FN Mailbag – March 6, 2015 (late edition)


Time again for the FlamesNation Friday Mailbag. This week we have a grab bag of unrelated items, ranging from the Flames lacklustre collection of defensive prospect to the futures of Hiller, Ramo and Mikael Backlund. 

Let’s dive in.

I assume by “valuable” you mean “insightful”. I am dubious the Giordano injury is going to be considered anything but a disaster in the long run, even if the club has been initially successful in the short term since he was injured. There’s no surprises on the Flames blueline so far – we knew TJ Brodie was great and I’m not sure the perception of Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell and Deryk Engelland is going to appreciably change in the long run. 

Ortio’s injury might be useful in that it forced the club to give Ramo another shot, resulting in his recent outburst of quality plan. Unfortunately, the only way that will be a long term benefit to the club is if they can re-sign Ramo and trade Hiller for a nice return in the off-season. Otherwise all it does is drive up Ramo’s price as a UFA this summer. 


Unless Backlund demands a trade or an exorbitant salary during contract negotiations, he’ll be a Flame next year. He’s a selke quality player on the defensive side of things and his just okay offensive numbers means he should be relatively cheap to keep around. There’s no reason for the club to move on from him. 

A lot of moving parts in the crease at this point. Joni Ortio is probably ready to make the jump to NHL back-up so it doesn’t make sense to have 3 tenders with one-way deals on the roster. Whether the putative starter ends up being Hiller or Ramo will depend if you can trade the former for a good return and if the latter is willing to re-gin on a decent value deal.

If I was forced to guess, I’d say the Flames will go with Hiller/Ortio as the duo next season, with Ramo walking.

No, nor was popularizing them a goal. It was niche topic being kicked around by some curious hobbyists. Even when it started to catch on with other bloggers and amateur writers, none of us really imagined it would go much further than that. 

Aside from Monahan and maybe Gaudreau, almost certainly less. In general, kids are more error prone and more “high risk” than veterans. Hartley will get more and more conservative with his roster decisions the closer a potential playoff spot gets.  

I think Gaudreau be a Calder finalist but not the winner. Filip Forsberg is a shoe-in to take the prize absent some kind of epic collapse or injury.  

We’ll assume that means they’re picking around 15, which makes predicting anything extremely difficult. I can only assume they’ll go best player available whoever comes up, though they may prioritize a defenseman given their organizational weakness on the blueline. Some names to keep in mind: Carlo Brandon, Timo Meier, Thomas Chabot and Jeremy Roy

Unless the Flames land an Olli Maata in this year’s draft and Tyler Wotherspoon turns out to be ready to usurp Deryk Engelland next season, Calgary has a long way to go in rehabbing their prospect depth on the blueline. We’re still not really sure what Culkin and Kulak are just yet, but chances are neither is a sure thing to be an NHLer, let alone a quality one.   

Unless Brad Treliving can make some deals to bring in at least one 22-24 year old who is a good bet to play, it will take the Flames several years to re-stock the cupboard.

The truth is there will always be a segment of fans who dislike stats. Maybe because they are counter to their preconceptions of the game or maybe because they just don’t care enough to learn about them, which is fair enough. 

There is also generally a significant latency period between paradigm shifting findings or scientific insights and public acceptance, for a variety of reasons. Some are actually rational and adaptive – if every new thought was granted immediate legitimacy, society would be taken in by every con man or half baked concept out there. 

Of course, it’s also true that a lot can be lost in translation between the finding, the communication of it and the  to public consumption and adoption. 

More specifically, the caveats and nuances are often simplified or papered over in the journey from “aha! moment” to general understanding. As illustrated in this Jorge Cham comic:


Similarly, the debate about the validity or utility of advanced stats is often rife with misunderstandings or disagreements due to improper information and/or framing of the theory. These will eventually be resolved if a) these new stats continue to prove to be useful in the long term and b) they continue to infiltrate and influence media around the game. 

  • Regarding the Gio/Ortio question: Both of these are as significant as they come for their respective teams.

    Gio’s injury is self-explanatory. Losing a Norris candidate is not good.

    Ortio’s injury is what will ultimately kill the baby Flames’ playoff chances. It’s already begun, in fact. We’re talking about the backbone of the team and a net-minder who single-handedly stole numerous games for Adirondack and now he’s gone. Thiessen is a slightly below average goalie who doesn’t have the ability to steal games.

