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FlamesNation Mailbag: Goalies, rookies, and everyone else

Usually, themes emerge when people ask mailbag questions. Last week (and the week before, and the week before before) was about Sam Bennett. Goalies are always a theme. Sometimes we talk about the defence.

This week, it’s about whatever. Hope you enjoy.

Remember that you can write into the FlamesNation mailbag at Flamesnationmailbag@gmail.com.

Peter writes:

How should I feel about Jordan Sigalet?

Sigalet is a popular guy in Flames fan circles because he’s the goalie coach on a team with bad goaltending. Ergo, it must be his fault.

The problem being that no one can really point to what it is a goalie coach does that impacts on-ice and off-ice results. Unlike a head coach or a powerplay coach, where there are plenty of metrics to analyze performance, there’s only one for goalies, and it’s save percentage. And that doesn’t really help anyone because it’s hard to suss out whether it’s the goalie’s fault or the coach’s fault.

I decided to look at his track record with the Flames, starting when he got hired by the team to be the AHL goalie coach:

Here’s a quick guide to the chart: Sigalet was hired in August 2011 and lasted until August 2014 when he was hired by the Flames. Green highlights means he was the coach of that goalie for that year. All save percentages are AHL save percentages, and a goalie would have to play at least 10 games to qualify on the list. We’ve included one year before Sigalet started, for context.

And the results point to… nothing conclusive. He got the best out of Danny Taylor, I guess. He also had to turn Leland Irving into an NHL goalie, but that ship had sailed by that point. Obligatory Barry Brust shoutout, getting a decent season out of the legend. He had goalies who were never going to be anything, so it’s hard to really give him a passing or failing grade for the AHL.

I guess his work with Joni Ortio in his return to the AHL got him a job with the big club. Here’s the chart for that:

Again, nothing conclusive. Karri Ramo played about the same as he always did. Jonas Hiller collapsed, but that was more likely due to being 35. Ortio didn’t really get better as much as he was just an AHLer who didn’t make the NHL. Mike Smith has been at about career average, but factoring in age and injury, it’s hard to blame subpar performance on Sigalet. The only negative could be Brian Elliott, but the Flyers are also learning that he’s not a starting goalie.

So in conclusion? I don’t know what to think about Sigalet. The results are hard to parse given the revolving door of goalies who are either too old, untested, bad, or somewhere in the middle of that three-way Venn diagram.

Mark Jankowski, from early usage, is heading into extra forward territory. His roles from last year have been filled. He can’t be Bennett’s buddy anymore, because that’s James Neal’s job now, and Neal is doing a pretty dynamite job of it so far (Bennett and Neal have been together since game three of the season, and it’s generated some hype and points so we’ll stick with that). The 3C is likely taken, probably by Derek Ryan, but Dillon Dube might get a shot in there every now and then. They’ve added PK options in Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, and Ryan, so that’s another spot that has had some depth injected.

And that’s a good thing, from a team perspective. The entire mentality headed into the offseason was that no job was safe, and if your 3C is suddenly bumped to the press box because there’s quality ahead of him, that’s a healthy spot for a team to be in.

Obviously, that is not a good thing if you’re Jankowski. The heat turns up if the team that just gave you $1.675M this offseason already feels they can cast you to the press box. Given the need to penny pinch for a goalie, a Matthew Tkachuk extension, and a likely Bennett extension, combined with a 20-year-old rookie with seven prior games of AHL pro experience already having passed him on the roster (with some AHLers likely wanting to make a case sometime soon), Jankowski might have to start looking at real estate options in 30 other NHL cities.

He’ll probably be given a few chances to prove his worth, but as the limited minutes and healthy scratches suggest, he’ll have to make the most of them. He did so against the Rangers, but he’ll probably have to keep that up if he doesn’t want another period in the press box.

Bold prediction: Dube, despite the slow start, hits 40 points this year.

Brad Treliving should probably do something. Smith has been bad in four of six games, and it’s cost the Flames at least four points so far. David Rittich has been great, but he’s not someone to bet on as the starting goalie. We don’t have enough information about him at the NHL level to make that bet right now (not saying they shouldn’t stop playing him!), and previous starting stints (Smith’s injury last year, various points of the 2016-17 AHL season) suggest that he is just as wonky as Smith has been with a starter’s workload. Perhaps we still haven’t seen enough of Rittich, but based on what we do have to work with, you can’t tab him as a solution just yet.

The question is more if there is something he can do, and as we’ve explored on previous mailbags, there’s probably nothing that can be done.

