The Flames defence scores so many points

When the Flames acquired Dougie Hamilton, they were almost immediately thought to have one of the top defences in the NHL. Adding a 22-year-old top four defenceman to a team that already had Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie on the top pairing? That was nuts.

And while things got off to a rocky start, eventually, all three players rounded into form. (Well, Brodie didn’t need any time to round into form; his only failing was not being healthy.) Their team didn’t do so well – but when you compare the Flames’ top three to the rest throughout the NHL, well.

Turns out they’re actually a pretty formidable group.

A quick preface: this isn’t necessarily talking about defencemen in their all-around games, but in their offensive capabilities. There are good defencemen out there who simply don’t score points, but the way the NHL is shifting, it’s preferable to have a backend that can contribute offensively as opposed to only stay-at-home guys.

Top three defencemen throughout the NHL

I looked at the top three scorers for defencemen through all 30 teams to see which team collected the most points from the blueline. The following table is ordered from most points to least. Included in this is the group’s average age, to give some sense as to which teams are on the rise, and which may be on the decline.

Team Goals Points Average Age
Predators 42 147 27
Flames 39 144 26
Sharks 39 137 30
Kings 32 122 27
Senators 32 121 24
Stars 22 118 27
Blackhawks 27 116 30
Blues 30 114 25
Canadiens 13 114 29
Avalanche 32 110 29
Coyotes 33 108 24
Penguins 28 108 27
Rangers 23 107 29
Wild 29 106 26
Lightning 23 102 26
Jets 34 101 26
Capitals 21 100 26
Bruins 18 99 31
Ducks 24 94 23
Islanders 19 86 27
Panthers 23 84 27
Flyers 28 83 28
Sabres 20 82 25
Red Wings 18 81 30
Hurricanes 22 79 31
Maple Leafs 18 77 26
Blue Jackets 10 70 23
Canucks 11 63 26
Devils 11 59 25
Oilers 14 53 25

Okay, first off: I don’t even like the Oilers and I’m distressed by how little their backend does. Giordano alone outscores them. That’s absurd. What the hell.

But there you have it: when comparing teams’ three highest-scoring defencemen, the Flames have the second-best offence from the blueline, beaten out by only the Predators (though the Sharks put up a pretty good fight). Giordano, Brodie, and Hamilton average out to about 26 years old: Giordano is the older guy of the group and the most likely to decline – though that hasn’t happened yet – while Brodie and Hamilton are in pretty solid position age-wise.

It’s also perhaps worth noting that Brodie missed 12 games with injury. If he’d played the full 82, he would be pro-rated for an additional eight points, which puts the Flames at 152 from their top three. (To be fair, pro-rate the Predators’ defence’s missed games, and they have 152 points as well. The Sharks end up with 147.)

So the Flames’ top three defencemen are in extremely good shape: both in a vacuum, and when compared throughout the entire NHL.

Top four defencemen throughout the NHL

When discussing defence, we don’t usually talk in terms of top three defencemen. They play in pairings, after all; it makes much more sense to discuss them in terms of top four guys. And while the Flames can play Giordano and Brodie together, who is Hamilton supposed to play with?

This left me curious. The Flames have a formidable top three group compared to the rest of the league – but how does their top four stack up? Once again, arranged by points totals:

Teams Goals Points Average Age
Predators 52 179 26
Flames 41 163 28
Sharks 42 157 31
Stars 26 139 29
Kings 34 136 27
Senators 37 133 26
Blues 33 133 27
Avalanche 38 132 29
Rangers 33 131 31
Blackhawks 27 130 29
Canadiens 18 130 29
Wild 34 127 26
Penguins 28 124 26
Capitals 25 121 27
Coyotes 37 117 25
Jets 36 117 28
Bruins 21 115 29
Lightning 28 113 28
Ducks 29 109 24
Islanders 25 104 27
Panthers 24 101 26
Hurricanes 27 98 25
Flyers 32 96 28
Sabres 24 96 24
Red Wings 21 96 30
Maple Leafs 19 84 25
Blue Jackets 16 84 24
Canucks 17 81 26
Devils 14 77 24
Oilers 17 63 24

When you add Dennis Wideman to the Flames’ top three, you still get the second-highest scoring group of defencemen in the NHL, even if only 19 more points are added. The average age increases by two years, though: a less flattering picture.

(Nashville is downright terrifying, and that’s with Seth Jones traded.)

If you leave all other teams’ top fours intact but keep the Flames to just their top three, though, they’re still outscoring everyone but the Predators and Sharks. Giordano, Brodie, and Hamilton provide so much offence from the backend that they don’t even really need help.

If a career-worst season from Wideman can help keep the Flames in the top two, though, imagine what they could do with another legitimate top four guy?

But here’s the thing: the Flames have more pressing issues in their lineup. They need a goalie. More top six-caliber wingers would be nice, especially on the right side. So while defence was a priority a year ago, it isn’t so much now.

That doesn’t mean they can’t improve, though; the Predators are a pretty good standard when considering defensive groups.

