FN Mailbag – Aug 27, 2015

Mailbag

In the wake of the CalgaryNext and Giordano contract announcements, we decided to rouse the FN mailbag feature from its off-season hibernation.

Ironically, nobody asked any questions about the arena project, so most of today’s inquires tackle Calgary’s blueline and contract situation moving forward.

When I started looking around at the other elite defenders who had signed long-term deals recently, my assumption heading into the Gio negotiations was that he and his agent would want north of $40M total, whatever the AAV and term. Turns out that was fairly valid assumption.

As mentioned above, having a shorter term would have been preferable in terms of limiting future risk given Giordano’s age, but it was nearly impossible for the Flames to do that given their pending cap crunch since $40 over four years gives you a cap hit of $10M per year. Treliving, I think, found the best possible compromise by getting the AAV under 7M while keeping the contract length under 7 years as well.

There’s some speculation that Gio’s $6.75M cap hit will become a de facto “upper ceiling” for other players, kinda like no one was ever going to get paid more per year than Iginla while Iginla was still on the team. The point is likely moot because the team simply doesn’t have anyone who would be in line for that kind of raise any time soon. While Gaudreau and Monahan might be in the $6M range (assuming another good season for each), it will take a sizable leap for either of them to get into Giordano/Tarasenko price range.

The only other option is a big UFA signing, but players of that caliber almost never make it into the UFA pool these days anyways.

The Flames had the second highest even strength shooting percentage last year (8.8%), behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning. That was caused by half the roster having career years, ranging from the top end (Hudler and Wideman) to the bottom end (Bouma and Jooris). 

I think (hope) the Flames will get a higher volume of shots this upcoming season, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see their goal rate come back down to earth. Unless Sam Bennett is suddenly a superstar, it’s almost certain the Flames will score less frequently in 2015-16. 

Smid says he feels well enough to play, but requires a doctor’s say-so to get back into NHL action. If he is indeed ready to go in October, the Flames brass will have not one but two replacement level defenders with overly expensive contracts to try to get rid of in the next 12 months. 

Smid has been a warrior for a long time and was once a capable enough top-4 defensive defenseman. That player has been left behind, however. Here’s Smid’s results from the last three seasons courtesy of Own the Puck

Smid

An absolute horror show. 

Smid has zero offense to speak of and he craters the possession of any one he plays with. It’s great news on a human level that Smid is feeling well enough to get back on the ice again, but it complicates Brad Treliving’s life a great deal. 

It also makes it a lot less likely the team will ink David Schlemko as a depth option, whose HERO chart, I remind you, looks like this: 

Schlemko

Sigh.

I’m ambivalent about Klimchuk. His production in junior was just okay and he’s not particularly gifted in any one area of the game. He’s not very big or physical, nor is he overly fast or agile. He’s not going to dangle around the other team or thread passes through skates on a regular basis.

Seeing Klimchuk live a few times I have been impressed with the way his thinks and anticipates the game. But it was also clear he’s not going to jump the queue and make the league any time soon. He has to get either stronger and more assertive, or quicker and more evasive in order to separate himself from the pack. At 6′, 190 pounds, he’s not going to make the league as a bang and crasher, and I’m not sure he has enough offensive upside to be a scorer either.

That’s a long way of saying he kind of reminds me of Max Reinhart: A ‘good’ prospect who will need some aspect of his game to take a substantial leap as a pro in order to be considered an important prospect.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Think you are too down on Klimchuck. I think he’s a solid 3rd liner, pushing to a 2nd liner. Both of the last two years he was injured so Junior stats a bit misleading. Hopefully he’ll be in the AHL this year and we’ll get a much better picture of what he can do.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Kent,
    With the backlog of players in TC, who is going to be the first guy traded?

    Secondly, who’s the next D-man to graduate to the Flames in your estimation?

  • Derzie

    Gio’s deal is great for both parties. He is handsomely paid for many years. He wants to finish his career here. His on-ice will slowly diminish in the final years but his leadership and work ethic and impact on the room will not. We could not have asked for a better contract. Johnny, Sean & Sam will have plenty of cap to sign them as a result.

    The shooting % of the Flames will continue to be above average as it is the way they play. To summarize a Gio post-contract signing quote, he said the other team can have the puck all day if they like as long as they don’t get quality chances but when we have the puck we want quality over quantity all day long.

