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Calgary Flames 2021-22 mid-season report cards: goalies and defenders

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Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
The Calgary Flames have reached the All-Star Break with 42 games completed, roughly 51% of their regular season schedule. With this short gap in the hockey calendar, it’s time to take a thoughtful pause and take a look at how the Flames’ players have performed so far this season.
Our evaluations focus on a player’s performance relative to their role and cap hit. We’ve discussed the forwards, so let’s dig into the goaltenders and defencemen.
Note: Goals Above Replacement (GAR) figures are via Evolving Hockey, and are based upon a player’s entire on-ice performance. Expected Goals For percentage (xGF%) are via Natural Stat Trick, and is based upon the number, location, quality and type of chances a player allows and generates when they’re on the ice at five-on-five. For both figures, higher is better. (For goalies, we’re looking at five-on-five save percentage.)

Jacob Markstrom

Cap Hit: $6 million
Role: starting goaltender
Boxcars: 17-10-5, 2.20 GAA, .923 SV% (all situations), 7 shutouts
Underlyings: 13.4 GAR, .929 SV% (5v5)
Grade: A – Markstrom has played a lot and played generally very well. Heck, seven of his 17 wins have involved him allowing zero goals. That’s great!

Noah Hanifin

Cap Hit: $4.95 million
Role: first pairing defender, second unit power play, second unit penalty kill
Boxcars: 4 goals, 14 assists, 18 points in 41 games, plus-9
Underlyings: 7.7 GAR, 55.9% xGF
Grade: A- – For less than five million bucks, the Flames have a top four defender that plays a lot in every situation, plays pretty well, and has no big holes in his game. He’s not an elite offensive player and ideally he’d move the needle more offensively via the power play than he does, but these are admittedly nitpicks. Hanifin has been great.

Rasmus Andersson

Cap Hit: $4.55 million
Role: first pairing defender, first unit power play, second unit penalty kill
Boxcars: 1 goal, 20 assists, 21 points in 42 games, plus-10
Underlyings: 6.6 GAR, 55.2% xGF
Grade: B+ – Andersson hasn’t been a powerhouse on the top power play unit, and one goal is a bit lean considering how much ice time he gets. But he’s taken a big step forward compared to last season, and he plays a lot and well in all game situations.

Chris Tanev

Cap Hit: $4.5 million
Role: second pairing defender, first unit penalty kill
Boxcars: 3 goals, 11 assists, 14 points in 42 games, plus-17
Underlyings: 9.2 GAR, 57.0% xGF
Grade: A – Tanev isn’t used on the power play, but he’s been excellent on the penalty kill and excellent at five-on-five. He’s not an elite offensive player, but his game has no holes and he can be used in virtually any game situation, against any line, and at any score.

Nikita Zadorov

Cap Hit: $3.75 million
Role: third pairing defender
Boxcars: 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points in 35 games, minus-2
Underlyings: -0.1 GAR, 55.8% xGF
Grade: C+ – Zadorov’s cap hit is a bit much for somebody who’s only used at five-on-five, and he’s almost a non-entity offensively. He’s a pure shutdown blueliner and he does that part pretty well, but the rest of his game leaves something to be desired.

Erik Gudbranson

Cap Hit: $1.95 million
Role: third pairing defender, first unit penalty kill
Boxcars: 1 goal, 7 assists, 8 points in 42 games, minus-2
Underlyings: -0.8 GAR, 53.7% xGF
Grade: B- – Gudbranson is very similar to Zadorov. He’s a shutdown defender without a ton of offense in his game. But he’s cheaper and can play on the penalty kill, where he’s been very valuable.

Oliver Kylington

Cap Hit: $750,000
Role: second pairing defender, second unit power play
Boxcars: 5 goals, 16 assists, 21 points in 41 games, plus-20
Underlyings: 10.2 GAR, 56.9% xGF
Grade: A+ – Kylington was on waivers last year, and now he’s one of the defensive leaders in GAR league-wide, as well as top 10 in plus/minus among blueliners and playing key top four minutes for the Flames. He’s been, quite simply, a revelation, and he’s making league minimum.

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Dan Vladar

Cap Hit: $750,000
Role: backup goaltender
Boxcars: 6-3-1, 2.64 GAA, .911 SV% (all situations), 2 shutouts
Underlyings: 3.6 GAR, .916 SV% (5v5)
Grade: B – Vladar has had a couple rough outings this season, but he’s registered shutouts in two of his five full-game wins and he’s been very solid in most of his outings. For league minimum salary, it’s hard to poke holes in his performance.
(Note: Michael Stone has been on the roster all season but he’s only dressed twice. He was fine in both games, but he hasn’t done enough for us to fairly grade him.)

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