There’s no real point to sending Dube down. The nine-game cup of coffee doesn’t apply to him as he’s 20 and his contract runs regardless of where he plays. Perhaps the 39-game limit comes into play, as passing that threshold takes him a year closer to UFA status. If he doesn’t make an impact by then, he’s probably Stockton bound. Right now, too early to say.

As for time on ice, that’s just a Bill Peters thing. The Flames seem to be frequently chasing leads in the third, so the bottom six – where Dube is – doesn’t see the ice as much. Compounded with his minor injury, this may be why he’s not been given as many opportunities as he was earlier in the season.

He’s certainly an exciting story, but I think people are letting that get out of hand. Dube is still a work in progress and there will be growing pains along the way. I think the responsible coach move is not to throw him to the dogs in the top six, but to find out what he is in limited minutes. When he’s ready for the bigger assignments, it will be obvious. He’s quite clearly good enough for the NHL level even if he isn’t blowing the doors down, so fretting about ice time and point totals this early isn’t worth your time.

Oliver Kylington will take time, as he was projected to since day one. He’s currently at a point-per-game in the AHL, so it shouldn’t be too long before someone in the NHL notices.

I don’t know how the Flames make space though. They’re packed with LHD depth, and it’s unknown whether Kylington can actually play the right side (can Juuso Valimaki or Noah Hanifin play the right side?). Brodie and Hamonic actually aren’t UFA until next season, so there’s no immediate need to trade them, if you can in the first place. The two have their warts, but they’re at least still NHLers. Kylington is very close, but not there yet. You really shouldn’t trade either away to make space unless you can be very certain that your replacement will be able to do that job.

I don’t know if it’s Hanifin that will bump Brodie from the top pairing, but it’s looking more and more likely. Maybe it’s too early to write Brodie off completely, but his early season struggles plus Peters’ impatience could mean that he’s bumped back down to the second pairing. The Flames tried Rasmus Andersson with Mark Giordano on the top pairing against NYR, so maybe that sticks for a while.

I don’t know if Peters would be comfortable giving a rookie first pairing minutes over a defenceman who has been under his wing his entire career, so it’s really a toss up for me. With Peters, I think you have to wait and see what he’ll try before making grand declarations.

I think giving up Micheal Ferland was both a necessity and a convenience. Carolina wasn’t giving up Elias Lindholm without getting a top six forward back. Given that Ferland was the cheapest option of 2017-18 top six regulars, that’s probably who Carolina was targeting. Remember that they balked at the notion of paying Lindholm around $5M, so for the Canes to get a top sixer under $2M for just one year would be a win for them.

That’s also what made him expendable in the Flames’ eyes. Ferland was either going to be asking for big bucks and long term to stick around or he would leave for someone who would offer him that. Given that he was inconsistent with the Flames, I’d guess that the team was uncomfortable locking him up long-term. The same might be true with the Hurricanes. Unless Carolina ponies up, Ferland is likely going to test free agent waters at the end of the year. The Hurricanes have to sign Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen next offseason too so there’s probably not going to be enough room for Ferland.

Probably pretty bad? Adam Fox was always going to be the deciding factor as to who won the trade. If he becomes a legit prospect (he’s much further away than most imagine), then yes, the scales tip in favour of Carolina. Giving away two high-scoring defencemen for one makes Calgary a loser in this situation.

Probably. Michael Stone’s already losing ice time and Stockton is in desperate need of RHDs so Dalton Prout has a role to play somewhere. If Andersson is already being trusted to go on the first pairing, it’s kind of hard to send him back.

Bawcos writes:

I was really young in the late 80’s/ early 90’s. Is Monahan really the best 1st line C we’ve since Nieuwendyk (sorry Langkow)? – is that a concern going forward?

I guess you could throw the few beautiful years of Marc Savard or Cory Stillman in there, but Monahan is probably going to have all of them beat (including Langkow) on longevity and talent. He’s put up some very strong numbers, and at a younger age than the aforementioned centres (Stillman and Savard were 22, Langkow 29 when he joined the Flames). It’s clear that he ranks high on the All-Time Flames #1 Centres list, probably number two.

He’s not better than Joe Nieuwendyk though, but being number two isn’t that bad, and certainly not concerning. Nieuwendyk is a hall of famer, and those are pretty rare to find. Monahan has a long career ahead of him, and could one day be in the HHOF, but being very good instead of very, very good is still very good.

  • Al Rain

    I’ve said this before re Fox: we need NHL players today, not 3-4 years from now. Judging trades by a player’s final career numbers, without considering *when* they play is not seeing the entire picture. Hanifin (and Lindholm) are in their prime when Monahan and Gaudreau are in their prime. That’s a big deal. And Fox is in school.

