Weekend Open Thread: Possession Anchors and Balloons


As we all revel in the awesomeness that is the Chicago/LA series (and last night’s game in particular), why not finish off the last of my brief possession look-backs?

Who makes their teammates consistently, considerably better at driving the play? Conversely, who was an absolute drain on the life-force of the team’s offensive drives? That’s what I tried to dig into here.

My approach was rather simple: anybody who played 100 even-strength minutes together was compared. Players that increased (or decreased) another’s Corsi by 10% or more (compared to that player apart from them) were noted and listed here, listed from biggest to smallest differences made. Your mileage may vary.


  • Brodie makes Byron 15.6% better
  • Giordano makes Cammalleri 15.3% better
  • Giordano makes Monahan 13% better
  • Giordano makes Byron 13% better
  • Brodie makes Backlund 13% better
  • Brodie makes Colborne 12.7% better
  • Giordano makes Backlund 12.2% better
  • Brodie makes Cammalleri 11.5% better
  • Cammalleri makes Byron 11.4% better
  • Backlund makes Brodie 11.3% better
  • Galiardi makes Bouma 11% better
  • Cammalleri makes Giordano 10.9% better
  • Giordano makes Hudler 10.8% better
  • Giordano makes Colborne 10.7% better
  • Giordano makes Stempniak 10.5% better
  • Backlund makes Byron 10.3% better
  • Byron makes Brodie 10.2% better
  • Backlund makes Cammalleri 10% better

The Brodie/Backlund/Giordano trio was absolute possession GOLD. Byron and Cammalleri appear here often, too, indicating that they may not necessarily drive play a lot on their own, but fare well with the right players. And I spy T.J. Galiardi, sneaking in there in the middle.


  • Smid makes Byron 14% worse
  • McGrattan makes O’Brien 13.8% worse
  • McGrattan makes Galiardi 13.3% worse
  • Monahan makes Glencross 11.8% worse
  • Glencross makes Monahan 11.4% worse
  • McGrattan makes Smid 11.3% worse
  • Smid makes Jones 11% worse
  • Glencross makes Colborne 11% worse
  • Glencross makes Brodie 11% worse
  • Butler makes Hudler 10.1% worse

Glencross had a rough season. Traditionally (a) Calgary’s heart and soul and (b) one of its better possession players. This year he battled injuries and never found his real rhythm. Also not good: Smid and McGrattan. Other than Glencross, no shocks here.

To be honest, I expected more Westgarth and O’Brien here, but neither was in a pairing that hit the 10% threshold.

    • MattyFranchise

      Like I said after the trade, I like Smid as a 6/7 D-man but that’s about it. He’s a good bottom of the rotation player.

      On the other hand, maybe he wouldn’t have to block so many shots if he didn’t give up as much. But still, 27 years old, I’m not complaining too much.

      • MattyFranchise

        Smid is your 6/7 defenceman who needs to play with someone who can effectively get to the puck and get the puck out of trouble. For example if either Russell or a healthy Wides retrieve the puck and Smid is blocking the puck and smacking guys he is more effective if he is the guy trying to move the puck then he id problematic. I would say the same thing for Butler but he is a bit better. You phycial defenders but if they are not effective puck movers then they must play with guys who can pass or skate the puck out of danger.

        • beloch

          For three seasons before last season, Smid was on Edmonton’s top pair and, even with a steaming pile of a team surrounding him, he had better possession stats than he did this season on Calgary’s second and third pairs. He’s just 28, so it’s too soon for him to be slowing down. Nonetheless, he fell off a cliff this season! I’d bet Walter White’s short-hairs that he was playing injured.

          Smid is a player who I would expect to rebound, so selling him now would likely be selling him cheap.

            • TheoForever

              Garry Roberts could not do one either and he became a tough guy.
              Pull-ups are not that great at determination of pretty much anything.
              Imagine how good he will become when he gets stronger.
              Bennett is my top choice.

            • TheoForever

              Exactly. Talk about much ado over nothing. Amazing hockey player with incredible compete level, but he needs to get stronger. Ok.

              There’s millions of people who can bang out 20 pullups, yet can’t skate, so what? What does that have to do with his hockey playing ability?

              Train, get stronger, learn proper technique. With the right trainer and dedication a kid that age can be knocking out 10 pullups by September.

              Are we supposed to draft Ho-sang over Bennett now or something? How many pull-ups could Gretzky or Lemieux do as 17/18 year olds? Ridiculous conversation.

            • T&A4Flames

              He was never my guy. IMO, Ekblad, Reinhart and Draisaitl are ahead of him.

