So Here we are again, riding out the homestretch. The players are skating for pride and the decision makers are conducting evaluations, but most fan’s minds have already turned to the offseason. That’s not only because the remainder of the regular season is meaningless. Brad Treliving is facing a particularly interesting summer with the org is in line for a top-3 pick at the entry draft but also staring down the barrel of an imposing cap crunch.
This season also makes it clear the club still has work to do when it comes working its way out of the Western Conference basement. Treliving will likely have to spend a bunch just to run in place, so the challenges facing him are significant.
— jebus (@rocktown_9) March 4, 2016
— #FireHartley (@Graham_CGY) March 4, 2016
The general feeling towards Hartley has certainly soured this season, but I don’t see any reason to rush him out the door at this point. I’m personally leaning towards the Flames needing better coaching to get over the hump, but for now there’s no harm in sticking with the current guys.
It’s a similar answer for questions about certain players and roster spots. At this point, we don’t need to worry about optimal lineups. And, keep in mind the org only has a limited number of recalls and still has to ice a roster every night.
— Sam (@sam_corea) March 4, 2016
I can’t speak for the Flames decision makers, of course, but I can speculate.
The easiest assumption is that Jonas Hiller is done. The team was fairly skeptical about him heading into the season and he completely fell apart. There’s a good chance that at 34-years old Hiller is playing out his NHL career given just how ghastly his numbers are.
As for Ramo, I imagine he’ll be considered a contingency option the same way he was last offseason. Ramo is the “best” goalie of the group, but he’s also not quite good enough to meaningfully plan around. If the Flames can’t shore up the position enough through other signings or trades, Ramo might return as a 1B option.
As for Ortio, his future with the Flames probably depends on what he does down the stretch on the parent squad. He’s had a fairly awful year, but he’s young enough that the Flames might consider retaining him if he can put together an above average final 20-games.
— kingcambie (@kingcambie) March 4, 2016
The great misfortune of having a bunch of overpriced veterans clogging up the Flames blueline this year is that we didn’t really learn much about some of the hopefuls, including Tyler Wotherspoon. The 23-year old definitely looked comfortable during his cup of coffee in the show, but six games isn’t very much information. The most we can say is: he’s earned another look.
— John MacKenna (@JohnMacKenna) March 4, 2016
It’s not really fair to say Monahan hasn’t meaningfully progressed.
I thought he took a big step forward in his sophomore year over his rookie campaign, and not merely because his points jumped so significantly. Monahan played much tougher minutes during his second year in the league and held his own much better from a possession stand point. There were many nights where he looked simply overwhelmed at 19, but he seemed more comfortable at 20.
That said, Monahan hasn’t yet become the capable two-way pivot many expected when he was drafted. Despite relatively friendly circumstances (lots of o-zone starts), the Flames still give up a lot of shots and chances when Monahan is on the ice.
In fact, According to Own the Puck, Monahan’s shot suppression and goal suppression rates so far in his career are equivalent to an average 4th liner, which is what holds him back from being a truly high impact player (because his offense is top shelf).
For further illustration, here’s Monahan’s “Hextally” chart from War on Ice, which shows the relative frequency of shots against with Monahan on the ice at even strength:
As indicated by the legend, red areas mean “more” as in “more than league average”. The numbers are “per 60 minutes” of ice. What this chart shows that the Flames yield +2.3 shots/60 versus league average from the slot with Monahan skating at even strength. Here’s Backlund’s shots against hextally for context:
At this point, it’s an open question whether Monahan will get much better south of the redline. He’ll only be 22 by the time the new season starts, but with 220 NHL games under his belt we’re getting closer to knowing what he is than hoping to find out what he will be.
Even if Monahan plateaus, he’s a really good NHLer. It just means he won’t be Jonathan Toews.
— Christian (@CC12rake) March 4, 2016
He’s an interesting target. A former 4th round pick of the Washington Capitals, Grubauer spent part of two seasons in the ECHL when he graduated from junior, but has been above average at both the AHL and NHL levels since then. The 24-year old has a .930 SV% as Braden Holtby’s backup this season and was a .917 SV% backup as a rookie in 2013-14. Those are encouraging numbers.
That said, I’m not sure how eager the Capitals will be to give him up.
— James Foster (@YKJFosterYYC) March 4, 2016
A Wideman buyout is the best bet. It saves the Flames almost $4M in cap space next year and only costs $2M in cap room the year after. Buying out Smid only saves the club $2.67M, which is still decent, but not $4M.
The only factor that might change things here is if the Flames can move Wideman by eating some of his contract. If they can get something in return and save roughly the same amount, the club may go that route and then buyout Smid instead. Assuming they can’t put him on LTIR forever, of course.
— James Foster (@YKJFosterYYC) March 4, 2016
The notable UFA goalie options this summer currently include: James Reimer, Anton Khudobin, Antti Raanta and Jonas Enroth. None of them should be overly expensive to sign, but that’s because none of them are established high-end NHL starters. Reimer is the only guy here who might cost around 4 bills.
— Corsi Jones (@vowswithinhb) March 4, 2016
We’re way too far out to even guess about this right now.
It’s possible the club’s first pick in June might be in the lineup thanks to the sorry state of the Flames RW (yes, I assume they pick RW), but even that is reading tea leaves. We’ll see what Treliving does to clarify the Flames budget in a few months and then we can start to make more educated projections.