    • SeanCharles

      Fox is unlikely to pass up a degree from Harvard, so he either does what Johnny did and sign a year early and complete the final year in the summer or he goes UFA.

      I think his skating at the very least needs to continue to develop so it may be best for him to stay in school, finish his degree, work on his game and choose where he wants to play in a year and a half from now.

  • buts

    All the goalie coach has to do besides listen to there life stories is tell them to don’t go down before they shoot, challenge the shooter and mostly track the puck. Easy peasy. 🙂

  • FLT

    Admirable attempt on the Sigalet question Christian. I think you could have stopped after this sentence, which I completely agree with:
    -The problem being that no one can really point to what it is a goalie coach does that impacts on-ice and off-ice results.

  • Korcan

    “If he (Fox) becomes a legit prospect (he’s much further away than most imagine)”

    I appreciate Tiberi for pointing this out, re. Fox. So many people are gaga over Fox because of his freshman year performance at Harvard, and some international play, but i am a bit skeptical about how he will do in the NHL. He will likely be an NHL player, but i don’t project him to be a star. I see him more as a depth player who may become a powerplay specialist. IMO his 5vs5 play is nothing special and he is suspect in the defensive zone. I would compare him more to Killington than to Andersson or Valimaki. I lose no sleep over him being included in that trade. At season’s end we will likely see Lindholm being a significant upgrade over Ferland (due to his consistency if for no other reason) and Hanafin being a downgrade to Hamilton offensively, but an upgrade defensively. As it is, i am very happy with the trade — i like Calgary’s new look.

  • Dirty Pots

    Do you think we could get Nylander for Brodie and Neal? Its an upgrade on Neil and cleans up our defense logjam. Assuming Toronto is dumb enough to not resign him… Thoughts?

    • flames2015

      Yes, lets ship off our prized UFA signing after 8 games played. Thus, making every UFA ever available in future seasons, want to come play for the flames.

      Let’s ship off Brodie, because if there are injuries. Prout and Stone are clear cut solutions and make the team better!

      Lets throw $8 million plus for Nylander on a long term contract and say good bye to Matthew Tkachuk next year.

  • oilcanboyd

    Lineup Notes nhl.com from this afternoon’s practise session in Montreal.
    FORWARDS
    Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
    Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
    Sam Bennett – Derek Ryan – James Neal
    Dillon Dube – Mark Jankowski – Garnet Hathaway
    Anthony Peluso – Austin Czarnik
    DEFENCE
    Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
    Noah Hanifin – Rasmus Andersson
    Juuso Valimaki – Michael Stone
    Dalton Prout – Travis Hamonic
    GOALTENDERS
    Mike Smith
    David Rittich

  • Derzie

    When it comes to goalies, the job description is pretty clear. Do we have good goaltending or not. Factors like drafting, coaching, opportunities, etc. If we look at goaltending for the Flames since Kipper left, including the farms and Calgary, it has performed unacceptably. I haven’t looked at numbers but I’ve watched the teams and the results are poor. That says that one or more of the factors is contributing negatively. Since they’ve had plenty of time to admire the problem, it’s time to jettison everyone involved and start fresh. We don’t know if the problem is Sigalet but he sure hasn’t helped.

    • Cheeky

      Sigalet definately isn’t the solution. As far as goalies go under his watch, we have had some shaky defensive systems too but when looking at the theme of low and deep in net for all goalies in the system that’s gotta count as a coaches style. Another measuring stick would be how successful they were – an example would be Washington’s with Mitch Korn.

      • Vernon30

        I don’t think the Flames have a good record of evaluating and getting their drafted goalies to the NHL historically, nor evaluating and trading for decent goalies. There was Vernon and Kipper, and…uh…They’ve had some decent guys, but traded them. Giguere, Roloson, Kidd was decent, but not great. Let’s remember Doug Dadswell, Jason Muzatti, Henrik Karlsson, Roman Turek,Vesa Rosksla, Andrei Trefilov…I’m not saying they’ve drafted these guys, just saying outside of Kipper and Vernon, there isn’t a history of great goaltending in CGY.

  • oilcanboyd

    Tweet From Mike Kelly NHL writer:
    John Gibson stopped 32 shots from the slot last night. 32!
    That’s the most slot saves by a goalie in a game in the last 3 years.
    Anaheim would be in big, big trouble without this guy.

    Does anyone have the slot shots against David last night?

