What’s Changed – The Players

Yesterday, we examined the team-level changes and circumstances that have led the Calgary Flames to being where they are today – inexplicably in the playoff picture despite being just as bad, or worse, in several areas.

Let’s take a quick glance at the players today.

We’re focusing exclusively on regulars and using Corsi For percentage and each player’s Corsi Rel (the difference between the team’s Corsi For when they’re on the ice versus on the bench) to compare.

FORWARDS

13-14
CF%
Corsi
Rel
14-15
CF%
Corsi
Rel
Backlund 51.9 +7.3 47.5 +3.7
Hudler 46.9 +1.2 47.2 +3.6
Byron 50.5 +3.7 47.0 +2.4
Gaudreau 46.9 +2.5
Jooris 46.7 +0.2
Stajan 47.5 +1.6 46.1 +0.6
Monahan 43.7 -4.1 46.0 +1.2
Jones 45.2 -0.6 45.1 -0.1
Glencross 42.8 -4.3 44.8 +1.0
Raymond 44.3 +1.9 44.5 -0.9
Bouma 43.5 -3.6 41.5 -4.5
Granlund 41.4 -3.8
Colborne 45.5 -1.3 41.2 -4.1
Bollig 51.1 -5.6 40.4 -4.9

Raymond and Bollig’s numbers are comparing their prior teams (Toronto and Chicago) to now. The good news is that Gaudreau and Jooris have entered the NHL as fairly decent possession players. Byron and Hudler remain consistent and despite some degrading of his numbers, likely due to injury, Backlund remains strong. Oh, and Monahan is progressing nicely and Stajan’s numbers are steady despite him being saddled with fourth liners.

Beyond that: Colborne and Bouma have gotten slightly (or in Colborne’s case, much) worse. Bollig’s numbers have improved relative to the quality of his team, which is scary when you think about it like that.

Gone from last season’s Flames are: Mike Cammalleri (50.8%), T.J. Galiardi (49.6%), Kevin Westgarth (42.6%) and Brian McGrattan (38.2%).

DEFENSE

13-14
CF%
Corsi
Rel
14-15
CF%
Corsi
Rel
Giordano 53.4 +10.3 47.8 +4.7
Brodie 51.5 +8.1 47.2 +3.9
Diaz 49.9 +1.3 44.1 -0.6
Wideman 46.1 -1.8 43.8 -2.0
Russell 43.5 -3.2 43.6 -2.0
Engelland 44.0 -5.2 42.2 -4.7
Smid 41.5 -7.6 41.9 -3.7

Brodie and Giordano have their numbers (relatively) dip a bit, but just about everyone (except Wideman) is better than last season. Diaz is compared to last season’s numbers with three freakin’ teams, so beware excitement about that number a bit, while Engelland sees similar – modest – relative gains as Bollig did.

Gone from last seasons Flames are: Shane O’Brien (44.0%) and Chris Butler (42.7%).

SUM IT UP

Calgary’s team-wide Corsi is down because the team’s best possession players – Backlund, Giordano and Brodie – are a little bit worse in that metric than they were last season.

  • Kybb79

    So I guess Lambert & the analytics crew will conclude that we should trade Gio Brodie & Backlund while we have any value because their numbers are regressing & it will help tank us to get in on McDavid.

    • Kybb79

      I’m all for trading Backlund!!!! Trash away but the Flames should take advantage of a decent season and a healthy body and trade Backlund this season before it’s too late.

        • Burnward

          Yes I do. Decades in fact at a high level. What about trading Backlund makes you ask if I know anything about hockey. First of all, he’s not Sid Crosby. He’s a borderline second or third line centre. He’s a good defensive player but very limited offensively. So yes, if the right deal comes along that offers the Flames a need, I’d trade him. What’s so hard about that Gerry?

          • Burnward

            Tread lightly when you evenly evaluate the demi-god around these parts, pardner.

            I love Backs, but he’s far from untouchable. Agreed you have to listen.

          • Kybb79

            I’m with you Burnward! I have nothing against Backlund and think he’s a decent two way centre but he’s far from untouchable. If the right deal came along that would improve the team for years to come, and was a need of the Flames, I’d pull the trigger. Why people take trade suggestions personally, I’ll never know. Even the players get it – ot business not personal.

