Rafikov are almost identical in size (6'1"; 180-200 lbs).

So...of these 5 prospects who is most likely to be able to step up and make the show, if any? Who has the best potential as a puck-rusher, skater, defender, good 1st passer, strong possession, point shot, or powerplay quarterback?

The answer to each question is Brett Kulak.

You may as well add Pat Sieloff to the list. He's on the heavy side of that group, but he's still within those parameters.

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#20 Skuehler
May 27 2014, 01:35PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I'd say the Heat's main problems were roster turn over (they got raided by Calgary all year) and that blue line, which was absolutely abysmal by talent/experience standards.

I don't understand how Obrien got so much time here in Calgary over Derek Smith? The stats seem to heavily favour Smith in the AHL

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#21 piscera.infada
May 27 2014, 01:39PM
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@SmellOfVictory

Rafikov also has one more year left on his KHL contract. As such, I think we see him in NA in 2015/16 (assuming he progresses similarly to this year). He had decent numbers this year (20 points in 47 games on a team that wasn't very good), but I haven't seen him play outside of the super series.

Edit: disregard. I'm horrible.

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#22 Baalzamon
May 27 2014, 01:49PM
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@piscera.infada

20 points in 47 games on a team that wasn't very good

You... uh.. might want to check on that

Loko Yaroslavl was the regular season champ last season (MHL). 136 points.

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#23 piscera.infada
May 27 2014, 01:54PM
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Baalzamon wrote:
20 points in 47 games on a team that wasn't very good

You... uh.. might want to check on that

Loko Yaroslavl was the regular season champ last season (MHL). 136 points.

Oh, I see. My bad. I was looking at KHL stats for Lokomotiv, not MHL stats for Loko Yaroslavl. Disregard. Don't know how I goofed that up - long day, I guess.

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#24 Stubblejumper
May 27 2014, 03:02PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

The answer to each question is Brett Kulak.

You may as well add Pat Sieloff to the list. He's on the heavy side of that group, but he's still within those parameters.

Thanks to you and SOV. Confirms most what I'd heard although had understood (hoped?) that both Kulak and Culkin could have potential.

I purposefully kept Wotherspoon/Sieloff (highest potential?) Kanzig/Roy/Breen (heavies), and Cundari/Billins (AHLers?) out to focus on the next group of mostly young prospects.

Essentially what I am getting from these responses are that Kulak/Culkin may get a cup of coffee but are 5-10% long-shots, and that's about it...a pretty dismal pipeline.

So for the upcoming draft the #4 picks will likely be a C (Bennett/Draisaitl?), and then focusing on the major holes at RW and D.

While there had been speculation about the Flames trying to get a Top 6 RW with their next pick, given the desperate D situation potentially all their remaining picks would be used to shore up the D and hopefully uncover some gold.

This also means signing an experienced D to some term (a costly proposition given short supply and poor team outlook)to provide some development time shelter. Can anyone say Butler...

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#25 T&A4Flames
May 27 2014, 03:49PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

Klimchuk and Kanzig are both pros in 2015-16.

Unless they somehow earn a spot on the Flames this year, correct?

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#26 DragonFlame
May 27 2014, 05:20PM
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Stubblejumper wrote:

Thanks to you and SOV. Confirms most what I'd heard although had understood (hoped?) that both Kulak and Culkin could have potential.

I purposefully kept Wotherspoon/Sieloff (highest potential?) Kanzig/Roy/Breen (heavies), and Cundari/Billins (AHLers?) out to focus on the next group of mostly young prospects.

Essentially what I am getting from these responses are that Kulak/Culkin may get a cup of coffee but are 5-10% long-shots, and that's about it...a pretty dismal pipeline.

So for the upcoming draft the #4 picks will likely be a C (Bennett/Draisaitl?), and then focusing on the major holes at RW and D.

