Log Jam at Left Wing


(Regular readers of FN should recognize long-time quality commenter beloch. We’re giving him a chance to contribute beyond the comment section for a change. Here is his first article…welcome beloch!)

In terms of goal production, the Flames corps of forwards didn’t get it done this year. Yes, they outscored Edmonton, Vancouver, and even L.A., but they were still 23rd in the league in terms of goals per game. Part of the reason for this is that the Flames had just three established NHL left wingers and one of them, Curtis Glencross, missed more than half the season due to injury. A lot of left-wing minutes were played by rookies, centers, and even right wingers! To make matters worse, Mike Cammalleri may leave as a free agent this summer. There is hope though. The Flames’ farm system is bursting at the seams with quality left wing prospects, many of whom will be ready for NHL minutes next season. Some might be a few years from being useful NHLers but others seem almost certain to be valuable next season.  

Let’s take a quick look at the list.  Below is a list of players who have played LW for the Flames this season and, following that, a list of left wing prospects in the system. (Let me know if I missed any!)  The numbers in brackets for prospects are their NHLE and, for established NHLers, they’re points for an 82 game season based on their pace last season.

Established NHL’ers:

Natural LWs:

  • Mike Cammalleri (58.6)*
  • Curtis Glencross (51.8)
  • TJ Galiardi (22.5)

Natural Centers who have played LW:

  • Paul Byron (36.6)
  • Lance Bouma (15.8)

RWs who have played LW:

  • Ben Hanowski (20.3)
  • Brian McGrattan (8.6)
  • Kevin Westgarth (12.0)

Rookies and Prospects:

  • Johnny Gaudreau (67.2)
  • David Wolf (35.5)
  • Kenny Agostino (32.6)  
  • Morgan Klimchuk (31.9)
  • Emile Poirier (31.7)
  • Coda Gordon (29.6)**
  • Michael Ferland (26.0)
  • Sven Baertschi (25.5)***
  • Bryce Van Brabant (18.5)
  • Lane MacDermid (retired)

* Cammalleri is technically a natural center, but he’s played LW for the majority of his NHL career.  
** Coda Gordon was not signed and is headed back to the draft. This seems like a bit of a waste, but no doubt the “log jam” issue played a role.
*** Baertschi was on a 34.7 point pace in the NHL before being sent down, so the NHLE drawn purely from his AHL numbers may be deceptively low.

Scoreface and the Squid

It will hurt the team if Cammalleri walks. He is, hands down, the Flames best established left winger at present. Should he move on, Curtis Glencross will be the presumptive #1 left winger. Unfortunately, Glencross has a history of injuries and, at the age of 31, his struggles to stay healthy may continue. His point pace has declined year-over-year for two seasons now and his possession stats were disappointing this season as well. Glencross will still be a solid player next season but he almost certainly won’t be able to drive play against top competition for 82 games.

Things start to look a little scary once both Cammalleri and Glencross are out of the picture. Byron, despite being a natural center, is next in line, both because of his point generation and his ability to drive play. At just 25 and with relatively little experience in the NHL, Byron may take steps forward next season. Letting him walk would be exceedingly wasteful, so I expect he’ll be resigned before the summer is over.  

Mr. Wolf

So, what about the new guys?  First off, most NHL clubs would be very happy to have just a couple of wingers with NHLE of 25 or higher approaching readiness for the NHL. All of these guys have a shot at being quality NHLers but there are a few that stand out, starting with David Wolf.

Wolf actually has the second highest NHLE of any LW prospect right now. Trust me, I’m as surprised as you!  NHLE factors in a year of prospect development so, at the age of 24, his NHLE is probably inflated versus prospects who are younger and therefore statistically more likely to make big improvements to their games.  Unlike some of those younger prospects, Wolf is big, mean, and, physically at least, indisputably ready to step into the NHL. If nothing else, he should be an improvement over having Westgarth or McGrattan play left wing. I would expect some players on this list with lower NHLE (e.g. Baertschi) will eventually surpass him in terms of hockey skill.

Will that happen next season though?

Here’s Johnny!


The most outstanding prospect, of course, is Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau. His NHLE is double that of nearly every other prospect. It’s actually higher than the 82 game point paces of the established NHLers, including Cammalleri! At just 20 years old, his NHLE is probably not inflated either! 

