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FlamesNation Mailbag: The year end extravaganza

It’s the end of 2018 – let’s move on from our old anxieties and into the new ones, such as what to do about the PP2, how are we ever going to sign Matthew Tkachuk and David Rittich, and many other fun topics.

Let’s go in reverse order, because that’s easiest.

Sam Bennett has been same ol’ Sam. He had a stint where he looked much, much better but he’s since dropped off (likely due to him also dropping off the Backlund-Tkachuk line). He’s once again on pace for 26 points, the same total he put up in the two seasons previous. Even with a better coach, a stronger supporting cast, a touch more special teams time, and less expectations, he’s just not that much of an improved player. If the Flames choose to re-sign him (depending on how the second half of his season goes, the question of whether or not to re-sign him might arise), he might not come in for more than $2.5M. He’s an easier one to re-sign.

For Rittich, it’s going to be an interesting discussion. He’s proven that he can be a starting goalie, which is valuable to any team, but he also has only one year of that. Management will hedge their bets. He’s an RFA, so a “show me” contract will certainly be in the works. Rittich will be pricey, but if the Flames play it right, they can keep him around for a bargain. If it fits beneath the $4.15M cap hit Mike Smith is making, it’s a win for the Flames.

Tkachuk is going to be difficult, as we’re looking at a number around or north of $7M. They’re going to have to shed some salary to get that deal done. The Flames are either going to have to play hardball and drag the negotiations out or find ways to save a buck or two. Buying out/moving Michael Stone might be an option, provided he is healthy enough to play. Maybe they find a partner to take on James Neal’s contract. Those are going to be tough asks, so ideally the Flames can get a deal done without having to bend over backwards to make cap space, although one hopes that they thought of that before signing those deals.

I think Garnet Hathaway is a goner after this year. He’s been a fine player, but he’s likely due for a raise given his work on the PK and his status as a roster regular. Hathaway stole a job because he was a cheap player who worked hard in the minors. There are plenty of those kicking around Stockton.

I can see Brad Treliving being cautious with the Rittich contract and keeping it short. Rittich has looked like a goalie of the future, but Treliving’s been burned on pretty much every goalie he’s acquired besides Rittich, so that’s why a “show me” deal makes sense. If he makes a grand commitment to Rittich and he ends up being a one-season wonder, that could cost Treliving his job.

No, but your finger should be hovering over it.

5v5 CF% iCF iS/60 ixGF iSH% OZS%
James Neal 2018-19 51.71 121 8.37 5.03 4.41 53.26
Troy Brouwer 2017-18 50.80 140 4.61 6.12 9.84 46.97

We should note that we are comparing 38 games of James Neal to 76 games of Troy Brouwer. In just about half the time, Neal has either matched, surpassed, or just about to surpass Brouwer’s full season shot generation stats. To put into perspective how much better Neal is doing than Brouwer, his individual expected goals is just one shy of Brouwer’s. Again, we are comparing a half season to a full season.

Of course, the difference is shooting percentage. Neal has never had an individual 5v5 SH% lower than 9% over a full season, and it’s unlikely he’ll continue shooting at 4% forever. Once that switch flips (although there’s no telling when that’s going to happen), Neal should be putting up the points. He may not hit 20 goals, but he might just finish somewhere in the area.

I say keep your finger over the panic button because Neal, like Brouwer, isn’t getting any younger and that contract isn’t getting any less expensive. Even if Neal salvages this season, the likelihood of him keeping it up as he marches further into his 30s is low. For now, Neal is his typical self albeit a bit snakebitten. But be wary of a steep age-related decline.

I would say that Mark Jankowski’s shorthanded work is masking his larger 5v5 flaws:

CF% CF/60 CA/60 CFrel% FF% SF% GF% OZS%
Jankowski 46.98% 50.56 57.05 -8.10% 47.20% 48.46% 41.67% 52%
Rank /21 (100 minutes at 5v5) 20 19 21 20 19 16 17 17

Those are some pretty bad numbers, and not “okay player on an otherwise good team” bad. Jankowski is one of the only regular players below 50% in these metrics (the others are Hathaway and the rookies), and it doesn’t look like he’s getting that much better at 5v5 as time goes on. He’s falling behind the pack, not keeping up.

