Flames Comparables – Part 3

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 28: Jay Bouwmeester #4 of the Calgary Flames in action during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on January 28, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Flames 3-2 in an overtime shootout. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


(In this final part of the series, Robert Vollman takes a look at the Flames offensive defensemen)

Jay Bouwmeester, 27

When Calgary made a 25-year-old Bouwmeester one of the highest paid defensemen in the league last year, the Flames were hoping for a potential Norris contender, while Bouwmeester was hoping to see the first post-season action of his career.  They were both sorely disappointed.  After 167 points over 4 full post-lockout seasons in Florida, Bouwmeester managed just 29 points – will he bounce back this year, or did the Flames accidentally find their own Wade Redden?

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Age Closest Comparable       GP  G  A PTS

26 Rick Lanz         1987-88 75  4 17  21

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27 Mike O’Connell    1982-83 80 10 29  39

27 Serge Savard      1972-73 74  6 28  34

26 Bill Gadsby       1953-54 70 14 37  51

29 Richard Smehlik   1998-99 72  3 12  15

25 Doug Crossman     1985-86 80  4 27  31

26 Pavel Kubina      2003-04 81 18 20  38

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25 Tom Poti          2002-03 80 11 39  50

27 Glen Wesley       1995-96 68  7 15  22

28 Randy Carlyle     1984-85 71  9 28  37


Worst (Smehlik)              82  4 13  17

Best (Gadsby)                82 16 44  60

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Average                      82 10 27  37


Comparables are a bit harder to find for a defenseman who scores 42 goals over 3 seasons and then manages only 3.  Nevertheless, I like the Bouwmeester projection perhaps better than any other:  he has played 82 games every year since the lock-out, consistently earns very close to 27 assists, and it makes sense that his goal scoring would bounce back to a double-digit threat.

 I don’t see Bouwmeester ever living up to the unrealistic expectations the Flames had of him when pen was put to paper in the summer of 2009.  Even if everything broke right and he had a season like Hall-of-Famer Bill Gadsby, it would still only barely be worth the money he’s paid.  You can’t succeed in the salary cap era with too many players like that, but still – a season like that sure wouldn’t hurt!

 Ian White, 26

 Ian White had a mini-breakout season, scoring 13 goals and 38 points, after three seasons in the 21-26 point range.  His even-strength scoring rate was always consistently in that strong 0.9-1.1 range, but over the last two seasons the diminutive blueliner finally got the ice-time he needed to translate that into difference-making offense.

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Age Closest Comparable       GP  G  A PTS

26 Chris Joseph      1995-96 70  4 13  17

26 Brian Pothier     2003-04 55  2  7   9

26 Dave Manson       1992-93 83 11 23  34

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27 Michel Petit      1991-92 70  3 19  22

25 Dennis Wideman    2008-09 79 13 36  49

27 Gord Murphy       1994-95 46  6 15  21

26 Dan McGillis      1998-99 78  8 40  48

28 Darryl Edestrand  1973-74 55  3  7  10

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27 Ed Westfall       1967-68 73 14 23  37

24 Pavel Kubina      2001-02 82 12 25  37


Worst (Pothier)              82  3 10  13

Best (Wideman)               82 13 37  50

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Average                      82  9 24  33


I’ll admit, the first thing I did when I saw this list was to look at heights and weights, unfortunately it’s hard to draw conclusions comparing the smallish Ian White with giants like Pavel Kubina.  I was among those to applaud Sutter for having the confidence to bring White to the Flames so soon after giving away Anton Stralman for being too small (though actually a little bigger than White), but size does play a factor in both the opportunities White will be given, and on his ability to capitalize. 

 Those of you looking at Wideman and McGillis to consider the upside, remember that those two players were simply part of a temporarily hot team, and returned to Earth the next season.  While 4 of these 10 dropped back down to lower levels of production, I think White is more like the 6 who did not – but I don’t expect him to go much higher.

 Mark Giordano, 27

 On a team with Jay Bouwmeester and Dion Phaneuf ($13.5 million), who would have thought their leading scorer would be Mark Giordano ($1.0 million), who had yet to break the 20-point mark?  He was not a huge scorer in the OHL, AHL nor in Russia (with the exception of a 58-point season for Omaha at age 22), so is this 30 point season his high-water mark, or a stepping stone to an even higher level?


Age Closest Comparable       GP  G  A PTS

26 Andre Dupont      1975-76 75  7 23  30

25 Chris Joseph      1994-95 33  5 10  15

25 Duncan Keith      2008-09 77  8 35  43

25 Patrice Brisebois 1995-96 69  8 25  33

28 Jim Morrison      1959-60 70  3 22  25

27 V. Konstantinov   1994-95 47  3 11  14

27 Jordan Leopold    2007-08 43  5  8  13

25 Richard Smehlik   1994-95 39  4  7  11

27 Dmitri Kalinin    2007-08 46  1  7   8

27 Adam Burt         1995-96 78  4  8  12


Worst (Burt)                 82  4  9  13

Best (Keith)                 82  8 37  45

Average                      82  7 21  28


Duncan Keith, Wow!  Even if you’re expecting big things from Giordano, it’s one thing to score 43 points with Toews and Kane, and it’s quite another on one the league’s lowest-scoring teams.  It’s more likely that Keith is on this list merely because of the difficulty in finding accurate comparables with only 3 seasons worth of data, but it’s still nice to see that potential upside. 

 The fact that an 11-goal defenseman doesn’t have a single comparable on pace for double digits is actually quite agreeable, given that Giordano’s own shooting percentage shot up from 2.4% to 9.9% last year.  Shooting percentage really tends to regress to the mean, so you can definitely use it as a guide to tell who is bound to score more (Tanguay, Bouwmeester) and who is bound to score fewer (Giordano).

 Apart from that, I’m not quite sure what to make of Giordano.  His higher scoring was a function of an amazing 4-and-a-half-minute increase in playing time – his even-strength scoring rate was actually his lowest ever.  Regardless of whether or not he can beat the projection, he’s still one of the NHL’s greatest bargains.

 Wrapping Up

 You probably realized several pages ago that the waters really didn’t clear up very much.  I don’t need comparables of my own to peer in to the future and hear you thinking “Iginla’s good for 53 to 89 points?  Gee, thanks for the newsflash Vollman!”  What can I say?  Anyone with a more accurate prediction than that is really just guessing, and yours is as good as anyone else’s, provided it has a reasonable precedent like those above.

In closing I’d like to thank Kent Wilson for inviting me to offer something to my fellow FlamesNation readers, and I encourage to be generous with their comments.

(Thanks again to Robert for putting in so much time and effort for this series. Make sure to check out his work at Puck Prospectus during the season)


  • In the limited amount of pre season play I’ve been able to watch, it looks like the D are more involved in the Offensive play than in years past, this is only going to help these guys numbers.

    Gio is a beauty, that goal he scored against Phoenix last year was epic! I’ve always thought he’s a great player, think he’ll continue to excel this year.

  • Well, I agree a whole buttload with most of these assessments, especially the defencemen. Especially JBo. He’s good, but unless he starts putting up 60 points a year in addition to his defensive abilities, he will forever be a moderate financial skidmark on my favourite team’s roster.