Starlight

RexLibris
September 01 2014 01:15PM

So previously we have examined the defense, goaltending and established forwards for the Flames this coming season. You can read about the forwards here and the defense and goaltending here

This final segment will examine the prospects and rookies of the 2014-2015 Calgary Flames.

This season is shaping up to be something a little different for the Flames. They are almost universally pegged to be one of the worst teams in the league this season and are clearly rebuilding. At the same time they have some very nice players at key positions in Backlund, Brodie, Giordano, Hudler and Hiller.  

Burke and Treliving will also have to take some time to evaluate some prospects at the end of their ELCs before deciding who gets re-signed. This means that there could be a lot of NHL debuts and proverbial cups of coffee in Flames silks this year which could affect roster strength at times.

Jooris, Van Brabant, Knight, Baertschi, Arnold, Wolf, Hanowski, Agostino, Acolatse, Ramage, Cundari, Reinhart, Ferland, and Elson are all entering the final year of their ELCs and the Flames will need to decide whether to retain their rights. With a number of draft picks likely to turn pro at the end of the season, there will be a number of names here who will be left by the roadside.

At the same time the recent addition of Devin Setoguchi puts a clear roadblock in front of a lot of their prospects, so those that get the call up will have either earned it or have a particular ability *coughknuckledraggersscough* that is considered desirable.

As it stands at the end of August, the Flames reserve list has 47 contracts with four, Kanzig, Klimchuk, Poirier and Bennett likely to slide as they return to junior, giving the team a little bit of room to pursue free agents, be they junior, AHL, NCAA or NHL. Billins makes it 48, but I’m not sure he would count in this situation.

So, here are my projections for the prospects that may make their way to the Flames’ roster this coming season.

 

Player gp est. ppg age NHLE NHLE ppg Prev AHL Est. pts
Baertschi 41 0.42 21 NA NA 0.7 17
Gaudreau 70 0.55 20 49.44 0.6 NA 38
Van Brabant 15 0.08 22 NA NA NA 2
Wolf 15 0.1 24 NA NA NA 1
Agostino 12 0.2 22 33.11 0.4 NA 2
Arnold 12 0.25 22 30.44 0.37 NA 3
Knight 20 0.35 23 NA 0.37 0.64 7
Granlund 20 0.35 21 NA 0.35 0.85 7
Jooris 10 0.25 24 NA 0.3 0.37 3
Hanowski 20 0.25 23 28.8 0.29 0.56 5
Reinhart 12 0.26 22 21.7 0.26 0.64 3
Ferland 10 0.29 21 24.1 0.29 0.56 3
Bennett 9 0.33 18 27.5 0.33 NA 3
Wotherspoon 22 0.18 21 14.9 0.5 0.19 5
Acolatse 3 0.1 23 11.76 0.14 0.38 0
Ramage 2 0.01 23 0 0 0.02 0
Cundari 3 0.1 24 12.9 0.15 0.42 0


You’ll notice I’ve listed Baertschi here as well in my previous RE article on forwards. I think he is betwixt and between on the NHL roster right now, and I’ve already said there seems a decent chance that he gets dealt this coming season for a young defender.

Gaudreau gets a real shot in this scenario, and his NHLE translates somewhat in his rookie season. We'll see what happens during the season, but I think he gives us the occasional glimpse of what he can do when a defender gets caught napping. 

The rest of the group are basically call-up options that get their fair shake by season’ end. I’m working off my predictions on games played for the established forwards to provide the opportunity, so those games aren’t likely to be consecutive, and that may impact the numbers in the end.

Taking the entire roster’s points projections together the Flames would be likely to score somewhere in the vicinity of 206 goals this year, or about 2.5 goals per game. This would have put them 22nd overall in the league last season and would represent an increase of four goals over last year.

Coupling this with the improved goaltending expected of Hiller and Ramo, an estimated 2.6 goals against per game, a number that would have put them 13th in the league last season. This would translate to the Flames essentially treading water offensively, while making significant strides in goal-prevention.

That would seem to match what our eyes tell us about the team over the course of the summer.

The Flames are supposed to be a dumpster fire this coming season, challenging for the bottom of the league and in the McDavid/Eichel lottery drive.