His PK work has been undoubtedly beautiful, and that’s probably what’s keeping him from being a healthy scratch more often (as he was earlier in the season). I don’t think he keeps the scoring up – even with the high percentage looks the Flames get on the shorthanded breakouts, 67% is an absurdly high SH% for an individual, and a 30% team PK SH% is also going to fall – but if he shuts down opposition night in, night out for the six-ish minutes , who’s complaining?

If he’s a great PKer with limited 5v5 output, that’s fine, especially on a team that leans heavily on the top units. But moving forward, the Flames are probably going to find someone who can provide much more at all situations. If Jankowski can’t prove that he’s that much more than a PKer, then his days are numbered.

I would start with Rasmus Andersson blasting pucks from the point. If the team trusts him to do it during extra attacker situations (with success!) I don’t see why they can’t trust him to do it during other man advantage situations.

I might also spread the scoring out between PP1 and PP2. Maybe you move down Elias Lindholm from PP1 to provide a lethal shot and promote Neal, if for no other reason than trying to get him going. However, with the powerplay being inept as it is, I don’t think the coaching staff messes with the one thing that at least occasionally works with it.

I would probably take Derek Ryan off the PP2. Ironically, he is the highest scoring forward on that unit (two goals, two assists) but he’s at the bottom of the barrel with regards to shot generation by the individual members of that unit. Austin Czarnik has provided some more juice in regards to putting pucks towards the net, so maybe he’s worth another spin on that unit.

Austin Czarnik deserves a bit more of a shot at regular ice time in general, but it’s hard to make excuses for him when he’s given opportunities and he can’t produce. Certainly no one is expecting him to put up a point per game, but he needs to bury a few chances here and there. If you’re given top six minutes, you have to do something with them.

Hathaway coming out of the lineup is probably not happening. Like Jankowski, he’s been one of the better PKers which justifies his spot in the lineup. He’s also not afraid to mix things up, which every coach likes. Unless he becomes useless in all regards of the game of hockey (if you didn’t like Jankowski’s stats above, Hathaway is the only guy who is worse than him in all of those metrics), he’s probably in the lineup for the foreseeable future.

Simply put, coaches like a noticeable impact and consistent results. Czarnik struggles with that. Hathaway may not have looked as high end as Czarnik has in flashes, but he does what he needs to do.

I don’t think we’ve seen enough of Juuso Valimaki to make that assertion, but it’s certainly feasible, if not bold. He’s got a ladder to climb with the eternal Mark Giordano and the still-developing Noah Hanifin under contract during that period, but he’s a kid who has made great strides year over year. Ivan Provorov of the Flyers has been a consistent comparable for Valimaki, and he’s essentially Philly’s best d-man at age 21. It’s not necessarily a guarantee, but it’s certainly possible.

  • Heeeeere’s Johnny

    One thing I would like to see is James Neal’s goal scoring map over his career (where does he normally score from) vs. his shooting heat map from this year. Is he shooting from the same dangerous places and just inlucky or is he taking lower quality shots? My sense is that he is still taking good shots just unlucky but I would like to see evidence of that.

  • Chucky

    It amazes me that there are still asking about Czarnik. To put it bluntly the guy is chicken. He will not go into the corners and he will not go to the front of the net. This type of player can get by on skill in the minors but in the NHL all three forwards need to contribute. and the box 15 feet from the boards and 20 or more feet from the front of the net is not where contributions are made.
    He was great in the preseason but when play got serious he disappeared, I would hate to think about what would happen to him in playoff hockey.