Fortunately for the Flames, they can probably rely on an internal option to step into the top four at a fraction of the cost. And while nobody is a sure bet – Brandon Hickey’s apparent decline this season helps emphasize that – all Calgary needs is for one of its prospects to pan out. There are no guarantees, but if even just one of Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, or maybe a prospect we aren’t aware of yet can meet his potential within the next couple of seasons (Brodie’s contract is the first to expire, in four years’ time)… Well, the Flames blueline could be exceptionally formidable.

If Giordano can continue defying time, it really could become that league-best that was theorized earlier.

  • DestroDertell

    The predators’ numbers are inflated by playing a glorified winger (Josi) technically in the defense spot. The sharks’ (and maybe flames) numbers are more impressive.

    • Flamethrower

      Yes please, I have come across this comment more than once recently. If true, lets bleed the oilers if not for anything else than the battle of Alberta. This fit is natural due to Widemans relationship with Cherelli.

      True enough we need to relieve ourselves of Wideman or should we say his contract but what would be most attractive to the Flames, a player, draft pick or picks, or prospects already in their system.

      Either way lets get something done, this would be a huge step forward for our own rebuild.

  • Kevin R

    Wow, the numbers on the Oilers are horrible, considering all that top end #1 overall talent in the forward ranks, you would think their blue line would score more just from osmosis. Love it. No wonder Nashville were able to afford trading Seth Jones.

    I think I was more excited about the future when we acquired Dougie than what the immediate impact was going to be. Even if Gio declines in the next couple of years, he’s still going to be a top shelf 2nd pairing. I like the prospects coming up & we can afford for Hickey to regroup next year & take a big step forward. I still say, if we had heathy very good goaltending last year, we would have had Flames playoff games to watch this last week. Goaltending & contracts will be the order of the summer here.

    How sweet if Tre could extract Oilers 2nd rounder for Wideman at the draft. :-}

  • smith

    What I find interesting is the bottom 10 teams looks like it contains 8 or 9 of the worst teams in the NHL. Obviously offensive production from the back end really helps a team win.

  • monafan

    “if even just one of Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, or maybe a prospect we aren’t aware of yet can meet his potential within the next couple of seasons..”

    Just wondering why Kenney Morrison wasn’t mentioned there? Anyone have any updates on him? I always assumed he was one of our better D prospects

    • freethe flames

      From all accounts he really struggled earlier in the season but has been a bit better lately. Again let’s remember he is a first year pro. I think too many people on this site give up to early on guys. Once a forward has had 3 years AHL and is not progressing then it is time to be concerned(guys who have graduated university I would give a year less). Defenders usually take a little longer probably 4 years. 3 years in the AHL, this year playing as top defender and he looked much more NHL ready; it appears that he could be ready for the NHL next year.

      All this talk of our high scoring defenders is great but they are supposed to be defensemen. Last year the team struggled to stop goals and all the blame cannot be just put on the goalies. Hopefully they can do a better job in their own end and I believe with the changes made and if we can resign Nakdaddy they will. They also need help from the forwards in coverage as well. Both Nakdaay and JJ(you can cal him Kevin if you want) IMO are upgrades on Wideman(from last season) and Russell (flop and block shots) as both will stand up and take the man at the blueline. What we really could use is someone who is nasty on the boards and in the corners. Engs is big but does not cause forwards to fear him.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    Like I posted yesterday. Why is it that no ON poster commented on the Oilers here but there goes comparing your team to Edmonton once again ?
    Should try comparing them to a higher ranked team. That would give you a true indication of where you stand.

    • Ari Yanover

      Did you forget last summer when we had an influx of Oilers fans running around here starting nonsense (of which you yourself were a pretty prime offender)? Has humility crept in after realizing a single player can’t fix the mess in Edmonton or are we going to experience the same thing this off-season after the Oilers inevitably win the draft lottery?

      I think we’ll have our fun as we damn well please.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        So, so, so very well said Ari. Got so tired of the banter before last season started. “Happy McDavid day this” or “we’ll score 9 goals a game that”.

        I now have a reply to these trollers I keep in a Word doc… so for ease of reference I can now just copy and paste annually every Fall the same response (it doesn’t change) when the trolls come out of the forest from the optimism of another 1st overall pick. Short version says something about ruining another player with great potential, losing mentality, old boys club, incompetent management, bad trades, and so on and so forth. Yet somehow “this year will be different”, “this one’s generational”. ugghh want to puke just thinking about going through this with Oil fans on our boards all over again.

    • TurkeyLips

      The Oilers are called a rival to the Flames NHL team. Big surprise I know. You can thank geography for that.

      Rival; a person or thing competing with another for the same objective or for superiority in the same field of activity.

      Oilers fans really let insecurity get the best of them sometimes.

    • cberg

      I get your sentiment, but really once the data was charted it was just a reaction to the utterly contemptable and unbelievably poor results from the bottom team, which happened to be the Oilers. Hey, we knew they were bad, but…… Really?

