The Flames should be calling about Nino Niederreiter

Yesterday in Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 30 thoughts column, Minnesota Wild winger Nino Niederreiter’s name came up in regards to chatter in trade circles. There’s no denying the Calgary Flames should be actively shopping for talent to fill out the top six. With the revolving door of right wingers that appeared alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau this past season, finding some stability may be key to taking the Flames to the next level.

Obviously when it comes to a guy like Niederreiter, the Flames should be calling because he’s the type of player that should be coveted.

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A look at El Nino 2016-17

After a career year, posting 25 goals and 32 assists which was good for fourth in Wild skaters in points, there’s a reasonable case that the 24-year-old Swiss winger is going to want a pay raise. There’s also the element of who will be exposed or moved in relation to the expansion draft next month which complicates matters further.

This is an avenue the Flames could take advantage of. More importantly, they have the assets required to potentially make a deal for a guy who clearly fits the age group of this team.

Part of what makes Niederreiter so appealing is the impact he provides on the ice and an opportunity to give him a bit more of a role – on a team like the Flames – to see if there is more to his ceiling than just a top nine winger. In an era when we’re starting to establish a better understanding of what contributes to on-ice results, Niederreiter is an example of a player type that teams should be looking to acquire (5v5 data via Corsica):

5v5 TOI CF% CF60 CA60 xGF% GF%
2016-17 1036.42  55.41%  58.7  47.24  57.9%  60.22%
Career to Date 4671.13  52.23%  55.01  50.31  54.55%  52.38%

This past season was his best, both in terms of shot and goal metrics, as well as counting stats. The fact remains that with Niederreiter on the ice, the Wild fared quite well at 5v5. Going through additional metrics indicates the same, whether it’s FF% (55.14%), SF% (55.23%), or GF60 (3.24). Under Bruce Boudreau this season, his deployment relative to his peers wasn’t inherently more difficult than his teammates’, which may have contributed to his success:

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In addition to his on-ice impacts, with the work from Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project we’re starting to see more publicly available data that helps explain who contributes to offense. In the existing dataset, 582.8 of Niederreiter’s 5v5 minutes have been tracked. The data collected presents an interesting perspective on the makeup of his game, how he contributes to creating offense, and how he stacks up when measured in percentiles (via Stimson’s public Tableau):

We can see that the three biggest aspects to understanding Niederreiter’s contributions comes in terms of dangerous shot contributions, shot volume, and transition play. For a team like the Flames that struggled at times in generating high danger scoring chances, targeting a type of player like Niederreiter makes sense. Not only that, but generating shots and being a factor in zone entries is a huge asset in this league.

Individual results: quite impressive

5v5 Goals 5v5 Prim. Pts. 5v5 G/60 5v5 P/60 5v5 Prim Pts./60 iCF60 iFF60 iSF60 5v5 SH%
16 35 0.93 2.37 2.03 13.72 10.42 8.51 10.88

When it comes to points and production, again we see strong indicators of value found in Niederreiter. His points per 60 at 5v5 were third out of 11 Wild forwards with at least 500 minutes at 5v5. He led Wild forwards in primary points per 60 in the same parameters, too. Not only that, but he was tied with teammate Jason Zucker in total primary points at 5v5 with 35. When it came to his shot contributions per 60, Niederreiter was productive across the board in iCF60 (blocked, missed, on net), iFF60 (missed and on net), and iSF60.

Not only did Niederreiter contribute at 5v5, but he was a steady contributor at 5v4 for the Wild. His eight 5v4 goals were tops for Wild forwards:

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Goals Prim. Assists 5v4 G/60 5v4 P/60 5v4 Prim Pts./60
 8  5  2.78  4.87 4.52

At the end of the day, whether it’s 5v5 or on the power play at 5v4, there’s significant evidence to suggest that the Islanders ended up making a poor decision trading Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck. He’s blossomed quite nicely into a relatively consistent NHL forward who finds a way to contribute in every circumstance he’s deployed in.

Again, for the point of emphasis: if he’s available, Brad Treliving should be calling regularly.

So what could he cost?

It’s extremely hard to say, but the Flames do have pieces and assets that they could hypothetically part with. The goaltending situation beyond the NHL for the Wild organization isn’t anything to write home about with Stephen Michalek being the closest thing to a top goalie prospect. The Flames have a luxury right now with Jon Gillies, David Rittich, and recently Tyler Parsons. One of the former two could be thrown in a hypothetical package deal.