  • Kzak

    In regards to Rittich, I wonder how far he needs to take us for Trev to say he doesn’t need to go out and sign a number one goalie during the summer. Bobrovsky will be a UFA and oh my would he look good in a flaming C.

    • Heeeeere’s Johnny

      The problem with counting on signing a big name goalie is where the money will come from under the cap. I won’t detail my calls but signing goalie Bob would exhaust / exceed any remaining cap and completely hamstring the team for bonuses, injuries, etc. I’d be more inclined to look for a good 1B type of back up that we can afford for $1.5 – 2.0mm. The only way that changes in my mind is if Rittich falls apart in the 2nd half to the extent we can’t trust him.

      • everton fc

        If Parsons can stay healthy and play as he has been, the past couple of starts, we may miraculously have our goaltending worries solved, so we can get all the contracts we need signed, signed. Or, if somehow Gillies can find his game…

        We have Rittich. We go with Rittich, based on this season. We can sign him for much cheaper than a guy like Bobrovsky. Keep developing from within.

    • Beer League Coach

      He would look good in a Flaming C, but only if he will sign a reasonable contract. He is already overpaid and the rumour is that he is expecting a raise when he signs his next contract. Clearly, there are other options rather than signing him to an albatross contract as a UFA.

  • Jourflamesfan

    I appreciate Brad’s efforts in signing these guys in order to improve our offense but man these two specifically..Neal & Czarnik..they blow!
    Such a disappointment.
    This is why the Flames struggle to take those next steps for elite status.
    Because bimbos like this get paid & simply disappear.??

  • freethe flames

    Lots of things in today’s mailbag. So my apologizes in advance for the number of posts I’m about to make but I”m going to address the points as related issues.
    I will start with BT job of contract extensions and what I think will be done:
    1. Hathaway: Unlike Christian I think he brings value to this team and I don’t see anyone on the farm who can do what he does and I think he will be resigned unless his contract demands are unreasonable. I would like Christian to tell me who the system brings what Hathaway does?
    2. Bennett: Seems to be what he is but there are nights where he gets you excited about him. I would not be surprised if he is moved at the deadline as part of a package to get us over the top. However if he is not moved he will get another prove it contract and be resigned. His role and development does not warrant big money or term.
    3. Riitich: at some point you have to take a risk and I would not be surprised to see a 3 year deal at a term less than what Smith is making. I would also see the Flames moving on from Gilles to do this.
    4. Tkachuk: BT has done a very good job of convincing core members to take a little less than market value and one is hopeful he can do so with Matthew. A shorter deal 4-6 years at around the same % of the cap as Johnny signed for is what I expect. While I like many would like to see a max term deal I just don’t see it happening. The Flames window is the next 4-5 years and that is the term I see happening.

    • Stockton's Finest

      I think Rittich gets either 2 X $3M or 3 X $2.5M.

      Tkachuk should get 8 X $7.

      Hathaway gets another 1 year deal at $950K.

      I would package Bennett and Gillies for a goalie, preferably an AHL goalie. We need a #3 in the organization, as Parsons is currently #4 and needs a full year as #1 in Stockton to move up. Gillies is not the answer and needs to be sent to the east coast, closer to his home.

      Depending on how the season plays out, I would entertain signing Smith to a 1 year, $2M as Rittich’s back up next year. These two seem to work well together and push each other. As I have said prior, 22 games with a 10-7-2-3 record are serviceable numbers for a NHL back up. More points than games. Smith can provide that with a reduced role.

      • R4anders

        So you want to trade a serviceable nhl player in Bennett that is still incredibly young and was a top draft pick coupled with a relatively high goaltending prospect For another goaltending prospect?
        Smith will not be back with Calgary. I don’t think he gets signed next year until a team has an injury or maybe he gets a PTO.