          • Burnward

            If they want to trade for a good prospect or add a high pick or take on a bad contract, Backlund would be the guy to get the conversation started. For all we know Backlund may want to move on as his contract is up this summer. I could be wrong but don’t managers start talks on extending or replacing these contracts early? I think Backs is a great player, who’s value is still questionable due to injury. What is Backlund worth? 2.5/3.5/4.5 or 5 mill.

            IMO there would be teams willing to give back value to get Backlund and that could work out for the Flames.Can BT engineer that valued return?

          • RedMan

            Hey Gerry here…In Backlund the Flames have a highly skilled talented 2 way centre….let me see now….oh that happens to be the most sought after type of hockey player in the NHL…and the fact that he was drafted by the Flames and has a reasonable salary also helps…oh almost forgot when Backlund is in the line up the Flames play and record improve significantly….after all of that you come up with the bright idea of trading this valuable asset….

            Now about that hockey puck…can we now move on to the hockey stick and let me explain what it is used for……

            Gerry

      • RedMan

        I agree, we should trade Backlund away:

        so we can bring in a solid 2nd-3rd line center on a good contract who can play the other teams top lines to a draw or better, improves our puck possession, has the ability to score when needed and equally important – is mid 20’s.

        Oh, wait…

        But seriously, what WOULD backlund be worth to teams contending that need this solid depth? is anyone going to give us what WE think he is worth?

        Is he worth a legit 3/4 defender? More? LEss?

  • Kybb79

    The Flames are brutal in nearly every statistical category. Their only saving grace is they don’t take many penalties (because they don’t put hard pressure on teams to get back the puck) and they have a horse shoe up their butt in third periods. They are obviously better than Buffalo, but they are in that Leafs/Oilers brutal category. Most likely the wheels will fall off soon and they will miss the play-off if there is any regression to the mean at all.

    Go Jets Go!

      • Truculence

        Two games don’t make a season big guy. The Jets have owned the Hawks for the most part this year, but that doesn’t mean that we are the best team in the league. I answer that: NO.

        But, aside from insults, doesn’t look like you’re even trying to logically argue any of my points. I’d be happy to engage in discussion, but I’ll leave you be until then.

        PS
        The Flames can only wish they had an asset like Kane to trade away. And I’m not trolling, I followed the Flames as my team for many years until we got the Jets back.

    • Kybb79

      The Flames rebuild is two years in! The Jets is what over a decade in from the Atlanta day’s! Don’t hate the Flames because they are better than the Jets! How many cups in MANITOBA? LOL

  • mattyc

    Worth noting: If you look at fenwick (since the Flames seem to be good at blocking shots), Josh Jooris leads the pack at 50.4% (and is the only flame above 50), followed closely by Backlund, Gaudreau, Hudler, Byron and Brodano.

    • Kybb79

      While Jooris has been very good against weaker teams (he has scored 71% of his points playing against teams that are currently outside playoff spots, 24% of points and 2 game winning goals have come against Edmonton and Buffalo), but hasn’t been nearly as impressive stat wise against better ones. Against teams currently holding a playoff spot, Jooris has even strength CF% 40.1%, FF% 41.9% and is +/- -7. For comparison, Hudler, Gaudreau and Giordano have FF% around 49% against playoff spot holding teams, Brodie and Byron are around 47%.

  • RKD

    Reality check time, I’m not worried that Bouma and Colborne’s numbers have gotten worse compared to Bollig. Guys like Booms and Colby are part of the solution and the future. Guys like Bollig are not despite his Corsi improvement. It takes time to learn how to play a possession game, especially as a team. Even if Bollig’s Coris Rel has improved, it’s still worse than Bouma’s and Colborne! Engelland’s Coris rel went up but look at who he is paired with. Smid has seen a bigger improvement than Engelland and could suggest Engelland is the benefactor of Smid’s play. I’m still of the belief this team is better off without Engelland and Bollig.

    • The Last Big Bear

      I’m still of the belief that Corsi and other shot-counting metrics are of close to zero value when assessing defencemen.

      In theory, they ought to work, and they certainly work for forwards, but when I look at defencemen across the league, I see only the weakest of correlations between corsi numbers, and defenceman ability. Corsi works about as well for defencemen as +/- does. Better than nothing, but pretty poor.