The big question mark surrounding Gaudreau is his size. He is tiny. Many here at Flamesnation are of the opinion that he needs time to bulk up in order to be ready for the NHL. The NCAA is a league of physically mature men that is very nearly on par with the AHL, but the NHL is something else entirely. Can Gaudreau translate his success to the big league with such a tiny body? Here’s a great quote on that from somebody who ought to know:

Q: “You evolved yourself, in terms of your body, physically to compete at any level in the national hockey league. A kid like Gaudreau obviously needs to change his body structure a little bit.”

A: “I don’t think he does. I question that, Rog. You’ve gotta identify what makes you effective, You know, for me, neither of us are tall guys, but I think I play a little bit of a different game that way. For me, I was able to be very strong at a young age. It allows me to compete in certain ways out there with physical strength. Johnny is so quick and elusive… and so… almost slimy out there.

I don’t know. Maybe it helps him, maybe it doesn’t help him. I think, for him, he just gotta keep doing the things that he does really well and let that translate to this level. That would be my advice for him. I wouldn’t want to see him put on thirty pounds and come here next year and be a different player. I’d want to see him, in his body, be as fit as he can be and give himself the best chance to succeed. Could be dead wrong, maybe they said the opposite. This is my opinion.”

–Mike Cammalleri on Garbage Bag Day

I had my doubts, but they were entirely dispelled by watching Gaudreau play at the World Championship.

Monahan was probably invited to that tournament as an investment in the future. Everybody knows he’s going to be a superstar soon but, right now, he’s far from Team Canada’s best player. Backlund and Hudler are obviously great contributors to teams that don’t have the same kind of depth to draw upon that Team Canada does. 

Team USA has good depth to draw upon and they’ve got some brilliant NHL’ers playing for them. Despite Team USA being eliminated in the quarter-finals, Gaudreau was #10 on the tournament’s list of point leaders, just one point behind Alexander Ovechkin and Seth Jones. The only other Flame in the top 30 was Backlund, at #18. Remember, this kid is just 20. He was playing with the Juniors last year. Now he’s excelling at the World Championship.

He’s not being sheltered or being fed the puck either. Team USA gave him a lot of minutes and he was third on the team in plus/minus. Guadreau was a revelation to watch. He was all over the ice, stealing pucks constantly, making unbelievable passes, and outright embarrassing his competition by dancing through them as though they were mere lumber floating on a river. I’m with Cammalleri with regards to Gaudreau. He doesn’t need to bulk up. He’s a fantastic player right now and I suspect he might be Calgary’s best winger next season even if Cammalleri stays.  


Other hopefuls include Baertschi (who may or may not be ready to be an NHLer full time next season) and Emile Poirier, who had a big season in the OHL QMJHL (This was the editors fault, not belch’s – ed.) but likely needs a few years in the AHL to be ready.

Now, here’s my question for all of you… 

Calgary has a surplus of quality LW prospects. It’s good to keep developing players of all positions year after year, but the Flames simply have too many left wingers of nearly the same age right now. Hartley isn’t going to be able to find enough ice time to properly develop all of them.

So is it time to think about resolving the log jam by trading some of these prospects? Even just swapping a couple left wing prospects for right wing prospects would be a very smart move. What teams out there desperately need left wing prospects?

  • SmellOfVictory

    Couple of things:

    Reinhart (though a natural centre) has been playing LW in the AHL quite a bit, and also played LW in the NHL, so it seems likely he’ll stay on the wing.

    Also, Ferland is a RW by trade, although he is a left shot and maybe have played both wings.

  • redhot1

    I heard that even though Poirier shoots left, he plays right wing (or has the ability to). Can anyone confirm or deny this? That being said, in all honesty id rather see Sven traded before Poirier. Just my opinion.

    Also, we should sign Cammaleri if possible, then use him for trade bait near the deadline.

  • redhot1

    Good read, very nicely done. My question is, how many of our LW prospects can we move to RW? Is it a night and day type of change or is it something that can easily be done for wingers?

  • supra steve

    Nice first article beloch, much better than Lambert’s tripe, that I am no longer reading. I do agree that the strength on the left side sets the Flames up to (eventually) move some bodies for some right-handers.

