FlamesNation player evaluation: Austin Czarnik

After lighting up the AHL as a member of the Providence Bruins last season, Austin Czarnik looked to make a permanent jump to the NHL with the Calgary Flames this season. 

2018-19 season summary

Czarnik didn’t play very much hockey for the Flames this season. He lit up the preseason on a line with Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund to form the formidable MMA line, but he just couldn’t cement his spot in the lineup, and only played sparingly.

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54 6 12 18 11:10 54.92 -0.55 54.39 0.992

Czarnik missed 28 games for the Flames, exclusively as a healthy scratch. In the 54 contests he did suit up for, he played primarily in the bottom six, with a few shifts alongside the Backlund line every now and then.

For the most part, Czarnik was nothing more than an average depth forward for the Flames. He was on pace for 27 points over a full 82 game schedule, which doesn’t sound like much, but is essentially the same pace as Sam Bennett the last two seasons. Czarnik didn’t light the world on fire the way some hoped he would after his AHL career and a solid preseason, but he was a serviceable forward that could play in and out of the lineup as needed.

He was fifth among forwards on the team in CF% at 55.92%, second in SCF% at 57.21%, eighth in CF/60 at 61.72, and ninth in CA/60 at 50.65. He was a great possession player for the Flames, but he didn’t dent the scoresheet enough to warrant an increase in ice time.

It was clear early on that Bill Peters didn’t fully trust Czarnik, and instead opted to play other forwards like James Neal and Andrew Mangiapane over him as the season wore on. Czarnik showed flashes of his skill and speed at various points in the season, but those moments were too infrequent for Peters’ liking.

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It looks like he has the skill to play at the NHL level, but the Flames weren’t a team that had the luxury to allow him the required time to realize his potential this season. He counted for just $1.25M against the cap, so sitting in the press box for a third of the season wasn’t a huge deal for the Flames. He was used when needed, and played well when called upon. You can’t really ask for more from a 13th forward.

Compared to last season

Last season, Czarnik played just 10 games in the NHL for the Boston Bruins, amassing four assists and averaging 10:55 in icetime. In the AHL, he scored 25 goals and 44 assists in 64 games, finishing fourth overall in points. It looked like he was too good for the AHL, thus the move to Calgary to see if he could hack it in the NHL.

This season was really his first full year as an NHL forward, and Czarnik went through the same ups and downs as most first year forwards face. He saw his ice time increase by 25 seconds, and played significantly more games than the previous year. It was a good step forward.

What about next season?

Czarnik is signed through next season at $1.25M. It’s a small cap hit so it’s likely he sticks around as a depth option for the Flames again. If that’s the case, he should be able to improve on his totals from this season, perhaps eclipsing the 30 point mark and playing a more consistent role on the team.

However, with Dillon Dube chomping at his heels for an NHL job, Czarnik might be in the same situation he was in this year: watching a good chunk of Flames games from the press box.

There is always the possibility that Czarnik gets traded, and because the growth plates of his potential haven’t fused just yet, he might be an attractive throw-in trade chip for the Flames as part of a bigger deal. He did receive plenty of interest last offseason when the Flames signed him, so there are several teams out there that could still be interested in his services, and might be able to give him a better opportunity.

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Either way, Czarnik really isn’t a player that moves the needle a whole lot for the Flames. if he stays, he will be a useful depth piece. If he goes, it will likely be as a sweetener in a bigger deal.

2018-19 player evaluations

#4 Rasmus Andersson | #5 Mark Giordano | #7 TJ Brodie | #8 Juuso Valimaki | #10 Derek Ryan | #11 Mikael Backlund | #13 Johnny Gaudreau | #18 James Neal | #19 Matthew Tkachuk | #21 Garnet Hathaway | #23 Sean Monahan | #24 Travis Hamonic

  • cjc

    I think everyone was hoping for the next Marchessault – an undersized late bloomer. As always expectations need to be tempered, but if he gets a regular spot in the lineup I am optimistic he can do more next season. At very least he was more consistent than Neal.

  • Off the wall

    Aren’t we a team short on RW depth? If I’m Treliving we should be shopping for RW’s at the draft.

