Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation 2018-19 player evaluations: an introduction

The dust has settled and we’ve all had a bit of time to decompress, so now it’s time to dig down into how the Calgary Flames and the team’s players performed in the 2018-19 season.

We’re limiting the deep dives to the team’s regular players. For each player, we’ll be drilling down into a few aspects of their game:

  • What was their role on the team and the expectations for them this season? How were they used and who did they play with (and against)?
  • How were their traditional counting stats? Did they score a lot? If they didn’t, why not?
  • How were their underlying numbers? Did they drive play for the Flames, or were they merely along for the ride?
  • If they had a good season, is it likely that these good times will last? If they had a rough season, is a bounce-back probable?

What, exactly, do the Flames have in the players on their season-ending roster? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.


  • David Rittich
  • Mike Smith


  • Rasmus Andersson
  • TJ Brodie
  • Mark Giordano
  • Travis Hamonic
  • Noah Hanifin
  • Oliver Kylington
  • Juuso Valimaki


  • Mikael Backlund
  • Sam Bennett
  • Austin Czarnik
  • Michael Frolik
  • Johnny Gaudreau
  • Garnet Hathaway
  • Mark Jankowski
  • Elias Lindholm
  • Andrew Mangiapane
  • Sean Monahan
  • James Neal
  • Derek Ryan
  • Matthew Tkachuk

But we’ll also be doing a shorter wrap-up focusing on all the part-timers that suited up for the Flames this past season as well: Dillon Dube, Dalton Prout, Oscar Fantenberg, Michael Stone, Alan Quine, Anthony Peluso, Ryan Lomberg, Kerby Rychel and Curtis Lazar. These players weren’t used as much as the others this season, so it’s unfair to really hold them to the same standards, but we’ll apply the same general lens of analysis to these complementary bodies.

  • Skylardog

    Following a comment I posted yesterday, I was asked what I thought we could get for Hanifin on the trade market.

    Before I do that, I will look at why I believe that moving one of our young may not just be possible, but a necessity if we are to keep and extend our cup contender window.

    The need is one, or two, top 6 forwards. The problem is finding a budget to fit those players into our cap. That means moving salary out.

    Our DCore is currently this:


    Most of us feel Brodie needs to be moved out, allowing Ras to step up to the top pairing. That is a good start. But moving out a piece like Valimaki or Kylington does not free up the cap space to allow us to trade for or sign a top 6 player, let alone two.

    That leaves Gio, Hanifin, Hamonic, and Stone as options to free up more space.

    Gio is a key to a cup run, and given his age, would have less value if we are trying to chase down a top 6 forward. He is not someone a team in rebuild mode would look at trading for by giving up a very good mid 20 year old player.

    Hamonic is a warrior. Need that kind of player.

    Stone may be movable with the right deal, but given his health concerns and lack of playing time, he is an add on at best to a deal, likely with some salary retained. That won’t help free up significant cap space.

    Valimaki, Andersson, and Fantenberg are the guys you need to find room for in the lineup to free up cap space, not move out (or let walk as a UFA, hint, hint).

    Kylington has to be figured out. He is beyond going back to Stockton, yet clearly has no spot on the roster, even if we move out a LD. Could he, or someone else play RD?

    That leaves:


    Kylington needs to play. He cannot be the seventh D.

    I will clearly acknowledge that we need to find defensemen to play and develop in the AHL. Our problem is in too few depth and development options. On the flip side, we have too many NHL level defenseman.

    By moving out Hanifin and Brodie, we free up $9.6M of cap space. Add in Frolik, and we have $13.9M in additional cap space. That gets you 2 top 6 forwards if you shop carefully.

    • withachance

      Hey Skylar, what are your thoughts on resigning RFAs and UFAs, specifically the costs for keeping essentials such as Bennett and Tkahuck and Rittich?

      I’ve been playing on capfriendly, and seriously failing to see the cap crunch. Every simulation has me around 80M mark out of the 83M projected cap ceiling

      • Skylardog

        I was running the capfriendly simulations about a month ago. Set them up as straight cap situations before moving out players and found it tight. Just Frolik and Brodie moving frees up enough to get a top 6 guy. I had left them in as I wasn’t proposing trades at that point.

        Problem is, I think we need 2 top 6 guys. We need a top 2 line center, and a top 2 line RW. Don’t say Benny can fill the void. A long history says he can’t. He has had top line time with JG and Mony, as well as time with Backs. He can’t put up the 60 points plus we need from those positions.

