Black Holes and Revelations

2

Last time out, I looked at some sober-eyed objective goals
for the Flames defense and goaltending using a number of statistical
categories.

The conclusions I drew from the previous article were that
we can expect approximately 45 goals from the defense provided the estimated
number of games played is fulfilled and that Hiller and Ramo together should be
able to post close to a 91.1 SV% allowing around 2.6 goals against per game.

Today we look at the forwards: Backlund, Hudler, Glencross,
Monahan, Stajan, Raymond, Colborne, McGrattan, Byron, Bollig, Jones, and the recently added Devin Setoguchi

You can review my methodology by scanning the previous article.

I’ve included the rankings for new players where they fit on
the Flames and where they fit on their previous team.

So, here we go.

5v5 pp/60  rank Previous 5v4 pp/60  rank Previous
Hudler 2.12 1 Byron 5.28 1
Cammalleri 1.86 2 Cammalleri 4.66 2
Stajan 1.68 3 Glencross  4.63 3
Glencross  1.66 4 Raymond 4.09 4 5th
Raymond 1.66 5 6th Backlund 3.98 5
Monahan 1.45 6 Hudler 3 6
Colborne 1.45 7 Stajan 2.43 7
Westgarth 1.35 8 Monahan 2.33 8
Jones 1.3 9 Colborne 2.15 9
Backlund 1.23 10 Jones 1.4 10
Byron 1.17 11 Westgarth 0 11
Galiardi 1.1 12 Bollig 0 12 10th
Bouma 1.04 13 Galiardi 0 13
Bollig 1.02 14 12th McGrattan 0 14
McGrattan 0.95 15 Bouma 0 15
QualComp 5v5  rank Previous QualComp 5v4  rank Previous
Byron 0.072 1 Toughest McGrattan 1.698 1
Backlund 0.042 2 Byron 1.309 2
Cammalleri 0.039 3 Raymond 1.168 3 5th
Stajan 0.036 4 Monahan 1.108 4
Jones 0.034 5 Backlund 0.941 5
Glencross  0.027 6 Colborne 0.937 6
Bouma 0.022 7 Cammalleri 0.639 7
Bollig 0.019 8 5th Glencross  0.629 8
Hudler -0.003 9 Hudler 0.397 9
Galiardi -0.02 10 Galiardi 0.241 10
Colborne -0.029 11 Bouma 0.132 11
Monahan -0.032 12 Bollig 0.103 12 12th
Raymond -0.033 13 7th Stajan -0.175 13
McGrattan -0.129 14 Jones -0.33 14
Westgarth -0.148 15 Easiest Westgarth -1.423 15
CorsiRel 5v5  rank Previous Sh% 5v5  rank Previous
Backlund 16.6 1 Hudler 11.44 1
Cammalleri 15.7 2 Glencross  8.55 2
Byron 6.9 3 Monahan 8.54 3
Hudler 6.6 4 Cammalleri 8.53 4
Galiardi 4.9 6 D. Jones 8.31 5
Raymond 4 5 4th  Raymond 8.29 6 7th
Stajan 3.4 7 Colborne 8.13 7
Jones 0.6 8 Stajan 7.73 8
Colborne -2.3 9 Westgarth 7.69 9
Glencross  -7.1 10 Byron 7.69 10
Monahan -8 11 Backlund 7.62 11
Bouma -10.3 12 Bouma 7.47 12
Bollig -12.5 14 12th Bollig 7.34 13 10th
Westgarth -16.7 13 McGrattan 7.14 14
McGrattan -22.6 15 Galiardi 7.05 15