      But just because there are always exceptions, I have to point out the elephant in the room. There is one team where corsi numbers align with defensive ability very well… the Bob Hartley-coached Calgary Flames.

      But I maintain that this team is an exception, and that shot-counting numbers are no good for evaluating defenders.

      That aside, I actually agree with Mr Pike’s conclusion here. Simple, to the point, and in broad agreement with both the eyeball test and the common metrics.

  • Canrock 78

    Two off topic questions.

    Any thoughts on the crop of college kids that are unsigned. Wasn’t that how we got Josh Jooris?

    Have you seen Nki’s 2015 top 120 on Hfboard prospects? He seems to do a very good job of his assessment I’m not sure of the accuracy.

  • The Last Big Bear

    If you’re going to examine the differences in the team and player this year versus last, WHY are you looking at Corsi, and only Corsi? It’s virtually USELESS and tells us NOTHING.

    This article wasn’t even worth the 5 minutes to skim it. Time to find some better Flames blogs if you can’t come up with something better.

  • Burnward

    I’ve never understood why certain people come to an advanced stats-focused hockey blog if they dislike talking about advanced stats so much. That’s sort of the reason this site exists in the first place.

      • Burnward

        Well said. I come here for opinions and data that’s well put together. Doesn’t mean I always agree with the opinions, but it’s good to have open discussion.

        Should the flames continue to have success to the end of the year, that would have been 1.5 seasons (last half of the last season + *hopefully* the rest of this season) of results with “unsustainable PDO”. Is that still too small of a sample size for the advanced stats community to try and find another reason for the Flames continued success?

        I think the majority of the community is just tired of hearing “this is wrong…” instead of, why? This isn’t a knock on the writers here, but it just seems like sometimes corsi is valued as the be all end all. It is a valuable tool but not the only one.

    • RedMan

      OK – where do you get the idea that this is intended to be an “advanced-stats focused hockey blog”?

      Doesn’t the Nations Network actually predate the advanced stats?

      This is a FLAMES FOCUSED hockey blog – NOT an ADVANCED STATS hockey blog. Yes, the stats stuff has been all the talk lately on a lot of sights… but there is a broader audience.

      But then, you may be on to something; IF THIS IS ‘THE ADVANCED STAT SITE’ – there probably are a lot of people who will move Flames Nation from the top of their “hockey bookmarks folder” to the bottom.

      Advanced stats are an interesting part of the hockey conversation – to some, advanced stats ARE the discussion, to others they are an aside.

      but then, maybe stats are easier to wrte about.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Quick reality check. Here are the NHl’s top-10 defencemen, as ranked by Corsi:

    1) David Rundblad

    2) Duncan Keith

    3) Nick Leddy

    4) Johnny Boychuk

    5) Jakub Kindl

    6) Kris Letang

    7) Jake Muzzin

    8) Ryan Ellis

    9) Jared Spurgeon

    10) Drew Doughty

    Now for comparison, here are the NHL’s top-10 defencemen by +/-:

    1) TJ Brodie

    2) Kevin Klein

    3) Kevin Shattenkirk

    4) Shea Weber

    5) Anton Strahlman

    6) Mark Giordano

    7) Kevan Miller

    8) Marc-Edouard Vlasic

    9) Ian Cole

    10) Jason Garrison

    And just to round it out, here’s a list of defencemen (with 40+ games) in ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

    1) Karl Alzner

    2) Tyson Barrie

    3) Jordie Benn

    4) Kevin Bieksa

    5) Jay Bouwmeester

    6) Johnny Boychuk

    7) Justin Braun

    8) TJ Brodie

    9) Jonas Brodin

    10) Dustin Byfuglien

    So using Corsi to evaluate defencemen is probably somewhat less useful than +/-, and comparable to ranking them alphabetically.

  • RKD

    The thing about Backlund is he fills a very important role on the team. People seem to get up in arms about a player being a second/third liner. But those guys are essential. Every team needs solid support guys, and backs is solid as they come.

    If Treliving can find a 2/3 defensemen or some absolute knockout deal then yes go for it, but we’ll have to turn around and replace Backs as soon as we do.