While there had been speculation about the Flames trying to get a Top 6 RW with their next pick, given the desperate D situation potentially all their remaining picks would be used to shore up the D and hopefully uncover some gold.

This also means signing an experienced D to some term (a costly proposition given short supply and poor team outlook)to provide some development time shelter. Can anyone say Butler...

Butler isn't nearly as bad as the Saddledome faithful make him out to be, and the Flames still have to worry about the cap floor.

I am not saying he's the second-coming or anything, and his plus/minus was the worst on the team, but he fills a role and I am not sure Calgary is going to do much better than move sideways if they decide to replace him.

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#27 Stubblejumper
May 27 2014, 05:28PM
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The Flames have an overabundance of good LW prospects but are very shallow at D...makes me think there is potential to swing a deal with other teams who are shallow at LW and deep at D, possibly with 2nd-4th round trade picks involved. Purpose is to balance out prospects through trade with both sides trying to uncover gold from good "B" prospects.

One potential trading partner could be NYI. Trading an Agostino or Hanowski to NYI who only have 1 solid LW prospect, in return for one of NYI's 6-8 good D prospects who are 1-2 years ahead on the development path might be mutually beneficial for both teams.

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#28 Stubblejumper
May 27 2014, 05:38PM
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San Jose, NYR, CGJ, COL and STL are also similarly weak at LW and deep at D. Of course with STL the temptation would be to trade for RW Rattie and complete the unfinished business of the Bouwmeester trade.

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#29 doubledown
May 27 2014, 05:58PM
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I'm all for re-signing Butler. We can count on him for at least a few late game giveaways that lead to 4-6 less points at the end of the season. That could be the difference between drafting in the top 2 to the top 4 or 5.

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#30 DragonFlame
May 27 2014, 06:49PM
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@Stubblejumper

You do realize, of course, that the Flames finished 10th overall in defense scoring last season (accumulated goals and assists)?

The Flames "D" is not nearly as bad as many people make them out to be.

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#31 coachedpotatoe
May 27 2014, 07:24PM
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DragonFlame wrote:

You do realize, of course, that the Flames finished 10th overall in defense scoring last season (accumulated goals and assists)?

The Flames "D" is not nearly as bad as many people make them out to be.

While a case can be made that they are not to bad after you get Gio, Brodie, Russell and Wides their offensive output drops significantly and the latter 2 at times are suspect defensively. Organizationally there are not a lot of top end prospects and the better ones are still a few years away. If we can't sign one or two of the top 8 UFA's then Butler would be a fair 2-3 year player as a stop gap(at times this year he was good).

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#32 DragonFlame
May 27 2014, 07:55PM
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@coachedpotatoe

I agree with that, but the same can be said for the 20 teams below them. And a couple of the teams above the Flames have one or two d-men who make up for a lack of production from the other defenseman (Ottawa and Montreal, for example).

I really doubt the Flames will be able to sign any of the top 8 UFA's, unless Calgary is willing to overpay them, and I don't see the point. UFA's want to cash in and preferably, with a team that has a reasonable shot at the dance. The Flames are not there yet. They are not even close, despite their record from January 18th on.

The only thing worse than failing to make the playoffs by five or six points is missing out on a decent draft pick by five or six points.

Unless the Flames can bring in a UFA who is willing to buy into the Flames' M.O. 100%, as in longer practices, more video time . . . the Flames are better off sticking with what they have for the time being. I don't care if they lose, as long as they are working hard during games and management is setting goals for future improvement, and making good on the goals.

** As an edit, I realized Montreal, even with Subban and Markov, who combined for 96 points, still finished below the Flames in scoring from "D."

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#33 DragonFlame
May 27 2014, 08:15PM
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So my point is, if the Flames finished 10th in defensman scoring, they obviously need a lot more help up front than they do in the back end, considering they finished 23rd in overall offense.

Adding a couple of forwards who can score and are able to cycle the puck in the opposition's end can only enhance the Flames defense, in a roundabout way.

