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Many Calgary Flames players had tremendous regular season performances in 2021-22

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Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
8 months ago
The Calgary Flames had one of their best regular seasons in franchise history over the past seven months. As you would imagine, that breakthrough season was driven by a lot of strong individual performances throughout the club’s lineup.
We’ll be doing deeper dives into each NHL regular following the end of the post-season – whenever that is – but with the memories still fresh, we wanted to do a quick grading snapshot of each player on the Flames roster.
Notes: Player usage charts are via Dobber Hockey – tougher competition is towards the top, weaker towards the bottom, while players get more offensive zone starts as they move to the right. Bluer dots indicate better possession numbers relative to the rest of the team, redder indicate worse. Expected Goals For (xGF%) stats are via Natural Stat Trick, and is generally a good proxy for possession and generating dangerous chances. Goals Above Replacement (GAR) stats are via Evolving Hockey, and are a proxy for a player’s overall performance in all game situations compared to a replacement-level NHLer.

Forwards

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Johnny Gaudreau
Stats: 82 GP, 40 G, 115 P, +64 / 58.2 xGF% / 31.2 GAR
Playing on the top line, Gaudreau saw a steady diet of the best players on the opposition clubs. And his line beat their brains in, with the line out-scoring the opposition consistently and Gaudreau emerging as the top even strength scorer in hockey. A legitimate Hart Trophy candidate – disclosure: he’s on my ballot – Gaudreau had his best season as a pro. Grade: A+.
Matthew Tkachuk
Stats: 82 GP, 42 G, 104 P, +57 / 59.5 xGF% / 23.8 GAR
The crash-and-bang agitating presence of the top line, Tkachuk was a supremely useful physical player, a timely scorer, and one of the more underrated two-way players in hockey. Adept at net-front shenanigans, puck retrieval, redirections and between-the-legs shots, Tkachuk was flat-out awesome this season. Moreover, he was able to be Peak Tkachuk in terms of agitating opponents without running afoul of Player Safety. Grade: A+.
Elias Lindholm
Stats: 82 GP, 42 G, 82 P, +61 / 58.9 xGF% / 22.1 GAR
Lindholm was the defensive conscience of hockey’s best line, with most scoring sequences beginning with a face-off win or a savvy defensive play. Lindholm won face-offs, was the connector between the forwards and the various defensive pairings they linked up with, and always found a quiet patch of ice in the slot area to uncork a one-timer for a timely goal. Grade: A+.
Andrew Mangiapane
Stats: 82 GP, 35 G, 55 P, +20 / 56.4 xGF% / 14.6 GAR
It’s hard to criticize a guy that obliterated his prior offensive high mark, but here goes: if Mangiapane was a little bit more consistent, he’d be an elite player. Utilized on both sides of special teams and relied upon to drive offense on the second line, Mangiapane was always around the action but tended to go quiet offensively for a few games at a time. He took a big step this season and was a player other teams always had to worry about, but finding ways to keep the scoring taps turned on is the only thing keeping him from being a consistent top line player. Grade: A-.
Mikael Backlund
Stats: 82 GP, 12 G, 39 P, +16 / 56.1 xGF% / 6.8 GAR
For years, Backlund was an elite two-way forward and the defensive conscience for the Flames. This season, rather than being awesome in all three zones, he was pretty good in the defensive and neutral zones and acceptable in the offensive zone. He wasn’t a drag on the team in any situation, but he wasn’t an offensive difference-maker and his time on the second power play unit has largely been unremarkable. He’s a good player, but he’s taken a step back from when he was awesome. Grade: B.
Blake Coleman
Stats: 81 GP, 16 G, 33 P, +16 / 57.8 xGF% / 2.4 GAR
It took awhile for Coleman to get his legs under him offensively, but he’s been joined at the hip with Backlund all season. He’s not quite as reliable as Backlund from a two-way standpoint, but he’s a really good two-way winger who can kill penalties, play secondary power play minutes, and will generally provide his team with high-quality, low-risk minutes. There’s nothing flashy about him, but he’s just rock solid. Grade: B.
Dillon Dube
Stats: 79 GP, 18 G, 32 P, +1 / 53.2 xGF% / 5.9 GAR
We’d describe Dube as a poor man’s Mangiapane. And that’s not meant to be derogatory: he’s not quite as good as Mangiapane in all three zones, but he’s getting there. The challenge with Dube is he tends to go very hot and very cold – he ended the season with a heck of a hot streak, but he was uneven enough this season to earn healthy scratches at times. When he’s good, he’s excellent. When he’s not good, he’s… well, not. Grade: B-.
Tyler Toffoli
Stats: 37 GP, 11 G, 23 P, +3 / 52.8 xGF% / -1.8 GAR
Toffoli has had a weird stint with the Flames. On one hand, he’s added a really nice element to the power play, and he’s able to battle to the front of the net to get chances. But his scoring output is heavily skewed to special teams and at five-on-five he’s been rather ordinary. Not bad, but just ordinary. Grade: B-.
Milan Lucic
Stats: 82 GP, 10 G, 21 P, -9 / 51.2 xGF% / -3.4 GAR
Lucic is not a fast player. But he’s a very self-aware player, and he seems to know his limitations and tries to work around him. He’s played almost exclusively on the fourth line this season, and he’s managed to chip in with the occasional goal or big hit or fight, and has otherwise avoided standing out. Considering his role on the team, that’s been just fine. Grade: C+.
Trevor Lewis
Stats: 80 GP, 6 G, 16 P, -1 / 49.2 xGF% / -0.7 GAR
Lewis has been a reliable bottom six forward for the Flames. He doesn’t score much. He doesn’t play much. He’s a very replacement level player. But he plays with pace and does a nice job making sure the fourth line doesn’t let the air out of the balloon, momentum-wise, for the Flames. That, combined with some rock-solid penalty kill work, make him a good value player for the team. Grade: C+.
Adam Ruzicka
Stats: 28 GP, 5 G, 10 P, +8 / 49.4 xGF% / 2.5 GAR
Ruzicka played a good deal of NHL hockey this season, mixed between the third and fourth line. He was solid, but his play away from the puck was merely fine and so he never really locked down the role. He’s still quite young, though, and the details of his game are probably still going to improve. Grade: C.
Calle Jarnkrok
Stats: 17 GP, 0 G, 4 A, +1 / 54.8 xGF% / -0.1 GAR
Jarnkrok joined the Flames at the trade deadline and he’s been fine in his two-way role, but he hasn’t really jumped off the page at all. He’s played mostly on the third line and hasn’t yet really done much offensively. Grade: C.
Brett Ritchie
Stats: 41 GP, 3 G, 4 P, -6 / 58.4 xGF% / 0.2 GAR
Ritchie has been in and out of the lineup due to injury, playing mostly on the fourth line. He’s basically been a less impressive version of Trevor Lewis. He plays with pace and physicality, but doesn’t have much of an offensive presence. Grade: C.
Sean Monahan
Stats: 65 GP, 8 G, 23 P, -15 / 51.1 xGF% / -1.7 GAR
Years of injuries and wear and tear limited to Monahan to fourth line duty this season before he opted for season-ending surgery. He’s a battler, but he’s slowed considerably. He’s not of note at five-on-five, but he was still a useful power play option because of his shot. Grade: C.
Ryan Carpenter
Stats: 8 GP, 0 G, 1 P, -1 / 56.7 xGF% / -0.1 GAR
Carpenter was in and out of the lineup, serving as a healthy scratch more often than he played. He seems like the fifth-string centre right now. Grade: Incomplete.

