Year-End Review of the Calgary Flames

I’ve already examined this past season for the Oilers and
Canucks, and today we tackle the season that was for the Calgary Flames.

I had made some basic predictions at the beginning of the
season, and this follows up on those initial estimates, so let’s begin.

The Flames’ season began under some peculiar circumstances.
The team was coming off a Cinderella season where they not only made the
playoffs but won their opening round against the rival Canucks. Yet management
was quick to suggest that this was not going to be an explicit expectation
again this season but that they would instead continue their rebuilding efforts
apace the initial timetable. Otherwise, they would let the chips fall where
they may.

Fans however, given last season’s phenomenal output and the
anticipated addition of players like Michael Frolik, Dougie Hamilton and Sam
Bennett, may have been excused for being a little more bullish on their team’s
prospects.

In brief, the season was sunk early by poor goaltending and
curious lineup decisions and deployments by Bob Hartley. The Flames hit a
mid-season hot streak to elicit some excitement but otherwise the season from
that point stumbled and sputtered to a relatively ignominious end, finishing 26th
overall behind Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver and Columbus, respectively.

To start we’ll look at some of the things I said in the
pre-season predictions:

1.       Backlund is a beauty…If he ever scores 45
points the league may finally stand up and take notice.

2.        [Re:
possession numbers] Listen, this is a serious problem that the team is going to
have to fix. They were the 7th worst team in the NHL two years ago and the 4th
worst team the year after. Last year was phenomenal, but it was precisely that,
a phenomenon. The link between a positive possession metric and long-term success
has been well-established, and Travis Yost recently ran an article looking at
teams who had outstanding seasons despite poor possession numbers. It showed an
almost ironclad trend of teams having serious corrections the following year.

3.       [Gaudreau]’s not going to face the same
competition this year. Other teams are going to be gunning for him and treat
him as a legitimate offensive threat rather than just the NHL’s version of an
internet meme. I’d bet he adjusts after a short while, but I’m uncertain yet as
to where he lands. I’ve got him tied with Monahan because those two are going
to be joined at the hip at evens and on the powerplay. As goes one, so will the
other.

4.       I’ve got [Bennett] pegged for 28 points this
year and I think that’s reasonable for 60 games played. That’d make him a 0.46
ppg player in his rookie season.

5.       [Wideman] has two more years on his contract
with a cap hit of $5.25 million, a full NMC and an owed salary of $6 million.
This trade deadline would be an ideal time to move him with salary and cap
retained…I’m anticipating a drop in his sh% and if he struggles at all on the
powerplay Hamilton, Giordano and Russell will all be available to pick up the
slack.

6.       I’ve estimated the Flames blueliners scoring
40 goals, or 17.9% of the estimated total. (47 goals, 20%) I think the blueline
is plenty good, but we have to wait and see how it all comes together. So many
things went off-script last season that we have to have patience to see what
Hartley does this time around and how the players execute.

7.       9th in the West and missing the playoffs by
fewer than four points sounds like a reasonable bet at this time…I think that
may be fairly optimistic.

Here are my responses:

1.      
Backlund scored 47 points and some of the
perennial criticism seems to have abated. Not quite the sit-up-and-take-notice
response I was hoping for, but in the NHL media landscape I’ll take what I can
get.

2.      
The Flames finished 22nd overall in
Score Adjusted Fenwick percentage (48.2%), and 27th overall in Corsi
Against (56.8), and 27th overall in High Danger Scoring Chances
Against ahead of only Vancouver, Colorado and Edmonton. Not a good
neighbourhood to be seen in.

3.      
Gaudreau outstripped Monahan’s offensive output
and showed that he is a true NHL player capable of elite playmaking and
scoring. The remaining concern now comes from his surprising home-away splits
this year. He scored 71% of his points at home, suggesting that away from
favourable match-ups he was a more limited offensive player. On the flip side,
if this is his version of a sophomore slump, I don’t think Flames fans need to
concern themselves with anything other than the details of his next contract.

