FN Mailbag – November 28, 2016


As Calgary slowly inches back towards the .500 mark, the team and its players are being frequently mentioned in trade rumours around the league. Which is not unnatural – when a club underperforms expectations this severely to start a season, a couple of things become more likely:

1.) A coach gets fired.

2.) A significant trade is made.

Option one isn’t really available to Treilving given he just hired this entire bench crew. 

And as we’ve mentioned a few times around here, the Flames need to be careful when it comes to investigating the trade market right now. Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make.

The club’s recent modest upswing might deter any rash decisions on the part of the front office. Despite their considerable struggles, Calgary is just a couple of points out of the wild card spot in the West (at the time of writing). If they can continue to string together a few good stretches to end the calendar year, they will at least look competitive heading into 2017. 

In the mailbag today we look at the Flames’ progression, the impending expansion draft, and Mark Jankowski’s potential role with the big club.

Not that I recall, but then a team firing assistant coaches isn’t memorable enough stick in the memory. As far as I can tell, assistant coaches are typically hired and fired in unison with broader moves, like changing over the bench boss or clearing out members of a former regime.

As mentioned in the introduction, it’s unlikely Treliving will fire any of his handpicked crew as early as mid-season. Everyone is likely to get at least a season to prove they can get things turned around.

We took a look at the Flames’ rolling averages last week, so it’s not likely much has changed. The good news is the Flames are a solidly mediocre possession club so far this year, which is an improvement over last year. The bad news is their expected goals and scoring chance ratios badly lag their possession rate – they are bottom five by both of these measures according to Corsica Hockey.

Over time, possession and scoring chances tend to reconcile: either persistently good possession drags up a bad scoring chance rate or the corsi rate proves to be false and crashes back down to the lousy chance numbers. Usually in cases like this the bigger number is the more accurate (corsi), so if the Flames can continue to have at least middling outshooting, there’s a chance they’ll improve the chance ratios as well.

I don’t think anything major has changed since the summer. Micheal Ferland has likely cemented himself in the “protect” side and they might worry a bit more about what to do with Brett Kulak, but that’s about it. I’ve heard some suggestions the Flames should expose Mark Giordano because his contract is starting to look risky, but that’s bonkers. Giordano is an asset you try to trade if you don’t want to gamble on his deal, not give away for free. 

The same goes for Sean Monahan if you’re having second thoughts about his second contract. 

I imagine they’ll ease Jankowski into action rather than dropping him in the deep end. I can see him bumping one of Hamilton or Stajan to the wing in his debut and playing with the likes of Hathaway, Shinkaruk and/or Chiasson, in part because Janko is untested at this level and in part because there’s no reason to rush him into the top six. 

He’d have to displace one of Backlund or Monahan to do be a top six centre, which isn’t going to happen even with Monahan struggling. And I don’t think they shunt Jankowski to wing – they’ll definitely want to see if he can work down the middle. 

  • Xcameron

    I’m not sure I’m with you on not exposing Giordano. I like the guy but I’m wondering if his best years are behind him. I’d be willing to take the risk that Vegas feels the same way in order to protect Kulak.

    • Stan

      [redacted] If you feel like his best years are behind him and you don’t want his contract, then you trade him to someone who doesn’t feel that way. You don’t just give him away for free, jesus.

      FN MODERATOR: There is no need for getting personal or name calling.

      • PrairieStew

        No one is advocating giving him away – the only reason to expose him is if you think that Vegas will see the contract as a poison pill that they couldn’t take. Instead Vegas would pick up someone like Bieksa, who at $4M for one year is a far lower long term risk. If Giordano is, at the end of this year looking like he is no longer of value – then your idea of trading him, while seemingly more sensible, might not actually be possible. If he’s that bad (sub Wideman) – then there would be value in clearing out the dollars. Frankly, I don’t see that this year, but by the end of next year who knows ?

        • Kevin R

          If he gets taken by Vegas, that is giving him away & then he turns around & gets traded for a huge return, I’m sure you will lead the way to clearing house of all management.

  • PrairieStew

    Thinking about it more and more, there may be more than a couple of high priced veterans available to Vegas in the expansion draft. Since they will have a ton of cap space, they could afford to take them and they also might be very aggressive in the free agent market. The might offer more money than other teams on short (up to 3 years) term for a bunch of veterans in an effort to be competitive immediately. Giordano would fit very well in that scenario, so I’d lean away from exposing him.

    As to current struggles – don’t give up hope FlamesNation, I still think they will turn the corner !

  • The Last Big Bear

    I am perfectly confident in Treliving as an above-average GM. I also think Gulutzan was a perfectly sound hire, with a good mix of NHL experience and impressive successes at lower levels.

    But Gulutzan’s tenure with the Flames has been one long continuous Donald-Duck-stepping-on-a-banana-peel disaster. I’m not even saying he’s a bad coach, but it has 100% not worked out. At all.

    He started with back-to-back humiliating losses against the Oilers in which he was clearly out-coached and the team looked absolutely awful. Now here we are 20 games later, and the team has the worst points % in the conference.

    He’s been relying on the “benefit of the doubt” to keep his job since Day 1, and has done nothing since then to generate that doubt. I don’t think management saves any face by flushing an entire season down the drain just to be seen to give a chance to this coach, whose best defense is “if you fire me now, you’ll look bad too for ever having hired me”.

    Firing Gulutzan absolutely is an option for Treliving, and in my opinion is the best option. At this point I would appoint just about anyone with a pulse as interim coach.