ZS% 5v5  rank Previous ZF% 5v5  rank Previous ZS differential rank
Westgarth 57.7 1 McGrattan 52.3 1 Bollig 25.9 1
McGrattan 57.1 2 Galiardi 50.7 2 Galiardi 7.2 2
Hudler 56.5 3 Hudler 50.7 3 Monahan 5.4 3
Monahan 55 4 Monahan 50.5 4 Bouma 5.2 4
Colborne 50.8 5 Cammalleri 50.5 6 McGrattan 3.2 5
Galiardi 50.1 6 Colborne 50.3 7 Colborne 2.8 6
Byron 49.1 7 Westgarth 50.2 8 Jones 1.8 7
Glencross  47.7 8 Raymond 49.5 5 4th Cammalleri 0.6 8
Cammalleri 47.7 9 Backlund 49.5 9 Backlund -0.4 9
Backlund 47.7 10 Byron 48.7 10 Raymond -0.5 10
Raymond 44.1 11 7th  Glencross  45.1 11 Byron -2.6 11
Stajan 39.1 12 Jones 44.3 12 Glencross  -4.5 12
Bouma 39 13 Bouma 44.2 13 Hudler -4.8 13
Jones 37.1 14 Bollig 44.1 14 12th Stajan -5.8 14
Bollig 18.2 15 13th  Stajan 42.3 15 Westgarth -7.5 15
TOI/60 5v5  rank Previous TOI/60 5v4  rank Previous
Cammalleri 15.86 1 Hudler 2.94 1
Stajan 15.28 2 Cammalleri 2.86 2
Hudler 15.07 3 Glencross  2.39 3
Glencross  14.25 4 Monahan 2.06 4
Backlund 14.15 5 Raymond 1.97 5 6th 
Raymond 13.65 6 7th Backlund 1.79 6
Jones 13.42 7 Jones 1.78 7
Monahan 13.28 8 Colborne 1.39 8
Galiardi 13.22 9 Byron 0.73 9
Colborne 12.37 10 Stajan 0.39 10
Byron 12.03 11 Bouma 0.24 11
Bouma 10.32 12 Galiardi 0.18 12
Bollig 10.01 13 13th McGrattan 0.06 13
McGrattan 6.64 14 Bollig 0.04 14 13th 
Westgarth 6.47 15 Westgarth 0.02 15

The loss of Cammalleri and Stempniak together is going to be
felt this season. Both ranked in the top five of Flames players who faced the
toughest competition last season and both were able to provide offense in spite
of it. Hudler is a very good player, but as true NHL scoring threats go, he is
by many counts the only arrow in Hartley’s quiver this season. Hartley
recognized Hudler’s limitations last season and gifted him some pretty soft
zone starts relative to the rest of the forwards.

The scoring is going to be funneled through Hudler unless
and until one of the other forwards steps up and delivers some offense. I would wager that Byron, Stajan, Backlund and Jones will
be sent to hold back the tide when possible while Hudler, Glencross, Monahan et
al are sheltered for easier match-ups and scoring against the weaker opponents.

How Hartley deploys Raymond will be interesting. I think he
ends up on the right side with Backlund, but I hesitate to take his advanced
stats numbers under the Leafs here too seriously. I like the addition of Raymond
to the roster, but I wonder about how the Flames perceive his role in the
larger framework of the team and whether they have projected him in a position
he will be able to fulfill. His QualComp numbers dating back to his first
season with the Canucks indicate that he can play well with skilled, possession
players, but isn’t talented enough to be the difference-making possession
player on his own.

The Bollig addition is open to a wide variety of
interpretations. His numbers aren’t very strong, with the exception of his zone
differential – Quenneville buried him so deeply even Dracula would’ve been
claustrophobic, yet he managed to gain a significant amount of ice back by the
end of his, albeit limited, shift. The dramatic difference in Bollig’s Zone Differential is the result of the limitations of translating these numbers
between systems. 

By all measures, Bollig looks like a better
Westgarth/McGrattan, and that isn’t necessarily setting the bar very high by
way of hockey abilities but is an improvement nevertheless. Was he worth a 3rd round pick? That can be
debated. I suspect he was
acquired in order to provide a large presence in the lineup, crash and bang
bodies and create havoc in front of the net, chipping in goals along the way. 

