109Elias Lindholm
Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary’s blockbuster with Carolina could make them better immediately

For me, and many others, Calgary’s huge deal with the Hurricanes over the weekend is more about the future than it is about right now. Based on the evidence I’ve seen, I believe the Flames have taken a slight step back back in the immediacy with a solid chance for a good return longer term. In saying that, though, if a couple other boxes get checked this season, this trade has the potential of improving the team right away.

UP FRONT

This is pretty simple: for this trade to make the Flames better at forward right away, Elias Lindholm will have to better than Micheal Ferland. Down the road that seems like a safe bet, but right away isn’t as much of a guarantee. Lindholm put up 16 goals and 44 points in 81 games last season compared with Ferland’s 21 goals and 41 points in 77 games.

From a purely counting perspective, these two were fairly similar except when you look at shooting percentage. Lindholm’s 10.5% wasn’t low by any means, but Ferland’s was sky high at 14.6%, which leads many to speculate his goal total might come down. A look at the underlying numbers shows us Ferland was the more productive five-on-five player last year, while Lindholm was the superior possession forward.

Player CF% OZS% G60 P60
Elias Lindholm 53.3 56.9 0.40 1.47
Micheal Ferland 51.9 56.1 0.85 2.05

If things go the way they’re scripted to right now, we’ll have a pretty good comparison with these two. Head coach Bill Peters has intimated Lindholm will slot in on the right side with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, which just happens to be where Ferland spent most of his time last season. The latter scored 21 times on that line, so how will Lindholm fare there?

Count me as one who thinks Lindholm will be an upgrade. It comes down to history and track record for me: Lindholm has four straight seasons of 39 points or more, whereas Ferland is coming off a career season with a jump of 16 points. I really like Ferland, but I’m still not sure whether 20 goals and 40 points is something we can expect from him on a regular basis.

Lindholm is just 23 and has a good chance of being an upgrade on Ferland in the bigger picture. For 2018-19, though, it’s no guarantee that’ll be the case, although I think there’s a decent possibility. Lindholm has never played with skilled players like Monahan and Gaudreau and I’m fascinated to see how he responds to the opportunity.

ON THE BLUELINE

This is where things get a little more complicated because a few more things come into play. At least to this point in his career, Noah Hanifin hasn’t been the same type of impact maker as Dougie Hamilton. As such, it’s more difficult to make the argument the Flames are better on the blueline when comparing players straight across.

However, if a few other things fall correctly, there’s a chance Calgary’s backend will be able to make up for the loss of Hamilton. Before we go too much further, let’s look at how we’re expecting the team’s top two pairings to shape up to start the season.

Mark Giordano-TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin-Travis Hamonic

For this to work for the Flames, the true key is a return to form for Brodie if/when he returns to the right side with Giordano. Despite being a left shot, Brodie’s move to that side never seemed to truly work out for whatever reason. In the table below you can see the difference upon his move to the left side for the 2015-16 campaign.

Season CF% OZS%
2013-14 51.5 41.6
2014-15 45.4 40.2
2015-16 49.5 48.1
2016-17 49.6 47.4
2017-18 50.8 50.0

From a possession standpoint, Brodie’s best two seasons in the league came at the top of the table. His pairing with Giordano between 2013 and 2015 was outstanding: they saw some of the league’s toughest minutes and routinely got the better of their matchups. If those two can find that form again after three seasons apart, Calgary will be in a much better spot to withstand the loss of Hamilton.

I won’t lie, though, I’m somewhat sceptical on this potential reunion. I know he’s not comfortable on the left side, but no one can deny how Brodie’s play has steadily declined, specifically the last two seasons. It’s definitely not a sure thing a move from left to right will see Brodie snap back to prior form.

The second part of this equation rides on the success of the proposed second pairing. As we laid out earlier this week, Hanifin took some big steps forward last year but also saw some of the league’s most offensively tailored minutes. That’s likely not going to be the case this season. That’ll be fine, though, if Hanifin can adjust to playing unsheltered top four minutes paired up with Hamonic.

To summarize, the Flames would need Brodie to bounce back to his caliber of play from three years ago AND Hanifin-Hamonic to make up a solid second pairing for this scenario to work. That’s a lot of ifs, which is why it falls well short of a guarantee.

