FN Mailbag – October 31, 2016

Mailbag

After two weeks of awful, disjointed play, the Flames have put together a few quality games and look to be back on track. Who knows what caused the opening jitters through the first six or so games, or what caused the course correction, but it’s nice not to be mounting losses anymore.

Instead we can get back to the typical stuff – line combinations, individual player evaluations, special teams tweaks. You know, the good stuff. Today, we look at Bennett vs. Monahan, the Flames’ PP and whether Matthew Tkachuk should stick around or not.

I’ve gone on record a few times to say I think Bennett is the better overall player. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bennett overthrows Monahan as early as this year.

Aside from his penchant for taking too many penalties, Sam has been the much better player of the two so far from all angles: relative possession, scoring chance differentials and scoring. To be fair to Sean, he didn’t have a preseason and seems to be a bit of slow starter, but in the end I think we’re seeing the transition where Bennett becomes this team’s number one center.

It’s a bit early to be declaring Giordano over the hill. Even after a slow start last season Giordano proved to be the best defender on this team and, for my money, a legit Norris candidate. Here’s how Gio’s HERO chart ended up in 2015-16:

Story 1-22

Off the charts good in all categories. Hell, even if Giordano takes a step back this year due to age he’ll still be above average. 

None of this is to say the captain hasn’t struggled to start the year. He has. But let’s not jump the gun on moving him out of town quite yet. He’s a near irreplaceable talent on the backend, which is why the organization was willing to risk his current contract. 

Let’s not declare victory quite yet when it comes to the Flames’ special teams. The PP has managed to put a few more pucks in the net, but the results so far this year are still pretty poor in aggregate. Calgary remains a bottom-third team at generating shots with the man advantage and they currently sit fourth last in the league in terms of generating scoring chances a man up.

The Flames won’t have a Cup window until they can prove they are competitors, let alone contenders. That said, next year would definitely be a good time to take a step into the league’s upper echelon: Bennett, Monahan and Gaudreau will all be on their second contract and guys like Brodie, Backlund, Hamilton and Frolik should be at or near their prime.

If Treliving can reinvest his freed up cap space next year wisely, he could conceivably plug whatever holes remain on the roster.

Unless the Flames’ cap situation changes drastically somehow, they won’t have enough budget room to be buyers at the deadline. If they are sellers at the deadline… well, they won’t have much to sell. Deryk Engelland, Dennis Wideman, Alex Chiasson and Brandon Bollig don’t make for overly attractive rental options.

Personally I’d lean towards sending him back given his role so far, but I get the sense the team is happy to develop him at this level. That said, if the kid gets benched or scratched a few more times over the next couple of games, the decision makers may just decide to let him mature mentally at the junior level for one more season. 

  • everton fc

    Engelland’s performance may indeed make him a possible rental choice at the deadline. Perhaps Wideman, as well, if he continues to score.

    Chiasson doesn’t need to be moved, but slotted onto the 4th line, RW. He’ll do fine there. That’s probably his ceiling.

  • First Name Unidentified

    If this season is write-off again i don’t see any problem in giving more ice time to Wideman and Engs to see if they can have any trade market come January. Try to get at least a late round pick off each?

    Huge dollar amount coming off the books next year and will Treliving’s true test. Does he spend all that room wisely towards building a contender? or goes Sutter route and signs any big UFA name that’s post-prime years?

    It will be interesting to see. I still am not happy with his coaching appointments. However he has made some sneaky good moves on the players’ contracts side.

  • The Last Big Bear

    We’re going to clear a bunch of cap space to spend in free agency!!

    The same year that there’s an expansion team joining the league, with zero cap obligations and which will be fighting tooth and nail for every high-quality UFA.

    Combined with the pattern that both Treliving and Burke have shown of being willing to do whatever it takes to get the exact player they want, I expect this will mean the Flames end up “winning” another bidding war for a UFA, and getting a contract that passes like a kidney stone.

    Which I’ll be happy with, as long as they win a Stanley Cup or two before those bad contracts come home to roost.