    Only minor slip, Poirier played junior in the Quebec league, not the OHL.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    After watching Gaudreau in the World’s, my hopes are higher than they already were. He has all the tools and a very high hockey IQ, but I’m still worried about his size. I like what Cammalleri said about the perceived need to bulk up in order to be effective, but I still think he needs more mass to withstand a more physically violent league. I’d be happier if he were 175 lbs and not 145.

    Time will tell.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Of the guys listed, these are the ones who actually play LW and are worth discussing:

    Curtis Glencross
    Johnny Gaudreau
    Kenny Agostino
    Morgan Klimchuk
    Sven Baertschi
    TJ Galiardi
    Lance Bouma
    Paul Byron

    Of that list, Gaudreau, Klimchuk, and Baertschi are the only ones who are under 30 and project to being potential top 6 forwards, so I’d say they’re all keepers right now; especially because Klimchuk is at least one, if not two years out from even entering the NHL.

    Bouma, Byron, and Galiardi could comprise the Flames’ entire 4th line right now, and it would be a pretty darn good 4th line. Agostino would likely be an ideal fit on the 3rd line currently, although so would Max Reinhart at LW.

    Then there’s Glencross, who’s a useful stopgap for the next season or two, but when the time comes he may have to be allowed to walk (unless the Flames can convince him to waive his NMC).

    Either way, I think the logjam is less jammy than people perceive it to be, at least at the moment.

  • FeyWest

    Very good read for sure, well done Beloch.

    The question I have due to my lack of actual hockey exp, and am sure to be enlightened which is encouraged, do we need to trade for “RW” how hard is it to swap a LW -> RW, is it an experiment worth considering before trading?

    What are all the factors going into determining your “Strong” side? I do agree though we our RW prospects are pretty barren and in the rebuilding years am sure will be taken care of much like our D corps.


    • piscera.infada

      At least as far as I know, there’s a few different challenges. First, is just overall comfort. A lot of players are more effective in terms of shot and passing on one side of the ice as opposed to others (many players are not as proficient receiving a pass on their back hand, or many will take longer to shoot on their “off-wing”, for instance). Second, is team system. I know sometimes a team will employ one winger to cover some of the ice that is traditionally the centre’s responsibility (for example, Colborne actually played Centre coverage in the defensive zone for Monahan for the first half of the season last year – as Monahan got more comfortable, he was given more defensive responsibility).

      Obviously, the first point is more the issue here. It likely doesn’t hurt to play off-wing sometimes, but not for a prolonged period of time. So you can definitely do it, but natural right or left wingers are usually preferred – angles, shots, passing generally becomes more crisp.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Well done. Although somehow I was able to read this yesterday. Some technical issue I suppose.

    Anyway, to me there is no question that something has to give here. Calgary has seemingly useful smaller players and the team mandate is to get bigger.

    This is fine. I have no problem with it. However, the question is what do we get in return for our skill?

    If BT/BB think it is adequate to trade skill for grit I will be disappointed. Skill, regardless of size, is the most valuable commodity in today’s NHL. A fair price is a bigger AND skilled player in return OR a bigger player and a draft pick in return for our skill.

    Although these players and package aren’t the perfect example, they illustrate what I’m trying to describe:

    Bourque for Cammy: Yes Cammy was/is considered more skilled, Bourque was/is a big winger with some offensive pop.

    Don’t send skill out and get only big in return. You are getting severely ripped off in that transaction.

    BT mentioning accumulating and identifying is where Calgary is at is exactly right.

    Don’t rush to fix everything right away. UFA or trade the immediate NHL roster needs but let these skilled players inflate their value in the AHL – or become long lasting core pieces to Calgary’s rebuild.

    We shouldn’t be hoping to just be more advanced than EDM at similar stages of rebuild by rushing prospects.

    I don’t like building a house during a frenzy when the prices are crazy and people are quick to jump on anything that looks ‘close enough’. For something so important, I don’t want a rush job. Take time, good foundation etc.

    Doug Weight to EDM or Marc Savard to CGY (Colborne to CGY) are great examples of picking off talent at the right times when the prices are advantageous to the buyer.

    BT seems more of a patient builder than BB – and I have no problems with BT messaging to date. Doesn’t mean I’m a fan of his.

    Let’s see his first trade and have him explain his thinking. Then we can (try to) judge actions.