All of Monahan’s advanced numbers from last season suggest
very strongly that he is due for a setback season. It is improbable that he can
retain his shooting percentage, his possession numbers were mediocre and his
QualComp suggested that he was being (wisely) sheltered. Given the paucity of
offensive weapons on the Flames’ roster this coming season, coaches will begin
to key in on the young man and I suspect he will face stiffer competition as a
result. To that end, if he has a season similar to Mikael Backlund by way of possession numbers, even if his offense dries up, that would be a tremendously
positive development. The NHL is full of guys who are dynamite within 40 feet
of the opposition net but are hopeless for the other 160 feet. Monahan has the
skill, so offense won’t be a problem for him as he develops. If he can figure
out the rest of his game this coming season the Flames will have one piece of
the puzzle in place by way of a large, scoring, two-way center.

When Matt Stajan finally leaves the Calgary Flames I hope
they give him a nice new Stetson with a solid-gold lariat. He’ll have earned
it. Stajan’s career was betwixt and between when he left Toronto and his first
contract with the Flames saw him become public enemy #1. To his credit he has
quietly proven his value to the organization once expectations were reset. He
had some of the most extreme zone starts that Hartley could dish out against
the toughest competition and managed to generate offensive chances in spite of
it all.

This year I expect it could be worse. He won’t have
Cammalleri riding shotgun and there’s no cavalry coming over the hill. If all
goes according to plan, in three years’ time when Matt Stajan will have moved
on to the next town, the Calgary Flames will have several offensive options on
the wing and down the middle. Until then it’ll be bailing twine and duct tape. It
isn’t fair, but he’s a professional and he’ll do his damned job. If Stajan were to go down to injury it could be a
crippling loss for the Flames in that it would increase Backlund’s workload and
expose Monahan.

*I finished this just before the Flames signed Setoguchi, so here’s a quick run down of his stats and my expectations for him.

Setoguchi played middling competition last season, posted average offensive numbers for the Jets, was -3.7 Corsi Rel for 9/18 on the team, had a horrible sh% of only 5.92 and had 50.2 offensive zone start but gained ground marginally during his shift. Altogether he was an average winger on an unspectacular Jets team. I would expect his offensive totals to improve with his sh%, and provided his other abilities remain the same, he should prove to be an effective depth winger who can contribute scoring and add some speed down the wing.

Crystal 8-Ball Time

gp est. ppg hist. ppg sh% est. pts.
Hudler 80 0.7 0.56 14.2 56
Stajan 70 0.48 0.48 13.3 33.6
Glencross  78 0.6 0.55 15 47
Raymond 80 0.5 0.49 9.7 40
Monahan 75 0.3 0.33 12 22.5
Colborne 80 0.35 0.35 12 28
Jones 80 0.4 0.45 13.7 32
Backlund 78 0.5 0.41 8.5 39
Byron 75 0.38 0.36 15 28.5
Baertschi 41 0.42 0.47 8.7 17.2
Bouma 78 0.18 0.16 5.1 14
Bollig 80 0.15 0.11 4.4 12
McGrattan 70 0.1 0.09 5.1 7
376.8 total
125 est. goals


*I’d add another 12 goals here from Setoguchi. I’m projecting him to play 73 games, average around .48 PPG, which would be his career average if we deducted his outstanding rookie season, and return to his career average 11.4 sh%. That gives him an estimated 35 points, which if one-third were goals would give you an approximate boxcar of 12-23-35. To put that in perspective, his previous seasons running from his sophomore year in ’09-’10 to last season he managed 36, 41, 36, 27 (lockout year), 27. His worst season on record was last year and this was also his worst season sh% by a large margin. He could put up 45 pts, or only 20, so 35 seems fair. 

A healthy roster is the key here. Games played projections
are optimistic, but not unprecedented.

All the shooting percentages and estimated PPG rates are
based upon historical averages, as well as the estimated games-played. As you
can see, in some situations I’ve made assumptions, some generous some not,
however the overall result is that the Flames forward group listed would
contribute 137 goals this season.