The Wild’s salary cap situation isn’t fantastic by any means, what with Mikael Granlund’s career year and is requiring a new contract. It’s possible that floating a cost-controlled forward like Micheal Ferland, some sort of prospect + pick package involving a forward still with time left on his ELC could be compiled.

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But I’ll leave it to you: if you were inquiring about Nino Niederreiter, what kind of package would you offer the Wild for him?

  • everton fc

    Our first and one of our better prospects (they won’t want Lazar, but if they did…)

    I like this player, but please no one comment that we should consider moving Ferland. Nuts!

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I agree on Ferland, you don’t play him on the top line and then offer him up in a trade. Simply put, Ferland can do things that other players can’t….maybe not cosistently. He is doing this without any plum PP time or significant minutes. Even if he is not a 1st line guy… He is your best 4th line guy and one of your best 3rd line guys. He can play with skilled players, he can play with bangers, he can change his game on a dime.

      Best Ferland moment of 2016-2017 season….he pressures Crosby in the defensive zone, strips the puck from the best player in World and races in on a break away with Crosby chasing him only to pull away and rifle a shot under the bar. That is just a nugget of what he can do.

      As for, Janko he continues to get better and has no glaring weaknesses. If they were to trade Janko it would be like standing in a massive line at Disneyland only to have the ride go down for maintenance once you got to the front of the line. I see Janko being a better AHL player, than Collega player, and a better NHL player than an AHL player.

  • Puckhead

    So who gets exposed if he is brought in? Ferland or Lazar? Although Lazar is unproven this would be poor asset management and not something I could see BT do.

    The cost would likely be a 1st round pick, one blue chip prospect plus Ferland or Lazar. No thanks

  • supra steve

    So, if the Flames shipped Ferland for Nino, how do the Wild then protect Ferland in the expansion draft? Same problem, different player that they will then lose to Vegas. I guess they are going to lose someone, but think they may be better off taking picks and prospects that don’t need protecting.

  • Newbietwo

    No thank you.. protect the players we have and look at possible deals after expansion draft but im leaning towards build around what we have and leave it at that and use our young kids to come up when need to.. this Daryl sutter style of trade after trade I don’t want no want and frankly I hated flames management during those years they didn’t do it..

    • KKisTHEproblem

      Can’t remember who did the articles (Ari?) looking at how to build a contender but a significant trade for the right pieces was almost always one of the factors that got rebuilding teams over the hump to contender (Chicago got Hossa, LA got Gaborik etc. etc.). I think Nino would be a great addition, his possession and entry numbers are great and we could so use that on the PP (entries). Ferland makes no sense as the bait because they’d have to protect him. I would use the 1st plus other assets they don’t need to protect and go after him hard.

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      That is the problem, 80%(guess) of possible deals will be off the table once the expansion draft is done.. These players are mostly available due to the threat of losing them for nothing! Once that threat is gone I highly doubt any of these guys will be available until Cap-Pressure presents the opportunity again.

    • jakethesnail

      Agreed…we are not a Stanley Cup finalist even if we add Nino…we need to give prospects a chance. Getting Stone and Bartkowski may have helped the Flames make the playoffs, but it still was a transition year because we needed to let big contracts expire (while acquiring another useless big contract-Brouwer).
      On top of that getting project Lazar was another head scratcher. Treleving must have zero confidence on the wingers and d-men on the farm (T Spoon, Kulak).

  • everton fc

    Thank you for this sane response! Our first should be the offer. Maybe a spare part (like Lazar). They may also be interested in a young backup for Dubnyk…. But “NO” to any trade that sees Ferland going the other way (I’d still like to see us make a play for Hayes – look at he and Gaudreau in the worlds, though I am also aware the level of competition may be making these two look better than they’d look together here)

    • Newbietwo

      I have a said from day one that we should have gone bonkers to acquire Hayes because he was exactly what we needed.. it would be very difficult for us to get Hayes out of New York given he’s from there I think and loves it there not to mentioned the rangers won’t give him away and even our first might not do it so I agree with you but man it would be a hard one to do.. we could draft popaguenav or whatever who is basically a younger version of exactly the same player