  • beloch

    I’m absolutely shocked at Wolf’s NHLE. Couple this with the comments made by Dreiseitl who spoke glowingly about the guy. I kinda pegged him as nothing more than another dancing bear originally but perhaps there’s a little more there.

    I’m not saying the guy is a top 6 forward, by any means, but a guy with that size, with that nastiness in the bottom 6 who can actually contribute minutes and a few points here and there would be a massive improvement over a guy like Westgarth. A line of Wolf – Bouma – McGratten would scare the $%^$ out of most teams and might not be all that bad to boot.

    on another note… That Johnny Gaudreau is pretty good at hockey

      • mattyc

        from a nerdy point of view, I wouldn’t mind seeing some error bars or ranges with NHLEs. Something simple like the Standard Error, or st.dev. would allow us to look at those numbers and get a sense of how reliable they should be, and would be intuitive for folks, even if they don’t like stats/math.

      • mattyc

        that’s all fair enough but, again, I’m not suggesting the guy will slot in as an regular top 6 forward. Far from it. I’m saying he seems like a welcome addition to the bottom 6 and likely bottom 3 on this roster.

        In my eyes there’s no question he improves the 4th line and that was a particular area of weakness this past season. Though, admittedly, there were many areas of weakness on this team last year.

        Bottom line: Wolf > Westgarth

        • mattyc

          Roll 4 lines, playing the “4th” line a minimum of 8 (preferably 10) minutes per game.

          Sprinkle Wolf, Van Brabant, Ferland/Arnold across the lines as Right Wingers (Colborne is the 4th to begin the year plus Hudler on his off-side). This will provide some size on each line given a smaller than average and very young team.

          Dressing Wolf/BVB/Ferland/Arnold should reduce or almost eliminate the need for McGrattan to be dressed, enabling all 4 lines to roll, which then helps all lines to perform better.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    To add about Gaudreau:
    Yes he is ‘tiny’. How big is Byron and is there the same level of concern?

    Byron – 5’7 / 153 lbs
    JG – 5’8 / 159 lbs

    JG was literally raised in a RINK. His pops ran a rink – How much ice time has Johnny had? I think this is a HUGE deal. When you look at the absolute best performers in any field, people automatically think – wow what natural ability!

    Yes, to a degree. It’s also largely about how much time, practice and drive they had. Those things enable the ability to flouish.

    Johnny just moves differently on the ice. His turns are tighter, his balance is just…amazing etc.

    His college coach talks about being strong on the ice compared to the weight room.

    Johnny will need to be protected. Guys might not be able to catch between whistles but they might get a piece of him after whistles. Calgary HAS to make that a BAD, horribly and instantly regrettable decision for opponents. Like blood on the ice bad.

  • T&A4Flames

    I think we have to consider Hudler as a LW as well. I’m pretty sure he played both wings through most of his career (and some C as a junior). Also, we also have a back log at the C position. With Backs, Mony and Stajan entrenched as starting C’s, we have Granlund, Knight, Reinhart, Arnold as well as some others with the likelihood of us drafting another top one in a couple of weeks. I agree that Reinhart likely stays on the wing, but I also think, and I know many disagree with me, that Granlund will move to wing as well. Bottom line, we have lots of options at LW for the future. Moving 1 or 2 would not be a bad idea to acquire a bigger top 6 C that can make room for the smaller LW in the system. I’m still eying up Coyle and Chiasson. Lots of talk of moving a big package to acquire the 1st OA, why not make a similar package to acquire a somewhat established young RW that just needs more NHL playing time that in 2-3 years could become dominate in the right situation.

  • JumpJet

    As far as moving from LW to RW for a left handed shooter, I think it’s only a question of skill and comfort.

    A good example would be to look at Alex Ovechkin in his first few years in the league. He scored buckets of goals playing LW. When Iggy was first traded to Pittsburg he was (if memory serves) played on the left side of Malkin with Neal on the right ride. Iginla did not do so well, but when he signed with Boston and was put back on the RW and scores 30 goals.

    A guy like Gaudreau undoubtedly has enough skill to play on his off wing, it may just be a question of comfort. A year in the AHL playing RW would probably do it.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Baertschi will be shopped for a prospect of equal caliber on either D or RW. They won’t give him away at all, they don’t have to, so he may not get moved, but he will be shopped.