    So yeah, while the Gio injury is more significant than Ortio’s. Both were the worst-case scenario for each club.

  • RedMan

    Is Schlemko wearing #3 ?

    Isn’t that Smid’s number?

    (I could be wrong; hitting the sauce hard last night….)

    If so: does that mean Smid is done as a flame?


  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Might be interesting how quickly the defence can be improved. Remember Gio was never drafted and although he’s a diamond in the rough, those type of players are out there. Schlemko might be a guy who eventually advances from the 5/6 pairing to the 3/4 pairing, depending on his learning curve. Certainly the Flames aren’t deep on defence but all they need to find are six qualified NHL defencemen for the big club while they continue to develop the farm. Wondering if BT will use some of those 2nd and 3rd round picks this draft to acquire some good young d-men from teams in cap trouble. That should be his goal at this point and hopefully he’s targeting teams like Boston and Chicago.

    • RedMan

      I think the Flames will be very active at the Draft regarding the Defence. I keep thinking of Burkes comments:
      “I’m not a patient man”
      “I’m not seeing nearly enough hostility on this team”
      “Something,something…we need to play Black and Blue hockey,because that’s how we do it in Albtera (apparently)

      Should be interesting to see what happens at the Draft

  • RedMan

    Kent, have a ton of respect for you, but have to say that your take on the sometimes underwhelming reception of new stats shows your own bias (or paradigm) towards the situation as you blame the reciever of the message and not the sender.

    I have paid close attention here, like many others, and do not see very many people dismissing stats out of hand because they contradict long held beliefs.

    I see people getting tired of hearing over and over how bad the team really is, especially when one of the writers here called the fanbase idiots.

    for many of us, the issue is that the new stats have generated a steady diet here of negative thought about a team we enjoy chearing for and critisism of fans who dont jump on board. very few have outight dismissednthe stats, but many have asked for better in depth reasoning and conclusions besides luck.

    I would think your own interpretation of those critical of the stats here shows your own bias and suggests that you would benefit from really listening to and really hearing the critisism. stats arent done evolving so lets not get too far ahead of ourselves in casting blame on those frustrated at the barage of negativity that the stats have generated, but instead look at the messenger, who could maybe create a more balanced perspective that includes stats.

    • RedMan

      It’s a children’s game played by adults, so nobody should take it that lseriosuly.

      People have called Lambert far worse names on here. Again, it’s a game

      I’d say Kent is incredibly even handed and respectful when analyzing situations. There’s usually very few #HotTakes and a very level headed approach.

      I think you represent a group of fans who simply don’t enjoy advanced statistics because they say something negative about the team you cheer for.There is more then sufficient enough data out there, that has been explained, that says the Flames are relying on a good chunk of luck this season.You seem to be simply pleading with Kent and everyone else for someone to somehow shape statistics so they tell your the narrative you want to tell, that is the Flames are not relying much on luck. The Flames are also relying on the great play of Giordano and Brodie, Monahan, Gaudreau, Hudler and many others like this site and Kent have written about. However, when you examine all the data with an objective eye, you come to the conclusion that the Flames are benefiting from puck lock. As simple as it is, there hasn’t been an increase in the quality of the shots but just an increase in the ones going in and a lot of unsustainability.

      Even stripping away advanced statistics, the Flames get outshot and out chanced almost every game. It just isn’t a long term recipe for success but THAT’S OKAY! The Flames have benefited from luck this season but you still seem to have really enjoyed watching the games this season. A lot of people have, I know I have. As you may have noticed, a lot of FN writers are totally aware of what the stats say but they still seem to really enjoy the wins as well.

      The Flames have gotten a lot of luck this season. Their GM has talked about this in interviews. It’s not something we all need to run from.

      • RedMan

        Not sure where the luck is. If it’s SV% I’d say that’s mostly skill and team defence, and if it’s Shot% I think that’s largely skill too (player, system, shot Quality) but perhaps not. I guess the other three Western powerhouses with essentially the same Shot% have also been extremely lucky this year too….

        • RedMan

          The Flames actually have the #2 shooting % in the league. Those three western powerhouses don’t have the same essential sh% and the Flames lead over them becomes even bigger when we talk about 5 on 5 shooting %. You look deeper into the Flames shooting % statistics and it becomes evident that this is not based on a team just trying to shoot more high quality shots, it’s just in large part due to a little puck luck. If you’ve thought about it, so have the people behind these statistics.

