Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation player evaluation: Mark Jankowski

Coming into the 2018-19 season, the big question around Mark Jankowski was if he would be able to build off his solid rookie campaign. Nine months later, the answer seems to be yes, but nothing worth writing home about. However, since writing about it is what we do here, let’s dive into a season of modest gains for The Big Jankowski.

2018-19 season summary 

Jankowski essentially played the same role all season long, centering a bottom six line while eating heavy minutes on the penalty kill. He started game one alongside Sam Bennett on the fourth line while being given the most PK time amongst forwards, and quickly settled into that routine for the season – eventually getting bumped up to the third line. While he scored fewer goals than last season (not having a four goal game will do that for you) he was able to slightly improve in many other areas for his counting stats, seeing bumps in assists, points, primary points, and shorthanded points.

78 13 17 30 13:21 51.49 -3.47 52.8 0.987

The biggest area in which he excelled was shorthanded points, as both his five goals and eight overall points were second in the league only to Arizona’s Michael Grabner. That being said, the penalty kill itself was lower than last year’s percentage as well as the league average. It’ll be interesting next season to see if this season’s shorthanded prowess was an aberration, or if Jankowski will be able to translate that to a more successful overall PK.

While he was one of the most trusted penalty killers, he only spent a little bit of time on the power play, failing to register a point with the man advantage. He was given a couple runs when the second unit was struggling to find the right personnel, but never really clicked and was quickly taken off. In fact, he spent less time on the power play than mid-season call-up Andrew Mangiapane, which would suggest that he doesn’t really factor into their power play plans for now.

There are some minor concerns about his ability to drive play, especially at 5v5. His CF% Rel dipped into the negatives this season, as most of the Flames found a new gear whereas Jankowski seemed to go a little faster in his current gear. It’s not enough to be an active drag against the centerman, but it will be something worth watching next season to see if this is the most we can expect from him.

Overall, it was a solid year for Jankowski. He did a lot of little things right for Peters – like winning 52.0% of his face-offs – which means he never saw his place in the lineup endangered. He and Bennett would have flashes of putting it all together, particularly when James Neal was injured and the initial chemistry those two showed with Austin Czarnik took off for a little bit. However, Jankowski never truly progressed the was some had hoped after his rookie years, and thus toiled away in the bottom six quite steadily.

Compared to last season 

Jankowski looked really good in last year’s pre-season, and then got unceremoniously shuttled to the AHL in favour of Tanner Glass because that’s what the Flames were about last season. After starting off on a fantastic line with Mangiapane and Garnet Hathaway, he would get called up to the big leagues and never looked back. He scored his first ever goal with an assist from Jaromir Jagr which itself is objectively cool, and then settled into a third line role for the majority of the season. He wasn’t the world-beater that Jay Feaster prophesied he would become, but he was a justifiable NHLer.

He also scored four goals against Vegas in a game that really didn’t matter, but damn if it isn’t fun seeing a rookie do that.

What about next season?

With talks of Elias Lindholm moving back to centre, that would potentially bump Jankowski to the 5C spot, behind Sean Monahan, Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, and Derek Ryan. If that’s going to be the case, it might make more sense to bump the left-handed Jankowski to the wing where he would split face-off duties with a righty, which is something Peters has shown to be fond of. He could end up being trade fodder, but unless the deal is particularly sweet there is no reason to be actively shopping him.

Next season will be the last of his current contract, at the end of which he’ll be a restricted free agent again. It would be in his best interest to really put together a statement season, which would be really good both for his job security and the Flames. Hopefully, he’ll be able to help the penalty kill become stronger overall and not just in the shorthanded goals department, and provide the Flames with a bit more consistent attack at 5v5.

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 | #27 Austin Czarnik | #28 Elias Lindholm | #33 David Rittich | #41 Mike Smith | #55 Noah Hanifin | #58 Oliver Kylington | #67 Michael Frolik

  • Alberta Ice

    Mark will only continue to get better. On another note, very good big read now on the Sportsnet site about the 1989 Flames Cup win. https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/calgary-flames-stanley-cup-1989-big-read/ Brings back a lot of memories. Gotta love the Lanny McDonald story line. Blues are making a good story line this year and it’s hard to believe that it didn’t seem so long ago that the Bruins were starting the pre-season of their run in China against the Flames. If only the Flames story this year could have matched ’89’ or stayed up to the Bruins.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Like Tre, I thought Neal was the better signing last offseason, but unlike Tre, I never had a horse in the race. I’m just a fan. Guess there is a reason why Armstrong was nominated for GM of the Year and Tre wasn’t. Funny too how Don Waddell, the guy that Tre supposedly fleeced in the Hamilton trade, was also nominated for that same prestigious award.