              Scouts have questioned his ability to put on weight, and now we know he has a long way to go to gain strength. Still likely a good pick but will he ever be able to gain the strength needed to play his style of game at the pro level and forever be hurt?

    • MattyFranchise

      I also want to add that Smid sucks at skating. Jones and Byron do not suck at skating. I think that is the primary reason why he’s dragging them down. Not such a good passer either.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      On a different note:

      I’ve noticed on message boards etc. the propensity of people, around draft time, to conjure up these elaborate trade proposals to get more picks.

      This sentiment draws off the larger sentiment or rather the wishful thinking surrounding (and valuing the draft pick asset).

      -Calgary should NOT try and solve all of the supposed organizational deficiencies (D, RW) in one draft.

      It seems people read a scouting report and believe all players that get ranked or written about are going to make the NHL and BE the NHL player they are compared to.

      Trading guys like Sven to get a mid level first round pick in which the hope is to draft Alex Tuch is (sven)sanity!!!

      a. sven needs more time before he is tossed aside
      b. who knows if Alex Tuch is available when that pick is called on.
      c. who knows if Alex Tuch is really any good?
      d. what if, in getting all these d and rw, Calgary bypasses better players?

      The actual value of pick vs the value of the player you get from a pick is an interesting psychology to me.

      people view a first round draft pick so highly compared to say a Sven (who was a first round pick)

      You build an organization over time. ALWAYS take the best player available.

      Just because you have some holes doesn’t mean you fill them all at once. It takes time to build.

      So you fill the depth chart with guys who have RH shots or play D and RW and THN writes a good review. So what? What if those players suck? What if you could have had much better players that are all LW – which you trade – to fill out depth.

      Again it takes time – but this is how you craft a team.

      Bah! Pro teams know this -Well maybe not EDM, which when you think about it are more accurately called a Bro team with all old boys club-

      I hope Calgary continues to draft smart players. As Jimmy Johnson (NFL coach) says – never draft a dummy – you can’t reason with a dummy.

      • beloch

        Re: Baertschi and Picks

        A player drafted around Baertschi’s position has a 30-40% chance of not making it to 200 games in the NHL[1]. We often don’t adequately appreciate this, probably because we are continually bombarded with the names of successes while the failures quietly disappear. Baertschi has already played 50 games in the NHL and put up 24 points in the process of doing so. So far, he appears to be a successful pick.

        IF you were to trade Baertschi for a pick, the pick would have to be significantly earlier than the #13 he was selected with, both to reflect the higher risk and the delay in time before the pick will (hopefully) be ready to contribute.


      • MattyFranchise

        Trading guys like Sven to get a mid level first round pick in which the hope is to draft Alex Tuch is (sven)sanity!!!

        Indeed. Trading a prospect–who has, quite frankly, been FINE–for a draft pick is dumb management. Especially regarding a guy like Tuch, who I would be concerned over how much of his success can be attributed to his frequent linemates Jack Eichel and Sonny Milano.

        What if you could have had much better players that are all LW – which you trade – to fill out depth.

        And this is basically what has happened to the Flames, when you get right down to it. Trading a LW for a RW is, to be honest, kind of a bad idea since most wingers can play either side. IF Sven is traded, it’s for a higher-end young DEFENSEMAN.

    • Listened to Conrad talking about the interviews yesterday; the Flames were doing 63/64 I think he said. It would be interesting to see the list. Was it 1-10, then 25-40, 45-70 and some others, or was it just 1-63. We know they interviewed the Hitmen. Connie also said that he and Treliving had different choices for 4 but thatboth young men were impressive.

      Much of the talk about trading to move up, add a pick or to upgrade is just filler space as we wait for anything to happen and often it’s more entertaining than some of the articles we read so I’m okay with it. We all have opinions and that’s what makes it fun to read.

    • Tommynotsohuge

      Hey Kent. You tweeted the other day about Edmonton being after Doug Murray. We’re you just hoping for that, or are there legitimate rumors floating around?

    • mattyc

      nice work.

      One inportant point to keep in mind with this stuff is the circumstances. For example, I’m skeptical that Glencross is actually dragging down the possession stats of Monahan and Colborne. It’s much more likely that when they play with Glencross, they play against better players (soemthing that shows up in the data a bit too, since Glencross makes Monahan worse, but Monahan also makes Glencross worse).

      • beloch

        Giordano is listed as 6’0″ and 200 lbs while Brodie is listed as 6’1″ and 182 lbs. These two are pretty small for a top pair, but they’re one of the better top pairs in the league. It was a hoot watching Regehr rag-doll opponents, but fast, skilled defenders who can play the puck as well or even better than they play the body are more viable in the NHL than ever. One can only hope Burke and Treliving recognize what’s working for their team and remain open to smallish but highly skilled defenders.