4.      
Bennett finished with 36 points over 77 games
for a 0.46 ppg pace. This is a perfect hit and a nod to GMoney for developing
his refined NHLE.

5.      
Wideman struggled this season for myriad reasons.
His contract is one that I suspect Treliving will be aggressively looking to
move this summer. With the salary cap expected to be either flat or no higher
than $74 million the buyers will be few and far between. Trading that
player/contract and not taking anything back, if it happens, would count as a
major victory for Treliving.

6.      
The Flames got 20% of their offense from the
blueline this season with 47 goals of a team-wide 231. That is astonishingly
high and suggests that if they’d had the goaltending and at least one of their
depth forwards contributing more regularly the playoffs might have at least
been a consideration. This 20% number has to come down, right? Right? Hartley
did some strange deployments on his blueline this year with Hamilton, Giordano,
Engelland, Wideman and Brodie. Some of this was presumably seeing if he could
break up Giordano and Brodie and put a lefty-righty combination together with
Hamilton. As the season wore on it became clear that Hamilton provides a nice
bookend to the Giordano/Brodie pairing, as the captain ages and Brodie becomes
firmly implanted in his prime, Hamilton is poised to come along playing some sheltered
minutes as he goes. Listen, I’m an avowed Oilers fan and have no love
whatsoever for the Flames, but Dougie (please alert me when we can call him
Doug or Douglas, this Dougie thing is kind of grating) Hamilton is one heck of
a nice player and should be appreciated by Flames fans.

7.      
Flames finished 5th in their division
ahead of the Oilers and Canucks, twelfth in the conference and missed the
playoffs by 10 points. The Coyotes had a bounce-back season and Colorado
continues to defy their fate even against their own delusional expectations.
Definitely missed here, but again, the collapse of their goaltending seemed to
come out of nowhere and sunk the Flames early. Does league average goaltending get
them 5 more points? 6?

Players By The Numbers

We’ll have a look at the player performance predictions. I
try to ballpark the number of games we can expect a player to play in a season,
use a general trend of points per game to establish what might be a reasonable
line in the sand for the coming year, balance that against how the coach may
(or may not) deploy them, and figure out what their approximate scoring rate
could be for the year.

This isn’t a science, but an informed estimate based on all
things being equal, that is, injury history in keeping with recent history and
production more or less in line with their history and their career trajectory.

Flames Final Player Performance-Flames RE series - Excel

Granlund, Hudler, Jones and Russell all had their stats
frozen at the time of the trade, so the games played and points are off, but
the ppg pace is the best measure, and by which we can see that Russell and
Hudler were more or less on target while Jones and Granlund were struggling
this season.

I’ve highlighted those players whose ppg pace was off by
greater than 0.1, either exceeding or below.

You can see that Backlund, Colborne, Gaudreau, Monahan,
Brodie, Engelland, and Giordano all had strong to excellent offensive seasons.
With Colborne, Gaudreau and Monahan all heading into contract negotiations this
summer this is an extra detail to follow.

Meanwhile, Jooris, Raymond, Stajan, Smid and Wideman all
struggled for a variety of reasons including injury, games played, and
regression from career highs.

I’ll come back to Gaudreau’s season a little later on, but
that estimated ppg pace was already high-end, the one he posted is some elite
NHL company. The home-road splits are concerning, but he’s overcome every
hurdle put in his way thus far, so it might be time to start giving him the
benefit of the doubt.

Essentially this process was effective in predicting the
approximate offensive production of Bennett, Ferland, Hudler, Hamilton,
Russell, and Wotherspoon as all were within a reasonable range of variance.

Overall the roster put together a fairly strong season
performance-wise. From my perspective two things sunk this team: goaltending
and Bob Hartley’s coaching schemes and deployment. If goaltending is fixed this
off-season (there have been some good articles here on that subject, if you
haven’t read them yet) you can expect the Flames to climb closer to the playoff
cut line. If they replace Bob Hartley with a more reasonable and flexible coach
who embraces a closer possession game and is willing to tailor his schemes to
the strengths of the roster, again, I would expect a team that gets closer to
the playoffs. If the Flames address both these issues this offseason? I see no
reason why this team couldn’t unseat a team like the Wild for a playoff spot.