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#34 wot96
May 27 2014, 08:50PM
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@Stubblejumper

Leaving aside the whole "what will Snow do" thing, why would the NYI or anyone, for that matter, take a couple of our B or C LW prospects for even one A or B defense prospect?

I think we will have to give up a little more to get something that really fills a need for us and we have to factor in the fact that whatever we get is still just a prospect, not a sure thing.

I like how you think. I just don't think it will be that easy.

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#35 Abcdef
May 27 2014, 10:38PM
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PrairieStew wrote:

Good job.

Lafranchise turns 26 today and he is not a big guy -under 200 lbs. His offense is not great either it would seem - a pair of 30 + point seasons in the ECHL. If you are looking at medium to smallish defensemen - Billins is a year younger and has way more offense; Cundari is 2 years younger and seems to have some moxie, and Ramage is 3 years younger. Ramage also putting up some points in the playoff run in Alaska - 12 in 14 games. I think they will be adding size and Lafranchise is likely out of luck.

Agree with you on Street and Jones - would rather see some young guys get a chance to grow their game at the AHL level.

Very excited for Max - love to see that steady progression every year. Hoping that Granlund plays top AHL minutes and only gets called up for top 6 injury replacement role.

Lafranchise is an offensive defenseman. He not only had more points in the AHL than Ramage in less games, he has more than a point per game in the Aces ECHL playoffs right now. Pretty impressive for a defenseman. Also more than Ramage. He is steady in his own end and plays in all situations. Your evaluation of him sounds like someone who has never seen him play.

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#36 Mountain Soup
May 27 2014, 11:16PM
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Another 2 points so far for Lafranchise through 2 periods of the Aces playoff game. It's obvious that the Aces value Lafranchise much higher than the likes of Ramage by watching their games. I think he's got a lot of promise, and the flames organization will probably miss out on keeping him in the organization by overvaluing theirs drafted prospects, and due to other bad contracts. He'll sign in the AHL again next season, and be a solid second pairing dman who can dazzle on the PP given the chance. If you watched him play you'd fall in love with the way he skates, he's the type of ouck moving dman a lot of organizations are looking for. My $0.02.

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#37 Stubblejumper
May 28 2014, 07:22AM
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DragonFlame wrote:

You do realize, of course, that the Flames finished 10th overall in defense scoring last season (accumulated goals and assists)?

The Flames "D" is not nearly as bad as many people make them out to be.

Am thinking you are misreading the intent of the post.

Just for clarity the focus is on the future Flames Dmen prospects and the quality of that crop...not with what happened last year.

It's well-known it takes longer, perhaps 3-5 years, to develop a D prospect. So what's the current analysis of the 5-7 D prospects we have in the system right now? From what I am hearing...not great.

We "might" yield 1 potential 3rd pairing out of the 5-6 guys in the system outside of our best prospects right now (Wotherspoon/Sieloff). And even they are 2nd pairing prospects at best with several more years experience.

So the Flames choices are to:

- "buy" talent on the UFA market, - "re-sign" Flames RFA/UFA where appropriate (Butler?), - "re-balance" our prospect pool with other teams to add Dmen while giving up LW in oversupply (in line with Burke's comments about drafting BPA and then trading to then balance by position), and - "draft" Dmen, both in quality and quantity, prioritizing D as a critical team need and using higher picks to yield better quality prospects.

So in summary (and to your point)...while the current Flames "D" had a decent year offensively, when we pragmatically look at the Flames "D" prospect pool it is unquestionably "very bad". There are no Top 2 prospects, questionable long-shot Top 4 prospects, and a couple 3rd pairing prospects.

In order for this team to succeed on a long-term basis and become a Cup Contender, a much stronger D-man prospect pool and stable improved development system will need to be established. If you look at all top Cup contenders, each one has developed a top D prospect...Doughty, Fowler, Pietrangelo, Seabrook, Keith, Letang. The exception might be Boston who had a top UFA drop from heaven to land on their doorstep (Chara).