        JG-New C-Lind
        Tkachuk-Mony-New RW
        Janko, Dube as reserves (Dube plays next season)

        We just don’t have a 60 point RW on line 2 available, and we still need that 1C or a guy that can share 1C duties with Mony

        Who are your goalies? I can get under with Gillies easily, but he isn’t ready.

        Want to post a link to the cap friendly team you have?

        I hate the thought of buying out Stone, because he could have value to get back assets at the TDL or as part of a trade before July 1. He is better than most if not all give him credit for on here.

        • sRo

          Czarnik can be removed . He is an AHL player. You’re 4th line would get swallowed alive (see 2019 playoffs, toughness and grit). Hathaway should be resigned, inserted back on the 4th. I think Tkachuk would struggle with Monahan, he doesn’t make those around him better. Other than that, I think you’re on the right path.

        • Chucky

          It would be nice to see Jankowski given an honest chance for at least one year. A line of Mangiapane, Jankowski and Ryan appeals.
          Jankowski would be called upon to provide the physical presence that he should be bringing, it would be a fast line with two centres one RH and the other LF.

        • oilcanboyd

          For Stone to have any value at TDL he needs to play….but Kylington needs to play to develop at the NHL level.. Better Stone be rolled out now than later.

  • Raffydog

    If you can’t handle the playoffs there is no room on this team for you. The window is closing on this group so the Flames need players that rise to the occasion, not guys that crumble under pressure. I’d listen to any offers for the fab five disappearing acts. Guadreau, Monahan, Lindholm, Tkachuk, and Gio are all great when there is no pressure during the regular season, but none of them can handle playoff hockey. Until you rid yourself of those anchors, you will never get past the first round.

    • The Iggy complex

      The window is closing? It’s just beginning….. Young core signed for several more years. Had 5 rookies break out this year. You really don’t know much about hockey

      • Toma41

        5 rookies breakout? Who? Andersson yes. Mangi no. Kylington no. What 5 rookies broke out? Dube? Nope. Valimaki nope. He played a few games and was injured. Played in the playoffs a game or 2 and is again injured.

        • Bawcos

          I think he meant – they Broke “IN” 5 rookies ( or brought in – take you’re pick). Not entirely accurate, but to say that anyone who didn’t perform in the playoffs needs to be shipped out is just crazy. I guess it’s time to sell off everyone because no player has ever had a disappointing playoffs and later been effective in the post season.

      • Oil Spilly

        Several more years??? The frickin oilers have more playoff wins and series wins in the last decade. How embarrassing right??Who from the core do you see hoisting a cup? Johnny ? Mony? Hanifin? Nope nope and nope. Look at the 8 teams remaining right now. Each one of those teams would sweep the flames in 4. Lots of work to do. No starting goalie. 38 yr old captain. Soft Forward and D core. Window just opening????

          • Oil Spilly

            They are the most screwed franchise and yet have more playoff success than the flames going back how many decades? My point exactly. I’m thinking Drysaddle and his 100 points is now a steal at 8.5 considering Mattews at 11.5, Marner 10-11, Toews 10 and many more young stars looking for a massive contract. Imagine what players like Mackinnon, Rantonen will command. Heck even one dimensional Johnny in 24 months will ask for Marner money and he disappears whenever it matters most.

        • oilcanboyd

          Oilers had a career year from a career backup goalie and faced Anaheim in the second round; otherwise the oilers would have been dumped in 4 in the first series…well, the backup goalie got dumped for an unproven KHL goalie because he couldn’t sustain his 1 year anomaly…and the oilers continued to slide.

        • Beer League Coach

          Coilers got hot in one season and also got very lucky that 1 season. Thus, they won a round and a couple games in the second round. Other than that 1 season they have been total crap for about 15 years. Remind me again, when was the last time they iced a decent team. 2015 doesn’t count. That was their season of a life time.

  • Raffydog

    The defence needs a complete overhaul. That is the softest defence in the league, and the easiest to play against. They dont hit, they are scared to be hit, they turn the puck over constantly, that is not a championship level defence. To many nice guys on the back end, Flames need players that make life difficult for the opposition, not easy.

  • Raffydog

    Guess what I’m saying is, the window was nailed shut before it ever had a chance to open. The rest of you can lie to yourselves and pretend this team actually has a chance. As for me, I’m eagerly awaiting the next rebuild so it can be done properly this time. A championship team, not a group of the softest the league has to offer.

