WWYDW: How are the rookies playing?

The Flames did something a little different to start the 2018-19 season: they left spots open for rookies to make the team. Two (Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki) did, while Rasmus Andersson joined them a couple of games later due to injury.

We’re nine games into the season now, which only really means anything for Valimaki, but it’s as good a time as any to check in on their progress and re-evaluate as the shine of preseason excellence has worn its course.

Through eight games (he was scratched for one) so far, Dube has just one assist. Starting on the third line, his spot appears to have been usurped by Sam Bennett (all of two years older than him). Dube now is dressing alongside Mark Jankowski (also bumped down to the fourth line) and Garnet Hathaway. He’s been hovering around 10 minutes a game, with a 10:41 average. Dube hasn’t played much more than that since the Flames’ third game of the season, when he dressed for 15:18.

Valimaki, the only Flames rookie to have dressed in every game to date, needs just one more to burn the first year of his entry-level contract. With pretty much no NHL-level replacements immediately available, it seems certain he’ll get there – to say nothing of how he deserves it. Michael Stone is his most common defence partner now, with the two getting offensive zone starts and playing relatively well with them. Valimaki has just one goal to date, and is playing a modest amount for a steady third pairing defenceman, averaging 15:13 a game.

Andersson, recalled after Travis Hamonic’s injury, has been a regular since the Flames’ third game of the season. Ultimately ending up on the second pairing with Noah Hanifin (for want of avoiding an all-rookie pairing that got exposed in Andersson’s second game of the season), he’s still looking for his first NHL point, but his ice time has climbed over the past four games, as he’s now averaging 16:16 a game – and even getting minutes alongside Mark Giordano on the top pairing. For the past four games, he’s played at least 17 minutes.

So, here’s the question: have these three rookies done about what you’ve expected out of them to start the season? Are they excellent, or underwhelming? Is their lack of scoring concerning to you? Are they playing the amount they should be, or should they be getting more ice time – whether in the NHL, or AHL? Would you keep them in the lineup, healthy scratch them, or even demote them and replace them with someone else (be it an AHL veteran performing well such as Curtis Lazar, or another rookie with potential like Andrew Mangiapane)?

Hamonic’s impending return complicates things some on the defence (if there’s no willingness to scratch one of the veterans, then Valimaki or Andersson would have to go down), while the forward group has a lot of flexibility and can afford to shelter Dube, or whoever else may play in his stead. The Flames have options at both positions, and none of Dube, Valimaki, or Andersson require waivers.

What would your plan be for the trio going forward?

  • MDG1600

    I think Dube would be better off in the AHL. When I see Dube struggle to score I always think of the Babcock quote that for most players rushing them in to the NHL dooms them to a career as bottom 6 checkers because they never develop the scoring confidence they can get by being a star in the AHL. It’s not like we lose anything by giving Foo or Mangiapane a shot.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      I think Dube has looked good in half of his games. That’s not to say he doesn’t do some things exceptionally well for a rookie, just that you don;t need him to PK with other options available. I think they need to consider his lack of pro experience to hurt him offensively. Bring up Rychel while you still have some time to send him back down without waivers. Big body paying with Janko and Czarnik. See if Rychel is over himself. Contribute and there is a semi-regular spot for him. No worry about sitting him. If the intent is to have a player to play every game on LW, then bring up Mangiapane.

    • calgaryfan

      I don’t believe Babcock’s quote, just old school coach. Has anyone ever done a study or any real proof? Obviously kids get older and stronger and more confident but Dube is holding his own and will grow in the NHL just fine. Dube also proved to be better than everyone in Stockton, so why would any of them be better now?

    • Luter 1

      Foo definitely brought some aggression with his game last year, exactly what we are looking for on the bottom 6. Mind you with the play and effort of our vets lately we ain’t going nowhere. And who kidnapped the “real Shawn Monahan” this guy is a cheap facsimile so far this year.

  • ZZMiddle

    Valimaki is sticking in the show. The young man has really surprised me. Very solid for a player coming out of junior. Once he gets some man meat on him, he will be a star NHL d man. We now have a future replacement for Gio. We got lucky on this one folks.

  • buts

    Off the subject but the rookies are not the problem its the vets who are getting outworked and losing battles. It’s time to split up JH and Monahan, we need to get Neal with a playmaker which the team doesn’t have, which means a trade is needed. It’s time to trade Brodie and I hate to say it but possibly Monahan, throw in Kylington and if you could get a Marner and Nylander in return I would do it

    • Kevin R

      Agree with your first sentence but after that gets debatable. One thing for sure, Neal signed with the expectation he was going to get 5 on5 time with Gaudreau & Monahan. Lets put him on that line & leave him there for a bit. Would love to see Lindholm centre Bennett & Tkachuk.
      Rookies are doing fine & yeah we are really showing our age on the backend. Keep in mind we have 20-21-22 year olds manning our backend. Mistakes are going to be made. If we can be just a little bit tolerant of this, the rewards will come.

      Our biggest problems are that we are butter soft. We have no talented bruiser on the backend & we dont have enough belligerent forwards that can not only tick the opposition off but also skate & score & create offence. We have the ever consistent Tkachuk, the sort of consistent but capable Bennett & that’s it. Neal has been better lately but I havent seen any nastiness out of him. I agree in potentially a trade & Brodie would be a candidate I would consider to try & get that nastier capable 2nd pairing defender. I would also see what Simmonds would cost to try & pry him out of Philly.