Looking Into the Numbers

The following are some graphs that illustrate some of the
statistical categories I tracked for the Flames this season. I’ve broken them
down into month-by-month segments and have added a general trendline to the
graph to indicate an approximate direction. For the most part, this team looks
headed in a good direction, albeit they are coming from a long way back.

Flames Final Goal Differential-RE Differentials - Excel

Flames Final ScAdjFF-RE Differentials - Excel

Flames Final Team SvPerc-RE Differentials - Excel

Flames Final Ramo SvPerc-RE Differentials - Excel

Flames Final Hiller SvPerc-RE Differentials - Excel

Flames Final Ortio SvPerc-RE Differentials - Excel

The goal differential was beginning to climb out of a deep
hole dug in the beginning of the season and the score adjusted fenwick
percentages, the best long-term measure for future success was trending
upwards, albeit from a fairly significant deficit.

Hiller’s save percentage was atrocious and more or less
flatlined over the course of the year. I don’t blame Hartley for losing faith
in this goaltender by the end of the year.

Ortio and Ramo showed improvement, although I would suggest
that Ramo is best suited to being an NHL backup and Ortio may or may not become
an NHL goalie on a regular basis, even if as a backup, but has shown enough
that if the Flames don’t keep him another team wouldn’t be wrong to try him out
as an AHL regular and NHL call-up.

Injuries

The Flames were relatively fortunate with regards to their
injury status this season. Overall there were two significant injuries that
impacted the season: the Brodie injury early on that saw him lose approximately
12 games, and the Ramo season-ending knee injury that derailed the team’s
trade-deadline playoff push.

Now, in hindsight I believe fans may come to appreciate that
Ramo injury for two reasons. It has helped to bring into sharp focus the
perilous goaltending position of the organization if and until Jon Gillies is
NHL-ready. As well, it is unlikely the Flames would have made the playoff
cutoff line and I do not believe it would have helped the organization to be in
a position where they would draft 10th overall. So, barring another
trade of a 1st round pick for an available roster-ready young player
(a possibility but not one to invest heavily in), finishing lower, improving
the odds of moving up at the draft, and at the very least maximizing the team’s
draft position may turn out to offer the best outcome.

Hero Of the Season

Johnny Gaudreau. There’s no need to write any more than
that.

Story For the Off-season

It begins with signing Gaudreau, Monahan and Colborne, then
moves on to goaltending. There are some other knots on this roster that need
attending, specifically what to do with regards to Ladislav Smid, Derek
Engelland and Dennis Wideman. Brandon Bollig is a favourite whipping-horse of
the fans, and while Hartley does use him too often and his contract expensive
for someone who is essentially a 4th line player, he is a UFA at the
end of next season and is an expiring asset that can be moved at the deadline.

I’d normally suggest a change in coaching is required here,
but Brad Treliving has stated that he will give Hartley another season at the
helm to set things right. I believe that he will be true to his word but that a
coaching change will ultimately come sometime between November and January as
the Flames struggle with the early results of another poor possession season.

It isn’t that I have a personal issue with Hartley but
rather I believe he is not a good candidate to coach an NHL team in the current
league environment.

I’d like to point something out here though. I’ve mentioned
it before but I believe it bears repeating.

Bob Hartley was hired as Flames’ coach on May 31st,
2012.

The following season the team finished 24th
overall with the 6th worst possession metrics (Score Adjusted Corsi
For%) in the league.

2013-2014, the Flames finished 27th overall with
the 4th worst possession metrics in the league.

2014-2015, the Flames finished 15th overall, made
the playoffs, but had the 3rd worst possession metrics in the
league.

2015-2016, the Flames have finished 26th overall with the 8th
worst possession metrics in the league.