    People tend to confuse size and strength. The two can be very exclusive of each other. JG will not bulk on some ridiculous body building program, but he absolutely should work on his strength with the Olympic lifts. Stronger without adding size, that’s the key. Besides, for a long time, the stronger you get, the more speed and endurance you’ll develop as well.

  • Good work, Beloch–if that is your real name. It’s good to see work done using good-ol-fashioned counting stats, if only to highlight that corsi isn’t God’s gift to fortune telling/sports analysis.

    Unrelatedly, can we start the nine game decision conversation on Gaudreau now, please?

    • beloch

      Possession stats simply aren’t available in most non-NHL leagues. Not over entire seasons at any rate.

      I tend to think of it this way: Sample size is a huge problem in gathering statistics on players. A player or even an entire team (*cough* Leafs *cough*) might look good over part of a season or even an entire season and then turn to crap because they were really just getting lucky. A larger sample size has a higher chance of revealing the truth.

      There aren’t a lot of goals in most hockey games. There are significantly more shots. Goals for and against represent a concrete measure of success while Corsi, etc. is about translating shots into an indication of success so that we can take advantage of the larger sample size that shots provide.

      Both of these methods, unfortunately, don’t tell the whole story. Both shots and goals are the result of a team effort, so figuring out an individual’s contribution is non-trivial. Also, even if we can measure how good a prospect currently is, it’s an entirely different problem to predict how they will develop in the years to come.

      So, yeah, I’m just using counting stats here, but only because that’s all that’s available for most of the leagues these players are coming from. I’d totally include possesion stats if we had them.

      mattyc wrote:

      from a nerdy point of view, I wouldn’t mind seeing some error bars or ranges with NHLEs. Something simple like the Standard Error, or st.dev. would allow us to look at those numbers and get a sense of how reliable they should be, and would be intuitive for folks, even if they don’t like stats/math.

      I share this desire, but it would be really hard to do this. First, you’d need to calculate uncertainty in the NHLE conversion factors, which means you’d need to gather up all the data to do that calculation yourself. Everybody uses the same conversion factors that have been around for a few years, which never had any uncertainties associated with them as far as I know. Second, you’d need to calculate the uncertainty for each players NHLE based on the sample size of their league records. The uncertainty for a player who has played a lot of games is going to be smaller than one who hasn’t played as many.

      Finally, even if you did all that I don’t think the result would be very illuminating. Kids really develop in unpredictable ways. What a coach says to a player, changes in their family life, changes in their diet, or any of hundreds of other factors probably contribute as much to next season’s performance as how they did last season. In short, other sources of uncertainty problably dominate the statistical uncertainty inherent in calculating NHLE, so the uncertainty in calculating NHLE is pretty much meaningless.

      The short, short version:
      Stats are hard. You should probably treat NHLE similar to the past performance of a mutual fund. It’s suggestive, but not very predictive, for individuals at least.

      • beloch

        I tend to agree with your analysis in more ways than one.

        FWIW, my own view, developed from the kind of philosophy I study, is that there is no such thing as raw ability. What sorts of abilities people have is almost completely contextual, depending on the unique interaction between them as individuals and the specific environment in which they find themselves. I wish the Flames would hire me so that I could explain this to them. The first pro sports org. that realizes this is going to have a huge competitive advantage until the others figure it out.

        Keep up the good work.

        • beloch

          While I would agree that player performance is highly contextual, it’s hard to imagine an on-ice context in which Roseanne Barr could outplay Sidney Crosby. To me, there’s an insurmountable difference in raw hockey ability there. I’m interested in hearing your argument against the existence of raw ability. I might not understand it, but fire away!

          The notion that GM’s place too much value on the wrong player attributes is, of course, one of the funnest things for us armchair-GM’s to contemplate. Despite the fact that there’s probably a lot more to the job than meets the eye, who among us doesn’t harbor even the tiniest suspicion that they could do a better job than Craig MacTavish?

          • mattyc

            who among us doesn’t harbor even the tiniest suspicion that they could do a better job than Craig MacTavish?

            Tambellini sure. MacTavish… did he really do all that badly? He traded Paajarvi for Perron–highway robbery. He signed Boyd Gordon as a free agent–unspectacular but very prudent. He traded a 3rd round pick for Ben Scrivens–sheer genius.

