Season Preview: Flames Defense Reasonable Expectations



This is the companion piece to my reasonable expectations for Flames forwards. We’re talking about point totals here which are even worse at capturing a given players true value when it comes to defenders, but it’s an interesting line the sand nonetheless.

I repeated the process I used for the forwards here: averaging each guy’s scoring rate at both ES and on the PP from the last three seasons and then making some educated guesses about his ice time and extrapolating from there. Like the previous posts, I assumed about 48 ES minutes per game broken up between the six primary skaters, as well as six minutes on the PP.

Player ES ice time ESP/60 Expected ice expected ESP PP ice time PPP/60 Expected ice Expected PPP Total
Bouwmeester 20 0.60 1640 16 2.5 2.75 205 9 26
Giordano 19 0.83 1558 22 4 4.00 328 22 44
Butler 16 0.60 1312 13 2 2.59 164 7 20
Hannan 15 0.47 1230 10 0 0.00 0 0 10
Sarich 13 0.70 1066 12 0 0.00 0 0 12
Babchuk 13 0.90 1066 16 3.5 4.58 287 22 38


– With Regehr gone, I fully expect Giordano and Bouwmeester’s ES ice to get bumped a bit, even if they don’t play on the same pairing. I downgraded Sarich to the third pairing with Babchuk and then guessed Hannan and Butler would land somewhere betweent he two extremes.

– As you can see, Bouwmeester’s scoring rate is underwhelming at both ES and PP. That was true of him in both FLA and CGY. Of course, he has always played against pretty tough opponents in less than ideal circumstances, but with his skillset and at his price range, that level of output remains underwhelming.

– Giordano projects to be the blueline leader in points again. Last year was his lowest ES point pace in the last three, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back at the 0.8-0.9 rate again.

– Although he has some obvious faults, Anton Babchuk has certainly scored at a high rate throughout his brief career in the NHL. If he was good enough to play more than 13-14 minutes at ES, he could be a 50 point guy. As it is, though, he can still probably do some damage if the team continues to shelter him as much as possible.

– Not sure what to make of Chris Butler’s expected point total. Mostly because I still don’t know what to make of Chris Butler. 


Unless JayBo comletely outperforms his last three seasons and gets more PP time than I assume here, he’s going to be a object of scorn again due to his big contract. Giordano is the best bet to match or exceed the numbers listed here since his ice time is likely to go up, he boasted the best scoring chance ratio amongsts the regulars last year and had some of the worst luck. If the bounces reverse for him, he should easily meet or beat 44 points.

  • icedawg_42

    I think Bouwmeester may exceed both expectations and recent history…but I’ve been wrong before. I just hope Hannan and Butler can perform adequately enough to keep Babchuck out of the top 4

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Bouwmeester is the most intriguing out of all the defenders. He has the most raw talent among the group. As good as he is, he could be a lot better (at least as an offensive weapon). If the preseason is an indicator of what the team plans for him, he may be utilized like he was in Florida, where he sneaks in late as the 4th forward. If this is true, and it actually works, I could see a 15 goal season.
    Hard to bet on the guy after what we’ve seen, but Bouwmeester has the talent and skill to blow his previous performances out of the water.

  • marty

    good analysis, i think these numbers are achievable and if met will mean that scoring isn’t an issue again this season lets just hope the team can play a more of a puck possession game and keep the puck out of their own net.

  • I worked out a similar system for an article on the Canadiens I’m working on. The thing is that I found that if you go by this method you end up underestimating offensive production for a couple reasons.

    1. Injuries. Every lineup gets them and as a result, a player’s minutes per game will go up relative to what you’d project here.

    2. Other modes of play. I’m pretty sure your just using 5 on 5 and 5 on 4 data here. Thing is that 4 on 4, 5 on 3 and other less common modes of play tend to be more offensive minutes. Plus short handed play is worth a few goals each season. Long story short, about 11-12% of offense is not 5 on 5 or 5 on 4, which should be accounted for.

    I couldn’t think of a reasonably easy way to truly account for lost offense so ended up just inflating the numbers across the board to make up the difference.

    • Sure, although those points are probably more relevant for forwards that defenders. I mean, Flames blueliners collected all of 4 SHP combined last season.

      Not sure about the injuries thing though. Perhaps for the bottom end like Babchuk, but Giordano and JayBo are close to topped out. Bouwmeester played 1628 at ES last year and he was one of the league leaders. If anything, I’ve probably overestimated his ice time by tad.

      Another confounder is PP time. If the Flames draw a lot more or less penalties, that will mess with things too.

      The stuff about 5on3 and 4on4 is well taken though.