          The opposition has the puck a lot more then the Flames, the opposition is outshooting and outchancing the Flames 80% of the games, the Flames have just relied on some top quality players and some luck.

          I don’t see why it’s such a bad thing to be honest. As so many people have said, it’s the 2nd year of a rebuild. For the people who seem to not like adv. statistics, the Flames are winning games right now, who cares if there’s a little luck involved?

      • RedMan

        Tdot Fan wrote: “I think you represent a group of fans who simply don’t enjoy advanced statistics because they say something negative about the team you cheer for.”

        NO, you’re wrong here. I have worked with stats/spreadsheets since DOS (some of you may not know what DOS is, think pre-windows). I do not actually “enjoy” stats, that you are right about, but you are wrong that I am opposed to anything that paints my team negatively. Do you think those who get tired of the CORSI pimping do not want to see any faults in their team???? You are actually beginning the erection of your straw man here, but like all straw men, it represents what you think “we” are, not what we really are. This team has many holes – year two if the rebuild it is! Love it in all it’s improbable glory!

        Tdot Fan wrote: “There is more then sufficient enough data out there, that has been explained, that says the Flames are relying on a good chunk of luck this season.”

        OK – seriously, do YOU not have an issue with a “science” that uses “luck” as a conclusion? Just how “advanced” can a stat be if all it can conclude is “luck”?

        Tdot Fan wrote: “You seem to be simply pleading with Kent and everyone else for someone to somehow shape statistics so they tell your the narrative you want to tell, that is the Flames are not relying much on luck.”

        There’s your straw man again… wow, look how bad and dumb people are that do not agree that the kings new clothes are so beautiful!! “MY” narrative is that this team has amazed me this year by staying in the hunt in spite of being in the infancy of its rebuild, losing 3 of its centers early in the year, then, after losing its Noris trophy calibre defenseman and veteran wingers Glencross and Jones, still guts out wins against legitimate teams, with two of every three forwards being younger, and the defense being… well, what it is. My narrative has agreed all along that CORSI is pointing to an interesting “part” of the story, but not ALL of the story – there many stats, other stats that paint the team in a positive light but are generally left out of the conversation and analysis by the writers, seemingly written of as meaningless compared to the new and shiny CORSI.

        Tdot Fan wrote: “The Flames are also relying on the great play of Giordano and Brodie, Monahan, Gaudreau, Hudler and many others like this site and Kent have written about. However, when you examine all the data with an objective eye, you come to the conclusion that the Flames are benefiting from puck lock.”

        Thanks for pointing out that the team is relying on great play by its best players… I am willing to bet that if you did a statistical analysis of the 30 NHL teams, 30/30 are relying on the great play of it best players. Hmmm… maybe there’s a new advanced stat in there somewhere. But there you are at luck again.

        You don’t need science, spread sheets or analytics to conclude “luck”. Heck, my Oiler fan friend tells me all the time how lucky the Flames have been – thinks they stole every horse shoe in Alberta, and he didn’t need anything more then a beer to conclude luck. You see, “luck” is not a scientific conclusion – it is an admission that randomness ‘may’ be the reason for something happening that the single stat, used in isolation, cannot otherwise quantify.

        As for Ken – I have high regard and respect for the gentleman, and enjoy and appreciate his work. the guy is awesome and has a beard, so I am on his side.

        There are, not surprisingly, intelligent people on this forum who, like you, are enjoying the season, but are somewhat tired of the CORSI story. we heard it, we realize the Flames are beating the odds for some reason. while i can’t speak for all these people, I personally would just like to hear some better reasoning behind why the Flames are beating the odds against CORSI besides “luck” (we don’t need a stat for that conclusion) and would also like to hear a little praise and recognition for the areas they are excelling in statistically, maybe just vear off slightly from the “flames are lucky but actually suck” story.

        The 03/04 Flames sucked as well – but boy was that a fun ride, and a period that likely saved the franchise in Calgary. We have heard and registered the fact that the Flames are beating the odds… time to add more meat to that story to keep it interesting.

        • RedMan

          Acutally the 2003-2004 Flames team outhshot the opposition quite a bit. That was actually a really good hockey team when completely healthy. Had they had Kipprusoff the entire season, they could have won that division perhaps.

          Science does not explain it as luck. It accounts for random variance. Sports will never be a perfect science and advanced statistics account for that.