Taken in addition to the 45 estimated from the defense that
gives you 182 estimated goals for. We haven’t yet added in the
rookies/prospects to the equation, so I’ll wait until the review is complete
before offering a final tally and where that would land the Flames in the
standings based on GF/GA.

For comparison, the departed Stempniak and Cammalleri had a
0.44 and 0.71 PPG pace last season. By that measure, Mason Raymond may replace
Stempniak’s offense, although not necessarily his ability to play against
tougher competition. Cammalleri’s departure, as predicted, will be the most
significant hole on the roster and the departing offense may be enough to sink
the Flames this season to their highest draft position in franchise history. We
can’t know for certain because there are going to be a lot of variables at play
including altered forward lines, infusion of rookies, development of core
players, regression amongst rivals and so on.

You may have noticed Sven Baertschi’s line. I’ve given him half a season with a slightly lower PPG estimate than his
historical average, which includes that five-game spin he had a few years back,
but a reasonable shooting percentage of 8.7.

To be honest, I think Baertschi is a prime target to be
traded this season. This is the fork in the road for Baertschi with the organization, and I’m
not convinced that Burke or Treliving are as enamoured with him as the previous
administration. Fact is, he was the other guy’s guy, and those guys don’t usually
last long.

What we have in the end here is a
ballpark as to what would be a reasonable expectation of progress and
performance from this roster as it stands today.

So we’ve got the defense chipping in 45 goals and boasting a
top-pairing defense that is the class of the league, followed by a
less-than-enviable collection in the 2nd and 3rd
pairings.

The forward group is estimated to contribute 125 goals,
excluding rookie and call-up contributions, and is likely to rely heavily on a
few key individuals in crucial roles on a thin roster.

Jonas Hiller is a starting goaltender in the NHL and the
last time the Flames could say that was at the beginning of Miikka Kiprusoff’s
last season, right before his numbers tanked. Karri Ramo should be able to
provide some decent backup performances. Between these two, the Flames should
at least have a chance on most nights, injuries notwithstanding.

Next time we’ll look at the rookies and
prospects to ascertain what potential impact they may have on the roster and
where we could draw the line when it comes to success and failure.

Why this song?

Bob Dylan’s 1964 revolutionary anthem is often seen as a
prophecy issued to the old establishment by a restless younger generation intent
on setting the world alight with their energetic revolution, youth and
idealism. It was partially that, but also
Dylan knew enough to
hedge his bets about the end game.

Not all changes are easy or bring better tidings. No matter the
intentions of those who start the adventure, the conclusion is entirely out of
their hands and it is the unforeseen consequences that can have the biggest impact.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win

The forward group today looks markedly different from two years ago. The old guard have been swept away and there remains only the occasional ghost from season’s past. Where in years past the roster was essentially fait accompli from the first day of training camp, the number of forwards whose jobs are guaranteed are few and far between. There are options now, and young men beneath the older veterans who will take what opportunity offers them.

There is a real desire within the fan base to believe that
the first footsteps of a great new journey are just now being taken and that
the path leads to green meadows and sunny days. Sadly you simply can’t know
that. Change is coming, indeed it is already here, and you can embrace that,
but keep your eyes and mind open to what the future holds because nothing is
written in stone and fate owes no man.

Next up we look into the prospects and
developing players.

  • RexLibris

    Would be nice if the third line center slot was reserved solely for the youngsters, perhaps giving each of Monny, Granlund and Bennett a shot of 25+ games. Let Monny start up, but if he regresses this season like his advanced stats suggest, coaches/gm could perhaps use the option to send him down to AHL to play 1st line minutes and polish his 2-way game, at the same time bringing either Granny or Bennett up to replace him. This would create competition between the Flames center prospects, hopefully giving them an extra motivation&development boost, and at the same time, gives both fans and Flames brass a better chance to assess the current developmental stage of the prospects. Maybe use the same treatment for 2/3rd line LW spot, splitting games between Baertschi, Johnny and Rhino. If any of the youngsters prove clearly that they belong to NHL, then you got a positive problem on your hands and can start adjusting the roster accordingly.