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    In reference to the article it is quite clear to me that if our D is scoring this much and we had great seasons from many forwards (Gaudreau, Monahan, Backlund, Bennett, Colborne), how bad our goaltending was, as well as our bottom six forwards and bottom 3 D (think of how much some of those are paid… yikes)

    The problem I have when I look at making the playoffs next year is even with a new decent goaltender and more top six wing depth, some team who made the playoffs this year will have to be out next year. I understand this happens every year but if I look at the teams that made it in the West this year… I honestly see those teams as the best teams in the West at this moment in time.

    The Central is stacked with good teams. Do we honestly see any of Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, or Nashville taking a step back? Maaaybe Minnesota.

    In the Pacific, all three California teams will be tough to bounce. Maaaybe San Jose finally starts getting too old? Seems tough to see them drop off given how they are playing lately.

    But then… what about teams like us that are young and on the rise looking to do the same as us? Winnipeg and Colorado come to mind (I think Arizona, Vancouver and Edmonton are all basement dwellers again next year)

    My point is… it will be no easy feat to get in next year. It’s almost like we have to wait for the decline of the current top teams (like what’s happened to Vancouver) before we take the next step. When that starts to happen is anyone’s guess.

    I honestly don’t see it happening until at least the year after when all the bad contracts are off the books.

    Now anything can happen (see last year for example)… but the competitive landscape and parity will continue to get even thicker in future years in the West as lower teams rise and top teams fade.

    • MattyFranchise

      I’m not sure if we really have to wait for a collapse from the teams currently holding division seeds, I think we just need to be competitive in the wild card seeding. Minnesota got in with 87 points this season for crying out loud.

      If the top 3 Central teams this season continue to crush their division next season then the Flames with competent goaltending has a legitimate shot at at least a wild card spot.

      Consider this, league average goaltending was .910 while the Flames finished with .892

      The Flames faced 2377 shots. They allowed a league worst 257 goals.

      With the .910 SV% the Flames only allow 214 goals on the same amount of shots which puts them 1 goal worse Nashville and one goal better than Buffalo. They’re also better than the Rangers, Red Wings and Stars for GA with league average goaltending.

      Flames finished 10th in goals and had a shot differential of +21 (I think).

    • The Last Big Bear

      Here’s a list of the 30 girls I’ve dated, in order of desirability.

      So glad I took the chance, and moved out here so I could marry #1, best decision I ever made.

      I can’t even remember what I was thinking with #30. Literally the worst person I’ve ever met under any circumstances.

      Girl 30: “So you just can’t stop thinking about me, eh?”

  • jakethesnail

    I wouldn’t trade Wideman for Eberle or RNH or Hall straight up because of their 6 mill per year contracts run for 3 more years (Eberle) or 4 more years (Hall and RNH) without the Oilers retaining some salary. Wideman is off the books end of next year.

  • McRib

    Elliotte Friedman reporting Flames to sign Daniel Pribyl after Czech league playoffs. Found money like Nakladal last season, sounds good to me. Pribyl is only 23 years old just entering prime, whereas Nakladal was older at 27 last season. Pribyl had 45GP 16G 29A 45 Points. Only Roman Cervenka had more points his year, Hahahah. Let’s face it though Pribyl is much younger (six years). Pribyl also has much better size 6’2″-190 Lbs to help transition to smaller ice. Can’t hurt might help, considering he is only 23 years old I am more excited. On a scale of Panarin to Cervenka let’s hope he is closer to the Panarin side of things. He may need a year of AHL seasoning considering age. Originally a Montreal pick (168th in 2011), but he never signed. Basically if you are looking to sign a Czech free agent this year he is who you would want to sign. I think it is safe to say he is someone who will likely see some NHL time in the next couple years, it will be interesting to see if they get a multi year deal.

      • McRib

        Another positive is this would likely indicate that Jakub Nakladal is going to resign with us this summer, as one would assume Pribyl has talked to Nakladal about his experience in Calgary (before making the decision himself). Obviously if it wasn’t overwhelmingly a positive response he would be signing with one of the other 29 NHL Teams (actually likely 28 Teams, Canucks Management isn’t smart enough to pull something like this off).

    • Kevin R

      Ryan’s post on Pribyl says he’s 6’3″ 238 lbs. My Lord, that would be a linebacker, but you are saying 6’2″ 190 lbs. That’s a big difference. Do we have any accurate intel on this guy? Janko is 6’4″ish & 205lbs, can we not convert him to wing? But if Pribyl is 238 lbs, that is exactly what we need for Monahan & Gaudreau.

      • cberg

        His official stat line (old) says 190, Iave heard elsewhere from 205-238. In either case once it’s announced perhaps we’ll have some better info. If he can play, and score it’s just what thedoctor ordered.

        As for Janko, I’d guess wing conversion is a good likelihood as there aren’t really any C openings but a real need for strong wingers.

  • I know this is a Flames site, but can we just laugh at the fact that Erik Karlsson (16G and 82 points) outperformed both the Canucks and the Oilers (and the Devils) top 4 all by himself.

    Furthermore, the Oilers Top 4 was also outdone by Burns and Letang, lol.