Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

Projecting the Flames Top-10 Scorers

The kids have gone back to school and the NFL started last weekend which means one thing for hockey fans…the NHL is almost back!

We are officially 23 days away from puck-drop on the 2017-18 NHL season and it’s time to look at what you should expect from the Flames’ top players.

If you are not familiar with me, I am the Editor-in-Chief of DailyFaceoff.com, where I do yearly projections for all players expected to make NHL rosters this fall. My projections hit the web last Tuesday and today we’ll look at who (I think) the Flames’ top-10 scorers will be during the upcoming season.

1. Johnny Gaudreau (LW)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 72 18 43 61
2017-18 Projections 80 27 50 77

Gaudreau dazzled the NHL in his second season, registering 78 points (30G / 48A) in 2015-16, but failed to come close to those totals in his third season. Despite being undersized, durability has not been a concern for the 24-year-old, who has missed just 15 games in his first there seasons.

Gaudreau shot at an impressive 14.1 percent in his first 159 NHL games, but saw that fall to 9.9 percent last year—which explains his large dip in goal production. The American-born winger has some of the best hands in the NHL and is an excellent finisher, so expect that shooting percentage to rise back towards 14.1%, which would see him score goals in the mid-20’s again.

2. Sean Monahan (C)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 82 27 31 58
2017-18 Projections 82 31 36 67

Monahan exploded onto the map in 2014-15 and since then he has become one of the most consistent young producers in the NHL. The 22-year-old has missed just two games in a three-year span, while averaging 28 goals and 33 assists (61 points)—ranking 17th in the NHL in goals (85) and 27th in points (183) during that stretch.

Monhan has great size for the centre position and him and Gaudreau have become one of the more dynamic duos in the NHL. Expect shot totals right around 200 again, which would put Monahan on-pace for near 30 goals with 30-plus assists for the fourth consecutive season.

3. Matthew Tkachuk (LW)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 76 13 35 48
2017-18 Projections 76 16 39 55

Tkachuk has moved through the hockey ranks quickly. After two years with the U.S. National Development team, Tkachuk only spent one year in the OHL before making the Flames last season. The in-your-face, tenacious winger had a very strong rookie campaign, finishing sixth among first-year players in points (48).

His numbers at lower-levels says all you need to know about the second generation NHLer, who like his father Keith, is not afraid to go to the dirty areas to score goals. Sophomore slumps are always a concern, but Tkachuk looks talented enough to score goals in the mid-teens with 30-plus assists for the second straight year.

4. Dougie Hamilton (D)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 81 13 37 50
2017-18 Projections 78 13 38 51

The Bruins trading Hamilton to the Flames raised some eyebrows, but Flames fans are not complaining because now they have one of the best young defenseman in the NHL. Hamilton has been one of the most consistent rearguards in the NHL in recent years, ranking 11th in goals (35) and 17th in points (135) over the last three seasons.

Hamilton set career-highs in goals (13) and assists (37) last season and should finish with similar numbers this year. Hamilton was third among Flames’ blueliners in power-play minutes last year, but still played over two minutes a night. He will see huge minutes on the top pairing with Mark Giordano and ample PP usage. The 24-year-old and Giordano became one of the best pairs last year and should continue until Gio reaches his upper-30’s.

5. Sam Bennett (C)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 81 13 13 26
2017-18 Projections 79 23 28 51

Bennett was drafted No.4 overall after he recorded 91 points (36G / 55A) in 57 games with Kingston (OHL) and drew a lot of comparisons to Dougie Gilmour thanks to his combination of in-your-face play and offensive flair. Unlike Gilmour, Bennett has struggled offensively in his first two NHL seasons. Bennett has posted a 48.9 CorsiFor% in his 159 career NHL games, a number that needs improvement before we start seeing elevated offensive numbers. He is stuck behind Monahan and Mikael Backlund on the depth chart, which limits his minutes, but he is still averaging 15:04 TOI/GM to this point.

Limited PP exposure has restricted his production, but it’s his 1.63 shots per game that really hurts. At just 21-years-old and entering his third year, Bennett should see an uptick in minutes and production in 2017-18, making him one of my favourites for a breakout campaign.

6. Mark Giordano (D)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 81 12 27 39
2017-18 Projections 75 15 33 48

After ranking seventh among defensemen in goals (44) and 10th in points-per-game (0.64) from 2014-to-2016, Giordano saw his production slip a bit in 2016-17. Giordano’s drop-off can be attributed in a dip in power-play usage and shot volume, but he is plenty capable of returning to form in 2017-18.

Gio and Hamilton are an exceptional pair and the 33-year-old should have no problem reaching double-digit goals for the fifth straight season and 30-plus assists.

7. Mikael Backlund (C)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 81 22 31 53
2017-18 Projections 80 21 27 48

Backlund is lauded for his two-way ability, but he has taken his offensive game to another level over the last two seasons. Backlund, combined with Tkachuk and Michael Frolik became one of the best possession lines in the NHL last season and Backlund set career-highs in goals (22) and assists (31).

