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Photo Credit: Mike Gould

FlamesNation Mailbag: heading home

The Calgary Flames have completed their longest road trip of the 2021-22 season! They’re back home now and it’s now a time for reflection and the weekly mailbag.

Let’s dive in!

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By game score (via Hockey Stat Cards), Dillon Dube has been the Flames’s seventh-most impactful forward this season on average. He’s about as impactful as Sean Monahan. Now, part of that is his possession metrics have been pretty meh – he’s 8th among Flames forwards in expected goals percentage (xGF%) this season – but another part of that is he can’t finish. His personal shooting percentage is just 3.2% at five-on-five. His finishing is bound to normalize if he keeps getting chances, but his underlyings are very middle-of-the-road currently.

And yeah, some of that is impacted by his linemates – looking at you, Sean Monahan and Tyler Pitlick – but at some point or another Dube has to either establish himself as a play-driver or a complimentary player.

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Honestly, I think the defensive pairings are well-suited to their roles right now. I’ll go into more depth on this later this week, but here’s the scheme right now:

  • Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin usually get the most offensive zone starts and face a mix of top nine opposition, with a slight skew towards the opposing team’s top line. (They tend to get time with Mikael Backlund’s line if they’re facing the top line.)
  • Oliver Kylington and Chris Tanev get slightly fewer offensive zone starts and face a mix of top nine opposition, with a slight skew away from the opposing team’s top line.
  • Nikita Zadorov (or Juuso Välimäki) and Erik Gudbranson get lots of defensive zone starts and usually face third and fourth lines.

The role for the third pairing is “get the puck out and don’t allow many goals.” The role for the other two pairings is generating offense, which is enabled by the third line eating the tough minutes. Given how well Andersson and Hanifin are doing (and Kylington and Tanev), I’m not sure what mixing up the pairs would really accomplish. Ryan Huska has seemingly found a really nice balance of roles between the three pairs.

At this point? Low.

He’s still very young. He’s still very early in his pro career. The Flames hold his rights until he turns 27, so there’s tons of runway left for him to figure it out. If anything, Oliver Kylington’s emergence this season (at age 24) might make the Flames more hesitant than before to move Välimäki.

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To date, Johnny Gaudreau has played 539 games and has 516 points, for about a 0.957 points-per-game pace. If he signs a five year extension and plays 75 games per season (including the remainder of this season) and his points production stays at 85% of its current level for the remainder of his tenure, that means he’ll play another 431 games and get another 351 points.

That would put him at 867 points (and 970 games), putting him behind Jarome Iginla (and only Jarome Iginla) in those two categories.

Gaudreau’s been a really, really consistently productive NHL player.

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I’m not sure if he’s still battling something, but remember that he went through a significant surgery (yet another one) and significant rehab for that surgery, and he probably didn’t have the kind of summer of preparation that a healthy player would’ve had. If he looks like his timing is off, given his lack of pre-season action that’s also probably a fair criticism of him right now.

Tyler Parsons is on the season-opening injury reserve. I don’t know specifics, but for a player to be put on that list they have to either have failed the entry medical when they arrived at camp or have suffered an injury during training camp.

If it was up to me, I’d have Yan Kuznetsov in the QMJHL with the Saint John Sea Dogs getting big minutes and finding his offensive swagger. He’s playing fairly well on the third pairing in Stockton, but he’d get more ice time and probably more puck touches in junior, which may help him more developmentally. (That said: he’ll need to learn pro hockey sooner or later, so I do see the logic in keeping him in Stockton, even in a smaller role.)

But if they do decide to send him to junior, they can just bring up someone like Greg Moro from Kansas City to be their seventh defender and just play Colton Poolman and Ilya Solovyov as the regular third pairing.

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