          What statistics would you like to hear about that the Flames are doing well that have not been accounted for?

      • RedMan

        I don’t the Lambert would ever call someone an idiot because they just respectively disagreed with him. Perhaps people need to look at the way he’s approached by this certain poster and others……The guy really knows his hockey, backs up all his points with statistics and because he just has a different opinion, people get so easily worked up over the guy.

  • RedMan

    People went after Ari as a writer and questioning her work on a personal level because it was “too negative”. Perhaps we all need to get of our high horses

  • RedMan

    I wanted to comment on all 9 points; so here goes:

    Point 1: What a dumb question. I am unsure what the guy was asking? Which injury will hurt the organization the most? How ill the team adjust? Gio’s injury hurts the NHl teams chances of making the playoffs but the team has found it’s equilibrium(based on 3 straight wins) and may surprise us. Ortio’s injury may cost the development of all the young guys as the Baby Flames may not make it. This might hurt the organization more long term.

    Point 2: Backs will be resigned or traded for an asset. I would prefer resigned for 3 years. You cannot have enough good two way centers and it buys time for Bennett to become a man.

    Point 3: I would resign Ramo; the Flames can fford to pay Ortio to play anothe AHL season unless he wins a job outright. One major caveat to this is if Gillies is ready to turn pro.

    Point 4 and 9: Fancy stats: I understand them but don’t always think they tell the whole story. I have yet to be convinced about the need for a large body of work(no one discribe what they mean) and I also think systems and styles may prove to mitigate so of these stats.

    Point 5: How much will the young guys play down the stretch. based upon Hartley’s m/o what they earn. monahan has earned his trust so he will play a bunch. Johnny will bounce around from game to game and the rest will rotate until someone earns his trust and there is nothing wrong with this.

    Point 6: Unless Johnny explodes down the stretch one would have to agree with Kent.

    Point 7: One can only speculate where we will draft and I have not done enough research yet as to whom we should pick. However I would be likely to keep all my 2nd rounders as they will be close together.

    Point 8: I’m intrigued by the Russian kid and the young Swede and hope they come to NA next year. The team will need to kick some tires on the UFA market and the kids will need to continue to develop. Use the draft wisely(2 defenders with our 3 2nd rounders would be a good start) Also will the Gilmour kid out of Providence leave school early? I liked him at development camp, Also are their any good UFA’s coming out of college; last year there was one who decided to return to college(I can’t recall his name– some suggested his was a poor man’s Ekbald)

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    People forget a number of D-men were already drafted so the situation is not quite so bad. Seems Flames doing a lot to develop Kanzig by trading for him in WHL while ensuring others play in A a lot

  • DoubleDIon

    I’ve been very interested in possession stats for a long time. I wish someone tracked the amount of time a team and individual player had the puck. Detroit in the 90s seemed to have it 60 percent of the game consistently.

    One question for corsi experts. My understanding is that corsi tracks attempts at the net. Does it also take into account blocked shots? If not, I think that in conjunction with our penalty ratio could be why the flames make no sense in terms or corsi and winning.

    • DoubleDIon

      Corsi does not but Fenwick does take into account blocked shots.

      And count me in as someone who wishes they tracked possession earlier on. Would have been interesting to see what Flames players were better then given credit for. Have a feeling Langkow was one of them.

    • RedMan

      How is that any different from what I said? He’s basically advocating that just because the Flames are getting lucky in some cases but you should still enjoy it. Exactly what I was saying. You seem to be enjoying these wins a lot so who cares if some it’s due to luck?

  • Derzie

    The key problem that I see with the Advanced Stats mainstream acceptance is the notion that they are complete and ‘done’ evolving.

    The stats have been invaluable in explaining and understanding parts of the game that are not goals, assists and wins. The problem lies in anomalies. When something comes up that doesn’t fit existing theories, the words ‘regression’ and ‘luck’ are thrown around.

    Anyone who watches the Flames know that the sole reason for their stats-defying results is not luck. It is something else: Heart, Belief, Fortitude. Members of the stats community should be thankful for the Flames as a case study of what is missing and not being measured. They are so extreme (winning against all odds) that their performance can help define new statistical benchmarks.

    What about a stat that measures ability to overcome possession deficiencies? Goals when behind? 3rd period comebacks? I’m not a stats guy but in any walk of life if your approach to unexpected results is to fold your arms and say regression is coming or lady luck will turn, you’re missing a big opportunity.