He saw a drastic uptick in shot production last year and even if that comes back down a touch, the 28-year-old Swede should still record 20-plus goals and an assist total approaching 30.

8. T.J. Brodie (D)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 82 6 30 36
2017-18 Projections 82 8 37 45

Brodie led Flames’ defensemen in power-play time last year, but went from playing regularly with Giordano to the second-pairing at even-strength. While the slight hit in EVS usage can explain the nine-point dip (from 2016 to 2017), his on-ice shooting percentage went from 10.2 to 7.6%. The 27-year-old should continue to see a lot of PP time and that on-ice SH% should climb back above 10%, which means his point total should be over 40 for the third time in four years.

9. Michael Frolik (LW)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 82 17 27 44
2017-18 Projections 82 19 25 44

While projecting players can be difficult, Frolik makes it easy. The veteran winger struggled with injury in his first year with the Flames (2015-16), but still posted similar point-per-game totals from the two years previous. To show how consistent (albeit unspectacular) Frolik has been, here are his point-per-game totals over the last four seasons: 0.52, 0.51, 0.5 and 0.54. Entering 2017-18, if you’re expected 50-60 points, you’re silly. He should skate in close to 82 games, which would leave him between 41 and 44 points come season’s end.

10. Troy Brouwer (RW)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 74 13 12 25
2017-18 Projections 82 21 20 41

Like Frolik, Brouwer was a consistent offensive producer in the years leading up to his signing with the Flames. Unlike Frolik, Brouwer really struggled in Calgary, posting just 25 points (13G / 12A) in 74 games last year. Typically he approaches goal totals near 20 (three time 20-goal scorer) with a similar number of assists.

His struggles can be attributed to his CF% falling to 44.4 (50.4 career CF%) and a massive dip in shot production—1.16 shots per game. Despite a rough season, things should be much better in 2017-18. The 32-year-old should see his shot totals rise back towards 140 and if Bennett takes the expected step forward, Brouwer would likely benefit greatly.

  • Off the wall

    I thought that Ferland would be in consideration, seeing as he’ll most likely start on the 1st line this season.
    Yeeesh, Troy Brouwer score 20, I have my doubts, maybe 20 points all season?!

  • FLT

    I’ve read the narratives, but I’m still curious to know how each of these point projection values are arrived at. There are reasons to be optimistic about Flames’ point totals this season vs. last, but on the whole this list feels a little lofty. Especially that last guy.

  • Not Ryan Pinder

    Fully expecting a bounce back Brouwer with a lot to prove this year. maybe not 40 points, but he truly only has room to improve. I also expect a huge season from Johnny/Mony as they will have a full training camp with their line basically set.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I believe Brouwer will have a bounce back year but won’t out score Ferland or Versteeg. I can’t see Brouwer getting the PP time that he got last year. I also think if Janko makes the team he will move into a PK role…. Likely at the expense of Monny.

  • Raffydog

    If Guadreau gets more than 50 points this season, I’ll be shocked. All defenseman throughout the league have both of his moves figured out, and he’ll never crack 50 points again while wearing a Flames jersey. Once he gets back to Philly he might be motivated again, but it won’t happen here

          • Raffydog

            I guess I have higher expectations than just making the playoffs. I want the Flames to be the best team in the league, and would love to see them win a cup again before my time on this planet is done. Guadreau could get 285 points this year, but it doesn’t mean a thing if he disappears in the playoffs, and they get knocked out in the first round. He’s supposed to be our best player, and your best players need to perform when it matters most

          • Raffydog

            @Just.Visiting. I 100% agree with you there. It always drives me crazy how hockey has two different rule books depending on the time of year. Look at football. Offside is offside no matter if it’s regular season or playoffs. The refs don’t just let things slide because it’s a playoff game. I get that nobody wants a referee to determine the outcome of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but if they called the games the same as the regular season, the players would adjust.

          • Skylardog

            It is so true that certain topics are totally taboo on FN. Kinda sad that many cannot handle any level of concern about the Flames when people post regarding weaknesses either real or perceived.

            As many of you know, I not only share Raffys concern regarding JG, but may have had fed the thought process leading to his view of JG. Of coarse I get slammed as well.

            I challenge you all to just say I hope you are wrong you 2 Dogs, and then make us eat crow when he has a great season, and an even better playoffs.

            However, I would also hope that you can all say, “Wow, I guess the Dogs were right”, if he crashes, especially in the playoffs.

            Attacking Raffy personally is far more childish than Raffy stating his opinion. The trolls are the ones calling names, rather than arguing hockey. You all need to stop the personal attacks on here. Keep it to hockey, negative or positive.

        • BurningSensation

          Is this a plea for help in using Google to look up Johnny’s playoff stats? Or an admission that your premise that teams have ‘figured him out’ is just BS and thus moving the goalposts to discuss the small sample size of the playoffs instead?

