It’s the final countdown. The last hurrah. Do or die. The Flames have just five games left in 2014-15. Five chances to complete their Cinderella season and punch their ticket to the playoffs. By this time next week, it may well be down to the final contest against the Winnipeg Jets.
And, of course, that means there’s lots to talk about in the weekly mailbag. This time around we look at pending free agents, the Flames blueline (again), Flames goalies (again), shot quality and Phil Kessel.
— Fraser Stewart (@dotfras) April 2, 2015
A couple of weeks ago, the answer was clearly Kari Ramo. And a few weeks before that, it was obviously Jonas Hiller. If we look at their stats this season, the answer seems to get a bit clearer. While there isn’t much to choose from between each guys overall SV% (.912 for Ramo vs .915 for Hiller), there’s a clear advantage when we consider even strength save rate.
So far this year, Hiller has saved an above average 92.4% of shots he’s seen at 5on5 this year, while Ramo is at a below average 91.6%. The reason they are close overall is Hiller has struggled a lot on the PK, with just a SV% of just 81.5%. That’s terrible, but unlikely to continue since specials teams save rates tends to bounce around wildly.
While we’re only talking about 49 games and 33 games for each guy respectively, these numbers accord with each guy’s career norms. Hiller has consistently been a better goalie than Ramo for years, so it shouldn’t be surprising he has the better results this year.
Short answer: Jonas Hiller.
— speeds (@hockeysymposium) April 2, 2015
— Keith Harrison (@KHarrison44) April 2, 2015
These questions are somewhat related, so I put them together.
With Gio, Calgary is obviously in a tough spot. He’s roundly considered to be one of the best defenders in the league and has been grossly underpaid relative to his contributions the last few seasons. He’s also the club’s captain. If we look at his peers, we see PK Subban ($9m/year), Shea Weber ($7.8M/year), Ryan Suter ($7.53M/year), Kris Letang ($7.25M/year), Drew Doughty ($7.0M/year) and Zdeno Chara ($6.92M/year). Heck, even Dion Phaneuf makes 7 bills a year. All of these guys signed long term deals as well.
So the discussion will start at $7 million for 5+ years and go up from there. The good news is, Giordano is probably worth that number right now. The bad news is, he’ll be 33 when his new contract kicks in and on the back 9 of his career. That means there’s significant risk to inking him to those dollars for that long.
Of course, given the state of the Flames blueline, the team can’t really afford to lose Giordano. That means they’ll pay whatever he asks for. Let’s $7.5M for 6.
As for improving the blueline, this issue has been raised frequently in the mailbag and for good reason. It’s an the most obvious area of concern for this club moving forward.
As mentioned previously, Brad Treliving is going to have to get creative to improve the back-end this summer. We can’t be sure which UFA’s or players will be available for trade, but something akin to what Garth Snow pulled off this past off-season, grabbing both Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk for marginal futures, is what would have to happen to really move the dial.
— Cory S (@CSavidant) April 2, 2015
This is another option for improving the defense corps, although a long shot at best since most clubs will match any offers that are proffered to worthwhile players. Also, GM’s aren’t too eager to surrender the compensation it takes to land big name RFA’s.
Calgary’s best option, should they go down this road, would be to target a club with salary cap concerns. Probably the only guy who is both worthwhile and on a cap challenged team is Dougie Hamilton. The Bruins had to sacrifice Johnny Boychuk to the cap gods this year and have raises for Torey Krug ($3.4M), Reilly Smith ($3.5M) and David Krejci ($7.25M) set for next season. On top of all that, Boston will have to re-sign or replace Daniel Paille, Greg Campbell, Carl Soderberg, Matt Bartkowski and Adam McQuaid.
Of course, keep in mind if the Flames decide to offer Hamilton anything between $3.5-5M, it will cost them a first and third round pick in the 2016 draft. Assuming the Bruins let him walk.
Possible, yes. Probable, no.
— Fake Steinberg (@fake_steinberg) April 2, 2015
Whatever place decides to sponsor FlamesNation. *hint hint*
— Eric Dade (@EricD82) April 2, 2015
— Eric Dade (@EricD82) April 2, 2015
Shot quality has been the wondrous golden unicorn that many have chased since we started playing with the numbers in the NHL. Originally it was assumed that scoring chance counting would give us insights into the relationship between possession and chances. However, when we started to collect chances and correlate them to corsi, we found there wasn’t much difference between the two ratios.
For example, after multiple seasons of chance counting I found the correlation between scoring chance differential and corsi differential was around +0.7 over time. Others found as strong or stronger relationships. Which meant we weren’t really capturing much additional information through by counting chances every night.
In addition, we also learned that shooting percentages and save percentages tend to regress heavily towards the mean in the NHL (thus the importance of PDO). In light of that insight, we found that searching for differences in ability to drive shot quality was often just being fooled by randomness, with natural variance seeming to frequently masquerade as an ability to influence frequency of goals.
In truth, there is likely a real difference between players and teams in terms of driving shot quality, especially in terms of shooting percentage. That said, we don’t really have the required information or statistical models required to effectively identify it just yet.
— Southern_point (@Southern_point1) April 2, 2015
No, of course not. In fact, many of us secretly hate the game and all this fancy stat malarky is actually a clandestine plot to ruin it for everyone! Bwahahaha!
@kent_wilson If you’re Brad and the Leafs offer Phil Kessel for two 2rd picks + 1rd pick in 2016 and a prospect B, you done the deal?
— Puck Brasil (@PuckBrasil1) April 2, 2015
Kessel is an interesting target for the Flames. Things have obviously gone sour in Toronto and it wouldn’t surprise me if the player is looking for a way out this summer. Brian Burke is also obviously a fan, having traded for the player during his days in Toronto.
That said, it’s good to keep in mind that Kessel is a rather one-dimensional player. He’s elite at that one dimension (scoring goals), but he’s not a guy that plays a strong two-way game or drives possession. On top of that, Toronto isn’t going to give him a way for a package of uncertain futures. The asking price for Kessel will start at an impact roster player or grade A prospect and go up from there.
— Colin (@DragonsDeck) April 2, 2015
I think it would be worth considering since his stock will likely never be higher. Despite his notable scoring rates this year, Wideman remains a mediocre even strength defender who should ideally be sheltered at 5on5. However, the Flames blueline situation is such that moving Wideman could result in an even bigger gap in the back-end than what already exists. Likely the only way Calgary deals Wideman is they find as good or better alternative in free agency (i.e.; Mike Green).