Flames Forwards Quantitative Analysis – The Rest




With Steinberg enjoying the spectacle of muscled, half-naked men grappling with each other in Toronto, the last of the quantative analysis series has fallen to me. We’ve already dealt with the defenders and top-six(ish) forwards, so here’s how the rest of the guys fared this season.

David Moss

Advanced Stats:

ESP/60: 2.36 (3rd out of 13)

PPP/60: 4.23 (4th out of 9)

Corsi/60: +8.26 (3rd out of 13)

Zone start: 53.8% (9th out of 13)

Quality of Comp (relative): +0.599 (7th out 13)

Moss spent about as much time on the 1st line as he did on the 4th by the end of the year, so it was tough to peg his role on the club. Injuries limited him to just 58 games and he played in relatively soft circumstances in aggregate, but he had a pretty solid bounce back season otherwise. When he was dropped to the fourth line with Tim Jackman, the paired combined to form probably the best "energy unit" in the league. That sounds like damning with faint praise, but the Moss+Jackman combo was so good for awhile, the 4th line was the Flames deadliest unit for a short-burst in the middle of the season.

Of course, David eventually moved up the depth chart thanks to his effectiveness and even found himself centering Iginla and Tanguay when Morrison found himself in the infirmary. That’s probably not the ideal role for Moss over the long run, but the fact that Sutter had enough faith in Moss to bump him ahead of established centers like Jokinen and Stajan (groan) to center the Flames top offensive unit speaks to the kind of year Mosser had.

We’ll be publishing scoring chance results later this week, but it seems appropriate to mention this little nugget here: Moss lead the Flames in terms of scoring chance ratio this season. Punching below his weight class with Jackman no doubt helped balloon the numbers somewhat, but that’s still a noteworthy accomplishment.

Mikael Backlund

Advanced Stats:

ESP/60: 1.58 (10th out of 13)

PPP/60: 5.38 (rank N/A)

Corsi/60: +14.89 (2nd out of 13)

Zone start: 54.3% (10th out 13)

Quality of Comp (relative): -0.016 (10th out of 13)

I was generally pleased with the progress Mikael Backlund made this season. Brent Sutter chose to actively shelter him throughout the year, but the youngster managed to knock the ball out of the park in terms of possession, which is a good indication for 21-22 year old. It’s a step that, say, Dustin Boyd was never able to take in his three seasons for the Flames and he played in similarly soft circumstances.

Backlund’s production at ES was fairly shrug worthy, but I’d say that outshooting and outchancing the bad guys is three quarters of the battle. The bounces didn’t help him this season either (PDO = 98.6), so I would expect his counting numbers to improve next season as a matter of regression, assuming he can continue his nice possession rate. His power-play production is listed as unranked because he didn’t play enough with the man advantage to really be comparable to the regulars. That said, I included it because that’s a nice number. The sample size is too small to really get excited, but at least the arrow is pointing in the right direction.

The best, most encouraging aspect to Backlund’s season was the obvious development that occured between October and April. He began the season as little more than a 4th line option and ended up centering Jarome and Tanguay when both Moss and Morrison went down for the count. Whats more, he didn’t look terribly out of place in that role. This should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt given the ease of the Flames opponents in the last week or so, but it’s still a good indication that the kid took a solid step forward this year. There’s no question that he’s a legitimate NHLer now. The next question is whether he can become a solid top-six forward in 2011-12.