    Lindholm, Ryan, Czarnik and Hathaway are right handed. Not exactly a RW’ paradise.

    Czarnik was fine, but he’s not the answer in making this team more competitive.

    • withachance

      Shaw from MTL seems perfect. Tough, shown ability to perform in the playoffs, can score (given high caliber teammates) and can keep up with speedy linemates (Drouin, Domi)

      MTL has a strong need for LHD…

    • Beer League Coach

      Agree OTW. Looking at draft rankings I can see the Flames taking 1 of Raphael Lavoie from Halifax, Brett Leason from Prince Albert, or Adam Beaucage from Rouyn Noranda. Leason might be the one who is closest to being NHL ready. Beaucage is the youngest and will probably need at least another year in the QMJHL. He is rated somewhere in the mid 2nd round but his stock has risen considerably in the last half of the season. He might be a bit of a reach in round 1 but won’t be around when Flames 3rd round pick comes up. Maybe Tre can get a 2nd round pick in a trade. Should be interesting to watch all 3 of them in the Memorial Cup.

      • Beer League Coach

        Also I can’t help but wonder if Flames will sign D’Artignon Joly. He was a late round pick a couple years ago and if he isn’t signed by June 1 he becomes a UFA. I think they should at least try to get him on an AHL contract and see how he develops next season.

  • Loud_voices

    So many people are saying how we need to acquire someone like Kadri, or like Shaw…. Does anybody dare to dream big? I don’t know about you guys but if the flames are making a splash, it better be worth it. These players are not guaranteed upgrades… These trades are gambles at best. Specifically taking into account kadris discipline and Shaw’s health. Yeah sure Kadri is good for roughly 50 points but you can also expect his line to be scored on 50 or more times. If they are making a trade to bring in someone, it has to be someone who can instantly make the team better. We have too many projects and players that still need to find their game to be thinking about bringing in more mediocre depth pieces.

    • withachance

      Few caveats – Kadri is a premier 2 way centre, so i dont understand your thinking that his line gets shelled, cause it doesnt. He’s been getting plenty of selke votes the past few years for someone not named Bergeron Kopitar or Barkov.

      Secondly, which team are in the business of trading their big stars? Who in their right mind would trade their premier players on the cheap? Because if a big acquisition came along, you can bet Monahan and the first rounder is in discussion. Anything like that is a sideways move and other teams arent going to accept role players for their own stars.

    • Kevin R

      I would love to see Tre going for the fences & try to get Karlsson from Vegas. Might not like what pieces go the other way & what other pieces have to be given away to fit him in. But he would be a very intriguing top line centre & I m just not sure how Vegas resigns him.

      • Beer League Coach

        I don’t see where Karlsson is an upgrade for Flames. If we go after a Vegas fwd let’s go for Alex Tuch. Big RH shot RW, plays a physical 200 ft game and soft enough hands to score 20+ goals per season.

          • withachance

            Cap crunch for Vegas. That Stone signing already taking effect. I bet Vegas would take Janko and a pick (2nd rounder or a 3rd). Janko is low cap hit and a capable middle 6 player, if not bottom 6. Janko or maybe a Mangiapane?

          • Kevin R

            Not sure what it would take to get Karlsson but wow, having him & Monahan as our top 2 centres would be huge. Vegas dont have the money to sign him end of story. Karlsson Tkachuk & Bennett would almost be considered a top line in itself.

            Would make Janko & Backlund tradeable & the returns could be good. Weisbrod likes Janko so much maybe Van gives us the #10 for him? haha who knows.
            Winnipeg has some serious crap happening, how can we get in on that?

          • SeanCharles

            Tuch is one of the most ideal forwards we could add.

            Hes young, big, gritty, RHed, has speed and can make offensive plays.

            If we could get him somehow that would be pretty sweet.

      • MontanaMan

        Karlsson might the most overrated d-man in the league. He has offensive upside but is a turnstile and turnover machine in his own end. Any GM with a brain would avoid him, especially at the price he will command.

