Could Martin Necas be a fit with the Calgary Flames?

Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
13 days ago
A few days ago, I wrote a piece detailing a conversation between Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman on the 32 Thoughts podcast about the possibility of bringing Tanner Jeannot to Calgary from the Tampa Bay Lightning. But there’s another player who is a much different archetype than Jeannot, who has had his name thrown around and could be a fit: Martin Necas.
Necas is a 25-year-old winger hailing from the Czech Republic. He was selected 12th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, and since joining the Carolina Hurricanes full-time in the 2019-20 COVID-19 shortened season, he has been a huge contributor to their offence. His best season was 2022-23, where he totalled 71 points in 82 games.
But this year was a down year for Necas, who finished with 53 points in 77 games. Granted, it wasn’t his goal-scoring that went down; instead, it was his assist numbers that fell from 43 in the previous season to 29 this season.
The production drop-off for Necas in the regular season was impactful not just for the Hurricanes’ interests but also for Necas’. He currently sits as a restricted free agent after his contract year ended in a disappointing fashion. Fortunately, he did have a strong playoff showing, registering nine points (four goals and five assists) in 11 playoff games to try and salvage some value that may have been off the table before the postseason began, but it was still a disappointing year in the box score.
The analytics for Necas, however, do look very intriguing. His regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) chart from Evolving-Hockey suggests tons of contribution to offence through shot attempts, which is a staple of the Rod Brind’Amour system down in Carolina. As a result, there are plenty of expected goals per 60 (xGF/60) to go around, but unfortunately, this season, the tangible, goes-in-the-box-score goals per 60 (GF/60) is not close to the created chances.
Contrast this with his 2022-23 RAPM chart, and there is a stark difference between what he was generating and what was going on in the scoresheet.
For many of the avid FlamesNation readers who read my piece on the idea of Jeannot becoming a Flame, there was an (understandable) hesitancy to give up assets for a player that you may only have for one year and a player who has struggled to score at all recently. Even our fearless leader here at FlamesNation, Ryan Pike, wrote a recent piece on the issues that could arise if the Flames were to trade for Necas.
But I’m not here to argue whether or not it would be worth the pieces – my personal opinion is that it would be, but we can save that for a different day. Instead, I’m here to discuss whether he would be a fit. From all of the numbers and looking up and down the Flames’ depth chart, I think he would be from a stylistic standpoint, but there is a logjam likely preventing it from working.
I’d first like to mention that I think the defence is a bit of a concern, and for a team employing Jonathan Huberdeau, who isn’t necessarily a defensive stalwart, that could be a big issue for general manager Craig Conroy and head coach Ryan Huska.
I also think the fact that Necas is a winger and not a centre could make the decision more difficult as well. But, just looking at his overall offensive production and what he can bring to the team in terms of dynamic offence in the zone and in transition, he could be a great fit in Calgary from that point of view. However, when looking up and down the depth chart, it’s hard to find a place for him.
Here are the Flames lines as of the publishing of this article per the Daily Faceoff website:
There could be some movement around with these lines once the season starts, but at first glance, it’s hard to figure out where to put Necas in this lineup if the Flames were to trade for him.
Here’s how the top three lines could be constructed as well:
Pospisil – Kadri – Zary
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman
Huberdeau – Sharangovich – Kuzmenko
And, once again, it’s hard to find a spot where Necas could succeed. The ideal spot is likely on the top line, with Kadri and Zary taking the place of Pospisil, but after the success that line showed last season with three different archetypes of players, it feels wrong to break them up. The same goes for that second line, which is about as consistent as a team could ask for. And finally, the last line is constructed with a superb passer and two players who excel at shooting the puck. All they’re missing is a true center.
Of course, if the Flames were to move on from a player or two in the forward group (Mangiapane and Kuzmenko’s contracts expire after next season), then I may be coerced into believing this move could happen. But, as of now it doesn’t seem the likelihood of a move this off-season for either of those two players from the Flames is imminent.
Another issue would be that the Flames have young players who are itching for their chance to earn a top-six spot on the NHL roster. Whether it’s Matthew Coronato or Jakob Pelletier, they are two prime candidates for an opportunity to show what they can do in an NHL lineup and maybe even an NHL top-six. If Necas were to come in, he would be blocking homegrown options from a chance to take the reins.
Necas’ value (as Pike points out in his article as well) and his impending contract figures are two concerns to bring into an argument about this topic, but I think it would do the team plenty of good from a dynamic scoring perspective and a “push the puck up the ice with a purpose and generate chances” perspective as well to have Necas on the team.
However, in saying that, it’s hard to find a place where Necas could succeed in the forward group that would give him ample minutes, allow him to play with the top players, and also not jam up a young player like Coronato or Pelletier from earning their way up to.
Is there a stylistic fit? Yes. Is there a cap space fit? Yes. Is there a clear place to put him in the lineup? No.
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