    • piscera.infada

      They can’t bring Bennett up, he’s only eligible to return to the OHL. Besides, Monahan is on the big club to stay unless something goes extremely wrong. If he regresses, he’ll have to roll with the punches, which he’ll do. I’m not sure sending him to Adirondack really sends the message you want. Remember, this is the player that’s supposed to be the bell-cow for this team in the future – they’ll give him every opportunity to succeed, the AHL is the last option for him.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Did Sean Monahan not have 34 points in 75 games last year?

    Thus having a historical PPG of 0.453?

    Which is more than 50% higher than what you’ve predicted for this coming season?

    Am I reading this correctly?

    • RexLibris

      No that is correct. I use Elite Prospects for all the ppg data per league, but in Monahan’s case I must have mis-read the line or accidentally transferred his numbers over from another forward.

      Here’s his page: http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=85013

      Thanks for catching that.

      Okay, so based on that ppg pace, and sticking with the theory that he’ll be targeted a touch more with tougher competition on the road matchups and whenever possible at home, I’d suggest an estimated ppg pace of 0.4.

      That would give him 30 pts, and we could call it even splits on the boxcars so 15 goals and 15 assists, just to give him the benefit of the doubt at keeping a higher sh% than usual.

      This would give us about 144 goals for the forward group, keeping the Setoguchi add.

      144 goals from the forward group alongside the estimated 45 from the defense gives you 189 goals for, or 2.3 goals per game.

      Thanks for catching that. I’ll be triple-checking my figures on the next one now.

      • Jeff Lebowski

        mc79hockey @mc79hockey · 9h

        Bunch of people have said Chris Snow. It’s not him – he’s been there for a few years. If it’s someone who follows me, congrats.

        Replied to 0 times

        mc79hockey @mc79hockey · 10h

        I just read on @Oilersnation that the Flames hired an analytics guy. Anyone know who it is?

        Replied to 0 times

    • RexLibris

      Okay, I’ve tried to post a proper response but the internets are having none of it, so here’s the abridged version.

      Backlund gets a +0.09 increase in his ppg. So I’m being optimistic given his likely linemates and matchups.

      Monahan I’ve subtracted 0.03 ppg so he would only have to meet his rookie season’s production to meet or even exceed that.

      Teams aren’t going to take him lightly this season and the road matchups aren’t going to be as favourable as last season.

        • RexLibris

          It would apply mostly to road games, is my guess, where Hartley doesn’t control the matchups as much.

          So if Monahan is playing with Raymond and Glencross, to pick two names out of a hat, he might fare alright defensively on account of having two veteran wingers.

          It might hamper some of his offensive numbers though if those two are also facing tougher competition.

          The trick to this isn’t to ask what the player can do with the puck, because that is obvious. But rather, what can Monahan (and the various potential linemates) do without the puck and to get it back?

          Thus far Monahan hasn’t shown he is particularly adept at that facet of his game just yet. I think it could emerge, but it would be an unjustified leap of faith to suggest that this will emerge in his second season to the extent that his offensive game will flourish as a result.

          He learned his first lesson of the NHL last year: how to score. This season he learns the next lesson: how to play when you aren’t scoring. Give him time to figure that out.

          • seve927

            Question was who is going to benefit by getting less attention because Monahan is getting more. Can we expect a big bump for Stajan or will it be Backlund? Because you’ve mentioned that you adjusted Monahan’s expectations because he’ll be getting more attention. He can’t get more attention unless other teams decide they need to just roll two lines against the Flames. Someone has to get less attention, so whose numbers did you inflate a bit to account for that?

          • RexLibris

            My guess is that they shift their focus off of Stajan’s line, which is why I’ve kept his ppg line the same rather than declining at all despite the fact that Hartley may well tie a porkchop around his neck and send him to the dogs most nights.

