What is Joe Colborne's role on the Flames?

Ari Yanover
March 27 2015 01:00PM

Joe Colborne didn't make his NHL debut with the Calgary Flames, but he may as well have. His 16 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs - where he was traded in exchange for the services of one Tomas Kaberle - were unremarkable, resulting in one goal, six points, and an average of 12:34 in ice time. It got to the point he had to be traded again, if only so the Leafs could continue to dress two goons in the lineup every night (a practice the Flames also followed in Colborne's first season with them, and not a good look for either team).

Colborne has two problems, though. First: he found his way onto his third NHL organization before he started regularly playing, never really getting a chance with the Leafs or Boston Bruins, who drafted him in the middle of the first round. He didn't play regularly until his hometown team and former general manager picked him up.

Second: he ended up being ninth in Flames scoring in his rookie season - although the next four guys had higher point per game averages than he did - which is respectable enough, except for the fact that his most common linemates that year were Sean Monahan (fellow rookie, fifth in scoring) and Mike Cammalleri (third).

Cammalleri's gone now, replaced by the inferior Mason Raymond, and Colborne doesn't really get to play with Monahan anymore. So what's his role on the team now?

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Musings on the alternate universe in which the Flames do not sign Jonas Hiller

Ari Yanover
March 25 2015 11:00AM

This has been one of the more interesting years for Flames goaltending in recent history. Of course, that's a pretty easy feat to accomplish when most of said recent history was watching Miikka Kiprusoff suit up for at least 70 games a season, but still: it's been interesting.

Ryan recently wrote on Bob Hartley's tendency to spot the goalie with the hot hand and ride him endlessly. Right now, that goalie is Karri Ramo. But with Jonas Hiller having started 39 games this season to Ramo's 29 - not to mention the fact that Ramo has been pulled for Hiller's relief way more often than vice versa - Hiller has been an absolutely crucial part of the team's goaltending this season. Hell, he's been an absolutely crucial part of the team overall. Jonas Hiller was the best thing the Flames did on July 1, 2014.

So, what if they hadn't gotten him?

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Taking a closer look at the top line's high shooting percentages

Ari Yanover
March 22 2015 11:00AM

The Flames' sudden jump in shooting percentage is one of the reasons they're in a playoff position this year. Following my piece, Beloch pointed out the Flames' top point-getters are all beneficiaries of this phenomenon; and as of today, are the team's only 20 goal scorers. Kent touched on this some in his most recent mailbag as well.

As Jiri Hudler is experiencing the second best shooting percentage of his career - and up 3.2% from last season - he's having a career year offensively. Many of us predicted Sean Monahan to regress based on his rookie shooting percentage of 15.7%, but he's only exceeded that, scoring even more along the way. Johnny Gaudreau's new so we can't really compare him to his previous performances, but we can note his clip isn't as high as his linemates'.

What are they doing to succeed so efficiently?

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TJ Brodie: the Flames' very own Duncan Keith

Ari Yanover
March 18 2015 09:09AM

Great minds, guys.

TJ Brodie and Duncan Keith comparisons aren't necessarily anything new - we're talking about two defencemen known for their elite skating ability and two-way play, and now that Brodie is becoming known league-wide, it's all the more appropriate to discuss - but here, at Flames Nation, you get two in two days!

Without talking it over with anyone, I kind of spontaneously started writing a piece on how Brodie is following Keith's trajectory back on Monday. Tuesday comes, and Byron's wonderful piece comparing this year's Flames to the 2007-08 Blackhawks is unveiled, complete with the very same "TJ Brodie is the Flames' Duncan Keith" thought. Now it's Wednesday, and you get to read a more in-depth take on that.

There are more obvious comparisons out there, of course; most notably, the whole Sean Monahan-Jonathan Toews Johnny Gaudreau-Patrick Kane thing. But the Keith one is crucial because while of course the high picks of Toews and Kane helped the Blackhawks franchise massively, they already had the workings of a top defence pairing in place beforehand. And as the Edmonton Oilers have shown us, high forward picks with no defence in place doesn't exactly get you anywhere.

Brodie has been the Flames' Keith: an absolutely crucial part of the rebuild.

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Musings on the alternate universe in which the Flames do not acquire Brandon Bollig or Deryk Engelland

Ari Yanover
March 17 2015 01:00PM

One thing we can all pretty much agree on when it comes to Brandon Bollig and Deryk Engelland: they are not what anyone would consider a high end player. Or a player necessary with which to win. Both may have been part of Cup contending teams, but that's probably more the fault of, like, Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby than their own efforts.

And there's nothing wrong with that. There is, however, something wrong when you somehow confuse a bad player on a good team for a good player.

And then do things like give a cap-strapped team an asset to take him off their hands at your own expense. Or sign them to a deal virtually every hockey fan and insider alike in existence paused before saying, "... That can't be right?" Those parts are particularly not good.

It was not a particularly great start to Brad Treliving's general managing career. The good news is neither move really hurts the Flames long term. The even better news is that Treliving hasn't done anything like it since July 1, 2014.

The bad news is the Flames are still stuck with both players for another two seasons. The Flames' team cap hit is so low they shouldn't interfere with the really important stuff, like re-signing Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, but... they're still there, you know?

All this leads me to think about what might be different for the Flames had they not acquired Bollig and Engelland. A futile exercise, sure; after all, what's done is done and both players are on the team, for better or worse. But it can be fun to think about.

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