Brendan Morrison

Advanced Stats:

ESP/60: 2.04 (5th out of 13)

PPP/60: 4.70 (2nd out of 9)

Corsi/60: -2.95 (10th out of 13)

Zone start: 50.7% (1st out 13)

Quality of Comp (relative): +0.771 (5th out of 13)

Like Moss, Morrison spent the first part of the season on the 3rd and 4th lines before being moved up to the top unit in the second half. He acquitted himself relatively well given his paltry salary, although the excitemnt about his results should be tempered. He finished the year with by far the biggest PDO on the club (102.8) but was underwater in terms of corsi meaning he was favored by the hockey gods this year (aside from that knee injury, of course). His lackluster possession number isn’t necessarily a grave indictment of Morrison, since just about every one who played in the Flames top-six for any length of time this year had mediocre outcomes by this metric. AT 36 years old he was kind of playing a bit over his head in the "top line" role and Sutter also wasn’t apt to start him in the offensive zone as often as everyone else, so his gig wasn’t the easiest one on the team.

Overall, I’d say Morrison was competent and good value for his deal. He’s most empahtically not a top-6 player anymore – not a good team anyways – and is at the age where things can drop off a cliff at any time. The club should step very lightly in seeking to re-sign him as a result.

Tim Jackman

Advanced stats:

ESP/60: 1.64 (9th out of 13)

PPP/60: 2.90 (8th out of 9)

Corsi/60: +16.31 (1st out of 13)

Zone start: 57.7% (13th out of 13)

Quality of Comp (relative): -1.033 (13th out of 13)

With apologies to the aforementioned Morrison, Tim Jackman probably wins the "most pleasant surprise" award for the Flames this year. Ostensibly signed to add muscle to the 4th line, Jackman instead turned out to be a better-than-average bottom-ender, frequently kicking the tar out of other "energy lines" and pugilists in terms of actually playing hockey. Jackman had the easiest minutes on the team in terms of forwards, but he managed to take full advantage of them. That’s about all you can ask of a guy making league minimum wage.

It should be noted that Jackman didn’t do it all single-handed. Besides being uber-sheltered by Brent, he also spent a lot of time with other better-than-average "4th liners" including Backlund and Moss. That’s not to say Jackman was riding coattails or anything – just that his results might be pumped up a little. There’s no question, however, he’s an effective player and a good value signing.

Tom Kostopolous

Advanced stats:

ESP/60: 1.16 (13th of 13)

Corsi/60: +3.62 (7th of 13)

Zone start: 51.7% (4th of 13)

Quality of Comp (relative): -0.813 (12th out of 13)

Kostopolous’ numbers are somewhat sullied by spending the first few months in Carolina, so keep that in mind. His corsi rate is probably something that needed a revival when he arrived in town given the fact the Hurricanes weren’t the best team at driving the play north this summer for instance.

There wasn’t a lot to complain about when it came to the ex-Hab this year: he was, as advertised, a capable 3rd/4th line guy. He didn’t knock the ball out of the park like Backlund or Jackman, but then his circumstances were mildly tougher (lower zone start) as well. I’m not sure how far above replacement level Kostopolous is at this point, but he’s at least good enough not to be a detriment to his line mates.

Niklas Hagman

Advanced stats:

ESP/60: 1.25 (12th of 13)

PPP/60: 3.96 (5th of 9)

Corsi/60: +4.40 (6th of 13)

Zone start: 51.1% (12th of 13)

Quality of Comp (relative): +0.214 (8th of 13)

Hagman’s ES production went down the toilet this year, in part because of a farily rotten personal SH% of 7.9. He wasn’t compelling enough a player to make-up for his lack of scoring, however, resulting in his ultimate demotion to the 4th line and a waiving near the end of season. The last year of his $3M contract looks like another in need of a buy-out, but there’s a chance Hagman will be able to bounce back a little next season if given the chance. His possession rate is pretty bland given how often he played against nobodies this season, but at least he wasn’t completely underwater. I wouldn’t weep if he found himself on the farm or in Europe come October though.


Craig Conroy, Ales Kotalik, Freddy Modin, Greg Nemisz, Lance Bouma

None of these guys played enough to really give a fair quantative assessment of their efforts. Suffice to say: Conroy is retired, Kotalik is an albatross, Modin is broken and the kids aren’t quite ready for prime time yet.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Basically Hagman was a tiny little bit better than Kosto.

