Reflections on Jakub Nakladal’s first real NHL game

Because of Kris Russell’s lingering lower-body injury, tonight was our second chance to see Jakub Nakladal suit up for the Calgary Flames. And let’s face it, he played two shifts against Toronto and then sat for two and a half periods and watched that game, so fundamentally-speaking this was his first “real” National Hockey League game.

How did he do? We dug into his numbers a bit.

THE NUMBERS

Nakladal played 14 shifts for 12:28 (10:32 even-strength and 1:56 power-play), had a minor penalty, two shots on goal, one missed shot and one shot that he blocked. He played 4:16 (four shifts) in the first, 3:36 (four shifts) in the second and 4:46 (six shifts) in the third. He had 40% offensive zone starts, which made him less sheltered than everybody but T.J. Brodie and Ladislav Smid (both of whom played more than he did).

Partner Corsi
For
Corsi
Agains
t
Corsi
For%
Time
on Ice
All 14 6 70% 12:28
Smid 3 5 37.5% 6:41
Brodie 8 0 100% 2:59
Engelland 0 0 n/a 1:30
Giordano 0 1 0% 1:25
Hamilton 3 0 100% 0:51

Now, I find his usage pretty interesting. He played a mixture with every other defender, as you can see above, but I’m most curious about his three minutes with T.J. Brodie. Presuming that Kris Russell eventually leaves the team – or even presuming that he misses a game or two dealing with his injury – and that the Dennis Wideman saga drags on forever, the Flames are left with three left-shooting blueliners (Giordano, Brodie and Smid) and three right-shooting blueliners (Hamilton, Nakladal and Engelland). The trial of Nakladal with Brodie suggests that perhaps they’re exploring three balanced pairings at some point in the future, and Nakladal with Brodie does sound pretty darn tempting. (And for what it’s worth, Giordano and Hamilton have played together a lot this season, especially recently on the power play.)

Overall, Nakladal looked pretty strong when he got on the ice, and I’d imagine we’ll get to see more of him in the near-future.

HARTLEY (ON NAKLADAL)

Flames head coach Bob Hartley commented on Nakladal’s first real NHL game in his post-game press conference:

I liked his game. I thought that, great puck moving defenseman…you can tell how he can snap that puck, how he can shoot that puck also, good passer and everything, I thought he handled himself very well.

NAKLADAL (ON NAKLADAL)

His overall impressions of the game:

I didn’t know it for a 100% if I was going to play before game, but yesterday coach told me that I have to be ready because we didn’t know what’s gonna happen with Russ, so all day today I tried to prepare like normally if I would play. I felt pretty good in the game and I’m pretty happy. i played a lot of ice-time and PP I played some. It was great for me. But of course I’m mad because we lost. In this situation we need every point.

How his prior game (and his time in the press box) prepared him for the game:

The first game against Toronto, I played two shifts. [Chuckles] But today, like I said, I had more ice time, so much more than against Toronto. This is great opportunity for me to show to everybody that I can play in this organization and, like i said, I’m pretty happy for this opportunity.

  • Graham_CGY

    Even before his call up I regarded him as the teams 4th best defenseman…

    Better then Russell for less then Russell’s current salary…

    Ya, let’s re-sign Russell! LOL

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    If this guy turns into an option, next Year looks much better…. Gio/Hamilton is looking better, if Brodie and Nak can eat minutes, that leaves Eng, Smid and Wideman to clean up the mess… the focus could be moving one (or two) of those bottom 3 contracts and acquiring cheaper depth options (like resigning Schlemko???)… way easier than finding a number 4 guy…. lot of question marks but a guy can hope…

    • Graham_CGY

      I like a:
      Brodie – Gio
      Hamilton – Nakladal
      Engelland – Kylington/Wotherspoon

      Next Season. Honestly, depending on how Andersson progresses next season, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to take Gio out of that list.

      • piscera.infada

        Kylington is simply not ready. His game is coming, and he’s improved substantially in his own zone since joining the AHL, but he’s not there yet.

        It was always going to take time with him. He slipped in the draft primarily because his defensive game in the Swedish leagues wasn’t good enough. Now, he’s learning how to correct those problem while adjusting to North America. You can see it in his game. Early in the AHL season, he was trying to keep players from blowing past him outside (which is reasonable in the European game), in North America he needs to be better at that, but also players that will just drive right through him to the net. You can see him understanding it better, but he needs to consistently execute defending those plays before you can even consider throwing him in the NHL game.

  • supra steve

    Nak looked good, and Hartley showed a willingness to experiment with him in the lineup, that’s great to see.

    As for the enduring Schlemko love….we have too many veteran D-men as it is, need to aim for adding a youngster to the lineup next season, not a Schlemko.

    • piscera.infada

      Signing Schlemko wouldn’t be the end of world if they were able to jettison (at least) two of Smid, Engelland, or Wideman, while also waiving goodbye to Russell at the TDL. That would leave you with a D-core of Brodie, Hams, Gio, Naks, Schlemko, and one of the aforementioned three. Because the team likes to carry 7 blue-liners, you’ve got a rotating healthy scratch between Schlemko and Smid/Wideman/Engelland, with a young player (assuming one emerges) getting the other spot.

      • Graham_CGY

        I like your concept. However, there are at least 3 guys in Stockton that should be ready to fill a 6/7 next season:

        – Wotherspoon
        – Sieloff
        – Kylington
        – Andersson (OHL, but is the real deal)

        Plus Kulak and Morrison, but I don’t think they are close.