        • Stockton's Finest

          Yes. In 4 years, Gillies is a .500 goalie. His career numbers are 42-42-13-7 with a 2.97 GAA and .904 Sv %. He currently ranks 49th out of 50 goalies in the AHL this season with a 5-9-3 record, 4.15 GAA and .861 Sv %. Oh, and he had a high side hole.
          Bennett has potential, but has never showed it. And at $2.5/year, there are better options.

          • everton fc

            I don’t mind Bennett and 2.5mill. Gillies is a bust. Dump that contract. Give Parsons the reigns in Stockton. See if he can remain consistent, and stay healthy. He is the better goalie prospect, of the two.

          • Albertabeef

            I think that is the first time I’ve trashed a comment from you. Bennett is one of the very few skilled and physical players on the team. We need players like him. Hathaway is 5 years older and is a quarter the player Bennett is.

  • freethe flames

    Point 2: Veternitis; a term I coined last year ti discuss the Burden. BP has a case of this and a lot of trust issues especially with young forwards. How much of Veternitis is brought on by upper management but it is clearly the case. If James Neal performance this year was what was used to determine his role and ice time he would be a healthy scratch as would Ryan but this has not happened. Neal has been better recently but no where near $5m+ of a player and I don’t know if we will ever get the value from him. BP seems reluctant to break up the first line(and I don’t blame him) but it seems to me the only line where Neal’s skill set could be best utilized.

    Ryan has BP trust even though he is not much better than Stajan was. This leads IMO of the misuse of Ryan and a lack of opportunity for Janko. Janko’s upside is much better than Ryan’s and their roles should be reversed IMO; I don’t discount Christain’s stats on Janko but at some time you need to give Janko and opportunity to prove himself. I am not saying that Janko is for sure the answer to the second line but I would sure give this a look and it is something the organization needs to find out.

    This veternitis also impacts the 2nd PP unit. I’m sorry but having Ryan and Backs both on the second PP unit is redundancy at it’s finest. Someone suggested giving Neal a chance on the first unit(setting up in what has been his shooting office for much of his career) and the 0/17 over the last little while suggests something needs to be done. Again breaking the mid season slump by experimenting might not be a bad thing. Go with PP1 as Johnny/Monny/Tkachuk/Neal and Gio and PP2 as Bennett/Janko/Lindholm/Hanifan/Andersson.
    That takes care of a number of mail bag points.

    • JMK

      Either scratch Neal or play him on 1st line?? So do you want BP to reward Neal or punish by sitting him? A bit conflicting wouldn’t you say? As for Ryan, I’m not that impressed either at least on the offensive side but apart from a few SHGs Janko hasn’t stood out to me either.

      • freethe flames

        Your right I am conflicted over James Neal; he frustrates me. Based upon his play many nights he should sit the next game but they won’t do that(they should but won’t). He can’t play on a checking line, he can’t skate well enough for an energy line so what to with him if you can’t sit him. Yup I’m conflicted, but it seems BP is too.

        • JMK

          I’ve liked so far how BP has dealt with players. There have been times where Bennett was playing and got benched on 3rd period (Ryan too) and other games where he got promoted. He hasn’t been afraid to play the young D even in important parts of games. Dube was given ample opportunity and sent down when he started to struggle. There have been lots of times where good play has been rewarded in game. Yes, Neal is getting a long leash but perhaps they happy he is getting so many chances. Ryan also seems to have a relatively long leash but which centre has outplayed him? In my opinion Janko has not bar on PK. Hathaway is another guy, but he does fit a specific role that some on hockey still think is necessary. I guess I’m very happy with BP so far and don’t think he is afraid to make changes like GG was.

    • R4anders

      Jankowski isn’t a prospect anymore, we can’t be “giving him an opportunity” when he’s done nothing to warrant a promotion.

      Suggesting Ryan isn’t much better then stajan is laughable, I loved stajan as a person but he hadn’t been an nhler in a couple years. Ryan is tasked with almost exclusively defensive zone starts and still manages to drive possession. He is quite literally doing exactly what we brought him in for and is worth every penny of his contract.

