FlamesNation Mailbag: The trade deadline extravaganza

The big day is finally here! We spend our time answering mostly non-trade deadline questions. Funny how that works.

No, I wouldn’t worry about it. Specific to this Stockton team, it’s quite clear that the issue is goaltending. With league average goaltending, they would likely be in the mix. They don’t have it, so they aren’t going to the playoffs. It doesn’t undermine the strong performances by Flames prospects.

The main goal of the AHL is to develop players who are not ready for the NHL. Anything else is just gravy. I don’t think Dillon Dube, tied for second in U21 point-per-game scoring, is going to be worse off because he didn’t play anywhere from four-to-20 more games in the AHL.

The AHL playoffs’ impact on development is almost certainly overhyped. If we look at Flames AHL grads in recent years – David Rittich, Mark Jankowski, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, Garnet Hathaway, Andrew Mangiapane – they have played just one AHL postseason series in their life, and they were out in five games. It didn’t change their NHL trajectories for better or worse. If they didn’t get those five games, they would’ve still probably proceeded to the NHL. If you are worried about the “winning culture” or whatever,  you can look at current Heat players Andrew Nielsen and Kerby Rychel who have won Calder Cups. They are probably not going to have regular NHL jobs despite the hardware.

AHL playoff success and NHL success aren’t connected. One is a team metric and the other an individual metric. The 2000-01 Saint John Flames won the Calder Cup. The Flames didn’t see much in the way of payoffs, outside of depth players Chris Clark and Steve Montador. Their first rounders from the previous years, Rico Fata and Daniel Tkaczuk, didn’t become better NHLers because of it.

No, playoff performers are generally who you expect them to be. Here’s the list of top playoff performers since 2000 by season. There are a few surprising names (emphasis on the few) but most of them are guys like Ville Leino or Fernando Pisani: anonymous players who rose to the occasion and then flamed out shortly after.

I think the hype behind Neal becoming a postseason success is a combination of him being there multiple times in the past and the general feeling that he has to be better than what he’s been so far. I don’t think he has a special “playoff performer” gene that kicks in, as his playoff performances are generally similar to his regular season appearances (0.67 ppg in the regular season versus 0.55 in the post). If that holds true, then perhaps the playoffs will be a continuation of his disappointing season.

If Neal gets his act together in the playoffs, it’s all welcome news, but I have serious doubts that he does.

I would have to say Minnesota. They can’t score, have average goaltending, and are in the process of selling off their team. If they make the playoffs, it’s likely on accident because the rest of the wild card teams couldn’t get it all together. Bruce Boudreau has a knack for early playoff exits too, so they seem like an easy team to steamroll.

The least ideal teams would likely be one of Colorado or Dallas. They’re both weird teams in that they’re extremely difficult on just one side of the ice. Colorado has one of the best lines in hockey and can really score, but are leaky defensively. Dallas simply can’t score, but has two goalies with 0.920 SV%. I don’t think that either of these teams could beat the Flames in the playoffs, but they’re likely going to be very frustrating teams to play against. Dallas is going to stay back in their own end for the entire series while Colorado just might keep scoring to keep things closer than they should be.

Pure rental. It’s been detailed on every other mailbag, but the Flames have cap issues next season and they’re going to be very hard to solve unless they manage to move big money out (unlikely). If they have to make a trade, pure rental seems the best option going forward.

I don’t think Treliving’s mindset is so rigidly locked in that he has to re-sign whoever he trades for, but in the case of Mark Stone or any of the other elite forwards, I think he wants to keep them around. Why pay a major price which includes players who could contribute now for someone who might only stick around for 20 games? Treliving doesn’t pay big for short-term gain. If he could re-sign Stone, he would likely have already pulled the trigger on the trade.

It isn’t unprecedented for a 35+ defenceman to go on a tear like Giordano’s having, but it is reserved for only the greats of the game.

There are only 17 individual seasons where a defencemen has scored 0.75 points per game after the age of 35. Seventeen is a bit deceptive, because only nine defencemen have actually done that. Nik Lidstrom accounts for five of those 17 seasons, and Al MacInnis has accounted for three of them. With names like Ray Bourque, Sergei Zubov, and Sergei Gonchar joining them, it’s clearly the mark of a stellar defenceman.

Even rarer is the 35+ defenceman who has averaged a point-per-game over at least 80 games, as only Lindstrom and Bourque have ever done it. Giordano is currently sitting at a 0.97 ppg mark. He’s playing HHOF hockey this season.

No, they’re just struggling. Thanks to Natural Stat Trick’s game-by-game line tracking data, we can see that the first line, relative to the entire team, has had their heads kicked in possession-wise (CF rel%) in every game but four (vs NYI, Vancouver, Washington, and Ottawa) since the all-star break. There’s something wrong here.

Maybe they’re getting a bit unlucky. Even in their struggles, you figure they might just get a greasy goal once or twice, and then maybe snap out of it next game. No such luck. I think it was easy to foresee that the first line would slow down eventually like they have in seasons past – it’s ridiculous to expect one line to carry the team for all 82 games – but they look completely out of sync right now and it’s having an impact on the team.