        Those first 2 are in the “fish or cut bait” area in my opinion.

        IF… BIG if I was Treliving, I would have Smid in Stockton and have both/either of Wotherspoon/Sieloff in the 6/7 role with this team.

        • piscera.infada

          As I said above, Kylington is not ready–none of that is a failure on his part, he was always going to be a bit of a project. Sieloff can’t even get regular AHL minutes as a defenseman.

          I have to feel as though Wotherspoon isn’t really in the organization’s NHL plans anymore, but I’m sure they’ll give him one last look this season with the departure of Russell. I personally don’t mind Wotherspoon, but with defensive prospects filtering into the AHL/NHL ranks over the next few years (Kylington, Andersson, Hickey, Ollas-Maatsson [hopefully]), I just question where he sits in the current group vis-a-vis the future group.

          So that leaves Andersson, whom I wouldn’t assume will be ready for the NHL next year out of the gate. Although, I can see him making a case for it mid-way through next year–pending his game adjusts well to the higher AHL level, and his conditioning improves. I do agree he’s the real deal though. I was all-in on drafting him as a mid to late first-rounder before the season started last year (they were lucky to get him where they did).

          Kulak showed he can play early in the season, but he hasn’t exactly been a force in the AHL. He was largely playing second-pairing minutes this year.

          Culkin could also surprise some people coming off injury, a la Kulak this year. Remember, he was held in higher esteem than Kulak as early as the end of last season.

          As I said, it opens the door for one player to come in and blow the doors off. I am weary though, of handing a prospect that time though. As I said in an earlier post today; it’s important prospects feel a real opportunity for upward mobility in the organization. That doesn’t mean that they should be played there regardless of readiness.

        • piscera.infada

          Obviously. It’s a big, big “if”. Re-signing Schlemko would be entirely contingent upon that. If you were to do it somehow, he’d be a great low-cost, low-term addition as a placeholder until you’re sure your prospects are ready for showtime.

  • Graham_CGY

    Not sure I get the Wotherspoon hate from Hartley and some of you…

    Kid seems to be an upgrade on Smid/Engelland and is 3rd in Heat +/-

    Think we would do good in the 5/6/7 in Calgary.

  • Greatsave

    I think this has been brought up before, but I find it confusing that we usually limit advanced stats comparisons to 5v5 play, yet in single-game summaries “all situation” numbers are used.

    Nakladal’s Corsi numbers look great with Brodie, but that was with almost 2 minutes of PP time. At 5v5, they were 2-0 in Corsi in 1:16, which is still decent but not exaggerated. Similarly, most of Nak’s time with Hamilton were with extra attacker, and thus skewed.

    Same thing for zone-starts: he was actually 50% in 5v5; one D-zone start was on the PP.

    In fact, at 5v5 Nak’s Corsi was 5-6. Both his defensive zone starts were with our top Corsi line (Backlund, Bennett, and Frolik/Ferland), against the Ducks’ fourth line of Thompson, Garbutt, and Maroon. He was much more sheltered and much less effective than his All-Situation numbers would suggest.

    • piscera.infada

      In fact, at 5v5 Nak’s Corsi was 5-6. Both his defensive zone starts were with our top Corsi line (Backlund, Bennett, and Frolik/Ferland), against the Ducks’ fourth line of Thompson, Garbutt, and Maroon. He was much more sheltered and much less effective than his All-Situation numbers would suggest.

      That’s fine, as you would expect any player to be sheltered in the their first NHL game–especially given “trust and blah, blah, blah”. I would still argue Nakladal gave a performance worthy of further ice-time. He’s still a player that the organization needs to know what they have in. He looked effective and poised for a first time NHLer against a very good team, the coach (to his credit) gave him some powerplay opportunity, and he was more physical than I thought he’d be.

      I would agree no one should be proclaiming this “best defense in the league 2.0” but I feel pretty good that his numbers were decent.

      • Greatsave

        Agreed. I’m sure I didn’t come across as Nak-bashing in my post. I merely wanted to point out how heavily his PP/extra-attacker time skewed the overall numbers. I’m satisfied with how he fared, especially when you consider Engelland with a 6-0 zone-start and still 12-16 Corsi.

  • OKG

    Once we can get rid of:

    Wideman
    Stajan
    Engelland
    Jones
    Russell
    Colborne

    We’ll have a very balanced lineup:

    P. Laine-Bennett-Frolik

    Gaudreau-Jankowski-Monahan

    Ferland-Backlund-Granlund

    Bouma-Grant-Jooris

    Agostino/Hathaway

    Giordano-Brodie

    Schlemko-Hamilton

    Kulak-Nakladal

    Smid

    PP1
    Laine-Monahan-Gaudreau
    Giordano-Hamilton

    PP2
    Ferland-Bennett-Jankowski
    Brodie-Nakladal

    I like it!

  • OKG

    Graham, Wotherspoon offers nothing. Poor at protecting the crease, poor at suppressing shots, poor offensively. He was drafted with the hope he would develop into a Paul Martin type but he’s basically another Gormley type. No single element of his game is NHL-calibre.

  • RKD

    Brodie-Hamilton, Gio-Nakladal, Kulak/Wotherspoon-Wideman/Smid/Engelland, the organization needs to find away to get rid of Wideman, Engelland, Smid and trade Russell. Would love to see Naks get more playing time but it won’t be easy to jump in to a top 4 role.