  • Flaming Duck

    Of course I wished Sam Bennett had turned out to be more of a top 6 player given his high draft position. But I now view him with a different filter. If he can be physical, play a north south game and be a solid bottom six forward that is okay. As long as he signs a contract that aligns to that role, I hope he stays a Flame for a number of years.

    • freethe flames

      The problem with Bennett is he does not always play that north/south game you speak; which I agree is when he is the most effective. Some nights he just disappears.

  • freethe flames

    Point 3 and my final point regarding today’s mail bag: Czarnik and Valimaki.

    I was excited when we signed Czarnik as we were told that all those teams were interested in him and we won the bidding war. My eye test has not been as kind to him as Christain’s stats have been. He has some good speed and some good skills but is a defensive liability and none factor physically. He is a poor man’s Paul Byron when he was here. The only thing he seems to bring is that he has added to the RH depth of the organization. He can’t play in bottom 6 because he is not engaged enough and he can’t play in the top 6 as he just does not seem good enough. He might be a good 13th forward but I’m not sure I would play him over a guy like Frolik.

    Valimaki and the young defenders. Valimaki when he recovers should be sent to the AHL for a conditioning stint. Both Kylington and Andersson have been very solid as older NHL rookies and would not rush Valimaki in when he gets healthy. BP’s trust in his young core of D is great I just wish he would do the same thing upfront. There will be people calling for the Flames to trade a Dman if Stone ever gets clearance to play again but if a team is going to go deep into the playoffs depth on D is essential and unless trading Stone as part of a package results in getting someone who moves the needle upfront and gets guys into the proper role for the playoffs we would be better off keeping him.

    • Skylardog

      Czar needs to be placed on waivers with the hope someone takes him. He will eat a small amount of cap space even if he is playing in Stockton. This was a huge error in signing him, and I have documented why since the day he was signed. Thank goodness it is only for $1.25 mill, but the one way means the Flames are paying him no matter where he is playing. For a team that claims to be cash strapped, this is not a good thing.

      I thought Czar was going to be bad. He has actually disappointed me even more than I expected. I thought he might be able to put up some PP points. All the stats and Boston’s attitude towards him said he should have been avoided at all costs.

      I have him ranked as our 22nd forward in the organization, and I suspect that Buddy Robinson may be ahead as well.

  • KootenayFlamesFan

    Well, fairly slow day here today, but watching ON implode is fairly entertaining! I can see why the trolls have vanished. I almost feel bad for them . . . Almost . . .

    • Mickey O'Reaves

      That Manning signing will be the end of the line for ChiaPet. Which is unfortunate, because he’s an absolute genius at shredding a hockey team. Any new GM will be an improvement for the bunch up North.

  • Stockton's Finest

    I have to completely disagree with you regarding Mark Jankowski. At the end of the 15/16 Heat season, this kid played the final 8 games of the season and had 6 points (2-4). The following year he led the team with a team record 56 points (27-29) in 64 regular season games, named AHL 1st team all-rookie team, another 5 points in the playoffs (1-4), and started out the 17/18 season with 8 points (5-3) in 6 games in Stockton. He was playing between 18-22 minutes a night and on both sides of special teams (the AHL does not track TOI time).

    In his rookie season, mainly in a bottom six role and barely on any special teams, he put together a 25-point season. This year, with a new role and system, he is on pace for 34 points, while averaging 12 minutes TOI. He has embraced his role on the PK and 3C. He has worked on his 200’ game, becoming more defensive-minded. He has a 52% face-off win. He is 8th on the team in scoring. The one constant: his line mates are constantly changing. Hard to build chemistry when your wingers are in contact flux.

    Would his numbers look like playing 2C between Tkachuk and Neal, a line I believe should be tried for at least 5 games to see what they could do? How many more points would he have if he was on PP2 instead of Ryan, a move that almost everyone here has suggested? He has the potential to be a 20-20 guy.

