The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and there are questions abound of what the Flames are going to do. Will they stand pat and just consider this a lucky year early in a rebuild? Will they look to add a piece to help drive them towards the playoffs? If they do add something, what are they on the market for – an elite piece, a natural right shooting right winger, a middle-tier defenceman that can drive the play north? Will they ship anybody out the other way?
The question I have is there anybody who’s flying under the radar? Are there players that are performing way beyond expectations and could be had on the cheap? To find out, we’re going to have a look adjusted corsi and potential trade targets.
For those new to adjusted corsi, here’s the calculation …
The adjusted corsi equation was developed by Oilers fan/blogger Michael Parkatti. The equation took into account quality of opponents, quality of teammates and zone starts (i.e., where the player tends to start his shift). This makes it easier to compare players on the same club across various lines and roles.
Parkatti’s equation looks like this: Expected Raw Corsi = -11.91 + QualDiff*1.00 + OffZS%*0.24
So, a player with QualDiff of 0, and a zone start rate of 50% would have an expected Raw Corsi of: Expected raw Corsi = -11.91 + 0 * 1.00 + 50 * 0.24 = -0.15. Adjusted corsi comes from subtracting their expected corsi from their actual corsi on.
Above are the players that come out in the dark black when it comes to adjusted corsi. There’s many more than this but I’ve chosen the ones that I think might be remotely available and play over 10 minutes a game. I’m assuming the Flames have very little interest in left wingers as they are loaded, at least in quantity, on that side. As such, I’ve focused the analysis on right wingers and defencemen and, while I think they’re pretty set up the middle as well, I’ve added a few centermen that could be available that really stood out as well.
The Flames for the first time in a few decades can say they’re almost set down the middle. Monahan and Backlund should serve as the top two centerman on the club with Sam Bennett waiting to earn his spot in the Top 6 as well. Their back rotation isn’t half bad either with Jooris/Colborne manning the 3rd line and Stajan stabilizing the 4th line. It’s very unlikely that the Flames go after any natural centers at the deadline but here’s a few they could consider…
Kyle Chipchura – Mostly used in a 3rd line role in the Arizona organization, Chipchura has been driving the play the right way all year. On a team that’s been abysmal all year, Chipchura is one of the only positive corsi players on the team. This is incredibly impressive considering his deployment (35% O-Zone starts!). One would expect him to be a nearly double digits minus corsi player and he’s actually positive.
Cody Hodgson – A young centerman in the Buffalo organization who is having a dreadful year. Not likely that Buffalo gives up on him in such a nothing year but it should be noted that he’s nearly 4 corsi points better than where you’d expect him to be (which is still a horrendous -26). But he has some obvious skill and has had the pleasure of riding an on-ice shooting % of 4%! You have to figure that that’s going to come up substantially.
Ryan O’Reilly – The Flames have been interested in ROR for years and were very close to getting him a few years ago. Well sort of . He signed an offer sheet with the Flames, we’ll say that. O’Reilly is a similar entity to Backlund. He drives the play, no matter who he plays with, and shatters his expected possession numbers every year. In addition, he’s highly skilled and can play both center and left wing. Colorado will be looking for an impact d-man for ROR’s services which the Flames do not have in abundance so the chances of the Flames landing him are almost zero but if they can get him for a reasonable price they should.
If there’s one area where the Flames are in dire need is right shooting natural right wingers. Right now, David Jones is the only natural right wing in the top 9. Hudler and Colborne, both left shooters, generally make up the other “right wingers” in the Top 9.
Phil Kessel is an elite scoring RW who appears to be available but the Flames will likely not be in the running for him as the price will be a bounty of young assets and draft picks. The Flames, two years into a rebuild, aren’t in a position to give up those assets. However, there are a number of natural RWs that could be had affordably.
Colton Sceviour/Patrick Eaves, – 3rd line unsung heroes. Patrick Eaves is especially enticing because he developed in the Detroit system. Eaves was struck in the head with a puck recently so that might just take him out of any trade talks.
Joel Ward/Wayne Simmonds – Size with skill, exactly what the Flames need.
Jaromir Jagr – Jagr is somewhere in his early mid-40s these days but the guy can still roll! Most players hit a wall when they hit their 30’s. They become far less affective and are unable to drive the play anymore. Jagr defies the odds and continues to be a do better than expected at possessing the puck and is even a positive corsi player on a subpar NJ team. If Jagr can be had for an incentivized deal similar to what he was dealt for a few years ago (draft pick going the other way that becomes higher the further the team goes in the playoffs) I wouldn’t be opposed. Jagr wants to stay in the East though so minimal chance with this one.
Joffrey Lupul – Lupul is a decent finisher and can play any wing in the top 9 and he is one of the Leafs only possession drivers. However, he has many years left on his contract and is seriously injured at least 1-2 times every season. If they’re giving him away I’d think about it.
Cam Atkinson – Atkinson, to me, is a blend of Paul Byron and Johnny Gaudreau. He has a decent skill level, not as high as Gaudreau, but is a possession driver like Paul Byron. I highly doubt the Flames would be interested in a 3rd 5’8” player to help their drive for the playoffs, however.
Mark Stone – Stone has emerged out of nowhere this year to provide some depth scoring for Ottawa. Stone is a big, young and powerful right handed possession driver, exceeding his expected corsi by 6 points. But what really entices me about Stone is his scoring ability. Right now, he has a P/60 of 2.29 but he only plays 11.7 minutes a game. Players that are scoring at an equivalent rate to Stone (2.2 – 2.39) include: Okposo, Iginla, Ryan, Wheeler, Neal, Tanguay, Komarov, J. Jokinen, Drouin, Oshie, M. Karlsson, Krejci, Bonino, Marchand, B. Richards, Lee, Toews, Killorn, Hanzal, Carter and Backstrom. That puts him in pretty good company with ice-time being the big factor. He is technically a rookie and Ottawa isn’t likely to let him go but he would probably be my number one target if he was available and the price was moderate.
Beau Bennett – Numbers might be inflated from playing for a strong Pittsburgh team but showing some strong possession numbers mostly playing without Malkin and Crosby.
I won’t go too in-depth on d-men as Kent touched base on potential defenceman the Flames should key in on and not surprising nearly all of those were the affordable adjusted corsi beasts found above. Larsson, Michalek and Wiercioch have the most appeal to me. All of them scream Brodie Lite.
It’s unclear what the Flames will do before the deadline. What’s clear is they shouldn’t be mortgaging their future to get into the dance. They’re just not close enough yet. That being said, if one or more of these possession dynamos can be had at a reasonable price (e.g., B prospect, 3rd-7th rounder), I hope they pursue it.