CONCLUSION

Calgary made a blockbuster deal at the NHL Draft that has a good chance to pay off in a big way down the road. Far more uncertain is how last weekend’s trade affects this team in the immediacy, for better or worse.

All available data suggests Lindholm is a slightly better all around forward than Ferland is right now. That same evidence points to Hamilton being the superior defenceman when compared to Hanifin by a larger margin. Conventional wisdom would suggest the Flames “got worse” as a result, at least on paper.

However, we’ve laid out some conditions above showing a blueprint for how Calgary can avoid that being the case. If Lindholm is an upgrade on Ferland and the entire blueline as a whole is close to a wash compared to last year, the Flames likely come out ahead right away. The chance of all this actually happening is anyone’s guess.



  • Dunk

    I think Ferly was poorly utilized here. The Coach used him as the whipping boy when ever the top line was off Ferly was demoted. taken off the power play in place of Brower etc. That last coach was a JOKE AND THE GM should have been fired. .I hope Ferly gets 40 goals this year. He is a much more complete player then Monahan.

    • kirby

      He got a better shot and a bigger role here than he would have with almost any other team in the league. Blaming the team for his production, when actually for a long stretch he overachieved, is absurd. I like Ferly, nothin against him, and yeah there’s been some questionable issues with management. But i don’t get why you’re crying about him being some kind of “whipping boy”. Give me a break.

    • Off the wall

      I think it’s acceptable to correct spelling mistakes for new players.
      The Frohlik one is my favourite. I guess he became German..

      Cfan in Van, did me a big favour in correcting some of my misplaced grammar and terms I use out of context.

      I always appreciate it if it’s done with good intentions…

      Besides, could you imagine if Hanifin got his #55 jersey with the wrong spelling?!

  • FLT

    On Brodie, let’s not forget his wife had been dealing with some very difficult health issues. If that doesn’t affect you at you’re job, you’re not human.

    Hopefully there’s some improvement on that front, first for her and their family and second for the Flames.

      • BAN36FROMPP

        No doubt Brodie struggled without Gio by his side . I was stuck with wideman a slug one of those years. People tend to forget he carried that defence when gio went down with that injury. GG fd up a quite few players on this team so it will be interesting to see how these players react under a better coach?

  • BlueMoonNigel

    How dopey does Tre look in light of the Doughty extension? Hamilton may be soft but Doughty is a puddle–a fact that our Chucky could verify. Canes get Dougie for 3 years for about half the AAV than Doughty! Oh my mother! Why, why was Tre so eager to move Dougie last week with so many high-end defencemen in play? Tre held the Hammer and ended up bashing his thumb. Can’t wait to see the FA crap he signs in the coming days. Hello, Ryan Reaves!

  • Just.Visiting

    My starting point when looking at the Flames moving forward is that we actually really don’t know exactly how big the gap is because we had to suffer through GG and his ineptitude for 40 games longer than should have been the case.

    In looking forward, I think that playing Byng with Monahan and Gaudreau would give the best result for that line.

    That being case, I think it is the wrong result for the team, other than for the PP.

    If there’s any sort of chemistry at all, I think that the best result for the team is for Lindholm to play on the first line. This positions Lindholm for the best personal result for himself and good results for Monahan and Gaudreau.

    The most important thing this does is to let Byng be the cornerstone of a new second line of Byng, Janko and Bennett. This gives Bennett two skill players with which to play so that we can finally figure out who he’s going to be as a player. It also moves Byng into the leadership position on the line, which hopefully motivates Janko to be able to showcase his skills more fully and play with a much greater level of consistent intensity than we saw last year.

    I think that Dube would be a natural with the 2B line with Backlund and Frolik and that this line would be one of the better 2B/3rd lines in the league.

    Have a skating fourth line and everyone forechecking much more aggressively and we see a big uplift in performance and a lot more excitement than we’d seen in the prior two seasons.

    Say what you want about Hartley, but I always thought that the fans received their money’s worth from a game during his time in charge. Hopefully, Peters brings a higher level of intensity.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      What happens if Janko can’t handle 2nd line centre duties? Backlund is a terrible fall back plan.

      Bennett has not earned second line minutes, but I understand your point. If he remains on this team, he shouldn’t play on the checking line or the 4th line, so it really has to be the 2nd line. Similar argument could be made for Janko as we are asking a lot from a guy who hasn’t even played a full NHL season.