Virtually any other coach in the league would have been
fired at this point, but last season’s playoff appearance and the Jack Adams
award that followed it helped unnecessarily perpetuate what had already become
a failed coaching hire.

Bob Hartley remaining at the helm of the Calgary Flames may
be the biggest story of the summer for this team precisely because it will not
be a story.

Earlier I had said that if the team improved their
goaltending OR replaced the coach they might climb closer to the playoffs. That
is true to some extent because scoring forwards and good goaltending can paper
over a number of strategic sins. But good coaching goes further and longer than
any performance streak a single player or group of players can offer.

Therefore, until that is rectified, I would suggest that we
will continue to see from the Flames more of the same.

Why This Song?

I promise this isn’t me trolling Flames fans.

Last year was a fantastic season to be a Flames’ fan.
Everything went right and the team had a nice playoff run into the 2nd
round when everyone figured they’d be left for dead at the beginning of the
season. In fact, the Flames were not only playing playoff hockey while the Los
Angeles Kings were setting up tee times, but got to kick the Vancouver Canucks
out of the post-season along the way.

That has to feel good.

And although it’s
always crowded,
you still can find some room.
Where broken hearted lovers
do cry away their gloom.

But it was fleeting and after Lady Luck found a new beau the
Flames found themselves crashing back down to Earth this season – with a twist.
Virtually the entire Canadian division of the NHL finds itself at the bottom of
the standings and for the first time in NHL history outside of the Crosby draft
lottery, every Canadian fan base is watching the lottery this year while
harbouring dreams of picking 1st overall.

Toronto (30th), Edmonton (29th),
Vancouver (28th), Calgary (26th), Winnipeg (25th),
Montreal (22nd), and Ottawa (19th). For a fan base that
feels failure at hockey so acutely, for Canadian hockey fans this is indeed
Heartbreak Hotel.

Hey now, if your baby
leaves you,
and you got a tale to tell.
Just take a walk down lonely street
to Heartbreak Hotel.

This concludes my review of the Canucks, Oilers and Flames.
Thank you all for reading and posting comments, it is always appreciated.

 

    • Parallex

      I’d be fine having Colborne back… but only if he’s paid appropriately and Hartley isn’t (back I mean). Hartley will just go back to misusing him… Hartley always goes back to his bad habits. It’s what should be a fatal weakness.

      • Matty Franchise Jr

        This is a good point. If Hartley is still around and giving Colbort top 6 minutes and deployment, plus 1st line PP time, then I don’t care how little he gets paid, it’s a bad fit.

        • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

          Stop calling him Colbort. I don’t see your point unless you think it’s funny in some way. While you are at it stick your Jojoo and all the rest of your “names” where the sun doesn’t shine.

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      What are you talking about? Colborne is a very skilled player who if he put it all together could very well be a consistent 40 point player.

      Bouma is nothing like that.

      At all.

      Give this team a strong coach and watch Joe take off on the 3rd line.

  • RedMan

    Rex,

    Aside from the fact that I hate the stretch pass, I don’t understand your critisism of Hartley.

    Sure, he hasn’t taken them to the promised land, but then nobody expected anything better than what the Flames did actually achieve. the plans all along were to rebuild – and the Flames have stayed the course. In fact, I’d say Hartley making the playoffs was quite the achievement with a team of developing rookies and veteran placeholders like Bollig, Engelland, Wideman, Smid, Jones, Raymond, etc.

    I mean, what did you expect the team to achieve over their first three rebuilding years?

    He sheltered the rookies (including Dougie, who IS still a rookie/developing young player), saw a guy like Joe take a huge step forward (potentially giving Flames a good middle six guy or providing good trade bait).

    Some guys had down years for various reasons, including Jooris, Bouma and every goalie. Not the coaches fault.

    Seriously, give any coach the same goal-tending and half a dozen boat anchor placeholders and a passel of rookies and developing youngsters, and you think they’d do more?