            He hasn’t yet traded for that defenseman the Oilers need, but I’m sure he’s tried. I feel like, if/when the Oilers take Draisaitl, they’ll dangle Gagner and one of those defense prospects (say Oscar Klefbom) for someone who can adequately anchor their top pair (Ehrhoff?).

          • Jeff Lebowski

            Not saying that I could do better, nor that MacT hasn’t been trying, but…

            I believe the trade was Paajarvi AND a high 2nd for Perron. Hardly highway robbery, though Perron did great last year. Let’s see how it looks overall next year. Boyd gordon, solid pick-up, a bit pricey… Ben Scrivens SEEMS solid at this point. First game had his AHA moment coming home, stopping 50 shots (kind of like Gagner’s 8pt game). Think he led the league in Save % at that point (many starts with LAK), but its been downhill since after Oilers anointed him their saviour, ending his first year with the Oilers at FAR LOWER Save %, around league replacement level. If he works out long-term, great, but hardly sheer genius, maybe huge hole, still to be determined.

            All MacT’s moves on the fringes. STILL haven’t addressed the poor mix in the top 6 nor the defence. Looks like another Bottom 5 next season, but then again Oilers fans will probably be cheering for that… so much POTENTIAL in next years draft class…

      • mattyc

        To find a the standard error at a league to league basis shouldn’t really be that involved. Standard error is just the standard deviation/sqrt(sample population). The standard deviation in this case would just be the residuals of your best-fit line. This would be easy to do, assuming the data is readily available (which it sounds like it isn’t?).

        I completely agree with you bottom line that they lose predictive value on the individual, but having a range of answers would help inform your confidence in each leagues translation. For instance, I’d give a lot more credence to a conversion that works within 5 points 95% of the time than one (like the german league from the sounds of it) that is 20 points 95% of the time.

        • beloch

          The data (i.e. All prospect records for the last decade or so) is readily available (e.g. hockeydb). It’s just a matter of me being too lazy to write a program to gather and crunch it all. Maybe later. 😉 You can do this too of course!

  • beloch

    ??? wrote:

    Pogirier is a Right Winger

    He’s listed as a right winger in a couple places, but left winger in most, including the website of his QMJHL team, the Gatineau Olympiques. Info on prospects is sometimes a bit spotty, both due to less scrutiny and also because he might actually be switching back and forth (I don’t know if he is).

    ChinookArch wrote:

    After watching Gaudreau in the World’s, my hopes are higher than they already were. He has all the tools and a very high hockey IQ, but I’m still worried about his size. I like what Cammalleri said about the perceived need to bulk up in order to be effective, but I still think he needs more mass to withstand a more physically violent league. I’d be happier if he were 175 lbs and not 145.

    Small size can actually be an advantage in terms of evading injury. Yes, he’s not going to win a fight with an enforcer, but if he gets tripped and flies head-first into the boards there’s a lot less momentum that’s about to be transferred to his cervical vertebrae and skull. It’s not unlike how you can drop a mouse off a five-story building and it will hit the ground running, while a horse will splatter.

    A lot of big NHL players use their size and reach to protect the puck. They put their body in between the puck and their opponent so that the opponent has no choice but to go through them to reach the puck. Gaudreau doesn’t play the game this way. At least, he doesn’t rely on body position alone to defend the puck. He’s a very active stick-handler (see the gif above). During the WHC I also saw him strip the puck from very large opponents by skating right under their arms, etc.. I think he’s really going to surprise people, both with how strong on the puck he is and how effective he is at stealing it.

    Jeff Lebowski wrote:

    Don’t rush to fix everything right away. UFA or trade the immediate NHL roster needs but let these skilled players inflate their value in the AHL – or become long lasting core pieces to Calgary’s rebuild.

    The Flames don’t have a lot of blueline prospects. A lot of teams draft the best player available, so it’s likely that there are teams out there in dire need of wingers who have a defenders galore. Trading prospects at a similar stage in their development would therefore help both clubs.

    Kent Wilson wrote:

    I wouldn’t put much stock in NHLE translations from the German league given the sample size. Plus, Wolf is 24.

