Grading the 2013-14 Flames

report-card

The 2013-14 season is over, and now it’s time to begin the lengthy process of the annual post-mortem. To kick things off, here’s a look at how each player that suited up for the team (all 44) fared this season.

GOALIES

Karri Ramo: B+: Pre-injury, he was decent. When he recovered from his MCL sprain, he was on a whole other level. Very even-keeled, he’ll anchor the team’s net for the near-future.

Joni Ortio: B: Would’ve been higher had he spent more time in Calgary, but Ortio went from being a fringe guy in the organization to one Brian Burke wants to see getting lots of playing time next year. It’s not a regular NHL job, but he’s well on his way.

Reto Berra: C+: Berra was equal parts athletic and unpredictable (especially with his positioning). He did have flashes of greatness, though, and got the Flames a second-rounder from Colorado.

Joey MacDonald: C-: MacDonald was not great in his first stint and a bit better in his second, but he’s earned praise from his teammates for being his usual, affable self (and a steadying influence on the younger players). That said, unlikely he’ll be back.

DEFENSEMEN

Mark Giordano: A: A nearly-Norris caliber season for the Flames captain. The only negative is that he couldn’t play all 82 games.

T.J. Brodie: A-: Occasionally caught out of position (I have to keep reminding myself how darn young he is), Brodie and Giordano faced the tough sledding on the club. Most of the time, they fared quite well.

Kris Russell: B-: Good on PP, but even-strength play suffered a bit since he came back from injury.

Tyler Wotherspoon: B-: Only played 14 games, but was surprisingly poised and alert for a 20-year-old.

Chris Butler: C+: Basically slotted in everywhere. Decent minute-eater on PK, but didn’t really move the dial at all at even-strength.

Ladislav Smid: C: He was a steady shot-blocker, penalty-killer and a good role-model for Tyler Wotherspoon. But he also hemorrhaged shots and scoring chances a-plenty.

Dennis Wideman: C-: Expensive, not really great five-on-five and became less useful on the PP as the year wore on. Injuries didn’t help that, though.

Derek Smith: C-: Perfectly acceptable bubble guy. Never played, but occasionally made gaffes when he did.

Shane O’Brien: D+: Not great at even-strength, and not quite strong enough on either side of the puck to get any special teams time.

Chris Breen: D+: Steady AHL veteran struggled at times with the pace and speed of the NHL.

Chad Billins: Incomplete: Had two recall stints and barely played in his first one. Fairly shielded third-pairing guy. He was fine, but I didn’t see enough to really judge him.

Mark Cundari: Incomplete: Played four games. Had some nice spurts, but also got hemmed in own zone a bit.

FORWARDS

Mikael Backlund: B+: Prior to his late-season injury, was arguably team’s most consistent forward for about three and a half months. Strong two-way player with good offensive instincts and some face-off skill. Consistency (and health) will need to continue to be there.

Jiri Hudler: B: Good offense numbers, but often played the disappearing man act (where you’d wonder if he was playing because you didn’t notice him…and then he’d make a pretty play).

Mike Cammalleri: B: Was excellent post-deadline, but seemed to be fighting the puck and struggling with positioning and battling through traffic before that.

Sean Monahan: B-: Great around the net, but face-offs need a bit of work and occasionally his defensive coverage is a bit iffy. But he’s really tightened up his two-way game since October.

Matt Stajan: B-: Seemed to be fighting the puck a bit post-injury, but he’s arguably the team’s top shut-down pivot and a strong leader. Offensive consistency may be a concern, though.

Joe Colborne: C+: Winger Colborne uses his size well and sets guys up. Center Colborne loses face-offs at key times and doesn’t have the defensive game down. Split the difference.

Curtis Glencross: C+: Horrible luck with injuries, and seemed to fight the puck all year. But hey, for a guy with so many negative qualifiers, he did put up respectable numbers.

Lee Stempniak: C+: Was never quite entirely “on” this year, perhaps due to injuries, but he was quietly effective without putting up a lot of offensive stats.

Lance Bouma: C+: Shot-blocking machine. Good on PK. Not really a great defensive player, though, but he’s usually as good as who he’s paired with.

Paul Byron: C+: Wasn’t great for a stretch, but got healthy and really found his game post-Olympics. Underrated two-way player, but probably best served on third-line in an energy/agitator role.

Sven Baertschi: C: Brilliant with the puck, a tad lost without it. Only played 26 games before getting demoted.

Blair Jones: C-: Was perfectly acceptable in limited duty, but never really found a niche for himself the way Paul Byron did.

David Jones: C-: Just couldn’t find (a) his scoring touch, (b) his consistency, and (c) time without an injury.

T.J. Galiardi: C-: Perhaps the player with the best underlying numbers that just couldn’t find the damn net. Bounced all around (and in-and-out of) the line-up.