I'm not convinced of this.

For interests’ sake I decided to take the average shooting percentages I had for every forward and defenseman and add that to the estimated save percentage, based on an historical average for Hiller and a carryover of Ramo’s previous seasons’ number, to provide a PDO number.

PDO is typically used to determine a team’s performance level. Over time it trends strongly towards an even 100%, or 1000. Teams that have a high shooting percentage or are getting extraordinary goaltending will show up in this category and a reversion to the mean can be anticipated at some point.

The SH% of all forwards and defense, with the exception of the Rookies/Prospects mentioned above where information is unavailable or sparse, was 9.63. The estimated SV% of both Hiller and Ramo was 90.85. The PDO is therefore 100.48.

This implies that the estimates I’ve done so far are as even as can be expected with perhaps a slightly optimistic bias.

There are some arguments that the reliance of the Flames on players like Engelland and Smid, whose possession numbers are the numerical equivalent of a smoking crater, will result in a reduced save rate while they are on the ice. I’m not a big believer that defenders directly impact save%, and that possession numbers are a better indication of their defensive abilities – their job is to take the puck away from the player and save% shoots up during the time when your team has the puck.

So, the PDO would suggest that the numbers we’ve arrived at are within reason and that the Flames could perform individually somewhere within the range we’ve marked. As a team, that remains to be seen. NHL history is filled with good individual efforts wasted on poor teams.

My reasoning behind believing that the Flames will not be one of the worst teams in the league this coming season though, is far less quantifiable and leans more towards the “seen-him-good”. I believe that in team sports the whole can often be greater than the sum of its parts. Hartley managed something akin to this last season, and I think he has an improved, albeit marginally, roster this season.

So, in review, here are the final estimations for games, ppg, and points for the Flames this 2014-2015 season, as well as the estimated points, goals, goals per game.

Player gp est. ppg hist. ppg sh% est. pts.
Hudler 80 0.7 0.56 14.2 56
Stajan 70 0.48 0.48 13.3 33
Glencross  78 0.6 0.55 15 47
Raymond 75 0.5 0.49 9.7 38
Monahan 75 0.4 0.45 12 30
Colborne 80 0.35 0.35 12 28
Jones 70 0.4 0.45 13.7 28
Backlund 73 0.5 0.41 8.5 37
Byron 70 0.38 0.36 15 26
Baertschi 41 0.42 0.47 8.7 17
Bouma 73 0.18 0.16 5.1 13
Bollig 70 0.15 0.11 4.4 11
McGrattan 60 0.1 0.09 5.1 6
Setoguchi 73 0.48 0.54 11.4 35
Giordano 82 7.1 0.53 0.44 43
Brodie 82 4.1 0.32 0.46 26
Wideman 75 6 0.47 0.47 32
Engelland 75 5.7 0.14 0.19 11
Russell 70 5.2 0.35 0.29 25
Smid 76 3.6 0.11 0.13 8
Wotherpsoon 30 0.5 0.15 0.19 (AHL) 5
Van Brabant 15 0.08 NA 0.05 2
Agostino 12 0.2 NA 8.3 2
Gaudreau 70 0.55 NA NA 38
Wolf 15 0.05 NA NA 1
Arnold 12 0.25 NA NA 3
Knight 20 0.35 NA NA 7
Granlund 20 0.35 NA NA 7
Jooris 10 0.25 NA NA 3
Hanowski 20 0.25 NA NA 5
Reinhart 12 0.26 NA NA 3
Ferland 10 0.29 NA NA 3
Bennett 9 0.33 NA NA 3

Thanks to LastBigBear for pointing out an error I had made in Monahan’s points projections. They were meant to read .45, rather than .33. The corrections have been made and new totals are provided here.

The Flames are estimated to score somewhere in the range of 206 to 210 goals this season, depending on how you want to break down the goals/assist ratio on the total points. Phoenix scored that last season and finished 20th overall in that category (and in the overall standings). If we took that as a best-case scenario for the Flames, I think we could find the range south of that pretty easily. If you trace back three seasons (excluding the 2013 lockout year) the lowest 210 goals placed a team was 25th back 2009-2010.  Buffalo scored a full 60 fewer goals last year and even though they may have improved, I'm not convinced they "found" fifty or sixty goals during the off-season.

