After a disappointing January and a tentative start to February, the Flames are getting hot at the right time. They’ve leaned heavily on one-goal wins and extra time to pile up the points recently, but at this point in the season and given where they are in the standings, none of that really matters.
With their recent outburst, the Flames have now a better than 70% chance of making the postseason. That said, everything is likely to come down to the four games between Calgary and Los Angeles. The Kings are chasing the Flames for the final spot in the West, but Calgary has six-point bulge on Darryl Sutter’s club. The only reason that isn’t insurmountable is the Kings also have two games in hand.
If Calgary can at least split the series, they should be a shoe-in for the postseason. If the Kings can sweep the four games, however, things will likely be very tight.
With just over a month left in the regular season, we’re setting up for a photo finish. Let’s see what Treliving can do at the deadline to the tip scales a bit more in Calgary’s favour.
— cdec17 (@cdec17) February 24, 2017
The question is less if the current tandem is “the answer” and more “is there a better bet on the market?” Brian Elliott had the best save percentage in the NHL last season and Chad Johnson was solidly above average. Which means it’s entirely possible to acquire ostensibly good goaltenders only to see them struggle.
This also means that both of Calgary’s guys are playing below their capabilities and, at some point, we can expect them to rebound. Of course, we’ve been saying that for awhile now…
— Fake Steinberg (@fake_steinberg) February 24, 2017
Marc-Andre Fleury remains on the radar, although his age, lacklustre season and big contract all limit his value. At some point, the Penguins are going to get desperate to move their former #1, because his NMC means they would be forced to protect him and expose Matt Murray at the expansion draft. That would be bad.
That also means the closer the expansion draft gets, the more desperate Pittsburgh will be to get rid of him. As a result, the trade deadline may not be the best time for a team like Calgary to trade for him.
— Matt Geib (@geibus) February 24, 2017
— Riley Boras (@schevvy1) February 24, 2017
It will depend on two things: how much salary Vegas needs to make the cap floor and how much Troy Brouwer’s league-wide reputation takes a hit after this season. Vegas is likely to have their pick from bad contracts to build up their cap budget, but Brouwer’s deal is only of moderate expense and length compared to many other toxic assets around the league. That might make him more attractive.
In addition, Brouwer is still the player who was roundly considered one of the better UFA forwards available last summer. We didn’t agree with that assessment at FN, but clearly, there were many around the league who disagreed. They may still be high on the player even after a down year.
All that said, this is predicated on the idea that the Flames will have the gumption to expose Brouwer just one year after signing him to a relatively big deal. I’m not sure they’ll be willing to do that (but they should).
— kingcambie (@kingcambie) February 24, 2017
They are getting to that point now thanks to the Kings’ recent slide. With 19 games left, the Flames have a potential 38 points to gain. The Kings have 42 thanks to their games in hand. That means if the Flames go .500 in terms of points percentage (19), the Kings will have to manage a .600 rate to catch them. Their points % to date? .517.
Based on their 0.56 points rate so far, the Flames are projected to finish with about 91 points. If that happens, the Kings need to get over 63% of the points remaining on the table to catch Calgary. etc. The gap is significant enough such that the Flames have a 74% chance of making the playoffs whereas the Kings are down to about 46%.
Beyond all that, Jonathan Quick (or Ben Bishop) isn’t necessarily going to give the Kings a big lift when he arrives. So far this season, Peter Budaj has a SV% of .917. Quick’s career average save percentage is .916 and his last seasons he has finished at .918, .918 and .915. As for Bishop, he’s an .919 career goalie, but has cruised along at just .911 this year.
— spencer walker (@spennywalks) February 24, 2017
Neither. But if I was forced to choose, I’d go with Ben Bishop because he’s a couple of years younger.
Frankly, I’d almost never give that kind of contract to a goalie. Aside from the truly elite guys like Henrik Lundqvist or Carey Price, GMs should always avoid committing big, long-term dollars to puck stoppers.
@Kent_Wilson Scuttlebutt is that the Flames would like a fwd pref one with an “edge”… best rental option for that who wouldn’t cost a 1st?
— James Foster (@YKJFosterYYC) February 24, 2017
Personally, I’d target a forward with speed over grit if I was Treliving. Not only the Flames are one of the most penalized teams in the league already, but the biggest weakness I see in the club’s game these days is foot speed.
Anyways, assuming the Flames stick to the size/edge thing, there are a few options on the market. Brian Boyle out of Tampa is the most obvious choice. He’s huge at 6’7″, 245 pounds and a decent bottom rotation center, though the asking price on him may be high. Tampa may also put Alex Killorn on auction block since he’s unlikely to be protected in the upcoming expansion draft anyways.
The Canes’ Viktor Stalberg is also a “big body” at 6’3″ and 210 pounds and he’s also a capable bottom six player. A couple of Canucks might also be in consideration: Jannik Hansen (who is more fast than big, but also fairly tenacious) and, of course, Alex Burrows (who at 35 is probably well past his best before date).
— Ryan Gee (@redricardo) February 24, 2017
An excellent question. With the advent of tools and data that allows us to parse players according to scoring and shot impacts, it gives us an opportunity to judge guys by their aggregate strengths and weaknesses. For example, here’s Daniel Winnik’s Hero chart:
Here we see that Winnik isn’t a great offensive player. He scores goals at a fourth line rate and is a middle rotation forward in terms of primary points at even strength at best. However, we can also see he’s well above average at suppressing shots and has better overall shot impact.
So if your team needs a strong defensive shot suppression forward (and not so much a goal scorer) Winnik is a good target as third or fourth line winger.
Let’s compare him to a guy like Shawn Thornton, who is well known as a role player:
Similarly, Thornton’s biggest asset is shot suppression, but he’s much, much worse at everything else. In fact, Thornton’s various, pronounced weaknesses at this stage in his career work to overcome his lone era of strength.
Identifying guys who are good possession players but mediocre offensive players is a good way to get fringe players with value. As you can see from the Thornton chart there are depth players in the league who are bad at just about everything. If you have guys who are at least reliable at driving play in the bottom six, it can help the top end of the rotation immensely.