      • Just.Visiting

        I saw a great line today. It’s basically “you need to take risk if you want to taste the champagne.”

        If I look at the teams that have been successful in recent years, they have typically had major contributions from unexpected sources.

        While the safer path to make the playoffs could be to pick up vets who might get 40 points, I don’t think that they take the team to the level required to be a serious contender.

        Can Janko and Bennett?

        In Janko’s case, he has the frame for size (but needs another 20 pounds), he has hands, he has positional smarts because he was taught well, he has a nice shot and he’s faster than he often shows. My biggest beef with him is that he sometimes looks great and sometimes is invisible because the intensity just didn’t seem to be there. One of the plus sides I saw late in the season was a greater willingness to engage in scrums. I think that he could take his game to a completely different level if he played with Byng because Byng can make the people around him better and keep them engaged. In other words, I think he has a real possibility of being materially better than the “good” 40-45 point level of performance we’d expect from the typical vet who would be most likely to consider us. If it didn’t work, we drop him to third line or the wing. Whatever Janko may be, he’s not stupid if he were presented with this opportunity. My original premise is that we should have had a much better sense about who he is coming out of last season than we do.

        Similarly, we need to understand if Bennett is going to be much better than good or if he’s a bust. You find that out by putting him in a position in which he is best positioned to succeed and try to mitigate the propensity for stupid penalties. Think back to the Bennett of the playoffs. If he could play at that level in those conditions, he is capable of playing at a much higher level than he’s shown to date. Again, I think that Byng could do that, and have a look at the great give and go goal they scored in one of the few times that GG tried them together.

        This would also be a tremendous testament to the faith that the Flames have in Byng’s capacity for leadership.

        • Off the wall

          Just visiting,
          I saw this sign on my way to work a few days ago.
          It read, “5 out of 4 people don’t understand fractions”

          I had a good chuckle, but what is obvious to some, eludes others, even if it is a joke.
          You have the ability to see through the fog and have a complete picture of what lies ahead.

          I like your easy scripted way of thinking. You’re making a fan out of me with well presented remarks like this (and many others)

          Nice work, keep it up!

      • Kevin R

        Janko had 17 goals & 4 in his last game. Confidence will be sky high. Need Bennett & Tkachuk together as I think Tkachuk will be the one to get Bennett out of this 30 point rut & be the 4th over all player we thought we drafted.

  • freethe flames

    When people discuss the lines and just call them the first line, second Line etc it drives me crazy as we all have different expectations of what makes a line a first line etc,. I am always pretty clear about what my idea of having 4 lines looks like and what my expectations of their roles would be.
    First line: Is my primary scoring line and I expect them to score 70+ goals a season.All members of this line need to be able to play on the PP. They primarily get OZ starts and relatively defensively accountable. This line begins with Johnny/Monny/?? BP needs to determine who the 3rd is.
    2nd offensive line: I expect this line to produce 60 goals and again is relatively sheltered with OZ starts and is defensively accountable. Again these guys should be able to play on the PP and some may indeed need to be on the PK. To start the season I would try Tkachuk/Janko/??? as the pillars of this unit. The third is still up in the air.
    3rd line: this line gets the toughest Dzone starts but is also expected to produce @45 goals while being a shut down line. It needs to drive possession and it’s members have to be able to be on the PK and possibly play on the PP if needed. This unit looks like this:???/Backs/Frolik.

    My 4th line needs to mirror the third line but with less offensive expectations; say 30 goals. This line can also be a bit more physical in it’s role. The problem is that we don’t really have guys who can do this. They all need to be able to play the PK. We currently have 2 guys signed as RW who can play this role, Lazar and Brouwer and no centers and no LW who I want to saddle with role.
    We have 1 RHS to fill the either role in line 1 or 2; Lindholm. We have 2 LW who in my opinion can fill the role on the third line; Bennett or Mangiapane. Bennett playing on the my 4th line would help transform that line into something very difficult to deal with while I don’t see Mangiapane in that role. BT needs to add some depth at center and from all accounts that will be Ryan. Still need to add another top 6 RW.

  • With Respect

    Monahan and Gaudreau will get their points regardless who flanks the wing I believe they played braver with Ferland on their line and I don’t see that happening with Lindholm I think Reaves would look better there. Hanifin will be better than Hamilton in the long run and hopefully fits into the dressing room better.