Where's our Doughty or Keith?

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#38 BurningSensation
May 28 2014, 07:58AM
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@Stubblejumper

"Where's our Doughty or Keith?"

If he improves again this year, as much as he did last year, we already have our Duncan Keith in TJ Brodie.

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#39 Stubblejumper
May 28 2014, 08:08AM
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@BurningSensation

I think we're all big supporters of TJ and the kind of year he had. Not sure he has the intensity of Keith but it would be great to think so. Will he get to become Norris-caliber?...time will tell.

Would love to develop a defence like LA's in 3-5 years where TJ could be the star and lead the back-end..but the supporting cast has to greatly improve.

LA has 4 heavies (Muzzin, Regehr, Mitchell, Greene) along with 3 puck movers (Doughty, Voynov, Martinez) in their Top 7 D...perhaps a good basic blueprint to follow.

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#40 piscera.infada
May 28 2014, 08:10AM
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@Stubblejumper

I'm not arguing the overarching point you're making here, but with the time it takes to develop defensive prospects (that you acknowledge), you don't want to reach - we have also seen many, many defensive prospects not live up to their draft pedigree.

While you bring up Keith, he was a late second-round pick who was undersized. He was by no means a blue chip prospect until his game took-off. No indictment on him, but it illustrates the oft-times 'voodoo' nature of defense prospects.

To further my point, let's take a look at an article from September 6, 2004 (2 years after Keith was drafted) on Hockey's Future about the top-20 Chicago Blackhawks' prospects. You'll notice he's way down at #19. You'll also notice everyone's favourite ex-Flame Anton Babchuk is at #1, with Cam Barker at #2, followed by Seabrook at #3.

By no means am I saying the Flames shouldn't draft defensemen. Of course they should, and I agree with what you're suggesting. That said, I'm not convinced they should abandon BPA by any means. Drafting that franchise-changing defenseman is difficult, or everyone would be doing it.

Also, hilarious that this is the statement about Babchuk: "Destined to be the one of the future cornerstones of the Blackhawks blueline, Babchuk should get an honest opportunity to earn a roster spot for the 2004-05 season". Hard to predict much?

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#41 Stubblejumper
May 28 2014, 08:29AM
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@piscera.infada

Yes I certainly agree with the "voodoo" nature of D prospects, particularly outside the Top 15-20 draftees.

That's why I certainly believe quantity as well as quality is required for D prospects..it helps increase the chances of uncovering gold in a 3rd-5th rounder.

Optimistically in 3 years, it would be nice to think Kanzig and Roy could be a couple heavies that would make it, along with TJ and Spoon. If we were able to develop a couple more puck-movers and heavies this would potentially provide a reasonably solid, although likely unspectacular defence unless we were able to unearth a nice big gold nugget.

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#42 PrairieStew
May 28 2014, 10:14AM
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Abcdef wrote:

Lafranchise is an offensive defenseman. He not only had more points in the AHL than Ramage in less games, he has more than a point per game in the Aces ECHL playoffs right now. Pretty impressive for a defenseman. Also more than Ramage. He is steady in his own end and plays in all situations. Your evaluation of him sounds like someone who has never seen him play.

I saw them both play in November when I was in Abbotsford. The best defense pair by far was Billins and Ramage. Billins had more skill with the puck than anyone on either team. Ramage was a good complement to him - steady but unspectacular.

Comparing Lafranchise and Ramage - the age is important. Ramage played the bulk of the season in the AHL in his first pro year. Lafranchise has fewer AHL games in 4 full seasons of being a pro. To call a 34 point ECHL defenseman an offensive defenseman is a stretch.

While I may not have seen them much there has to be a reason coaches never have given Lafranchise much of a chance and conversely a reason why Ramage was kept around for 50 games this year. Given the choice of the 23 year old who just finished his first pro year and the 26 year old with 13 assists in 44 career AHL games in 4 years - sight unseen give me the 23 year old.

