Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: Who should be the Flames’ sixth defenceman?

And all of a sudden, the Flames have a really deep defence.

It’s not necessarily deep in terms of elite talent level – Mark Giordano is elite, and after him, everyone else mostly ranges from “very good” to “developing” to “okay” with a side of “I would prefer you not be on the ice” – but it is in terms of actual NHLers at their disposal. With Michael Stone back in the NHL, the Flames now have nine defencemen available:

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  • Giordano – the favourite for the Norris Trophy this year, one of just five defencemen 35 years or older to score 65 points in a single season ever.
  • TJ Brodie – Giordano’s regular partner, and his first partner since establishing himself as a top-tier defenceman, albeit with some misgivings in his own game.
  • Travis Hamonic – often reliable to take on big defensive minutes, with a surprising uptick in offence this season.
  • Noah Hanifin – 22 years old, playing in his fourth full season, likely to set a career year in terms of points.
  • Rasmus Andersson – 22 years old, established himself as an NHL regular this season, already tasked with playing on the first pairing at times.
  • Oliver Kylington – 21 years old, wasn’t supposed to be an NHLer this year but has slid right in out of necessity, plenty more promise to come.
  • Oscar Fantenberg – Recently picked up, unspectacular but solid, someone you’d definitely trust on the bottom pairing.
  • Dalton Prout – Probably the least desirable option, but he does have over 250 games under his belt; certainly, worse could be done, but probably a last resort.
  • Stone – Just now returning, so we’ll have to see how things shake out over the rest of the regular season. However, he was originally slated to be part of the Flames’ six main defencemen – that he now serves as an alternate option indicates how much more the core has grown over the past couple of months.

This doesn’t include Juuso Valimaki, who could be added to the group at some point, but for the time being isn’t a factor.

The main thing that’s led to this gain in defensive depth for the Flames is all three of their high-end defensive prospects working out: Kylington was able to step in for Valimaki’s injury with little to no disruption, and that bodes well for the team’s future.

But the big one here is Andersson, who went from starting the season in the AHL (albeit never playing an AHL game) to overtaking a veteran’s spot in the lineup to being a regular on the second powerplay unit with top pairing potential that he’s already displaying. Andersson adds a lot to the Flames’ defensive group: he’s another talented player the team can count on in most situations. If he were to be removed from the equation, the Flames would still have a pretty decent grouping, but a less talented one, and one that would be much harder to get excited about.

In the meantime, though, the Flames have 12 games left in the regular season, and that means 12 more games to mix and match their nine defencemen. I think it’s fair to say that, assuming the Flames are dressing a full lineup every night (i.e. not resting anyone healthy), Giordano, Brodie, Hamonic, Hanifin, and Andersson will be dressed every single game, leaving one spot open for the remaining four defencemen to rotate through.

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Which brings us to the what would you do part: who would you want to regularly dress as the sixth defenceman, a player who would likely be either Andersson or Brodie’s partner going forward? (Either Brodie or Andersson is going to be Giordano’s partner, leaving the other one to play on the third pairing with another defender.)

Prout is probably the least likely to draw in on the regular. Kylington is the Flames’ sixth-most played defenceman this season in terms of games, but did recently miss some time due to an injury; at this stage of the season, we aren’t going to know just how hurt any player actually is, so his injury status remains in question. Fantenberg is the new guy who has taken Kylington’s spot, and has had a good early showing. And Stone is the most known commodity, albeit one who hasn’t played in the NHL since November.

How would you arrange the defencemen going down the stretch, and who would you like to see as a regular in the lineup once the playoffs start? What would you do?

  • FlamesFanFromMI

    I don’t want to sound like Mr. negative but Brodie blunders it always almost a goal besides giving away 2 goals yesterday he made another boneheaded play where he throw the puck in the middle right on opposition stick. I am not sure what is it with him may be stress if that’s the case playoffs are 10 times more stressful. So I am not sure how he is going to play out. I am pretty sure that Brodie and Frolik will be traded in off season and Mike Smith’s contract will be over so I don’t have to see him play defense in the back of his own net.
    Every one is saying that new kids have no playoff experience. Sure but how you going to get experience unless you play in playoffs. Only question mark is Brodie and stone.
    Question, Does Vali and Brodie ( when playing his natural position) play the same side? If that’s the case and Brodie play himself to third line can we replace him with vali?

    • Albertabeef

      Brodie on the 3 pair and the team loses 3-2, Brodie on the first pair and the team wins 5-4. Really which would you prefer? I prefer to win, regardless of the score.

  • Korcan

    A team
    Gio Andersson
    Hanafin Hamonic
    Brodie Stone

    B team
    Gio Brodie
    Hanafin Hamonic
    Fantenburg Andersson

    Fantenburg Stone rotate as #6
    Kylington Valimaki Prout as depth

  • Albertabeef

    Brodie:games goals asst points Hamonic:games goals asst points
    2013-2014 CGY 81 4 27 31 NYI 69 3 15 18
    2014-2015 CGY 81 11 30 41 NYI 71 5 28 33
    2015-2016 CGY 70 6 39 45 NYI 72 5 16 21
    2016-2017 CGY 82 6 30 36 NYI 49 3 11 14
    2017-2018 CGY 73 4 28 32 CGY 74 1 10 11
    2018-2019 CGY 69 8 23 31 CGY 59 7 10 17

    Both are the same age, make almost the same amount. One seems to be injured way less and routinely has more points. Brodie is a Johnny hockey type defenseman. High risk high reward hockey but can occasionally backfire.