            Look again at the historical ppg pace vs the estimated ppg pace I’ve given everyone.

            Of all the forwards listed, only four are below their historical ppg pace (Monahan, Jones, Baertschi, and Setoguchi – I’ve aligned them excluding his rookie season and they suggest a bounce-back year).

            Stajan and Colborne are steady and the rest of the forward group, eight in total, are projected to be better than their career averages to date, Hudler the most dramatically.

            I would say that everyone is a little bit inflated because I think the Flames will be playing in front of a better netminder, have a solid 1st pairing defense, and have assets in the right places to find successes down the road.

            They are still going to lose more than they win, but I’m not convinced it will necessarily be the bloodbath most people expect.

      • RexLibris

        Rex: I’m okay with your stats determining numbers but for me I’m also including the eye and to be honest gut feelings, at the end of the season maybe we can discuss who was closer.

        Your abridged version makes total sense but one can believe things based upon things than stats. I look at the second half of Backs season and see him building on that in pat because I think he will have better linemates the whole season. For Monahan I see him not being taken lightly either but until proven otherwise I expect him to grow as a player, Again we can compare predictions at the end of the season.

        • RexLibris

          That’s all fair.

          This exercise is, as Lowetide is fond of saying, to draw a line in the sand.

          Do the numbers seem reasonable? Logical? Would these expectations set off alarm bells as being either too optimistic or pessimistic?

          I think I’ve found a line in the sand, above which we could say the player has improved or met expectations, and below which it would be fair to call it a somewhat disappointing season, depending on other variables.

          I’d like to revisit the predictions at season’s end, if only for my own education, to see if there was something I overlooked. Obviously you can’t predict things like chemistry, luck, linemates, coaching strategies, injuries, etc.

  • Craig

    When you start to get hyped up about all the great prospects and young players in our system, including Johnny, Monahan, Sven, Granlund, Bennett. It’s easy to forget that we are woefully thin in the forward ranks. Most of our top six is comprised of potential 40 point players, that need a lot to go right to score at that pace.

    Maybe things Gell with the group and the work ethic propels them out of the bottom 3. But until some of the prospects start becoming very good to excellent, we will have trouble scoring.

    Really enjoy these deep dives and statistically based projections.

  • beloch

    Re: Baertschi

    As the first legitimate blue-chip prospect to enter the org in ages, Baertschi was massively overhyped. However, I’m a bit amazed at how many fans think he’s a washed up failure because he hasn’t turned into an 40 goal/season NHL scoring juggernaut yet. Frankly, 24 points in 51 games is a freakin’ fantastic record for a kid who is currently 21. It’s even more impressive when you consider all the poorly timed injuries he’s had and the fact that Burke seems to have it in for him.

    Treliving hasn’t been with the org long enough for us to know how he feels about Baertschi. However, he’s stated that everyone gets a clean slate this season. I’d be very surprised if Baertschi doesn’t come into camp ready to take advantage of that. I’m on record as having said I think Baertschi should spend more time in the AHL, even if he appears ready for the NHL at camp. However, I fully expect he’ll make the decision to send him to Adirondack as difficult as possible.

    This is also the last season on Baertschi’s ELC, so you can add finances to his list of incentives to break out this year. With Gaudreau taking over the hype, this season represents Baertschi’s chance to quietly establish himself in the NHL for good.

    Re: Gaudreau

    With a NHLE of 67.2, you should probably at least mention Gaudreau. It’s impossible to predict how he’ll adapt to a full season in the NHL, but the stats do suggest he could be the Flames top scorer this season. NHLE is a population measure, so Gaudreau’s NHLE suggests that, if we had a legion of Gaudreau’s entering the league, they’d score 67.2 points on average. Our Gaudreau could perform well below that, or well above. He’s a huge wildcard!

