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.

  • Trevy

    Ferland had 2 goals in his last 35 games in the season he broke out. At least he can try and contribute by being physical, but that disappeared too. His inconsistencies will always plague him. Let’s see him on a line without Mony and Johnny, somehow I doubt he’s ever going to improve on his point totals. Good on Tre to trade him when his value was high

    • Jessemadnote

      Ya I definitely don’t get this “it’s a wash” thing. Ferland has 100 less career points and is 3 years older than Lindholm. It’s like saying Barkov and William Karlsson are a wash.

      • kirby

        Exactly. Also, Lindholm has never had a 30 G scorer and a point-per-game player as linemates. I could easily imagine his point total spiking into the 60’s if he’s taking that top line RW spot (which i fully imagine is exactly the plan)

    • Mickey O

      It may well be that Ferland had some injury and was told not to fight, or play a crash and bang style. Treliving called Ferland after the trade and apparently everything was very cordial. The Flames still don’t know who, or what, Ferland is as a player. But you can bet that Flames scouts will be keeping an eye on him in Carolina.

      Ferland may very well sign on back here once he hits free agency. Carolina is a gong-show in the making. The new owner basically wants to run the team – he’ll make Harold Ballard look like an absentee landlord. I can’t see Ferland sticking around down there.

  • Jessemadnote

    I think that the Flames will be slightly worse on paper next season (but we all know ‘on paper’ a very fickle concept) but I’m cool with that. Hell, I’m okay if they miss the playoffs and draft 1st overall. Why? With Dougie expiring in ’21, Johnny in ’22 we had a cup window of about 6 years and in the first 3 we never won a single playoff game. This trade reset the core’s window. Now we’ve got Lindholm and Hanifin who will be a big part of the core for an extra 3-4 years beyond that window. I think this was intelligent asset management.

  • JoelOttosJock

    I find it funny how many people have ferland on a pedestal. He is a 3rd liner. Tops. He for to play with two gifted players because there was no one else and GG was horrible at player usage and placement. Get over it. All you people that whined we had no draft picks, BT turned out to get two former 1st rounders that are poised and are already NHL regulars and contributors.

  • Off the wall

    Sorry it’s Friday and I must share a story.
    I am a step- father to a great young man. I entered his life when he was a young teenager, full of pimples and lacking confidence.

    His core was genuine, his personality- hidden for lack of a better word.
    I am not saying I made a huge difference in his life, however I was present when he needed me.
    Several years ago I bought him his first ( used) car and we went out driving. He was reminiscent of Rain Man, in that he just wanted to stick with driving in circles in a parking lot.
    I was patient with him, though I reminded him that people drive on roads eventually.

    Slowly, we progressed to areas close to home, but on roadways.
    Eventually, I tricked him into going on the freeway, by taking several roads he wasn’t familiar with. His palms were so sweaty, he had to keep wiping them on his pants, poor guy! He was afraid, yet thrilled at the same time. Kind of like being on a roller coaster, you don’t know whether to puke or laugh…

    We did this for months, until his confidence grew by leaps and bounds.
    It’s fascinating , because I think I learned more about him in those few months, then I did in years. He talked, he opened up, he shared his dreams, his aspirations and his weaknesses.
    It was a ( eureka) discovery moment for both of us, as he also learned about my own life.
    We laughed, we almost cried a few times- but we became very close.

    He’s now 21, finishing his 3rd year at University, going abroad for year number 4. He’s articulate, sensitive and confident. A HUGE difference from what he was when I first met him.
    I’m not trying to take any credit for this, he’s become what he is because of his core values.
    They were always present. His mother did a outstanding job of instilling his character.

    Sometimes, we get wrapped up in a players’ game and forget about them as individuals and what they can become, given a little bit of guidance and helping them through rougher patches of their lives.

    I’m hoping Brodie is such a player, he’s had his fair share of adversity, perhaps at times driving (skills) in circles and making uncharted turns. But I’m of the belief that it’s more fulfilling to watch someone make strides in their life and profession , than to just give up because it’s easier.
    It seems we’re invested in our players, both on and off the ice.
    Treliving might have made a bit of a gamble, it’s fair to make that assumption, however he did do one thing I’ll admit to being genuinely proud of as a fan.