      • everton fc

        The gut you want to draft… Doesn’t have chemistry and history… With Gaudreau. I wonder if our first and Kylington would get this done. Doubtful, but with Fox in the wings…

        Freddie H won’t be any bait for any team willing to trade w/us. And that’s okay, because I think Freddie’s the perfect guy in the press box who can come down and play a sound game, both ways. He rarely hurts us. Vegas may take Chiasson… Less likely Stajan… Perhaps Brouwer (please!)… More than likely Kulak (unless there are better d-men out there – which there are, “on paper” – and I think they can only poach so many from one position, correct?)…

        If we moved our first… We’ll have no picks in the Top 100. Does it really matter, though, if you land a guy like Hayes?

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I wonder if Hayes thinks he made the right decision going to New York… From a family standpoint and cultural stand point yes… But what about from a hockey stand point? He has been rumoured to be traded quite often. He was on one of the most potent top lines in College and will never sniff the top line in NY but in Calgary that is exactly where he would be. It could be great for his career and next contract. I rember hearing the Johnny and Bill Arnold worked hard to get him to sign with Calgary.

  • BendingCorners

    One benefit of having good prospects in the AHL is that they can be packaged for an established player. Since some of them are also expansion draft exempt it makes an early summer trade more enticing to a team like Minnesota. I would think we could package either Morgan K or Mark J along with either Freddie or Curtis and that might be enough to get Nino into a Flames uniform. Vegas won’t be picking either Freddie or Curtis – both teams have better targets available even after this trade – and so we can safely protect Nino. I’d keep our draft picks though. Any trade that gives up prospects means we need to pick replacements in the draft.

  • Graham

    First round picks are more valuable around the draft, so I would be willing to trade our first plus a decent prospect to fill a void in the top 6 or for a #1 goalie. I think the Flames have to prioritize here, goalie is the primary need, a guy like Niederreiter is an important secondary target.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      The Rangers aren’t even using Hayes as a top 6 player. He was on the third line with Miller and Grabner. I am not sure how much PP or PK time he is getting. The only issue I see is that he does not play like he is 6’5″ but it gives Johnny so much space. I like that he defers to Johnny as the trigger man something we don’t see on the Flames very often.

  • everton fc

    If we got Hayes, he could play w/Johnny and Monahan… Or, we could have some organizational guts and leave Ferland w/those two, and play Hayes on the right-side of Bennett, w/Versteeg on LW – or, move Bennett to LW, Hayes centers… Versteeg on RW, as he seems comfortable and productive on either side of centre.

    Again… a fan thinking out loud here….

  • King Quong

    Rittich Hickey and next years 2nd? Also would have to send a pick to Vegas for future considerations (not to pick up lazar) not sure what it would take. Saves this years first rounder to help shore up goaltending or or trade down or whatever they plan on doing with it. Probably a pipe dream but would be ideal for me.

    Id also be willing to send a first plus rittich to Minnesota for Nino a mid round pick to Vegas to not pick lazar and hopefully somehow snag a goalie like raanta?

  • Baalzamon

    As much as I like the idea, I really don’t see a trade here. If the Flames take him on without sending an expansion draft eligible player back, they must expose one of Ferland or Lazar (though they could always incentivize Vegas to not take someone specific; certainly cheaper than bribing them to take Brouwer). If the Flames do send an expansion draft eligible player the other way, it exacerbates the exposure issue Minnesota is already facing (though potentially it may alleviate their cap issue… theoretically). Not to be overlooked, however, is the Flames’ own cap issues (Brouwer’s contract is already in the way, and it’s only going to get worse in subsequent seasons; then there’s the fact that it seems likely they’ll re-sign Stone for too much and too long. Plus they still need a goalie).

    I think it’s far more likely Minnesota finds a taker (probably Arizona) for Pominville.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Will Nino denut Kesler? Will Nino trade wicked slashes with Baldy? Will Nino throw Fowler into Gibson along with the puck and hope it gets called a good goal? Flames do not beat the Ducks with Nino. Flames also do not beat the Oilers wit Nino. The team needs some size, skill and grit to take ot the Ducks and Oilers. Nino is slick but soft. No thanks.

  • Puckhead

    The beautiful thing about BT is that he does not show his hand and it’s impossible to guess what he might or might not do. We can only hope that he learns from his mistakes. Already looking forward to next season.

    Go ?Go!!!