My guess is that the Flames finish no lower than 27th overall again this season, barring catastrophic injury to a core player.

The following is the table from the article discussing goaltending. Hiller in row one, Ramo in row two, averages between the two in the third row, with goals against per game in the final column.

Est. Flames 2014-2015 Goaltending
est. gp est. sh/a est. shpg est. sv% est ga/game Last year
68 1944 28.5 91.2 2.5 2.9
14 401 28.6 90.5 2.7



90.85 2.6


On a clear day you can see the Flames' goaltending improvement from the Red Deer city limits. Picking up almost half a goal against per game is no small thing for a team that danced on the razor's edge as often as the Flames did last season.

It is one of the big factors playing into my estimation of the Flames' potential improvement this year. Brodie, Backlund, Giordano are part of the equation, but adding a solid goaltender helps to actualize their defensive strengths.

Why this song?

This was one of George Harrison’s few singles with the Beatles. Perhaps less known than While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Something, Here Comes the Sun is Harrison writing about coming through a long, cold English winter. The months were changing and you could feel the warmth on its way.

Harrison:

"Here Comes the Sun" was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: 'Sign this' and 'sign that.' Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it. So one day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton's house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric's acoustic guitars and wrote "Here Comes the Sun."

I Me Mine (1980) p. 144

The Flames took their shot at the chalice a decade ago and ever since the sun has been getting further and further away, the frost creeping onto the lawn and the cold seeping into the bones.

Winter may not be over, and there is definitely a chill in the air still, but the first light of the expected spring is just beginning to creep over the horizon. Fans in Calgary are braced for another long season, but the good things coming make it all bearable.

Harrison was always my favourite Beatle. Paul always seemed to want to be in charge, John was John, and I can’t remember that other guy’s name right now. But George seemed like he was a quiet pillar of the group. He didn’t have the songwriting chops that Paul and John had. That’s no crime, they were beyond generational and we aren’t likely to see a duo like that again.

But Harrison often led the Beatles into new territory, including introducing them to Ravi Shankar and Hindu mythology and musical inspiration. He was a harbinger for them, although a subtle one.

Like his bandmate and friend, he died too young, but he left us some damned-good music, and even when he was reflecting on his mortality, he saw the glint of sunlight in the gloaming.

C29bd02284b306cea71bd4e301aac8f9
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.
Avatar
#1 Koolmoedee
September 01 2014, 01:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
32
props

Am I the only one who thinks a little bit of patience is in order with regards to Baertschi? He's a 2011 draft pick, and while he hasn't locked down a full-time roster spot yet, few members of his draft class drafted later than him have established themselves yet either.

I don't hear anyone clamouring to trade all the players with even fewer games than Baertschi, which include: Guadreau, Nathan Bealieu, Oscar Klefbom, Rickard Rackell, Tomas Jurco, John Gibson, Tyler Wotherspoon, and many other quality prospects. And how many of those players have the offensive upside of Baertschi?

I recognize this is the last year of his ELC, but I don't see why his contract situation needs to force him to accellerate his development. Some players take a while to develop but are worth the wait. Backlund was a 2007 pick who didn't establish himself until last year. Brodie was a 2008 pick whose first full NHL season was last year. On Detroit, Gustav Nyquist was a 2008 pick who still has yet to playa full NHL season.

Avatar
#2 prendrefeu
September 01 2014, 02:56PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
8
props

Why is Poirier set for Junior and not AHL?

Avatar
#3 beloch
September 01 2014, 03:15PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
3
props

You might want to check how you're calculating NHLE. e.g. Gaudreau's should be 67.2.

Avatar
#6 beloch
September 01 2014, 05:39PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
1
props

@RexLibris

Okay. Gaudreau's NHLE checks out if it's an average. I randomly did another spot-check (Reinhart) and the only 21.7 that came up was his WHL average NHLE (not including AHL). Also, why are there so many N/A's?

e.g. You can calculate a NHLE for Wolf, although it shouldn't be considered terribly reliable due to his age/league. Did you put N/A for players you don't think NHLE is representative for?