    I agree that Wolf probably isn’t top 6 material. The encouraging thing is that expectations for him appear to be realistic. He’s not the best player currently not playing in the NHL coming in to be the Flames first-line center, as was the case with Cervenka. He’s expected to be a bottom six enforcer who can actually play hockey. That’s realistic.

    Even this realistic expectation isn’t necessarily a lock though. It really depends on his temperment. He’s averaged 2.2 PIM/G over his career in the DEL. If he’s an enforcer who racks up a lot of fighting majors matched by majors to opponents, that’s nothing to worry about. If he’s an undisciplined hot-head who draws a lot of one-sided minors on the other hand…

    As I said, I think there are a few players with lower NHLE’s who have more potential than Wolf, but Wolf appears to be ready now. Even if he’s merely a competent bottom six player he will fill a big, fat, goon-sized possession hole that the Flames’ opponents have been exploiting mercilessly for the last few seasons.

    • T&A4Flames

      He’s listed as a right winger in a couple places, but left winger in most, including the website of his QMJHL team, the Gatineau Olympiques.

      If every player listed at LW was actually a LW, there wouldn’t be enough players to fill the other positions. I find that, when a forward can play two or more positions, or if people just don’t know where he plays, he’s listed as a LW, and that listing follows him forever.

      Regardless, he, by his own admission, plays on both sides.

      it’s likely that there are teams out there in dire need of wingers who have a defenders galore.

      Hello New Jersey.

    • Truculence

      Poirier predominantly played RW. They experimented a little when Reway came back from injury, using Karabek as RW on a line with the former two.

      Other than that, he played RW in both of his breakout seasons.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      I would argue the Flames don’t actually know what D prospects they have. Virtually none (save Wotherspoon) has any substantial pro (let alone NHL) experience.

      As you mentioned in another comment, kids develop differently. Why ship a kid out or discount they true value of your own d kids before getting a good evaluation?

      So don’t rush things. Gluts are likely to persist. Wait for the time in season when prices aren’t so high. Also waivers.

      Leading up to the draft or trade deadline are not good times for price conscious .

  • Byron Bader

    Gaudreau, from the 3-5 times I’ve actually seen him, appears to have the “brings the puck up the ice and starts the offensive presence thing” going, sort of like Patty Kane. It’s hard to get leveled in this situation. Kane isn’t Gaudreau small but he’s a tiny guy and Kane avoids putting himself in spots where he’s going to get clocked.

    It was very obvious to me every time I watched Gaudreau that that was what he “does” and that was a game plan of whatever team he was playing with. Just give it to Johnny. IMO we will see that side very early from him as a Flame as well. He doesn’t look like the type that gets caught in a vulnerable spot (e.g., admiring his pass and gets leveled or getting ruined into the boards by a monster when he tries to go in and retrieve the puck). I believe where Johnny will thrive is when the Flames get possession of the puck and then look to Johnny to get it into the offensive zone and create some o-zone possession.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    If you take a deeper look at the entire roster and assess where the best skill is on this club you see something like this: LW Hudler, GlenX, Johnny,Sven(all playing their natural positions), Rhino, Agostino, and Klimchuk. It is in my mind better for your team if you keep your best skilled guys playing their natural positions.Djones is the most experienced of the naturl RW we have but will need a significant bounce back year, I have read in many places that Poirier plays both wings and is effective at both so he will likely play RW(team need) others will need to adjust as well such as Wolfe, Ferland, van Brandt, Byron, Mc G, Bouma, Colborne and possibly either Knight or Arnold. Down the middle we have Monhan, Backs and Stajan as pretty set in stone and then a battle between Granlund, Knight, Arnold and whoever we draft at number 4 (unless we reach for Ritchie). When Glenx is eventually traded near the deadline there will be plenty of young guys competing for that spot. Stajans’ position will also be pushed by the end of the season and I could see him moved as well. Personally I like the potential of our forward group but it will take time.

  • SmellOfVictory

    A guy the flames should trade for is brett Ritchie from Dallas, he is a big right shooting right winger and can put the puck in the back of the net. I watched him play many times for the ice dogs in the ohl and I was always impressed. It wouldn’t take a whole lot I get him either, possibly sven, even though I don’t want that to happen. And he already has a few years in the ahl so I would think he’s ready for the show.