    I know you put a lot of weight into Corsi, but sometimes numbers are just that, numbers. Sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story. Sometimes you need to watch a player before condemning him.

    • Skylardog

      Awesome assessment Stockton! He should be capable of scoring between 30 and 40 goals a season over the next few years – If used correctly. PP time and a top 6 role…

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Wow thanks Stockton!! I really love Jankowski and want nothing more than him to find success. I agree that he could be a 20+ goal scorer every year. Maybe not that 2C we desperately (will) need, but maybe even that. Thanks for the optimism and background :).

      Do you think that he’s maybe focussing too much on defense, in addition to not having consistent linemates?

      I would also strongly second the idea of a Chucky Janko Neal line. I think that would be beautiful.

      I just know he has the offensive chops, and I honestly think he’s there in his development, but it just isn’t translating

      • canadian1967

        If we went back and looked at anything written about Janko in the last 6 years the writer always stated that his high shooting % isn’t sustainable.
        Well it’s 6 years later, so I guess it IS sustainable after all.
        Mark has a great shot and if he ever got to play with anyone who can pass the puck he Would score goals regularly.

        • Mickey O'Reaves

          “If Jankowski can’t prove that he’s that much more than a PKer, then his days are numbered.”

          Mark Jankowski could get 25 goals next year, but it still wouldn’t matter to some writers.

        • Brian McGrattan's Salute

          Can you imagine him and Neal getting those wicked passes from Chuck? Remember y’all, Chuck has had 3, 4 assist nights. He could really rack up them apples with those two.

          • Mickey O'Reaves

            Agree, BMS: When Neal was signed, Tkachuk said out loud that he’s going to get a lot of apples next year.
            Young Byng wants to play with Neal. The top line with Zebulon is set. Give Chucky what he wants.

    • Chucky

      The thing about Jankowski is that he has succeeded at every task he has be given, he just hasn’t been tasked with enough yet. It is not surprising that he has encountered this problem because Monahan and Backlund are ahead of him on the depth chart and last year he had to knock Stajan out of the 3C role and this year Ryan came in as a faceoff specialist and that ensures a certain amount of ice time.
      Peters seems to be a guy that speaks openly about success and the last few games he has made positive comments about Jankowski’s play. Not surprisingly his ice time has increased, it would be nice to see that include a little power play time but the thing I think is obvious is that Peters will not waste a resource.

  • Cfan in Van

    Although mostly unrelated to the listed topics, I’m wondering what the rest of FN thinks about Frolik’s agent rattling the cage over his usage recently? https://www.tsn.ca/agent-questions-flames-use-of-frolik-1.1233806

    I do agree his previous benchings earlier in the season may have caught him/us off guard a bit, given his history and consistancy… I think that being sat for a game soon after long injury would have been more about maintenance, and didn’t really make me think twice about it. But now his agent is running his mouth on twitter, questioning if Peters is trying to run him out of town. It’s a bit much, in my opinions.

    Fro is such a team guy, and I just hope he can bring his solid two-way back to a team that really needs that right now. Thoughts from the peanut gallery?

    • KootenayFlamesFan

      To my eye Fro has not been his usual stellar defensive self. When he’s played he’s been decent offensively but really hurt us on the D side of things which is unusual. Having said that, he is still a better option than czarnik. Way overpaid for that role though. If the return is decent, trade him, otherwise keep him for playoff depth. I’d say he’s gone next season for sure one way or another.

    • Skylardog

      The problem with Frolik is not him, but rather how his best match for a linemate is continuing to be used by Peters. Frolik is a shut down winger, and Backs is a shutdown centre. Backs is being used to drive play and score (unsuccessfully) meaning Frolik has no spot and defined role. We need him in the playoffs to help shut down the oppositions top line. It would all fix itself if Matty was moved off Backs LW.

      • KootenayFlamesFan

        I agree with you Skylar. Having backs, fro and another defensive player as a pure shutdown line would be ideal. It would also allow us two offensive lines to give the other team fits.