Defencemen

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Rasmus Andersson
Stats: 82 GP, 4 G, 50 P, +30 / 54.8 xGF% / 14.3 GAR
Andersson had a great season. He was good offensively at five-on-five and became more confident as a power play distributor as the season went along. He and Noah Hanifin spent the season together and played against a lot of tough opposition with really good results. Grade: A.
Noah Hanifin
Stats: 81 GP, 10 G, 48 P, +27 / 57.1 xGF% / 15.4 GAR
Hanifin wasn’t quite as good as a puck distributor as Andersson, but his mobility and ability to pick his spots with his shot made him really useful as a five-on-five offensive option – he often snuck in as the trailer in rush situations and got scoring chances. He and Andersson were cemented together all season and were superb. Grade: A.
Chris Tanev
Stats: 82 GP, 6 G, 28 P, +35 / 58.2 xGF% / 16.9 GAR
Arguably the most consistent blueliner on the team over the past two seasons, Tanev killed penalties and was the blueline’s two-way conscience all season. There’s nothing flashy about Tanev (aside from his hair), but he was reliable enough to help Oliver Kylington come out of his shell and enable his partner’s breakout season. Grade: A.
Oliver Kylington
Stats: 73 GP, 9 G, 31 P, +34 / 56.1 xGF% / 16.5 GAR
A season ago, 30 other NHL teams opted not to claim Kylington on waivers. Seattle opted not to claim him in expansion. Kylington won a job out of training camp, then found a way (playing with Tanev) to minimize his defensive mistakes while using his speed, smarts and hockey sense to become a really effective offensive contributor. Grade: A.
Erik Gudbranson
Stats: 78 GP, 6 G, 17 P, +15 / 54.0 xGF% / 4.0 GAR
The worst thing you can say about Gudbranson is he’s not as good offensively as the top four defenders. He was extremely low-risk and reliable on the third pairing, and was a big piece of a very stingy Flames penalty kill. Grade: B.
Nikita Zadorov
Stats: 74 GP, 4 G, 22 P, +11 / 55.6 xGF% / -2.6 GAR
Zadorov was a really steady third pairing blueliner and an underrated puck-moving player. He gets dinged a bit for occasionally defensive lapses and for taking too many bad penalties. But overall, he had a very solid season. Grade: B-.
Michael Stone
Stats: 11 GP, 2 G, 6 P, +3 / 48.6 xGF% / -1.0 GAR
Stone isn’t flashy by any stretch, but he was the seventh defender and often played at short notice. He was a reliable fill-in body who tended not to stand out for positive or negative reasons: he rarely made gaffes, but he also wasn’t a big difference-maker. As far as seventh D go, he was pretty decent. Grade: C+.

Goaltenders

Jacob Markstrom
Stats: 63 GP, 37-15-9, 2.22 GAA, .922 SV% / .928 ES SV% / .852 HD SV% / 29.3 GAR
Markstrom led the NHL in shutouts. He played a lot for the Flames and was generally pretty good, emerging this season comfortably in the top third of most goaltending metrics among regular starters. Grade: A-.
Daniel Vladar
Stats: 23 GP, 13-6-2, 2.75 GAA, .906 SV% / .919 ES SV% / .794 HD SV% / 7.0 GAR
Vladar played primarily on the second night of back-to-back sets, often on the road. Considering the situations he played in and how infrequently he got starts, the results he gave the Flames were quite good. Grade: B.

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