      • Derzie

        People aren’t big on truth if it hurts. Obviously our core failed the playoff test. A nuclear option is to gut the whole thing. That would be fine if we had suitable replacements just waiting to fill their spots. We don’t. Nobody does. It’s not a video game. We have to increase competitiveness of the core & depth, but not at the expense of the skill that got us to the playoffs. It’s a balancing act. Standing pat and blowing it up are both nuclear and both very unlikely to succeed.

        • Oil Spilly

          I remember reading on here how the 24 yr old rookie sensation Foo was going to be the next big thing. Wth ever happened to that guy. I remember it being like the flames had just won the mega millions powerball lottery.

  • Skylardog

    To answer Joel Ottos question yesterday on who I see the Flames possibly acquiring for Hanifin, here are a couple of thoughts.

    First of all, I believe that we will get better value for Frolik at the trade deadline. He fits the bill for a team looking to add a player at the TDL for a playoff run, rather than moving him in the summer to a team looking to add pieces for a rebuild or as a depth player. Timing is everything. That means we need to find one top forward now, protect our cap space to create some room, then move out Frolik at the TDL, adding a second top 6 forward in February.

    I have been focusing on Zibinajad for a while. NYR has 2 older high end defensemen under contract, and 2 younger but lesser known Dmen. Hanifin would give them a young player that would be a key piece of their rebuild for years to come.

    But will they part with Zib? Who knows, but a young top level Dman is a nice chip to bargain with, especially when that Dman is just 22 years old and Zib is 26. It is a tough choice for the Rangers who do lack top end forwards. But Hanifin is an asset that can be used as a chip, or free up someone else on the roster to use in a trade.

    NYR does the deal by July 1. After that, Zib has a no movement clause that kicks in. It is move him now or he is there until 2021-22 for the Rangers. For a rebuild, a no movement clause can tie your hands. Straight across probably gets it done, but an exchange of lower round picks may be a way to make it happen. We could throw in Janko for a depth Dman coming back.

    Zib has a favourable $5.35M cap hit. On the same line, Hanifin is on a favourable $4.95M deal. Zib is not the best of the best 1C out there, but his contract would leave you room for a high end high price RW at the TDL.

    Other options could be found in Toronto. They have a need for Dmen, and too many forwards costing them way too much. Kapanen remains an option, but Hanifin for Nylander has to be a deal they would consider. I am not hooked on Nylander, but his upside is massive. Hanifin for Kapanen is an over pay. There are options here we can look at. Throw in Stone and retain $1.5M in salary. Toronto needs Dmen.

    How about a 3 way deal with Hanifin leaving for a top forward coming back from Tampa. We could also offer up Kylington in a deal here. Tampa sits at over $73M in signed deals going into next season, but have Brayden Point, Anton Stralman, Brayden Coburn, and Dan Girardi left unsigned, just to mention the main ones. Point alone probably eats up almost all of the entire cap space that is available.

    Philly has Giroux. Great player, but sorry, at 31 no thanks for Hanifin. But for a prospect and a draft pick? At the TDL? Great pickup once Frolik is gone.

    There are other options, but this is a start.

    • withachance

      I seriously see no need to move Hanifin. Moving Brodie, Frolik and buying out Stone gives this team more than 10M in cap space. If signing the essentials like Bennett, Tkachuk, Rittich, Mangi, Hathaway to reasonable market value deals, this team has a lot of space to make 1-2 top 6 additions.

      Move on from Janko and Czarnik you get an additional 3M. I seriously dont think cap is a problem, the problem is finding the right fit players that are available

    • MDG1600

      Rangers have Adam Fox now so they are probably less interested in Hanafin. I wouldn’t mind seeing if Calgary could swing a Braydon Point trade although we would definetly have to part with some primo assets.

      • Skylardog

        Tampa got themselves in world of hurt in trying to keep Point.
        Stamkos on a no movement, Kuch after this next season on a NMC for 4 years. Defensemen not signed yet…

        Stamkos set a team friendly deal ideology there but will the young guys follow suit?

    • Hockeysense9393

      I would almost look at say Monny for Zibby straight across. Get a pure playmaker for a scorer? Zibby plays heavier and is better in his own end. Rangers are also going to be players this year for teams needing salary cap relief. So you throw in Stone, Frolik, and maybe our 1st for their 2nd or 3rd and a mid level prospect. That gives them veteran presence for a year and would ensure the Flames some cap relief.