        • everton fc

          Frolik is exactly what a team like ours needs, come playoff time. But it’d be nice to dump his contract, after the season, or at the trade deadline. Lazar might be able to fill Frolik’s ever-lessening role here.

  • everton fc

    Hathaway could be signed to a Czarnik-type contract. He’s one of our best penalty killers. He hasn’t hurt this team. In fact, he’s played his role quite well, at an affordable price tag. Having Jankowski and Hathaway as two of our PK specialists – at affordable prices – why would we move away from those two?

    Bennett may be worth 2.5mill, but he can probably get more, elsewhere. I wonder if he’ll even be here, next season?

  • oilcanboyd

    projected lines and pairings vs. #Sharks:

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm
    Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik
    Bennett-Jankowski-Neal
    Dube-Ryan-Hathaway

    Giordano-Brodie
    Hanifin-Hamonic
    Kylington-Andersson

    Rittich (Starter)
    Smith

  • Skylardog

    Our top ranked offensive line that has played more than 60 minutes. They also have played great defense, 6 GF and 1GA in 62 minutes.

    Dube-Janko-Hath

    Would love to see them out there together for a regular shift when we get down, being used as a 2nd line.

    Go gettem boys!

    • everton fc

      Dube-Jankowski-Hathaway. I like that line. They looked very promising, before Dube was shipped to Stockton.

      (Hathaway still has more goals than Neal. So does Ryan. Just sayin’).

  • TKO

    Flames should trade Neal to edmonton for Kaira – Neal could be the trigger man for McDavid, Kaira can add some functional toughness for Calgary, plus we move the salary. Neal isn’t ‘done’ and with McDavid would be lighting it up, whereas in calgary he is the odd man out.

  • Off the wall

    Mr James Neal. That’s our biggest concern. He’s #4 in salary at $5.75M.

    He has to be much better. I’m hoping his 2nd half shatters whatever was ailing him. However, playing on the 3rd line isn’t going to reap many benefits. It hasn’t yet, so what’s going to change that? More chances.

    Yes, we’re frustrated with him, but that doesn’t explain why we shouldn’t use him for more offensive punch.
    You must put him in a potential scoring scenario. Whether that means Peters gives him 1st or 2nd line minutes, you have to do it. The 1st unit PP is becoming stale. Get Neal in there, do whatever it takes to get him firing pucks at the net.

    As Skylar has mentioned, we need secondary scoring. Our first line is great, however we need at least 2 offensive units.

    I’m inclined to let Neal play it out on the first line.
    Gaudreau- Monahan- Neal
    2nd line of Tkachuk- Jankowski- Lindholm as suggested by Canadian 1967. Besides, whatever happened to the Tkachuk- Jankowski combo we were supposed to have against Vancouver? Never materialized.

    Frolik- Backlund- Bennett is and should be our defensive line.
    4th line? Remnants

    It’s great that we have options. Something we previously never had. It’s time for some changes.

    We are doing well, however we could be doing much better.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I feel this view on Janko is myopic. His fancy stats are not consistent with the eye test recently. With good players he can excel. His most common linemates have been Bennett and Neil whom are both struggling to put up points. Janko has found a way to work around being saddled with struggling linemates. He uses the PK as a platform to drive play. He takes pride in his PK prowess but he also plays with some dependable penalty killers.

    To say that his PK is likely keeping him in the line up is a dis service to the player. He is no where close to being a healthy scratch. What else can Janko do if he can’t get a sniff of top 6 minutes but continue to carve out a niche for himself. The bottom line is Janko is a reliable 200 ft player that can score goals. Name another player on the team that has made the most of his minutes outside of the Fab Four.

    I would like to see

    Johnny-Monny-Neil
    Tkachuk-Lidstrom-Janko

    Before we pigeon hole Janko play him with top 6 players and on the PP similiar to what the team has tried to do with Czarnik.