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#43 everton fc
May 28 2014, 11:02AM
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Not sure why there not more commentary about Ferland. He's got the perfect game for a Burke-run organization. He played well up to his injury, after he got his bearings. If he can recover from his injury (any updates?) he may very well be with the big club once camp ends.

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#44 the-wolf
May 28 2014, 01:19PM
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everton fc wrote:

Not sure why there not more commentary about Ferland. He's got the perfect game for a Burke-run organization. He played well up to his injury, after he got his bearings. If he can recover from his injury (any updates?) he may very well be with the big club once camp ends.

I like Ferland too, but given how much time he missed I think he needs a full season in the AHL.

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#45 Prairie Doggin'
May 28 2014, 01:48PM
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@PrairieStew

Yes Ramage is a few years younger and still has time to develop, but right now he's clearly not player that Lafranchise is. I think he'd be considered a 'success' to reach Lafranchise's level, and here's why: Lafranchise's numbers are better going back to college. Both players come from the WCHA, and if we compare both players in their 3rd year (Lafranchise only played the 3 years), Ramage only managed 10 points in 37 gp while Lafranchise managed 15 points in 33 games. More points in less game (not to mention that the Seawolves were also a far worse team than Wisconson, which only reinforces my point). Don't kid yourself, the reason that Ramage stayed in the AHL that long is based on the fact that he was a 4th round pick and management pressures kept him in the lineup. When the games really mattered down the stretch and during the playoffs, Troy G. Ward chose to play 4 defensemen (even through triple OT games) and Lafranchise was his work horse. It's a huge testament that Lafranchise keeps a regular shift (including PP and PK) in the AHL while 4th round draft picks signed to an NHL ELC are sent down to the 'AA' affiliate. Conroy found a gem, they'd be wise to call his agent as soon as the Aces win the Kelly Cup, and sign him to a 2-Way NHL deal to help solidify their farm team's D.

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#46 PrairieStew
May 28 2014, 05:18PM
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Prairie Doggin' wrote:

Yes Ramage is a few years younger and still has time to develop, but right now he's clearly not player that Lafranchise is. I think he'd be considered a 'success' to reach Lafranchise's level, and here's why: Lafranchise's numbers are better going back to college. Both players come from the WCHA, and if we compare both players in their 3rd year (Lafranchise only played the 3 years), Ramage only managed 10 points in 37 gp while Lafranchise managed 15 points in 33 games. More points in less game (not to mention that the Seawolves were also a far worse team than Wisconson, which only reinforces my point). Don't kid yourself, the reason that Ramage stayed in the AHL that long is based on the fact that he was a 4th round pick and management pressures kept him in the lineup. When the games really mattered down the stretch and during the playoffs, Troy G. Ward chose to play 4 defensemen (even through triple OT games) and Lafranchise was his work horse. It's a huge testament that Lafranchise keeps a regular shift (including PP and PK) in the AHL while 4th round draft picks signed to an NHL ELC are sent down to the 'AA' affiliate. Conroy found a gem, they'd be wise to call his agent as soon as the Aces win the Kelly Cup, and sign him to a 2-Way NHL deal to help solidify their farm team's D.

Well that's some brutal cherry picking of data to make a conclusion ! 15 points in a season vs 10 for a defenceman, you should really look at what they produced ( if that is important and clearly it is not) at the same age - so you should compare Ramage's senior season at age 21 (20 points) to Lafranchise's 21 year season of 15.

Ward may have rode Lafranchise in the playoffs - that didn't work out so good did it ?

If Ramage is at Lafranchise's "level" in 3 years - with 3 full seasons of ECHL and half a year of AHL play - I'd be saying dump him too and sign an undrafted 20 year old.