    $3M for a non-fighting version of Tom Kostopolous? No thanks.

    Ownership allowed Darryl to put these guys (Stajan, Kotalik, Hagman, etc) on this team. If the players can’t earn a spot, they ought to be demoted (AHL or KHL) at the owners expense.

  • T&A4Flames

    Maybe this is a little off topic but, what would Sather give in return if we took Drury off his hands? Hear me out. If we traded Stajan for Drury we dump a poor contract that lasts 3 more years. Yes, it’s at 3.5mil/yr but 1 year of Drury at 7mil/yr gets us out of an undesirable contract at the end of this year (along with a few more) instead of being stuck with Stajan for 3 more years. And maybe we pick up a draft pick or prospect in the process. I know, we don’t have the money but if we dump Hagman and Kotalik along with Stajan, we should be ok. Sather wants a shot at Richards and will have to clear cap space to do it.

    • That’s not a bad suggestion, assuming the Flames ownership is about willing to basically give up the season to get rid of Stajan down the road. Acquiring Drury would mean eating up pretty much all the the Flames cap room and kill what chances they have of icing a comparable competitive team I think.

      • Couldnt they feasibly trade Stajan for Drury and then demote him and still be ahead 3.5 million? That to me just makes sense because they would be saving a lot of dough and both teams win. Drury sucks but might not suck that bad in the minors.

        • True Brent. Drury only makes 5M in real dollars next year (Stajan makes 8.5M over the rest of his contract), so the team might willing to do that. Of course, the Rangers could also take that route and they have substantially more money than Calgary’s owners…so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them bury him themselves a la Redden this summer.

          • T&A4Flames

            I don’t think he could be demoted, he has a no movement clause. At least that is what I’ve heard the last couple of days. However, I have also heard that he may be out with more injury issues so it may be possible they could end up putting him on LTIR. NYR couldn’t take that chance as they would need to clear the cap space before making a pitch for Richards. I just think that at the end of next year is when the Flames will have to look at a “rebuld/retool”. Why not not take a chance on contracts expiring this year, just prior to the new CBA I might add. Who knows, maybe Drury gets motivated, finds his game and we move him at the deadline for another pick. Getting something for Stajan at this point would be wonderful.

          • joey joe joe jr shabadoo

            Kent, just out of curiosity, are you sure the Rangers ownership has more money than the Flames ownership?

            whether it’s true or not I’m not sure, but I have heard the Flames ownership is the wealthiest in the league…….As far as I know they have at least two Billionaire’s in the group

  • Emir

    Beeker has the right idea but I doubt the ownership has the guts to do it. The ownership has the same line of thought as Darryl did, that’s why he was here for the last year where it was bad trade one after the other.

    If the franchise is serious about winning they have the players compete for a spot or goto the farm/Europe. But I think they will just keep things as it is and hope Brent can make garbage into gold.

  • joey joe joe jr shabadoo

    Does Drury have a NTC? Can’t see Drury wanting to come back to Calgary. Daryll even said as much when he was dealt to Buffalo, if I remember correctly Daryll acknowledged that Drury would rather have been playing in the NE United States.

    furthur more, the idea or argument that the flames ownership will either buyout or bury the Hagman and Stajan deals is a pipe dream. Kotalik will not return and he maybe the only buyout providing he doesn’t go to Europe.

    But even if the Flames decide to waive the magic wand and dispatch these boat anchors, who replaces them? There is almost no evidence anyone is ready(able)to step up from Abbotsford. And just cause you have cap space doesn’t mean you can just load up the shopping cart with what ever it is you need.

    Simply put, I would expect to see Hagman and Stajan on the opening day roster next year. All Flames fans can/should hope for is Stajan takes his off season training seriously and actually shows up ready to play hockey this year. As for Hagman……well…..the Flames are just going to have to let that deal expire the same way they had to ride out Staios’s deal.