        • SmellOfVictory

          I’m sure they’ll still be open to it. From a drafting perspective there’s not too much to worry about because this draft’s 2nd-3rd round is potentially filled with bigger dmen: Dougherty, Vanier, Sanheim, Peters, Glover, etc.

    • I really don’t care if Sam Bennett can do a pull up or not. You can teach a person how to do a pull up, but you can’t teach skill, which matters more when you have the #4 draft pick.

      Does anyone know if the NHL publishes any combine information? I’ve only seen the top ten in every category, never a full list.

      • I would be worried Bennett can’t do a pull up…not the be all and end all but a good measure of specific upper body strength. IMO a young man headed into his professional draft SHOULD be able to do a pull up….several in fact. The fact that he cannot indicates he may not know where the weight room is…..yikes!

        • xploD

          I’m a little concerned too….

          I have 30 years and 30 pounds on the cream puff, but I can do a handful of pull ups.

          Sure, sure……..I get that I’m a super sexy freak of nature…….

          There are ( and probably will be) some big boys in the Pacific division!


        • Well if you consider the top ten at the combine for pullups, their central scouting ranks are either mid first round (Deangelo, Milano) to anywhere in the mid third and early fourth round (Perron, Iacopelli). The pull-up is not the deciding factor for combine measurements.

          It is valid to worry about his strength, but with his skillset, it shouldn’t be the deciding issue on whether or not he should be drafted high.

    • xploD

      The way I look at it is, he’s clearly got the compete level, and he was embarrassed, so I’m sure getting stronger will be his biggest goal. If does this all while being weak I’m sure he will be better when he is strong, so doesn’t change my mind whatsoever. Most younger players that don’t understand training will focus on bench, delts, core, not understanding creating muscle imbalances leads to injury OR that generating power for a shot or hit comes from your entire body, not just your anterior chain.

      Hoping to one day train top hockey athletes.
      I break things down into controllable manageable goals instead of just one style of all out training.

      Muscle Mass – Typical hypertrophy /
      Speed training – Neurological explosiveness (functional strength) /
      Correcting typical hockey imbalances that lead to injury. /
      Reaction time – Software and real world training. /
      Mindset – Meditation, Successful visualization, work ethic. /
      Anecdotal nutritional choices (most teams still feed athletes GMO pasta’s) /
      Puck handling & shot’s on uneven standing platforms.

    • xploD

      I think your perspective is flawed.

      Yes he’s weak, he only failed one test, he is only weak specifically in his BACK. Should anyone make a choice based on a pullup on a kid just coming out of highschool? I think not.

      He will become more effective, faster, stronger on the puck etc once he starts training with proper guidance, Which leads to ‘increased production’ in every area of the game with almost zero chance of regression. If he did all of this while being the strongest of them all, that proves what exactly? That he can TRAIN? Which would put more limits on his potential to become better. With him being almost untrained, his potential is much higher than it would be otherwise. He is tenacious when he is on the ice, imagine when he is strong.

      Two players in the same league. (hypothetical)

      Player #1 100 points in 60 games – Fully trained, benches 400, squats 600, nearly as fast as he can go, competes hard.

      Player #2 100 points in 60 games – Nearly untrained, benches 150, Squats 200, could move a lot faster, competes hard.

      Personally I go with player 2 100% of the time considering they are almost identical except in physical development. This is leaving out potential character flaws that could a causing factor.

      • supra steve

        I agree, as long as the kid is currently doing some kind of strength training and is agreeable to modifying that program. This failure could I suppose, in part, lead to Bennett falling to the Flames at the draft. Interesting.

        Hopefully he is not from the Ryan House School of Hockey Training. If he is, the Flames are smart enough to use their first pick on someone else.

        I’m of similar vintage to WW, and I know that I can still do at least a few pull-ups, though I may dislocate a shoulder in the process at this stage.

        How embarrassing/humbling for the kid.

        • supra steve

          Pull ups aren’t a huge factor but it is an indicator on Bennett’s overall strength. Those who have conditioned their body for this particular exercise should be doing 20, but even a novice should knock off 5. What concerns me is every prospect knew the drill coming in and you’d think they’d be prepared to at least not embarrass themselves. It’s overall fitness, attitude and of course skill but a kid showing up and embarrassing himself in front of his peers and more importantly, team scouts is not impressive.

          • supra steve

            Top guy at the combine did 13 pull-ups (JOSHUA HO-SANG), they are all young and have a lot of work to do. But ZERO! That’s really embarrassing for a highly skilled/conditioned athlete. Not saying that should dissuade a high pick being spent on this kid, just that he must be embarrassed.