    Now we see Bennett moved to center, we see Dougie emerging in the new system as a star, we see Gaudreau and Monahan making significant strides and only getting better, even though they are still very young, we see several young defenders that are better than the placeholders and therefore ready to push the older guys out of the lineup, and there is some exciting talent coming down the pipeline. (what would Edmonton give to have prospect depth like the Flames?).

    I hate the stretch pass as much as anyone, but don’t see the coach as big a failure as some, in fact think he has achieved on average above what what should expect from a mish-mash rebuilding team.

    • RexLibris

      My criticism of Hartley is that he seems reluctant to change his tactics in the face of mounting evidence that they are not working.

      The possession game alone is a serious concern because the Flames have players who can win that at least and learn to play the right side of the puck, so to speak, regardless of whether they are winning or losing.

      The Flames’ rebuild wouldn’t have been undermined in any way these past few years had the team had a coach who emphasized a puck possession style while still icing a team that was lacking the talent to capitalize.

      Instead you have a coach who defaults to players like Bollig, Colborne and Engelland, who speaks of Ferland with references of being a 30-goal scorer, and the team has taken strides only in the field of talent acquisition, which is certainly important, but not the be all and end all of the rebuilding process.

      I’ve watched the Oilers focus on talent acquisition to the detriment of a more sustainable playing style for five years, and it has resulted in stagnation and a brooding sense of foreboding that the talent acquired will be traded off at a discount because those in charge can’t properly identify the problem.

      For me, success in a rebuild isn’t just having a team acquire star players, but having the team establish a system with those players that allows them to challenge the best in the league on a consistent basis.

      The current trajectory of the Flames is one of a hastened return to mediocrity and management’s investment in Hartley as coach is the principal catalyst for that.

      • cberg

        Your (and others’) over reliance on Corsi possession is disappointing but not unexpected on this site. The comment is also disjointed, and confusing.

        For example, you state although the team could develop and play a strong possession game, they do not have the talent to capitalize (score). Hmmm, Defence? Overall scoring? Shall we compare to other “more talented” teams?

        Secondly, you state BH defaults to certain payers, but last time I checked, its the GM that brings in the player, not the coach who has to work with and bring out the best in the guys he has. According to your own stats and projections 3 out of 4 of the players you listed as problems had better to massively better seasons than you projected. And that doesn’t include the about 6-8 other players that had career seasons, I guess in your view “in spite of ” BH and his terrible coaching.

        As far as the Oilers go, lets not go there shall we, their problems are multiple and seriously ingrained. In spite of bringing in supposedly the best player since arguably the best ever to play, and realizing several of the primary reasons for their pathetic play is a terrible and ineffective D, a problematic “talent” mix, lack of true leadership and a culture of losing… the new management, same as the old is doing little address any of these problems, is unwilling to give up on their over-rated golden boys and build a solid team.

        The Flames have made big strides this past year, with major improvements in possession, defence statistics (e.g. shot against…) and player development. Goaltending and key injuries cratered the season, but overall their re-build is coming along fairly well… Still areas to address which we expect this off-season. GFG

      • RedMan

        “…The current trajectory of the Flames is one of a hastened return to mediocrity and management’s investment in Hartley as coach is the principal catalyst for that.

        this is nothing but Oiler fan talk, and quite frankly kinda childish. the Flames “trajectory” is miles ahead/above that of the Oilers, who still have MacT and KLowe mixed in to the management system. Hahaha take that for trajectory jokes! 🙂

        Your criticism that the coach had Bollig and Engellend in the line up as evidence of their downfall is actually evidence of the dillusional Oiler fan talking, not the words of a genuine sports analyst. These guys, as poor as some might think they are, did a perfectly fine job of filling positions while the team rebuilds. Ya, I know people expected the Flames to rebuild in a season, sort of like Edmonton did, right? You think the team should have rushed these guys out and brought in others sooner? to what end? doesn’t make sense, just sour grapes from a sour gas fan.