    Re: Tables

    It might be interesting to combine your first set of tables into one that just gives ranks for players in each stat.

    • RexLibris

      Next up we look into the prospects and developing players.

      This is where I’ve got players like Gaudreau.

      Arguably I could have put Baertschi here as well as I think he is in the “developing player” file right now.

      As for Baertschi, I’m trying to be conservative here, and to some extent pulling rabbits out of hats.

      What if Gaudreau takes the open wing spot on the roster and Baertschi gets sent down? Or vice versa? What if the Flames acquire one more veteran winger and they both spend 40+ games in the AHL?

      I’m making predictions based on the best information possible, and given the number of wingers the Flames have right now, it is a reasonable bet that management flips Baertschi halfway through the season for a defender.

      With regards to the tables, they really don’t mesh well because the majority of defenders will be below the majority of forwards.

      I could tell you where those players rank across the league, but that’d be repetition because most here already know that Mikael Backlund, TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano are amongst the top of the league in possession stat categories. The rest of the bunch are, well, the rest of the bunch.

      But if you’d like I can include some combined tables on a few categories, not all, where the data points merge and have general transferable value.

  • redricardo

    Thanks Rex. A cogent explanation, complete with data, as to why a shot at a 2015 top three draft pick for the Flames remains a reasonable possibility.

    Although, I suppose you would have to do this for all of the real bottom feeders to be sure.

    • RexLibris

      The new draft rules are going to play havoc with that expectation though.

      2016 draft even more so than this coming June.

      And after all is said and done, I’m not entirely certain the Flames will be one of the three worst teams in the NHL this season.

      I’m leaning towards them finishing 27th to 25th, depending on how the roster looks after TC.

      • piscera.infada

        I think that it needed, and needs, to be said. Repeatedly.

        We need to be reminded that, personal achievements aside, this is going to be another really crappy year.

        The West got stronger and the Flames have to count on some retreads on right wing and highly talented but unproven players on the left wing to replace the offence they lost after last season. The best defenceman is unlikely to repeat, the second best defenceman probably can’t pick up the slack and there are no true 3/4 defenders but plenty of 5/6/7 defenders.

        Let’s not kid ourselves. This team should lose, a lot, and without some veterans to put it into perspective, that could be pretty soul crushing without the prospect of a top three pick.

      • RexLibris

        I hear that from friends all the time. Many of them have decorated my desk with Flames paraphernalia on account of my writing for this site.

        Don’t worry, I recycled as much of it as I could.

        I am an avowed Oilers fan, dyed in the wool. Nothing will change that, but it does give me a different (and preferably objective) perspective when writing about the Flames.

          • RexLibris

            Not at all. This was all done before Setoguchi signed on and I think that changes things.

            And four lines is why I think the Flames are closer to 25th than 29th in the standings.

            I’ll recap what I wrote in the last article:

            That may seem insignificant, but recall how many one-goal games the Flames played, and won, last season. Their possession numbers as a team weren’t terrific, so they were getting very lucky on some nights. If the GA comes down to two-and-a-half a game, that keeps the forwards in the game longer, something a team with so many young players needs as the pace of the game ebbs and flows.

  • redricardo

    I love this article. Thank you. I love it BECAUSE it’s heavy on the advanced stats. Or, as some like to call it… information.

    This is why I come to FlamesNation. Stuff like this. If I want to see articles on how much character Person X brings to the table, or random trade suggestions that could have come from NHL 15, there’s lots of other places to go.

    Thank you Rex, please continue raising the bar for this site.

    • RexLibris

      No, that wall of data is pretty numbing.

      The fault is in the presentation, not the information. Maybe next time I’ll see if I can find a more attractive visual tool for representing it, to show the value of the points both in relation to the Flames and to the rest of the league.

      I’ll see what I can come up with.

  • beloch

    These advanced stats are starting to bore the living sh!t out of me………………….(no offence Rex; you’re ok for an Oilers fan…)

    Can’t wait to get back to playing hockey!

    WW