            • T&A4Flames

              Probably embarrassed him enough to totally dedicate to strengthening himself & then 4-5 years later, the kid is going to be talked about in elite terms. Maybe we get lucky & he’ll now fall to us. Wonder what it would take to snag the Islanders 5th overall pick.

            • supra steve

              Hey, I agree. If Bennett falls to the Flames, I think they would be happy with that selection.

              I doubt that gaining another top 10 pick this year is in the cards though.

              I wonder though, if the Flames haven’t opened the door to offers to trade back a few spots, if the right deal comes along (Conroy’s comments about a top tier of 7-8 players). If they could get something like #6 from Vancouver plus the VAN first in 2015, would it be wise to move that 4th overall plus a roster player? Could similar deals be worth considering with CAR or TML? All depends on how quickly any of these teams want to rebound back to playoff contention/ and if the Flames really have a list of 7-8 guys in their top tier of this draft.

            • supra steve

              Really hard to say whether we can get another 1st by trading down 2 spots. I doubt Vanc does that. I think at this stage of the rebuild, I would love to get another top 10 pick but for us to trade down, that would depend who is available. We gotta get this one right & picking 4rh is the best chance of accomplishing that. Where me, I’d give up Hudler + in a package to get that extra top 8 1st pick. But you are right, it’s hard to extract a top 10 pick these days.

          • TheoForever

            Heavier people with longer arms will have more difficulty with them. If you never did those especially with hand configuration with palms facing away, you could practice for 2-3 months and still not be able to do them. If the kid can bench press 150lbs on a machine as max, odds are better than good he will not be able to do even one pull up. No big deal.

            • supra steve

              Ridiculous comment obviouslly from someone who has never spent time in a weight room. Three months working on back strength and pull ups should guarantee an 18 year old 10 or more. The comment that you could work on them for 3 months and not be able to complete one is absurd. No one is saying the guy with the most pull ups should be drafted #1 and everyone agrees that Bennett has incredible skill – the point is, he should have been better prepared for all areas to be tested to demonstrate commitment to all of the scouts.

            • TheoForever

              You are barking at the wrong tree. I have spent years in the gym when I was younger training with some bodybuilder friends.

              Perhaps steroids are affecting your perception of abilities of normal people.
              Most 17 year olds are weak and any guy 10 years older can break them in half.

              Back exercises take longer to produce effects than chest exercises, triceps much harder to improve than biceps.

              Look at Bennett’s hockey schedule, the fact that players lose weight and strength during the year, etc. Not so easy to gain muscle mass when you do nonstop cardio. That’s why players try to put on muscle in the offseason.

              And yeah your body weight and arm length will affect pull-ups. That’s basic physics, read a book.

    • supra steve

      Draistl is the ‘high risk’ pick in this draft. Weak skating and German background.

      If Bennett is available the Flames will be so fortunate!

      The FN fans who have fallen to the WW comment on the 1-pushup are the fools!

      • supra steve

        Wasn’t push-ups, it was pull-ups (a 7 year old can do a push-up). Wasn’t one, it was zero. He could not do a single pull-up! I guess it’s possible he has an injury…or he’s just super under-developed at this point?

        I agree that it could be a good thing if the Flames get a chance at selecting Bennett, would be nice to see them have the option anyway. Question is, would they take him, or have they got someone else above him?

      • T&A4Flames

        Care to qualify your remarks on Draisaitl? Something other than a border line racist comment about having “German background.” That’s how I took it anyway. Why exactly is he the high risk? Skating? His skating is on par with Monahan’s in his draft year. He’s big, has excellent vision, protects the puck maybe better than anyone in this draft and has the patience to hold on on to it until a play opens up.

        Bennett is the risk. Skill is great but if he has trouble adding weight and/or strength, that will be trouble long term playing the style he does.

        • Burnward

          No racism intended…it was purely around not having the North American mentality of rough tough hockey!

          His skating is a concern and size does not guarantee toughness and being ably to compete at NHL level.

      • supra steve

        Thanks for sending. As the analysts stated both Gary Roberts and RNH had issues with this at age 18/19. Should not be an issue!

        Regardless..Flames going to surprise and trade down and take Nick Ritchie and gain an additional second rounder!

        • supra steve

          RNH may not be a great example; he has already had shoulder surgery on his underdeveloped upper body……mind you; the Flames may not rush him into the NHL like the Oilers did with RNH…….


    • Burnward

      I would not give up on an 18 year old kid who has proven he has the skill of an elite prospect. Some of the agencies had him rated 1st overall. If he is available Flames must draft him!

      He has time to grow and get stronger. The interview process will give the Flames more insight into this.