  • Just.Visiting

    I’m in the camp that has always wanted Janko to succeed and to be a big centre with skill that would form part of our core once he grew into his body. The raw skill, size, reach, hands and defensive responsibility are there, as evidenced by the memorable shorthanded goal from behind the net in Arizona in which he fought his way through several defenders and some of his other shooting goals.

    That being said, the contradictions in his game are increasingly disconcerting. He can skate, but typically doesn’t skate hard, such that he looks slow and indifferent. He has size, but doesn’t really use it often, preferring to wave his big stick around in the centre lane, with the net effect that he plays small on a team that already has a lot of players who are either small or play small. He also seems overly eager to get off the ice on line shifts, noticeably more so than his peers.

    Stockton’s Finest would be well positioned to comment on this aspect, but does he have an intensity gene that makes him want to be consistently in the play and one of the guys to be on the ice when the pressure is on? It’s interesting to contrast his approach in this regard with Frolik, Mangi and Hathaway, for example, who leave it all on the ice on every shift.

    I hope that he uses the summer to bulk up and, more importantly, to reflect on how he is approaching the game.

    As we’ve seen from the playoffs, the games are faster, more physical and more intense at this time of year. Janko needs to decide this summer whether he wants to do what it takes to take the Flames to the next level or be a replacement level player. Perhaps a shift to the wing might force him to play a bigger game.

    Like many here, I want him to succeed, but he needs to want it more than he’s shown so far.

  • CowboyBob

    Mark Jankowski, the answer to the question “what do you get when you cross the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man with Casper the Ghost”. Big, soft and disappears for long stretches of time.

  • Chucky

    Beside the obvious and often stated problem of playing with boat anchor on the right side, it seems like he lacks intensity.
    I would like to see a line of Bennett, Jankowski and Ryan, with Ryan taking right side faceoffs. The injection of a pretty gritty veteran and a very gritty left wing might create a line with the intensity they require.
    There is a lot of potential in this player but it needs to be developed and harnessed in the next season to make the first round pick justified.

  • I 🖤 WW

    Outside of his PK goals, a very uneventful season. This guy is way too soft for the NHL. Disappears for long stretches and is not a work horse. He did not and has not earned much here. I hope the Flames move him and recoup whatever pick they can. Need more grit on that 3rd and 4th line.

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    I really wanted to like this kid, but was always skeptical he’d turn out. I remember when he was drafted by Feaster, and my friends and I had to pick our jaws up from the floor, as where he was drafted was a super reach

    Since he’s not a Treliving pick, I could see them parting ways with him if the right deal comes along, as I don’t think they project him to be a second or first line centre, unless something drastically changes

    • Just.Visiting

      The thing that is so frustrating is that the hands, size and smarts could see him be that player. He has to want it more than we do, though, and he hasn’t shown that with any consistency. In the absence of a big change in how he approaches the game, he’s on the way out.

  • MDG1600

    Janks is an easy one for management and fans – I think both camps are willing to give him another year to see if he can elevate his play. If next year is more of the same I suspect he is gone.

  • Puck Head

    Jankowski is one of the more frustrating players on this team because, as noted in some of the comments above, he has all the physical tools to be a very good player. His hockey IQ is not bad either. Every year since he was drafted he got incrementally better until this year where he plateaued.

    I think he could reach his potential if he was on a skilled/gritty line with two older players who pushed him constantly. We don’t have those types of players. If the Sens got a second for Lazar I would think that we should be able to get at least that for Jankowski. I’m sure there are a few GMs out there who would be willing to bet on his potential.

    It’s unfortunate because if he played a confident and physical game he could have been our solution for the top line. I’ve always supported him but he had an uninspiring year and is now in his mid 20’s. I’m not overly confident that he is the type of player this team needs and a fresh start might be the best thing for both parties.