      • Skylardog

        I have taken a new stance on who you go out and get. It does have some flexibility, but not much. It comes from watching us get Brouwer, Neal, and Smith

        Don’t go looking for players over 30, especially on longer term deals. Father time always wins.
        You have enough plus 30 guys on your roster just from developing within. This is a new, much younger NHL.

        Malkin is a no go unless a cheap, cheap rental, and he is healthy.

        Looking deeper at Giroux, man he would have to be cheap at the TDL. Like almost free… But he may be the best current center that someone could pick up.

        • Sterls

          When it comes to older guys we need to avoid the Brouwer, Neal mold. If they are a 20-30 goal scorer with size but questionable skating and 30 or older, do not sign them! If they still are among the better skaters and have made been known for their creative play and 30 or older, they may still be a fit. Brains and Skating are what you should look for in older free agents, because those are the players who are less likely to fall off the cliff. Even if the skating falls off, they still have the smarts to be effective. Of this years UFA crop one of the guys who fits that bill is Zuccarello. I’m not saying the Flames should be pursuing him, but players like him are the safer bet when it comes to older UFA’s.

    • Bawcos

      I was with you until you mentioned Toronto. Nylander is very expensive for a guy who’s never broke 61 pts + has many deficiencies. Also, Toronto cant afford even $2m Dman without losing Nylander. Kapenen has potential (limited) but shouldn’t be considered a top 6F anytime soon unless we have Matthews playing with him. Zib is interesting. I’ve looked at him before – don’t think the NYR will ever let him go. Also, all this trade talk is – I think – unrealistic when BT has a history of the insurance policy for players/positions.

  • redwhiteblack

    The real question is what happened to lose 4 straight to go out without an answer? This team is not constructed for post season play. That seems clear. The new mix has to be more resilient. Gio had such a great year. Feels wasted.

    • MDG1600

      Gio had a great year but he was also part of the problem in the playoffs. Maybe he was tired from too much ice time but he was simply no match for McKinnons speed. Which brings me to what I think is A BIG MISCONCEPTION THAT THE FLAMES ARE A FAST TEAM. Everyone and their dog is saying we need to be tougher but it seemed to me the biggest problem against the avalanche was that we couldn’t match the team speed of the Avalanche. Some of the major pieces of the Flames are not great skaters. Gio, Monahan, Tkachuk, Hamonic, Andersson, Jankowski, Ryan and especially Neal. That is a lot of ice time that went to guys that had trouble keeping up to the pace of play.

      • calgaryfan

        The Av’s speed was definitely a factor but the Flames attention to stopping them in the neutral zone was also a factor. The Flames forwards were not checking their man and allowed the Av’s to gain speed when they hit the blue line. They needed to plug up the centre ice playing some trap system and chose not too. And yes the Flames have too many players with slow feet, Monahan and Tkachuk the worst.

      • Gus Fring

        Playoff hockey success is made up of the 4 S’s that’s Speed, Skill, Size and Snarl. We lack speed and snarl and to a lesser extent size. Our big bodies don’t play big, hence the snarl. We allowed the Avs to enter our zone without any push back. They crossed the blue line and setup there offense without making things difficult you can’t win games like that much less playoff hockey. It was almost like the D didn’t want to stand up at the blue line in fear that they would blow right by them and get better scoring opportunities. No one wins when you play in fear! Ask The Vancouver D when Ferland was running over them.

        • Luter 1

          100% agree but some of this is on the coach. To not have any of your defence step up and take the man is unacceptable. Seen many one on two rushes and our defence still backed over the blue line. Poor coaching, fear and lack of defence willing to play the body. Not sure about Gio, he used to routinely smear a guy at the blue line, something you need from your leader and I didn’t see it once in 5 games.

      • Derzie

        What we did against McKinnon is secondary. What we did away from McKinnon is problem #1. We stunk it up. McKinnon is one of the only skaters in the ballpark of McDavid. He has size, will, skill, drive & trains every summer with friend & role model, Sid Crosby. In general, nobody does well against McKinnon. He’s the advanced measuring stick. If we can’t beat Colorado’s depth, we are going nowhere. Fix that.