    Smid was a mistake from the get go. Now with Broissoit on the rise (as we knew he would) that trade is looking worse every day. Smid will make Engelland look good and that’s saying something. Time to cut bait.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      Broissoit would have been Ortio’s back up the last two seasons and would be at best battling Gilles for time between the pipes in Stockton this year. However your assessment of Smid and Engelland is rather accurate.

      • Train#97

        Broissoit is goona be a good goalie for years to come . Edmonton has got to shore up D first and should be a strong backup and maybe starter down the road.

        • Train#97

          Broissoit may indeed prove to an NHL goalie but Ortio had passed him on the depth chat and is ready for an NHL this year, I’m not sure Broissoit is. The Flames have high hopes for Gillies and his resume at Providence suggests that he will be AHL ready this year.

  • Train#97

    My two questions for Kent would be the following:

    Does he think the Flames have done enough during the of season to shift the fancy stats?

    Who does he see as the leading candidates to play with Bennett and Frolik?

    • Brent G.

      I’d also like to know where Kent sees the Flames finishing this year. I definitely think they are measurably better now but could also reasonably see them take a small step back given how the number show they overachieved last year.

  • Mullen Mania

    This makes me want the Flames to sign Shlemko. I feel he still has greater upside and the stats shown here also appear to indicate this. Could be a solid bottom pairing D and able to move up when required. However, with many players already under contract I don’t think it will happen.

  • Train#97

    Not sure if we’re talking about the same player or not, because the Klimchuk I’ve watched since his draft year is one that is always far and above the best player on his team and always one of the more dangerous players on the ice. He’s not flashy by any means but the guy is going to fit in the middle 6 of an NHL team in 3 years time.

    • Train#97

      I doubt Klimchuk was the best player on a Wheat Kings team that included Ivan Provorov. But the argument could be made that he was their best forward. His stats last season were hindered by his poor start with Regina, but his 1.5PPG rate with Brandon was the highest on the team.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Thanks for your insights Kent.

    @coachedpotatoe
    The Flames possession numbers were terrible last year, but I believe that there is a good chance that they may rise to respectable this season (50% CF would be nice). I’m hopeful that Monahan, Gaudreau and other Flames young players continue to progress, but the biggest impact should come from full season play from both Backlund and Giordano, plus the addition of Frolik and Hamilton. The numbers are even better served, if the weakest possession players are pushed out or their TOI is reduced. I’m hopeful that the coaching staff will be forced by one or two of the Flames prospects, relegating Engelland and Bollig out. Frankly, I don’t beleive either will be not be wearing a crimson jersey this year, but I really hope so.

    • Könniek

      I happen to agree with you in regards to these comments but I’m always trying to make sure I’m not just wishful thinking and was hoping to here what the advanced stats guys think.(you may be one of them or you might be like me) it seems logical to me that if we have a healthy Backlund to start the season and don’t end up with a rash of injuries down the middle like last season our advances stats should improve, Losing Gio for 25% of the games also impacted these stats greatly. The addition of Hamilton means less of Engs, Smid and Diaz this should lead to addition by subtraction. The same could be said about Frolik his presense should push other weaker possession players down the line up and into the stands or AHL. That’s what we both think but is that what the advanced stats guys think?

      If Engs and Bollig are sitting in the stands most nights then our advanced stats should improve. I think we can trade Bollig as his contract is not overbearing and some team will like his grit and playoff experience (it likely won’t happen early) but Eng’s contract will be much harder to move. I could see him being sent down to the AHL much like McG was last year if he becomes a consistent scratch and if we lost him for nothing I would not be to upset.(we lost Cammi for nothing and we did not fold the tents)

      • ChinookArchYYC

        Not sure why Bollig gets thrown out as a must trade. If other teams think his contract is low enough to keep for that element of the game, why not the Flames? Trading him isn’t some magical formula to give us the cap space. Keep him this year, he isn’t going to hurt us & will likely get in to about 40 games & some playoff games.

        Engellend will be hard to trade without giving up an asset because 3.0mill is a significant cap hit. I still think he can be useful paired with one of our younger guys for at least 1 more year. The battle will be that #4 spot between Wideman & Russell. The loser of that competition will have trade value & have an impact on our cap space. (Russell will probably get a raise next year).