          This place deserves a higher class of troll than you are providing.

          • Raffydog

            Sorry, I forgot this is Flamesnation where you can’t say anything negative about the Flames, unless it’s Brouwer. Everything is all puppies, and rainbows, and butterfly’s on this site. Where we all stick our heads in the sand and put on our rose coloured glasses and sit back and watch the world go by.

          • Hockeyfan6778

            He had 9 points in 11 playoff games two years ago. Including that goal in dying seconds against Anaheim to tie it. Seems pretty good to me. Also still young with room to improve.

          • oilcanboyd

            Well, Raffydog, you have a selective memory: besides Brouwer, there was Wideman, Engelland, Bouma, Backlund until last season, Chiasson, Grossman, Colborne, Bollig, Hiller, Raymond, then the potatoe farmer’s son…..and even Jarome Iginla when his production slowed.
            You might say these are not top flight players…but our top flight players produce unlike the 6 million dollar Oiler guys and free agents that McTavish signed for big bucks that never reached their potential. If we had top light guys that didn’t have any valid reason for being a bust like the oilers we would be critical of them too….we all know your an oiler troll, you don’t fool anybody…

    • BurningSensation

      It would be one thing to say ‘Gaudreau’s projecton is optimistic based on ‘X’ reason’ it”s another to use a fabricated, easily disprovabe premise, and throw in a Philly reference. One is cautious pessimism with a basis in reality, the other is just being a lame at being a troll.

  • Squishin

    No love for Ferland? Seems a bit weird. Also I think that if the 3M line stays together, Byng will have a tough time improving on his totals from last year. Those guys get absolutely buried in the defensive zone every night. Put Tkachuk with Bennet and watch both of them soar.

  • everton fc

    No way Bennett scores more than Backlund. I just don’t see that.

    No way Ferland’s not in the Top 10. I see 20 goals out of my favourite Flame! And Versteeg will outscore Brouwer, and maybe Bennett, though I see Bennett improving.

  • Albertabeef

    Well lik everyone else I really don’t see Brouwer’s numbers rebounding. I really think Mangiapane with Versteeg could help Byng’s numbers improve as well as a whole season not on Brouwer’s line. Let Stajan and Janks deal with Brouwer in a defensive role, or sit him. I think Mang and Janks are ahead of Shink, Lazar, Hathaway, and Freddy. I’m ok with Lazar and Brouwer splitting time if Brouwer can’t rebound.

  • Just.Visiting

    I think that usage will be the key. I don’t think that Brouwer deserves first unit PP time over Ferland or Tkachuk. I would also have Hamilton and Giordano on the first unit, as I believe that they were missing a big shot out there. I’m not so sure about Versteeg on the point-if memory serves JG had a big drop off in PP production last year with GG’s configuration. I’d like to see Bennett have second unit PP time if he earns it. I’d also look seriously at Stone on the point with Brodie on the second unit and look at Versteeg up front.

    Other than for the Brouwer projection and a strong belief that playoff Sam will emerge , I thought that the assessments were pretty conservative. What we really need to take the next step up is to reduce the GAA and to get some surprise production from unexpected sources, such as Ferland 15 points above expectation or Janko hitting mid 30s-low 40s if he gets the opportunity to play above 4th line.

    Really liked Janko and Foo in the tournament. Janko is a lot bigger and really smart-I hope he brings that confidence to camp. At first I thought that he was slower than I would have liked and then I saw him turn it on to go on attack in puck pursuit on the left side and realized that he has another gear there that he doesn’t show often enough. Foo has skill and wants the puck. I would like to see him compete mano a mano with Lazar for a spot, but I think that Lazar could end up gifted a spot because of his waiver status.

    • Skylardog

      The only thing that hits me regarding the PP was that during the Duscks series, the 1st PP was lethal. We couldn’t score 5v5 but we lit it up on the Powerplay. JG, Mony, and Brouwer (ughhhhh), with Brodie and Steeg looked real good. Not saying that is who I want to see out there (please Ferly for Brouwer), but it was clicking. I am sure that GG has this etched in his memory, and will be deploying that unit right from game one.

    • freethe flames

      It really should be about competition but the reality is some players will be gifted a spot b/c of waiver status and contract. Even if TB is badly outplayed by any of the kids do you honestly think the Flames send him to Stockton? I would love to see a true competition for the #3/4 RW spot between Brouwer/Lazar/Foo/Poirier and anyone else who plays the position but I doubt the politics of sports does not let it happen.

  • Derzie

    On the plus side, everyone will be in camp, including the coaching staff. BUT to expect a Corsi coach to magically let his stars play is a stretch. He did loosen the ropes a little last year but stars were still stifled a bit. Here’s hoping this year is more productive. Let Brodie fly. Let Johnny stretch.

  • Cheeky

    If these totals came true, I’d be stoked. Think Hamilton will be higher if he actually gets proper pp time and I have a feeling Johnny will get over 80 (on a mission)…