      To me Valamaki & Andersson stay, Prout gets waived & I would send Dube down & get Czienak back in the lineup. Still have Peluso in the press box & keep Prout & Stone in the press box as well.

    • Rockmorton65

      You don’t trade Monahan – a consistent, 30 goal centre for a playmaker who can feed a 20 goal scorer.

      Actually, most of that sentence was unnecessary. You don’t trade Monahan.

    • R4anders

      Johnny and monny have been one of the most consistent duos in the nhl for a few years now and they’re both still young.if you look at history Neal had Played predominantly 3rd line in Vegas and Nashville, he’ll be fine.
      1- Monahan alone gets you nylander or Marner because of his position and history of scoring(you’d be stupid however to trade him)
      2- I agree Brodie could use a change of scenery but you’re only trading him for another D-man, our offense is just fine and we don’t have the D in the system to replace Brodie, if Kylington was ready he’d already be here.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I would rather have Kjillington make the mistakes that Brodie does at least he would be developing. How much worse could Kjillington be with Gio as his partner.

      • stumblintrucker

        You would never get Marner straight up for Monahan. The Leafs do not need another C after having Matthews Tavares and Kadri as their top 3. Agreed that you do not trade Monahan. Not everything is great with his game but he can score goals.

  • Stu Gotz

    Dube should be playing in the minors 20+ minutes and in all situations developing his skills. Graovac or Rychel are bigger body guys that can make an impact on the physical side as this is a soft team. On Hamonic’s return one of the young D goes down until a sensible deal can be made for Brodie. Alternatively Prout goes down and Andersson, Stone split duties.

    • Dougiefred

      When Hamonic returns would like to see, fail to play to your potential, you are out and the 7th D is in.
      Some slack has to be cut for veterans with a positve record but not day after day, week after week, year after year.
      Believe the biggest motivation for these guys and their egos is the press box for an unknown length of time.
      Play yourself off the lineup then wait for someone else to slack off.

  • Slowmo

    The way TJ has played of late tells me perhaps he should site and let Anderson play in his stead. Send Vali down so he can get more playing time on the top 2 lines in the A you can always bring him up any time. Ham is coming back very soon I would hate to lose a yr of Valis contract unless they plan to move some one like stone or TJ although no one would want TJ the way he is playing the guy is getting worse not better gives away the puck on a constant bases. Sit him or buy him out unless he can show he belongs in the NHL right now I don’t see it, sad but true.

    • Jessemadnote

      Say it with me now… Andersson is a rookie defenseman who is being exposed by top NHL talent. In the past 3 games he’s been on for 38 scoring chances against. I’m not saying I don’t like him, but he needs to move down the rotation, not up.

      • Skylardog

        Ignore the fact that Hanifin is at 36 and when looked at as a rate, not a count, Hanifin is worse. Also, as a rate, Hanifin Brodie is far worse than Hanifin Andersson.

        What really amazed me, is that in terms of scoring chances for, Gio was far more effective with Andersson than with Brodie.

        Having said all that, Brodie with Gio and Hanifin with Andersson should be the pairings.

  • everton fc

    Valimaki and Andersson should stay in Calgary. When Hamonic returns, Prout is waived and Stone sits, or rotates w/whomever needs to sit.

    I could live w/Dube goign to Stockton. He’s not producing offence. I’d bring up Foo or Mangiapane, over Rychel. Foo is producing consistently, and can play RW. Mangiapane seems to be coming out of his slow start. Rychel has one goal outside his hat-trick. Lazar and Graovac might also be worth recalling, but you lose them, if they are waived and claimed, so I don’t see that happening.

  • BendingCorners

    Swapping Dube for Foo might help spark Dube and build his confidence, on the other hand he hasn’t played badly, maybe he just needs more time with Bennett and Neal. Either way works.
    I wouldn’t send the junior D down to Stockton just yet; I’d rather sit Brodie for a game or two when Hamonic returns. Brodie started off well but the last three or four games he has consistently tried to play the left side instead of the right, making a mess of the Flames defensive system. After that, sending one down depends on how Hamonic looks and how Brodie is deployed going forward.

  • Pete_R

    Dube -> AHL
    Brodie -> back to Left side (I think we can see his issue wasn’t being switched the past two seasons)
    Andersson -> NHL
    Valimaki -> this one I struggle with, but if Brodie is pushed down the line up on the left side he may have to head to Stockton.

    Just spitballin

  • Korcan

    Maybe Tre can find a team needing a puckmoving defenseman who can log big minutes and has a good, bruising dman they can part with (i.e. a Radko Gudas or Mark Borowiecki type).

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I am amazed that of all the rookies that have been called up the last 2 seasons there have been only a few NHL points scored. Mangi has zero points, Ras has zero points, Foo had three points, and Lomberg had 1 or 2 points. Ras has been responsible for several scoring plays but has been unlucky to no receive a point…with increased minutes and PP time is should be coming soon. Personally, I see Mangi as a more pure scorer than Dube and if he had the same opportunity he likely would have had some points.