Johnny Gaudreau never should have been taken in the fourth round. He had first round talent, but his size – listed as 5’6″, 137 lbs. at the time of his draft – was a concern. And to be fair, someone that tiny is concerning, even if they aren’t done growing yet.
Gaudreau is now listed as 5’9, 150 lbs. Not a whole lot bigger, but big enough to be an NHL All-Star and be among the top-30 point scorers, not to mention lead his team in playoff scoring.
Tyler Johnson never should have been undrafted. He’s leading the NHL in playoff scoring. Martin St. Louis never should have been undrafted. Mats Zuccarello never should have been undrafted.
When you’re big, you have to prove you can’t play. When you’re small, you have to prove you can.
How do the Flames compare?
The ultimate goal is, of course, to win the Stanley Cup. To do that, you have to make the playoffs. Giving everyone equal odds, though, you still only have 1/16th of a chance. That goes down with each passing round.
If you make it to the third round, things get a whole lot more serious. By that point there’s only one hockey game on a day, and each one is increasingly crucial.
The Flames weren’t one of the final four teams this season. With their size concerns addressed by guys like Brandon Bollig and Deryk Engelland – even though players like Paul Byron and Gaudreau are significantly better – how did they stack up against the best teams of the 2014-15 season?
The difference in height is basically negligible. The Flames are the shortest team, but not by much; the Blackhawks and Rangers are really, really close to them in terms of size. This makes sense, as both teams have their fare share of smaller players – Patrick Kane, Teuvo Teravainen, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello – without that many bigger guys to cancel it out. (Though the Flames have Joe Colborne; the Rangers have Kevin Hayes.)
That said, it’s not as though the Ducks or Lightning tower over any of these teams. On average, they’re only about half an inch taller.
That leaves weight, where the discrepancies are clearer. Even then, though, the Flames are still about the same weight as the Hawks; about two pounds lighter. The Rangers and Lightning are pretty much the same size, about five pounds heavier on average, while the Ducks are comparatively massive, with about 15 pounds on the Flames.
While rosters do change year-to-year, though, compare the Ducks and Hawks in recent years. The Hawks, with three straight third-round appearances, including a Cup. The Ducks, with first and second round exits, have only made the third round for the first time since 2007.
It’s pretty obvious which team you’d rather be. Then, keep in mind that the Flames are about the same size as the Hawks.
Which players are most effective?
Both the Hawks and Ducks have two standout forwards leading their teams: Patrick Kane (5’11”, 177 lbs.) and Jonathan Toews (6’2″, 201 lbs.), Corey Perry (6’3″, 213 lbs.) and Ryan Getzlaf (6’4″, 218 lbs.). The Hawks’ guys – despite being smaller – have been able to get it done more often.
Total team size is one thing, and indeed, it’s a team game: everyone’s valuable. But some are more valuable than others; hence, the distinction between first and fourth liners, their production, and their possession. The guys who put up the best numbers are the guys you want on your team.
Who are the best performers?
|Goals||Points||ES CF%||ES CF% rel|
|Tyler Johnson||12||Tyler Johnson||18||Nikita Nesterov||59.97%||Victor Hedman||10.30%|
|Corey Perry||9||Corey Perry||17||Marian Hossa||56.61%||Anton Stralman||9.50%|
|Patrick Kane||9||Ryan Getzlaf||17||Duncan Keith||56.48%||Nikita Kucherov||8.50%|
|Nikita Kucherov||7||Nikita Kucherov||16||Andrew Cogliano||55.62%||Duncan Keith||8.30%|
|Chris Kreider||7||Patrick Kane||15||Jonathan Toews||55.50%||Dan Boyle||7.50%|
|Alex Killorn||6||Alex Killorn||15||Simon Despres||55.41%||Keith Yandle||6.80%|
|Steven Stamkos||6||Steven Stamkos||15||Brandon Saad||55.30%||Nikita Nesterov||6.70%|
|Ondrej Palat||6||Jonathan Toews||14||Anton Stralman||55.03%||Marian Hossa||6.50%|
|Derick Brassard||6||Jakob Silfverberg||14||Corey Perry||54.99%||Kevin Hayes||5.70%|
|Matt Beleskey||6||Ondrej Palat||13||Dan Boyle||54.97%||Tyler Johnson||5.40%|
- Average height and weight of top playoff goal scorers: ~6’0″, ~197 lbs.
- Average height and weight of top playoff point getters: ~6’1″, ~195 lbs.
- Average height and weight of top playoff corsi players: ~6’1″, ~199 lbs.
- Average height and weight of players best relative to their teams in the playoffs: ~6’1″, ~199 lbs.
It’s a small sample size, but the guys contributing the most to teams that have made it this far aren’t exactly behemoths. It’s not that being big hurts; it’s that talent is a far greater asset than size.
What does this mean for the Flames?
Draft for talent, not size.
On average, the Flames are about as tall as the final four’s most productive players, and a couple of pounds lighter. If we go by this methodology, then there really isn’t a pressing need for the Flames to get bigger.
Talent is what’s going to carry teams. The Blackhawks are a talented team as big as the Flames; they’re two wins away from their second Cup Final appearance in three years. The Lightning have learned to draft and sign talented players incredibly well, and as a result, they’re looking more and more like very regular, very serious contenders. The Ducks have a couple of excellent pieces on which to hang their hats, but in addition to being bigger guys, they’re also just plain good. The same goes for the Rangers.
With so many picks in the first three rounds, several key pieces of the Flames’ rebuild could come from this upcoming draft. Drafting for size can be disregarded – the Flames may very well be big enough already – and talent needs to be brought to the forefront – as they certainly aren’t talented enough to contend. Not yet, anyway.