        The last three years of rebuilding has seen the Flames garner some serious talent who have yet to reach their peak and are still getting better. These kids need years to develop the talent and the experience needed to take it to the next level, but in the meantime the FLAMES demonstrated something the Oilers seemed to think not important to the rebuilding years/decades, and that is the character to play/fight to the end, the expectation to win, no quit, stick up for each other.

        If you want to talk about trajectories, my god, the oilers still have attitude problems, quit on each other, give up when they are down, no fight… and they have jettisoned any such “placeholders” and actually call the group of slackers the team they expect to get to the next level.

        Your articles are usually pretty good, but you clearly are not able to separate the fan from the analyst and get an unbiased. accurate picture.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    @ #1, I agree.

    @ #2 and #3, If BT learned his lesson with Bouma and can sign Colbort to a contract that is reasonable for a 4th line guy who gets some spot duty on the 3rd line, then I’m fine with resigning him. If BT wants to give him a “You looked good because you played with Backlund” contract, then I’m with you. No way.

  • Parallex

    “but Brad Treliving has stated that he will give Hartley another season at the helm to set things right.”

    He did? I don’t recall him saying that. Rex can you provide a link to that?

    The Flames need three things going forward and they are…

    1: New Coaching staff
    2: Legit Starting Goaltender (League average quality or better)
    3: Legit top 6 winger (for the second line)

    I think two & three will happen, and I’m praying that Treliving will be smart enough to cut the cord on Hartley this off-season rather then wastefully do it mid-season in 16/17.

    • RexLibris

      I’m looking for the link, I think it was buried somewhere either in or immediately after his post-season press conference where he also talked about evaluating everything from management on down.

      According to this article: http://www.calgarysun.com/2016/04/11/gm-brad-treliving-thinks-calgary-flames-have-great-future-but-this-season-was-a-failure Hartley has a year remaining on his contract.

      Absent finding the quote itself, I would suggest that they will want to keep him for at least the beginning of the season to see what happens before firing him.

      • Parallex

        “I would suggest that they will want to keep him for at least the beginning of the season to see what happens before firing him.”

        Then they’re idiots… or at least have poor judgement.

        Think of it this way. If what you say is true then basically what you’re saying is that the Flames are going to prioritize the next 15 games (let’s call 15 games the “beginning of the season”) over the prior four years of data. That is an immensely small sample size (15 Games) so the Flames are going to make a decision like that based on a sample size so small that a little bit of luck (good or bad) could skew the perception of it?

        And then (assuming that he doesn’t get good luck) they’ll turf him at a time where likely all the top available coaching talent will have already found jobs.

        YMMV but if you’ve decided to give a guy only “the start” of the season to show something then you’ve basically already decided to fire him and if you’ve already decided to fire him the small sample of a seasons start shouldn’t make a difference. They should just do it and get on with finding your guy because you don’t want to try to reclaim a season with a guy that has the “interim” tag. The only way I’d ever consider giving someone the heave in-season is if you have the guy you know you want already in the organization or if some strange situation has a top coach available (see: Darryl Sutter being hired by the Kings).

        • RexLibris

          Then they’re idiots… or at least have poor judgement.

          Welcome to the NHL. Please register your username and email address and we’ll ship you our free “Thanks for being a fan” kit.

          Seriously though, this is absolutely classic management procedure for the NHL and many professional sports franchises.

          The Blackhawks got it right when they fired Savard something like 4 games into a season and hired Quenneville because Tallon was thinking MacBeth – If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.

          The right thing to do is fire the coach and spend the summer interviewing candidates.

          The typical thing to do is let it slide, fire him mid-season and defend it by saying that you wanted to give the guy a chance to “turn things around” and use the firing to shake up the room.

          Which is bull, but the history of Good Management Decisions is more of a vignette than an epic.

  • RedMan

    Bouma had a tough year with injuries – I for one am not prepared to call him a bust based on this tough year. See him come in next year healthy and ready to go, and judge accordingly.

    you look at the playoffs, and you see how important it is to have some tough and rugged players who can take and give a heavier game. The Bouma’s and Ferland’s of the world will be huge at that time.

