As they charge towards their Cinderella play-off berth, the Flames can see the imposing figure of the Los Angeles Kings looming ever closer in the rearview mirror. It’s a bit like Ichabod Crane trying desperately to stay beyond the reach of the Headless Horseman. We’ll see if the Flames can reach the bridge in time or not.
With this in mind, we discuss Joe Colborne, Deryk Engelland and what the Flames ideal line-up might look like in this week’s mailbag.
— Firestarter (@NiddNation) March 26, 2015
— perp (@rocktown_9) March 26, 2015
Joe Colborne is a bit of popular topic right now because he had such a bad performance during such a crucial game on Wednesday night.
The truth is, I don’t really know why Colborne keeps getting so much ice time. As I noted on twitter today, Colborne has just a single point in the entire month or March (a goal vs OTT) and just 4 points in his last 22 games stretching back to the start of February. That’s despite frequently averaging 15 minutes of ice or more.
Colborne’s issues stretch well beyond the scoring numbers. As we’ve noted in this space previously, no regular skater on the team has a worse possession ratio this season. The Flames give up a lot of shots when Colborne is on the ice at even strength and they generate ver few. He’s not really good at either end of the ice and barely generates a shot per game on his own.
If I was forced to guess, I would say the Flames are intrigued with Colborne’s package of skills and potential. That said, he’s taken a big step backwards this year in terms of performance and execution. At 25 years old, he’s starting to look more and more like a replacement level big guy who can win face offs and not much else.
— Moe (@DeAnimoe) March 26, 2015
It is they then also win the draft lottery and draft McDavid.
— Firestarter (@NiddNation) March 26, 2015
This will of course partially depend on what other options exist via free agency, trade or internal development. I’ll say that Joe Colborne should be bumped ASAP given what we discussed above.
As for Mason Raymond and David Jones, they are both established middle tier NHLers who will probably stick around in the short term. They are both still better than internal options and unlikely to be replaced right away. That said, it should be an implicit goal of management to render both guys expendable in two years through whatever means possible.
As noted in the recent RFA article, Paul Byron is one of the best play drivers on the team and should stick around through the rebuild given his age and price.
— Rodger Pallister (@RPallister_4) March 26, 2015
I’d say it’s premature to anoint Poirier as a future producer in the NHL, although he had a very encouraging pro debut with Adirondack this year. If, however, he has the show in his future, I would expect him to be useful by 23-24 (about 3 years from now).
— Dave Camwell (@davecamwell) March 26, 2015
That’s a tough one because there’s so many young and relatively unknown commodities on this team. Let’s go with something like this (assuming everyone is healthy):
- Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler
- Jooris – Backlund – Byron
- Bouma – Stajan – Jones
- Raymond – Shore – Ferland/Granlund
- Giordano – Brodie
- Wideman – Diaz
- Schlemko – Russell
In many places, you’re simply picking your poison rather than making ideal choices. Such is the Flames roster currently. Backlund is the Flames best possession forward still, but deploying him in a support role makes more sense so you can free up a scoring unit like the Monahan line. The depth is still questionable, although moving out Bollig and Colborne and moving up Stajan makes things look a tab better. We don’t know much about Granlund, Ferland and Shore at this level yet, but they’re more intriguing than the two designated healthy scratches, whom we know are bad.
On the blueline, it’s Giordano/Brodie, then a bunch of guys, then Engelland. Diaz has the third best underlying numbers on the team amongst regular skaters, but he’s also faced really soft circumstances all year. Still, I’d like to move him up just to see what happens. Schlemko’s outcomes are also encouraging, but then again he’s face nobodies in limited minutes.
@kent_wilson How important Austin Carroll or Hunter Smith could be in the future?
— Puck Brasil (@PuckBrasil1) March 26, 2015
With all due respect to both guys, probably not that important at all. Carroll was an overage 7th round pick (who nevertheless had a fine season in the WHL this year) and Smith was a Hail Mary “I hope he turns into Lucic” selection who is currently 6th on his junior team in scoring.
Neither guy is likely to see much, if any, NHL time.
— Colin (@DragonsDeck) March 26, 2015
By and large, the Flames management group went with a “we gotta get bigger” philosophy in their player acquisition philosophy last year. They paid too much for Brandon Bollig and Deryk Engelland in terms of dollars and assets and selected a lot of beef in the draft outside of Sam Bennett (Smith, Carroll and Adam Ollas-Mattsson were all north of 6’3″ and 214 pounds). They also signed DEL tough guy David Wolf and invited Nolan Yonkman to training camp.
I don’t know if this was in response to the perceived youth of the club, the general smallish size of the roster or the expectation of having to protect Johnny Gaudreau (maybe all three), but I’m guessing (hoping?) the focus shifts to real players and required depth rather than big body presence this off-season.
Calgary can shift into another phase of the rebuild in 2015-16 if they can shore up key areas of the roster. They need more quality 5on5 players on the blueline and the RW depth at the NHL level in particular is fairly shallow, particularly with both Jiri Hudler and David Jones entering the final years of their respective contracts.
Brad Treliving is going to have a lot of cap space in the coming summer and he’s a lot more familiar with his roster. We’ll see if that translates into meaningful additions or not.