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FlamesNation mailbag: retro edition

In the spirit of the Heritage Classic, we’ve added a little retro spice to this week’s mailbag.

Current day questions

Well, not yet. We’ll have to wait and see how long the Elias Lindholm at centre experiment lasts and how long Alan Quine can stick in the lineup before anything happens for Mark Jankowski.

But that might not even matter. The Flames have found that they don’t really need him playing big minutes (or minutes at all) so far this season. Although a fancystats darling through the first stretch of the season (he leads the team in 5v5 CF%), he’s the beneficiary of a lighter role, and his pretty obvious defensive gaffes in spite of those easy assignments have sewered the coaching staff’s trust in him. Safe to say, the Flames could probably use the $1.6M in cap space more than they can use the eight-ish fourth line minutes he plays

He shouldn’t be a hard sell with a 30 point upside and team control at the end of the season, but don’t expect a major payday for the Flames if/when they choose to sell.

You’re right in identifying Lucic as the early fancy stats surprise (or at least a surprise relative to what many thought of Lucic). He’s been a positive CFrel% (0.18) and xGF% (53.40%) player without being sheltered (50.21 OZS%, 13th on the team). Money aside, that’s a decent hockey player to have in the bottom six: a guy who does just enough things right to not sink the team. The PDO also suggests that Lucic isn’t getting all of the bounces he’s owed, though don’t expect him to turn back into a goalscoring machine when that number creeps back closer to one.

The surprising thing is that Lucic doesn’t appear to be carried by any particular player. With or without you (WOWY) numbers aren’t perfect, and the sample size is still small (the most Lucic has spent with another Flames players is 57 minutes with Derek Ryan), but from what we have, Lucic isn’t a significant drag on the rest of the roster.

Don’t take this to mean that Lucic is turning back the clock, or that his promotion to the Mikael Backlund line is going to turn him back into the feared power forward he once was. If anything, I feel what I wrote way back when the trade actually happen still holds true:

With the Oilers, Lucic put up a respectable 50.72% 5v5 CF% (+3.51% rel) with 44.78 OZS%. He was buried and made the most of it. Don’t take the numbers to mean that he’s a fancy stats diamond in the rough who will break out in Calgary, but just that he was a decent player on a below-average team. He was one of Edmonton’s better defensive forwards, finishing third in CA/60 among all forwards who played more than 200 5v5 minutes with 53.11 CA/60.

That 53.11 CA/60 would be ninth among Flames forwards, so don’t get too excited, but with managed minutes and better linemates (Derek Ryan > Kyle Brodziak), Lucic can probably be a reliable defensive option. Not a Selke contender, but a guy who just keeps things quiet in his own end. He likely won’t score points, but he’ll play defence, and that’s more than what Neal could do in those circumstances.

Lucic may have the league’s worst contract, but he’s not the league’s worst player. He can play inoffensive (in both hockey and sensibility terms) hockey and be a competent player when he’s on the ice. If Bill Peters can use him right (read: not in extra attacker situations), I feel there’s a way for this to work out as a net positive for the team. The only thing that really sewers him is the number of penalties he takes, but he hasn’t taken one since the third game of the season, so good on ya Milan.

Heritage Classic notwithstanding, I don’t think TJ Brodie ever exited trade speculation, even if the trade talk has gone quiet in the early months of the season. The Flames were ready to part with him in the offseason, and given that he hasn’t signed an extension, I don’t think that’s changed. The only thing that would prevent a Brodie trade on the Flames end is another injury in the defence, so the Flames waiting out a potential Brodie deal is likely just them playing it safe.

The real question will be what price Brodie will go for, which is going to fluctuate throughout the season. The only comparable deal right now is the Justin Faulk trade back in September, which sent a first round prospect (Dominik Bokk) and a lesser NHL defenceman (Joel Edmundson) back Carolina’s way. That’s wouldn’t be a bad haul for Brodie.

I don’t know, honestly. The Flames have always felt like a slow starting team no matter who’s on the roster (I used to never watch Flames games before Halloween because of superstition), so maybe it’s just a weird quirk that will sort itself out. They tend to really get into gear in November and December, so I think maybe it’s just a case of the early season jitters. A blowout loss also seems to get things rolling, so maybe the Flames need one of those before they shoot up the standings.

Retro questions

In the spirit of the Heritage Classic, I asked the readers for some retro questions. Mostly as a joke, but people delivered. I’ve dug myself into this hole, and I’ll dig myself out of it. I guess I’ll answer the questions as if it was the 80s and 90s and we were using dial up to log onto flamesnation.lycos.com. It sounds fun, so why not.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s too early to give up on Trevor Kidd? Sure, it’s a “hot take” (neat term I just invented here in 1996), but he’s always been a long shot prospect and I don’t think the Flames gave him a fair shot by shoving him into action immediately. That Martin Brodeur kid has just started getting hot, and Kidd was drafted ahead of him for a reason. Give it some time.

Besides, is there a single good NHLer named Dwayne? Case closed. Kidder for life.

If you happened to get a hand on my last mailbag floppy disk (how I assume people exchanged information before the 1990s- I wasn’t alive), you would know that I’m vehemently opposed to a Kent Nilsson trade. All you’re going to get from trading him is a bum who will eventually get traded for another bum.

Interesting and difficult question. I’m looking at the Leafs roster from that year and I think the only options that Calgary could take back to make that trade worthwhile is Wendel Clark and Felix Potvin. I like Peter Zezel too because I enjoy saying his name. Otherwise, everyone on that roster is not great.

I would simply not trade Doug Gilmour to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Seems like a bad decision.