  • everton fc

    I threw out Antoine Roussel’s name here a lot, prior to his landing in Vancouver. Missed opportunity, for the Flames.

    A guy like Brendan Lemieux would be good here. Andrew Shaw’s another. Zack Kassian had 15 goals. Miles Wood’s another I would inquire about.

  • Skylardog

    Czar is a wasted contract, and is blocking guys that can be difference makers from playing (Dube). Throw him in with some one to get off our books. Will never be a playoff factor. Remember all I told you so back in July. Never doubt the dog.

    • Puck Head

      I agree with your assessment you made on a previous post(s) that Lazar and Czar are gonzo. I actually think Lazar might have more potential upside due to his ability to play on the PK and his forechecking.

      I still do not understand why they didn’t give Quine a spin in the playoffs. He showed some offensive prowess when he played up during the regular season. He is still a smaller bubble NHLer but he could be the best of the three.

      • Skylardog

        Sad we didn’t ice the best available lineup in the playoffs. Too bad Peters doesn’t even know who our best guys are because he never experimented with the line up down the stretch.

  • freethe flames

    Czar brought 2 things the Flames were missing; RHS and speed but too many of the other parts of his game were not up to snuff. There were a few moments this season that I thought he might turn a corner but then he would disappear. He needs to be part of a package that gets us an upgrade on the RS.

  • Getpucksdeep

    We have about 2 too many small “skilled” (6 goals) players and need to create packages to pick up some size with enough speed to keep up. He’s expendable. Ryan, Dube, Mangiapane, Czarnik and we have Guadreau who of course isn’t going anywhere. The Blues Brabashev and Thomas are the only guys they have under 190 lbs on the forward lines. Go Blues! ( I’d be happy if that 2nd “6” team finally got rewarded for being a model franchise.

  • Sterls

    Here’s something out of left field, Monahan and a piece (pick or prospect) to St. Louis for Tarasenko. Not sure if St. Louis would want to do that, but I recall there were reports of friction the there regarding Tarasenko. Move Lindholm to 1C and slide Tarasenko on the wing. We replace Mony’s scoring, and replace him with a good 2 way C.

      • Sterls

        I think their is a chance that Tarasenko suffers from the same problem Johnny does in the playoffs, opposing teams focus in on him, but if both guys were on the top line it could open up space for both of them. Tarasenko can play with the puck on his stick and has some speed, something Monny lacks.

  • Another “under utilized” forward. I wonder if those people that think this can suggest 1) how is did anything with the chances he had to be given more 2) If he did show enough, who do you take off? If all these guys like Bennett, Janko, Neal, Czarnik didn’t get a good chance to show their stuff, who should sit for these guys?

  • freethe flames

    So what to do with Czarnik? Assuming you can’t move him do you give him a chance to play in a role that suites his skill set. Last season he showed some chemistry with Tkachuk; so why not try Tkachuk/Lindy/Czarnik. Give them the preseason to see if it works.

  • freethe flames

    People are throwing out trade ideas; so here is one. The Pens are in cap hell for next season so we trade 6’4″ 215 LHC underwhelming in many peoples view Janko $1.675m to the Pens for 6’6 225 RHC and inconsistent Bjugstad $4.1m. They get some cap relief and an NHL player and we get a needed RHSC who has at times shown he can be a good player. Thoughts?

    • Beer League Coach

      Your suggestion is basically sound, but how do Flames fit in the extra salary after signing Tkachuk, Bennett, Rittich and any other RFA that they wish to keep. This helps Pens with their cap problem but exacerbates Flames cap situation.

  • Garry T

    TJ and Jankowski to Toronto
    sign and trade Kappinen plus Kadri and 2 pick to Calgary
    Frolik and Backlund to Columbus
    Sign and trade Duchene and Dzingel , J Anderson to Calgary

    Lines 1. Gaudreau Duchene Monahan
    Line. 2. Dzingel. Kadri Kappenen
    Line 3. Tkachuk Lindholm Bennett
    Line 4. Mangiapane Ryan Anderson

    Gio. Valimaki
    Hanifin. Anderson
    Hamonic Kylington

    Rittich. parsons or a F/A