Thankfully, the, uh, fourth line has filled in for the time being but that is also going to be temporary. With the Flames unlikely to add a first line winger before the deadline, it’s something they’ll have to figure out before the playoffs get underway.

  • freethe flames

    The problems in Stockton are first and foremost on D; management addressed the forward ranks quite well but after the following became NHLer’s Andersson, Kylington and Valimaki(yes I know he is in the AHL) the next best defender is likley AOM whom the Flames have not even signed to ELC. Yes Gilles has not been consistent but if the D core was better in front of him I suspect the team would be better. I agree with SF that it is probably time to move from Gilles both for his sake and the organizations; but to lay it all on him and Parsons shows little understanding of the organizational problems.

    • Baalzamon

      It’s amusing (and confusing) that Cail MacLain is completely escaping scrutiny for this. If it was Huska, he’d be getting crucified (people were calling for his head literally the month he was hired).

      • cjc

        This same thought popped into my head. I don’t think we know enough about him and his systems to say if this is mostly a personnel issue, a coaching issue, a goaltending issue, or all three. But like the article says, it is not a huge deal (unless of course you are a Stockton watcher… sorry SF).

        MacLean had a good track record in the ECHL (not playoffs though), but no experience coaching junior/college/Europe before coaching pro. My guess is he still has quite a bit to learn, but he also hasn’t been dealt the best hand.

  • everton fc

    If we don’t land Stone (and I am a bit concerned we’d be willing to sell futures for a guy who may not even sign here), it’d be a great coup to somehow get Hall out of NJ.

    • WildfireOne

      The only way to get Hall out of NJ is to offer Gaudreau. That way, both guys go back home. But Johnny is a Flyers fan, so even that might not work. In no way am I endorsing the Flames actually do this, but it is intriguing…

  • Stockton's Finest

    “The main goal of the AHL is to develop players who are not ready for the NHL. Anything else is just gravy.”

    Tell that to the 1,200+ Stockton Heat season ticket holders. Do they not deserve to see playoff hockey as well? Is my and Mrs. Finest just throwing our money away watching development as opposed to winning hockey? Do we not deserve watching playoff hockey in Stockton and see this team hoist their cup?

    Questions about playoff tested rookies wouldn’t be as prevalent if those players had experienced playoff hockey in the AHL.

    Those types of comments that lead this organization having to move their AHL team every three to five years. Do you think Tampa has that same attitude? Oh, that’s right, they only won the Calder Cup in 2012. And they are frequent participants in the playoffs while still supporting their NHL club.

    But as long as players graduate to Calgary and play well for the Flames I guess I should just shut up and be happy. No need to build a solid organization from top to bottom.

      • Puck Head

        I don’t think you’ll find anyone on this site who disagrees with you. An successful organization has to be competitive and have a winning culture throughout. I would like nothing more than to have a solid and successful farm team.This is one reason I’m glad we’ve managed to hold onto our picks so far.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Completely agree SF. I really don’t understand how the author can say that there is NO benefit at all to having more post season experience. I’m willing to admit that perhaps a focus on this ‘winning culture’ thing may be a bit overrated as a be all, end all goal, but in no way is it not beneficial.

    • freethe flames

      You know my views on this. The Flames could have made the HEAT better by adding 2 of the 8 tweeners they had in camp; some of whom have signed and played elsewhere in the NHL this season. Instead they have no one outside of Valimaki on the farm that could be up with the big squad. Having a successful farm team helps grow the sport, it helps build the prospects by slotting them in the appropriate roles based upon their development and builds a winning culture.

  • oilersuck

    I don’t think the Gio question was really answered. All the comparables you mentioned had great 35+ seasons but were already HHOF players prior and didn’t have their career years 35+. I’m going to get trashed like crazy for bringing it up but I wonder why there hasn’t been more talk about PED’s. Years like this just don’t happen in pro sports. Hope I’m wrong.

    • DoubleDIon

      Performance enhancing drugs increase you muscle, Gio has clearly lost speed and strength. He’s just more fit every year and plays with desire and a great mind for the game. His athleticism isn’t what it was at 27, he just makes up for it with his brain and preparation. Silly comment by you, it’s not like he’s gone from a normal man to a gorilla like Barry Bonds or something.

      • oilersuck

        There are more PEDs than anabolic steroids. Lance Armstrong as well as every other cyclist was on EPO which increases endurance etc. Don’t tell me that wouldn’t make someone a better hockey player.

      • oilersuck

        Signs like increased performance in your late 30s when everyone else is declining should raise some questions. Pro athletes have shown time and time again that they cheat, I don’t hold the benefit of doubt for any athlete.

  • DoubleDIon

    I understand winning is good in the AHL, but for me it is and should be secondary to player development. It’s why you pay 200 dollars to watch NHL games and 20 dollars to watch AHL games. I’d like to see winning happen everywhere, but I don’t want an AHL team filled with 26 year old tweeners to make that happen.

  • L.Kolkind

    So Beaulieu just went for a 6th, and it cost us a 4th for Fatenburg? Not looking like the best deadline deal, but at least didn’t do an overpay to rent Stone.