  • wot96

    The current trajectory of the Flames is one of a hastened return to mediocrity and management’s investment in Hartley as coach is the principal catalyst for that.

    That line is gold and, possibly, prophetic.

    Kipper hid the faults of “his” team for years. I can see that happening with the good young players this club has. Still, the worst thing that could happen to this team is to develop a real all star and supporting cast in an inadequate system or without a proper structure to their game.

    I couldn’t write objectively about your team – well done, Rex.

    • RexLibris

      Thanks for the kind words.

      I work very hard to compartmentalize my feelings when I’m covering other teams.

      The good news for Flames fans is that the team isn’t entirely on the wrong track, just needing a few adjustments.

      The bad news is that I’m not entirely confident in Brian Burke’s ability to help steer the organization in that direction in a sustainable manner. Treliving looks like he may yet be a good general manager, but if he doesn’t get out from under Burke’s shadow in two years’ time things may begin to go south because if the team grows stagnant Treliving will be very vulnerable to taking the blame, justifiably or not.

  • jakethesnail

    A healthy Mark Giordano, a healthy TJ Brodie and a upgrade of Dougie Hamilton’s start to the next season (over his first season start with the Flames when he looked a deer caught in headlights), a more content Sam Bennett at Centre and you will see a much better start to the next season. Note that 3 of the 4 players I mentioned are the top 3 D-men of the Flames! Add to that a first line RW and a good goalie and the Flames are well on their way to cutting down Goals Against and making the playoffs. And thank God, Hiller has been banished to Europe by his own doing! Better seasons expected from Ferland and Bouma…..

    There are more positives to next season than you realize and Hartley will be re-signed before the end of the season to a contract extension – maybe not but he will last the season!

    And up in your neck of the woods Rex, the fans pinned their hopes on another number one pick – a generational player to boot…When he got injured the same rotten core of first picks failed to pick up the slack and your season was doomed again despite finally having a number one goalie!

    • freethe flames

      You are correct when you say there are many positives but there are many holes as well. Just getting a good goalie does not mean the problems will be solved. This team also did not have the same compete level as the year before and that also needs to be addressed. There are too many wholes in this line up. Some of them can and will be addressed by players in the organization but some can’t be addressed until we get rid of some of the dead weight contracts. This will allow other guys to play and play in their proper role.

    • RexLibris

      The Oilers didn’t struggle until they lost their first-pairing defenceman in Klefbom and the bottom fell out when they lost their 1st line center in Nugent-Hopkins.

      Fans pinned a lot of excitement on McDavid, but I wouldn’t say that any of the fans I speak with were expecting him to lead the team to the playoffs.

      Rather if the team had had even a league average rate of injury they would have been in the tail end of discussions about wild card teams.

      The fact is that the Oilers went into a gunfight with a switchblade and then found out they’d been given a butterknife.

      If the Flames extend Hartley the most likely scenario to come of it, aside from likely having a valuable 1st round selection in 2017, would be the chance of a compensatory 2nd round pick when another team hires him after his being dismissed next spring.

      The longer Treliving ties his career to Hartley’s the shorter both will be.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Advanced stats from 2014-15 for the Flames were unsustainable in 2015-16. The team also managed to use up a decade’s supply of horseshoes and four-leaf clovers in a single season in 2014-15. Oddly, management kept the same team together but also added a couple of expensive parts. Not sure what management was thinking by bringing back the same “lightning in a bottle brigade” and hoping for a better result. Even worse, however, many long-suffering Flames fans bought this snake oil and lapped it up. They actually thought going into the season that they had an upper echelon team based on the blind luck that drove the bus the previous season. Blows the mind!

    With the Ducks done and BB on the hot seat, let’s say the very bald man gets canned. Any appetite for BB behind the Flames’ bench in 2016-17? Might be the only celebrity coach available this offseason as Hitch may have saved his job and no changes are coming in Boston.