Ben Street: C-: Decent face-off man, but couldn’t do a heck of a lot to move the dial offensively.

Brian McGrattan: C-: Resident pugilist “only” racked up 100 PIMs, but did start generating scoring chances as the year went on. Hidden depths or over-achieving?

Kevin Westgarth: D+: Didn’t play a lot. Didn’t play amazing well. Arguably the Diet Coke to McGrattan’s Coca Cola Classic, if that makes any sense.

Ben Hanowski: Incomplete: Played 11 games, but didn’t play a lot. Skating’s a bit better, but needs some work. Uses size decently well, but skating limits his effectiveness.

Tim Jackman: Incomplete: Played 10 games. Traded to Anaheim.

Kenny Agostino: Incomplete: Played 8 games. Good instincts in the offensive and neutral zones. Defensive play could use a bit of work (and he could add a bit of muscle to help with that). Not a bad start, though.

Max Reinhart: Incomplete: Played 8 games. He was fine, but didn’t do too much in the NHL to set himself apart from other call-up forwards.

Markus Granlund: Incomplete: Played 7 games and was really great before getting hurt. Would’ve been a B if he played a tiny bit more.

Corban Knight: Incomplete: Played 7 games. Scored a goal.

Bryce van Brabant: Incomplete: Played 6 games. Seems to use his size well enough.

Johnny Gaudreau: Incomplete: Played 1 game. Scored a goal.

Bill Arnold: Incomplete: Played 1 game. Won 55.6% of his face-offs.

Lane MacDermid: Incomplete: Played 1 game. Demoted. Retired.

Roman Horak: Incomplete: Played 1 game. Became an Oiler.

SUM IT UP

What’s your take? Was I overly harsh on anybody? Overly kind? Sound off in the comments.

  • One thing about Van Brabant is he seems to be a decent skater for a big kid (ie. he gets around better than Hanowski does). I find myself slightly bemused at how inneffective he was in College… but at the same time, I don’t expect much of him at the NHL level.

    Seems like a bigger Carter Bancks.

    I expect Max Reinhart to challenge for an NHL job next season. He should probably get it.

    I was pleased with Agostino. I think there’s a good chance he’s a player.

  • Lots of bright spots this season, great team performance, a few tremendous individual performances.

    Love how Reto Berra gets a C+ based on the 2nd round pick we got in exchange for him hahahah!

  • mattyc

    couple points:

    Salary shouldn’t play a role in grading the players. For instance, just because Wideman is “expensive” shouldn’t devalue his contributions. He admittedly struggled the second half (post-injury) this year, but was great until he got injured. We’ve probably all forgotten by now, but Wideman was anchoring the D (quite effectively too) when Giordano was injured – Wideman/Russell was actually probably our 1#D pair for that stretch.

    TJ Galiardi did everything coaches asked of him, played everywhere in the lineup, and consistently out-possessed the opposition. Not sure what else the guy needs to do stay in the lineup.

    I also can’t accept that Reto Berra is given a higher grade than Wideman, Galiardi, and an equal grade to Stempniak and Glencross. I accept that some of this is coloured by your own expectations of the player, but c’mon – we all saw enough of that goalie.

  • mattyc

    You were way to harsh on Westgarth. He scored very high in terms of truculence, dipomacy (Ivy League grad), and beard. Not to mention, he got Nemo the heck out of town.

  • mattyc

    i heard the flames want to sign david wolf from the DEL (source from german and austrian media). seems like a player burke wants because of his size and toughness, but he is just an OK point producer in this league.

    so i hope they stay away from him, also because what happened last week (he beat 7 teeth out of the opponent player)and didn’t regret it all and gave the other player the blame.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Olhk3_yns08

    • mattyc

      I have a view on this too, but less negative.

      Apparently Wolf isn’t a bad skater, and did produce somewhat in a good league. I would way rather sign a UFA like that for free, and have any potential upside, if little, instead of giving up a real asset to retread a guy like Kevin Westgarth.

      • If Wolf is indeed on his way to Calgary at least that should stop Burke from resigning Westgarth, but if it doesn’t, man is our bottom six going to be a boat anchor. If Burke has to have a couple of truculent guys on the lineup, fine, no problem with that, but if you start getting 3/4/5 guys on strictly NHL deals thats a huge problem/

      • ChinookArchYYC

        Wow that dude is kinda scary… Like kinda scary in a, he’s crazy and might kill someone kinda way. As a straight up replacement for Westgarth I’m okay with it but he has suspension written all over him. Apparently they call him the Ice Monster. Terrific.

  • I think Bouma deserved a little better rating. Otherwise bang on pretty much in my opinion.

    Only reason I say bouma deserved better is he is a heart and soul 4th liner who may not score/produce points but he does things defensively and on the PK that others aren’t willing to do. HIs sacrifice off the puck should be rewarded as much if not more than the those who score.