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#47 DragonFlame
May 28 2014, 05:35PM
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@Stubblejumper

Perhaps I did miss the intent of your post:

The thing with the Flames' defense, none are over the hill. Most are under 30, aside from Gio. The Flames are set to add Wotherspoon, and Brodie is just coming into his own. Smid is not terrible (he is what he is) and Wideman hasn't had a full season to prove himself thanks to the lockout and an injury-riddled campaign last year. Russell also missed time. So, the question mark is Butler.

Also, there are plenty of other teams looking for a Doughty or Keith (or Karlsson, Subban, or a Ryan McDonagh -- who the Canadiens gave up on -- or even a Yandle).

The one thing that came to mind watching the final of the Memorial Cup on Sunday was the play of Henrik Samuelsson, who registered five points and dominated the game. Why? Because Flames' GM Brad Treliving likely played a big role in drafting him.

I won't argue the Flames could use some good prospects at the blue line, but at the same time, I don't see an immediate need. I think the Flames have to pick the best player available and perhaps -- somewhere down the road -- they can turn that player into some respectable defensive help on the back end.

Right now, as I see it, the Flames are weak up front. They don't yet have a bonafide number one center nor a true scoring threat. That may change as Calgary brings in a Granlund, Gaudreau, Baertschi (if he gets his game together), and Monahan continues to improve.

It would be great if Ekblad somehow fell to fourth or if the Flames could manage to move up in the draft to get him. Moving up, however, will require an exchange of picks and (likely) a player who has a shot at playing on Florida's roster when the season opens. Who on the Flames would you be willing to give up to make that happen . . . and it has to be realistic given Florida's current needs. At this time, I doubt a Baertschi or Granlund is going to cut it, and there is no way I make that deal if Gaudreau is one of the pieces being sent in Florida's direction.

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#48 Stubblejumper
May 29 2014, 08:25AM
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@DragonFlame

Generally I agree with many of your points..add Wotherspoon, the current D overall is not abysmal (below average and not a cup contender but not abysmal), FWDs still need to improve.

One statement you make that I can't agree with is "I don't see an immediate need..for good prospects at the blue line".

The role of the GM is to match timing (drafting & development) with need and to plan these to coincide well in advance. The plan for replacing 3 Dmen, including developing one Top 2 and one Top 4, has to be implemented now in order to be ready in 3-5 years. Current contracts of Wideman, Russell and Smid will be up at that time...and one by one we need fresh new blood to replace them.

So for me the IMMEDIATE need is to draft good blue line prospects, even over and above a Top 6 C or RW.

As stated in another post, drafting BPA in the 1st round followed by BPA by position thereafter is generally accepted. I am assuming Draisaitl/Bennett will be drafted at #4 and thereafter am hoping at least 4-5 D men will be drafted, with the possible exception of a RW with potential.

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#49 everton fc
May 29 2014, 10:13AM
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@Stubblejumper

Don't forget Eric Roy out in Brandon. May not be aggressive enough under a Burke-regime. And will have to sure-up is backend skills. But he clearly puts points on the board and can skate better than many think, as he proved in training camp. Time will tell, of course....

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#50 Stubblejumper
May 30 2014, 08:04AM
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everton fc wrote:

Don't forget Eric Roy out in Brandon. May not be aggressive enough under a Burke-regime. And will have to sure-up is backend skills. But he clearly puts points on the board and can skate better than many think, as he proved in training camp. Time will tell, of course....

Yes I agree ...I mentioned in post #41 that I hoped both 6'7" Kanzig and 6'3" Roy would develop into "heavies" for the team in a couple years as both have potential I believe.

Roy has had a nice year, and has shown a nice offensive upside (11G 44P 66G 0.67ppg 51PIM). I've heard the knock, if there is one, is he's still playing on the same team as Ryan Pulock, a 1st rounder last year. Therefore many attribute's Roy's success to being sheltered by Pulock.

Next year Roy will be a candidate for the A-Flames so fact will quickly be able to be separated from fiction.

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