Avatar
#8 madjam
September 01 2014, 09:36PM
Trash it!
9
trashes
Props
0
props
Koolmoedee wrote:

Am I the only one who thinks a little bit of patience is in order with regards to Baertschi? He's a 2011 draft pick, and while he hasn't locked down a full-time roster spot yet, few members of his draft class drafted later than him have established themselves yet either.

I don't hear anyone clamouring to trade all the players with even fewer games than Baertschi, which include: Guadreau, Nathan Bealieu, Oscar Klefbom, Rickard Rackell, Tomas Jurco, John Gibson, Tyler Wotherspoon, and many other quality prospects. And how many of those players have the offensive upside of Baertschi?

I recognize this is the last year of his ELC, but I don't see why his contract situation needs to force him to accellerate his development. Some players take a while to develop but are worth the wait. Backlund was a 2007 pick who didn't establish himself until last year. Brodie was a 2008 pick whose first full NHL season was last year. On Detroit, Gustav Nyquist was a 2008 pick who still has yet to playa full NHL season.

When did Oscar Klefbom become a Flame ?

Avatar
#9 Parallex
September 01 2014, 11:12PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Props
5
props

@RexLibris

Blah, Myers? Why?

Seriously... why? Myers hasn't been good since his rookie year... and it's not like "he only doesn't look good because of Buffalo" hasn't looked good he just doesn't look good period. I'm not completely opposed to trading him at the right price but the right price isn't a more expensive guy with even more bloom off the rose.

Avatar
#10 coachedpotatoe
September 02 2014, 06:23AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
4
props

9 more sleeps until the young stars tournament and some of these young guys get ti strut their stuff and determine the peeking order. As the Flames have not announced who is going yet I have a number of questions:

1. Is Sven going to the young stars. In a previous post it was suggested because of number of NHL games played he might not be there. Last years YST was not good for Sven as he came in with wrong attitude. Hopefully if he is there he comes with the right attitude and sees this as an opportunity to be one step ahead of other?

2. Injury and health front. Will Poirier and Spoon take place after their shoulder surgey? How well has Ferland knee recovered and will the Flames experiemnet with him at RW? How is Sieloffs game after missing most of last season? How bad was Klimchuks injury at the WJC camp?

3. Wolf? Will he be there and if he is how well does he do?

4. Who will Ortio's backup be at the YST?

The rest of my questions will be answered on the ice as the prospects work to earn their spots in the organization.

Avatar
#11 ChinookArch
September 02 2014, 07:13AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
5
props

Well written and argued Rex.

I'm not convinced that this team will do better than 26th overall. While the goaltending has improved, the forward ranks appear to be more of a push than an improvement. The biggest reasons for the Flames falling rather than rising this year are 'being a know entity' and the strength of the western conference.

The Flames will surprise no team this year, and few teams will be willing to take a night off against them. I believe fewer teams will willing to put their backup in against this team, especially as playoff races tighten up. This is particularly true in the west where there are 5 powerhouse teams and two or three playoff spots will be up for grabs for the remaining 7 of 10 teams. Points within the west will be hard to come by. The Flames for at lest 12 teams will be absolute 'must wins' all season long. If the above is true, the Flames may struggle getting 15 wins in the western conference and would have to rely on beating eastern conference team to reach 500 hockey. This is the worst case scenario, but I don't think it's outside the realm of possibilities.

Avatar
#14 Greg
September 02 2014, 08:14AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
5
props

@RexLibris

I agree. The Coyotes shed Riberio, Vrbata, Morris, and another year off Doan's career this off season, and Sam Gagner doesn't exactly off-set all that. I'm surprised they haven't been talked about more in the McDavid sweepstakes. I don't think they are worst-in-the-league obviously, but they belong in the conversation as much as, say, Winnipeg does now.

There's a lot of bad teams heading into this season. Buffalo, Ottawa, Florida, Calgary, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Arizona, Carolina, etc. Flames won't make the playoffs, but they are for sure not guaranteed to be bottom 5 either. Unfortunately. I hate purgatory.

Comments are closed for this article.