  • Budgie

    I am wondering why anyone would want to part with Hanifin? He is young and Hanifin-Hamonic was an excellent combo. Stone is coming back from injury, he is going to be back. Brodie is a likely candidate for a trade. Neal is on the bubble, a buy out is not an option-look for a similar reclamation project and swap.
    If you want to improve the team you have to part with Gadreau, or Monahan in a trade-if you decide to keep them then you have to add some toughness on forward and defense. Players that don’t perform in the playoffs are useless

    • Gus Fring

      I believe it comes down to heart! Brad Marchand is 5’9 and he has noooo problem excelling in the playoffs. So the guys on this site are correct when they say we need the right players! We need our guys to play with the kind of hate that Marchand plays with.

    • Skylardog

      The Hanifin Hamonic pairing got absolutely man handled by the Avs, and they were the pair that was not put up against MacKinnon by Peters. But Bednar did isolate them against the Mac line, with Rantenan, every chance he got. He recognized that they could not handle them early on in the series.

      Sadly it was the other lines that scored on Hanifin and Hamonic. To be honest that was pure luck…

      Hani had a 39.59% CF%, 38.32 SF%, and was on for 5 against with just 1 GF at 5v5, a 16.67 GF% last among all Flames defensemen. Him and Hamonic were 2nd and 3rd last in terms of HDCF%, with just Janko ranking worse.

      The eye test, in particular when Mac was on the ice said they were awful. They were lucky to not have about 10 against when up against Macs line alone. Hanifin was outshot 26 to 8 at 5v5 against MacKinnon, a 23.53 SF%. CF% was not as bad, but here is the real kicker. Scoring chances percent (SCF%) was under 20% against Mac and HDCF% was just 9.09% How the hell can that happen against our 2nd best defensive pair?

      This is in stark contrast to the two guys on LD and the other rookie Ras, that played in the series that fall behind Hanifin on the depth chart.

      Vali, Ras, and Fant were 1, 2, and 3 in terms of Corsi among defensemen, with Vali leading the entire team. Neither Fant nor Vali allowed a goal against, and Fant, Vali, and Ras were all above 50% CF% against MacKinnon head to head with the only goal against those 3 coming in OT in game 2 when Mac beat Gio to the net after Ras had played it properly.

      Fant had a 60% SCF% against Mac and was not on the ice for a single HDCA. He played just 5 minutes plus against Mac, but still… Hanifin only played 21 minutes against Mac and allowed 10 HDCA.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like Hanifin. But in a cap world, where you need two top 6 forwards, and have at least 2 capable or even better options below him in the depth chart, he is expendable.

        • Luter 1

          I’m not sure Hamonics heart (blocking shots mostly) should not mean he’s untradeable. His value will never be higher as he scored some seeing eye goals that will not be duplicated. Plus he is not really a tough player, he’ll take the body but he doesn’t crush anyone. I thought he played in panic mode most of the playoffs and had some real rookie giveaways. If he fetches anything near Hanifin would, take it, Hanifin still has upside and is a way better skater and actually hurts people on his few hits as he is bigger. Peters should demand 2-3 serious hits from this guy per game. He is following in Dougies footsteps and is being allowed to play no-hit.

      • Budgie

        Good analysis, I would let Hanifin stay because of his age, and Hamonic is a shot-blocker and sticks up for his team mates-all heart-do you think the back checking against Colorado made the whole system look vulnerable? The break outs from the regular season were not happening because the middle of the ice was gone. Dumping it in and fighting for possession wasn’t working either-Gadreau was nullified and Monahan playing with little enthusiasm, maybe cause of his cracked thumb? I’d trade Brodie before Hanifin or Hamonic because of the turn-overs, though it wasn’t just Brodie turning the puck over. Even Giordano looked average against the speed and strength of Colorado with a hot Goalie too cinch the deal. Pinching in was dangerous for our Defense with Colorado’s speed. I agree with you that we have to get a couple of forwards, a Mark Stone deal would have been a improvement, missed that one. Dube will come up, and perhaps one UFA grab-Calgary is close but our Goalie situation is still a bit dubious and Neil didn’t turn into the power forward we needed.

  • Puck Head

    After these playoffs I think I am more cynical than most. A few legitimate top line forwards should help but it won’t help much is guys like Mony hide in the background and Gaudreau expends more energy chirping at the refs than playing the game (his chirping has now become an embarrassment). My concern is that the guys who make up most of the core could be the wrong type of players for playoffs.

    I also like big hits and tough hockey so this team is currently not really designed for my liking.