  • Cheeky

    As per goaltending, think we can agree that we have our back up. Rittich may never pan out to be a starter (maybe he will) but he is a very good back up (something we haven’t had for awhile). As far as our starter, that worries me. If Smith can play more like first game against Nash rather than the second, we are in good hands. Next year worries me…

    Janko will be fine, just like Benny he needs a defined role. He has that long reach which is very effective on PK and in slot, maybe some time on second PP unit in front of net? Dube will be sent down, not as a punishment or lack of play, but to grow his game a bit with some top 6 action in Stockton. He’s staying either for Flames to evaluate properly in big league action, maybe because nobody has fully stepped up down in Stockton (Foo is my front runner as I think Mangi is similar to Czarnik and even Ryan to degree)? He will be back so no worries.

    We are in good shape, some defensive tightness will help, but I’m liking this year’s team so far…

  • freethe flames

    So far this season I have watched many of the games after the fact. I have been able to take the emotion out of the game by knowing the result and watching what has been going; it’s less fun in many ways but I would say it is very educational. One thing I have noticed that I thought I would share is the center ice position on the Flames. When the Flames are attacking I have really noticed that some guys do a much better job of covering for Defencemen jumping into the play; the two guys who do the best job are? I bet you guessed it Backlund and Janko; while Monny does this the least. I also noticed last night something about Ras when he jumps into the play he looks for his opportunity but he seldom lingers in the attack and frequently gets back to D responsibility. Just some thoughts.

  • Stockton's Finest

    “Oliver Kylington will take time, as he was projected to since day one. He’s currently at a point-per-game in the AHL, so it shouldn’t be too long before someone in the NHL notices.”

    Kylington has 5 points in 6 games, 3 of those came in one game. He is improving, but nowhere near NHL ready right now.

  • Chucky

    Every week I think that there is no way I can disagree with more of the mailbag answers but this one tops them all.
    How do you evaluate a goaltending coach? look at the quality of the prospects that enter the organization and then evaluate their success (or lack thereof).
    Irving first round nothing
    Ortio sixth round nothing
    Brossoit sixth round nothing
    Gillies third round questionable
    McDonald second round struggling
    Parsons second round questionable to date.
    So the guy that is entrusted with developing goaltending has not had one succeed. Is that what he is supposed to do?
    Mark Jankowski is going to be a long term Flame, he has skill and size. Peters will communicate what is expected of him and he will perform.
    Dube will stick with the Flames becasue he has an NHL game. Given the depth of the forward group there is no way that a reasonable coach plays a player with even a minor injury.
    Kylington is in the AHL for the season baring injury and is either trade bait or on the club next year. He is stuck behind a defense corps that is almost set until the expansion draft.
    Hanifin will play second pairing probably for the rest of his career with the Flames. He will play behind Giordano until Valimaki is ready to take the first pairing spot. There is no way that you take an elite player who is providing great defense on the left side and move him to the right side when there are perfectly good right defensemen available to take the spot.
    Stone eating popcorn is not going to happen. Prout can get those kernels from box to face. Either Stone or Brodie is traded once the trade market heats up.

    • Do you know what a goalie coach does? Sigalet was not responsible for scouting or drafting those guys. He’s not even responsible for developing them, seeing as he doesn’t even come into contact with those goalies on a daily basis. He literally hangs out with whoever the goalies are in Calgary. If you’re assessing him on the standards of jobs he doesn’t do, of course he looks bad.

      • Puck Head

        Sounds like a gravy job. The goalie coaches I know spend time with their ‘students’ and do specific drills to make them better.

        I hang out with all kinds of people. I hope I make them better at their chosen vocations.

      • His Dudeness

        Exactly, he doesn’t draft, scout or even “coach” any of the goalies outside of the NHL organization. Anybody who thinks that a goalie coach can make or break a goalie at the NHL level is delusional. Goalies are voodoo and very few give you consistently good play year after year for a long time.

      • Chucky

        If he is just hanging out with the goalies then it is pretty easy to conclude that he is not doing a good job.
        Coaching involves observation, evaluation and suggestion for improvement.
        While he may have limited input on scouting and drafting, once a prospect enters the organization he should be observing, evaluating and suggesting, then monitoring the progress. Daily contact is not required to assist in development.
        If you are suggesting that he is to be evaluated on his ability to hang out with the guys and never discuss goaltending then why bother with any statistical analysis?

    • R4anders

      At this level of any sport it is asinine to suggest that a coach who has had no hand in the players development to this point is somehow responsible for their shortcomings, that’s like blaming stretch marks on having a baby when it was all the screwing around that got you there in the first place. As for Jankowski it might be hard for some to realize but he’s not 20 year old kid, you can’t dwell on a mistake no matter how long it took you to make it. He’s been protected and coddled since he was drafted. You’re no longer a prospect when you’re 24,