    Would like to see him contribute a bit more offense next year though. Maybe get to the net, in front of the net bang a few garbage goals home.

  • A quick google search reveals there was some traction to these rumours back in February – but nothing as of late? Interesting.

    He’s a better player than Westgarth, but that’s not really saying much.

    • 4th last with something like 44 different players wearing a Flames shirt this season.

      49 1 goal games.

      And how many Rookies making their season debut’s?

      Bouma (first full season in NHL)
      Monahan (rookie right out of jR)
      Colborne (first full season in NHL)
      Ramo (first full season in the NHL)
      Berra (furst full NHL season)
      Russell (first full season in nhl)
      Brodie (2nd full season in the NHL)

      Rookie Call ups and NCAA players:
      Hanowski, Agostino, Granlund, Wotherspoon, Billins, Reinhart, Street, Knight, Sven… whoever else I am missing.

      Add that to the key injuries of Gio, Wideman, GlenX, Cammy this season.
      On top of some questionable early coaching decisions and goaltending choice decisions.

      I would argue, given the aforementioned that the Flames players deserve a ranking based on their performances individually not on the teams performance or where they finished. That’s what this article establishes.

      I actually agree with Burke when we established some consistency with our system and within our lineup (even with the injuries and call ups). As well as our goaltending from Christmas on we played at an above playoff team winning percentage. Thats pretty good for essentially what was a Rookie team with no real out and out first line super stars.

  • sathome

    Any idea why TJ Brodie wasn’t invited to the Canadian roster for the WC? I saw Gio was invited and declined, but I haven’t heard anything about Brodie. And he played in them last year.

  • Christian Roatis

    Agree on most fronts but I’d probably bump Backlund to an A-, Monahan to a B+ and Colborne to a B-. All 3 took massive steps forward this year.

  • BigRo

    I would have given Bouma a better score – the guy has heart and he showed it. O’Brien was rated too high. And now the part that I am going to get massacred for…. McGrattan is underrated as could be. He was given the chance to deliver as the season went on, and he did. Some people love to hate on the tough guy, the team loves him, and ESPECIALLY with the teens in the lineup – He makes them feel a little bit more at ease. I say props to Big Ern!

  • SmellOfVictory

    I see the Flames signed Roy to a contract today. Other than the NCAA guys and the Russian is there anyone not signed from the last number of draft classes, seems someone did a good job drafting.

    Withe Heat getting Kanzig and Poirier the coaching staff should have plenty of depth to work with. Go Heat.

  • TheoForever

    @BigRo

    100% correct about Big Ern.
    He deserves B+ or A- as he did his job and had a great year

    Also Wideman was tower of strength before injury B.

    Bouma B, if for anything else but the guts to block shots, he won a few games for us.

    • TheoForever

      I’m the first to admit that I am not a fan of one dimensional players but McG did grow on me especially in the last 10 games, but to consider giving him an A- or a B+ for the season is ridiculous.(Note he impressed me the last 10 games enough that I would even have in on my starting lineup at the start of the season, rolling 4 lines and for a period there I wanted him gone.) There were to many games where he was either stapled to the bench (playing 2-4 minutes a game) or a defensive liability. On his best games he was maybe a B- but there were many nights he was a D, so a C/C- is a far grade. Wides before the first injury absolutely a B, maybe even a B+ especially when Gio was down, however he was more a C-/D after the injury. Bouma was a absolutely a B and many nights even a B+.

    • Parallex

      “He deserves B+ or A- as he did his job and had a great year”

      Is his job giving cute little friendly pats?

      McGrattan doesn’t do his “job”… not what people commonly describe his “job” to be anyways.

  • TheoForever

    Grats had his best year and more responsibility than ever.
    Without him the team doesn’t come together in the famous Van game, turning our season around.
    He played his role to perfection, top fighter.
    Looks like he can take regular shift.

  • Burnward

    Whoeeee, you’re a tough grader Mr. Pike!

    Bouma, for me, should at least be a B+.

    Dude kills himself every single night out there. He’s never going to score 30, but he plays his game as well as anyone could ask.

  • Burnward

    I give the coaching staff (all of them) an “A”. Any coaching staff that can keep this team cometitive 98% of the games, including setting a record for one goal games, is nothing short of Houdini. How many of us thought there would be many long nights of poundings and many long stretches without a win? It didn’t happen. For competitiveness game in and game out, even against the best in the league, and for never accepting losing I’m giving the coaching staff an “A”.

  • BigRo

    We all saw Big Ern literally standing between two teams in the hallway. Keeping his team back, and stopping tots and co from getting to the team. I would assume that is his way of saying “You have to get through me first”; and nobody could. That, my friends, is McGrattan playing his role. Bark about him all you want, He is a key piece to keeping the ‘lunchbox mentality’ together. He wont light the lamp too often, and he isn’t the quickest skater on the team; in my opinion, this team isn’t as strong or tight-knit without him.