    He sorted out what this Flames family needed. He wasn’t complacent, nor trivial in his pursuit for changing the dynamic of our team.
    He honestly cares about these men!

    I’ll take that any day!

      • Off the wall

        Puck, it was a 5 Litre’s of Heineken in a keg. He’s a great kid, he knows I don’t like that IPA crap he drinks, never really had a palate for strong beer..

        I’m not a great judge of beer, but it was some good. It’s supposed to last a month, it didn’t last for more than a day.

        I think we did too many toasts on my birthday, can’t recall.

  • buts

    This trade is a huge win for Calgary. Ferland is only effective when he’s hitting or a threat to fight, then he gets scoring chances. Whether its a fear of a possible concussion or not we don’t know but in the latter half of the year he stopped hitting and getting engaged. Hamilton is good offensively no doubt but he also creates scoring chances for the opposition and is a physical specimen who plays soft. Hanifin is an excellent skater who is younger with way more upside and easily will be better on and off the ice than DH.

    • everton fc

      I disagree w/your assessment of Ferland. He is very disciplined, when it comes to losing his cool. I can’t remember if he was on the ice when Lucic took liberties w/Smith late last season, but he was when Rinaldo did the same to Stajan, and took care of the situation, w/o hesitation.

      Ferland will be missed here. He’s got great hands, skill, can skate, forecheck… He’s a good playmaker… I bet it was tough for BT to let him go.

    • Davebot

      Ferland’s hits per game first half of the season: 2.16. Hits per game in the second half of the season: 2.35. The narrative that Ferland stopped hitting is false.

      • Korcan

        Not entirely. You have to also take into account the type of hit. Rubbing someone out along the boards is also a hit, but is not the same thing as putting someone throuh the boards. Earlier in his career Ferland did a lot of the latter; more recently it was much more of the rubbing out variety.

        Just look at Brouwer. He also is registered with a ton of hits. Can you recall any of them? Ferlie used to remind me a lot of T. Wilson, but lately he has been more of a Brouwer but with better hands and a better shot. Calgary needed the Wilson version.

  • Speed Kills

    As long as we have a team that Doesn’t “Play for the TIE” Anymore or continue with the “Brouwerplay” the Flames are already be miles ahead from last year. Include the hope that our New Coaches will actually have real-time Game Plans and Coaches that will Literally ~> Teach, Speak and Instruct the Players Before – During – and After games, Run Drills at practice on ice and not just in a video room… I’d say there is a great amount of Improvement to be seen regardless of the Players here, including the Player’s usage, deployment and line matching that was absent most of all last year, not to mention a team that does more than just perimeter pass pass pass with no one in front of the net to just generate Corsi shot attempts, can you imagine a team that actually tries to score off the rush this year? wow, What a Concept! The Flames Biggest road blocks are already Gone, so now its time to pick up the pieces and start putting it all back together. I can hardly wait to see what other pieces shake loose on/after July 1st.

    • Styxx

      Apparently it’s rant day!
      I think the most frustrating part the last 5 years watching this team has been:
      – the continued adherence to old concepts (eg the inability to forecast and adapt to new trends eg speed/skill vs heavy/initimidation ..Big Ern, Bollig, Smid etc )
      – the inaction on addressing known lineup mistakes, preferring to ride out the contracts of those mistakes for years and sacrificing current team performance rather than trading or buying them out in order to immediately improve the team eg Bollig, Brouwer etc; and
      – an inability to effectively onboard and develop young players by continually trying to find a diamond in the rough with contracting 3rd & 4th line journeyman to play above their capability eg Colbourne, Raymond, Jones ….while blocking prospect paths eg Baertschi, Poirier, Klimchuk, Shinkaruk, MacDonald, Smith

      I am normally very positive with all things Flames but my frustration is building with team leadership not addressing the most glaring mistakes and accepting mediocrity for another year …again!
      – Brouwer needs to be bought out now (rather than waiting for his contract to expire in 2 yrs) …apparently we need to accept this for at least another year because he has a contract and buying him out loses face for current managers;
      – bringing in 3rd & 4th liners when there is still a glaring need for a top 6 player, and again blocking younger players in the pipeline eg Dube, Foo (assuming Mangiapane is able to earn a spot).
      In GM terms we are seeing bright shiny new objects brought in to divert fan focus away from real known needs.

      Happy long weekend!