      • Speed Kills

        Here are some stats too.
        Jake Virtanen
        NHL TOTALS ~ 210games, Goals 32, Assts 27, Points 59, +/- -21, Pim 137
        Virtanen’s Pims has put his team on the PK or down a man roughly 50 times more so far.

        Mark Jankowski …
        NHL TOTALS ~ 152games, Goals 31, Assts 26, Points 57, +/- -1, Pim 45
        Played 58 Games Less with basically the same point production but 20 fewer goals against while on the ice.
        No thanks to Virtanen.. Unless its straight up for Neal.

  • Ramskull

    I felt Janko did some good things this year on the PK and at the dot but there were a lot of times that I wanted to see more from him. He’s become a very large man and I’d like to see him assert himself and his strength more.

  • fretsey

    You don’t just give up on a guy after putting all this time into development. He clearly isn’t a liabilty so what’s the rush?

    I still say that our best trade bait in order to better the team is JG….I love the guy,he fills the stands and is exciting to watch and of course he’s a 100pt guy but we are years and years away from having a top six that’s tough enough and skilled enough to have a player like him as a high end complimentary piece.

  • HOCKEY83

    The big deal about Janks when drafted ahead of his spot was certainly not his stats but was his size. He doesnt have the skill alone to support the need for him on the team. If he can’t learn how to make his size effective for this team then all you got is a 4th line guy bordering on possible third line potential. He needs to use his size or there’s nothing special about him at all.

  • Stockton's Finest

    I have been waiting for this one.

    When Jankowski first hit the ice in his ATO at the end of the 2015/16 season, he looked like he knew what he was doing. When he returned to start the 2016/17 looking stronger, faster, and more focused. It was like the game slowed down for him. When he skated into the zone he was surveying the ice to see all of his options and made the right play 95% of the time. He worked on his shot throughout the season and built chemistry with his linemates.

    After he returned from his call up (and 1 game in NY), he seemed even more focused. He was finding the open areas to park his big frame and either screen the goalie or deflect a puck into the cage.

    When he was the last to be cut and sent down to Stockton to start the 2107 season, he did not pout. He went to work and was part of a stellar first line. I knew when he got called up after a month he would not be back.

    But something has changed in his demeanor and attitude. It is like the game has sped up again. I don’t know if that is due to 2 systems in two years, the GG effect, or the constant revolving door in linemates this year.

    I think the best thing to do with Mark is to reunite him with his Stockton wingers (Mangiapane and Hathaway) on a 4th line. These guys all came up together. Time to let them grow together. He has the hockey IQ, a good shot, size, and vision. If he has not already, he needs to hire a skating coach to increase his speed and a trainer to get him some toughness. He was never a guy to drop the mitts, but he did stand up and move some people around when he was here.

    He is on a team friendly contract so moving him this year would be a mistake. But he needs between a 34 and 40 point season to be considered to be re-signed.

    Here’s hoping that my signed, game worn Stockton 17 jersey and my Calgary 77 jersey still remain relevant.

    • Em Durp Em Hrudey

      Now that Mr.Finest was well written. It’s great reading from people who know the game and have watched these young players develop in person. Your post is actually better written and more realistic than the regurgitated stat based article above.

  • freethe flames

    Janko has been a polarizing player since he was drafted and “feaster” declared he could be the best player in the draft by the time the drafts history is written. He has neither been a bust as some here suggest(see Poirier , Klimchuk) or has he even come close to Feasters claim. What he has become like many late 1st rounder an NHLer who shows promise but never quite seems to take the next step. Let’s remember he will turn 25 in Sept not 28. Science suggests that the Male brain does not fully mature until after 25 so there is still some hope that he can find that next gear mentally; there is little doubt IMO that he has the skills but his mental makeup is lacking to be as good ad he could be. Would his development be helped playing with some more skilled guys are guys who play with more energy probably but has earned that shot; most would say no. But it might be time to see how he responds. Regardless I would not be upset if the Flames traded him as part of a package to acquire a true RW for this club; nor would I have regrets if left and became a better player elsewhere. Some ideas of a trade could include Janko and a draft pick(3rd rounder/2nd if we acquire one) for Bjugstad. The Pens I think would really like to have some draft picks. Or Janko and draft pick(likely a 1st) for Josh Anderson again the reason it might work is that Columbus is in need of draft picks.