FlamesNation Mailbag: Looking ahead to Jakob Pelletier’s return, the arena, and over/under-acheiving teams

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
4 months ago
Folks, it’s December, and the Calgary Flames have clawed their way back into the thick of the playoff mix with a heck of a performance in November. They also traded Nikita Zadorov to Vancouver. (A lot happened in November.)
As we wait to see what December brings, let’s dive into the mailbag!
Honestly, there’s not much to share than what’s already out there. Oliver Kylington’s still in town and skated with a few members on Friday at Max Bell – only a chunk of the team skated, while the rest of the team had an off-ice workout. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Kylington’s been skating on his own with a trainer but Flames head coach Ryan Huska told reporters after Friday’s skate that there’s no timeline for Kylington to return to playing. It’s a positive sign, but there’s a ways to go.
There’s a lot of stuff happening in the background. The city put up an update on their website last week:
  • The designers (HOK and DIALOG) are working on the design for the whole event centre block; that’s expected to be completed sometime in the first chunk of next year. (As that progresses, we’ll start seeing renderings and whatnots, and then the project will go through the city’s development permit process.)
  • The development manager (CAA ICON) is building out the pre-construction milestone schedule – e.g., the gates that the project has to proceed through before they can get shovels in the ground.
  • The event centre block will start getting prepped for construction in the new year; the biggest thing they have to do is integrate 5th Street into the block and create a new 5A Street a little bit to the east of that existing road. (This primarily means moving utilities from below the current road to below the new road so they’re accessible; this likely involves shifting some of the nearby crews doing the Green Line LRT utility work to the event centre work after the LRT work is done.)
The Stampede Trail roadway redevelopment south of 14th Avenue is almost done, too. If you haven’t been down to the Saddledome lately, they’ve opened parts of it already and the sidewalks are pretty wide and spacious and the roadways have some cool brickwork. (So far, it seems like a big improvement over what was there beforehand.)
(We received a few versions of this question, so we’re grabbing these two as a representative sample.)
In terms of timing, Matt Coronato is healthy and can be called up at a moment’s notice, while Jakob Pelletier still has awhile to go – it’s probably reasonable to target the All-Star Break as when we could see him.
Between the two of them, they have pretty different styles and roles. Coronato has the offensive chops to play on an NHL power play and not only not look out of place, but his five-on-five play at the NHL level has been a bit so-so. (He’s figuring it out in the AHL, though.) For Coronato to be Coronato, he needs to be used in a scoring role. As for Pelletier: you can probably throw Pelletier on the fourth line and he’ll be effective. (You could probably put him anywhere and he’ll be effective; we saw that during his World Juniors stint in 2021.)
So for Coronato, his return probably waits until a top nine winger spot opens up. For Pelletier, he probably gets cleared in February(-ish), spends a couple weeks with the Wranglers to get the rust off, and joins the team before the trade deadline. That’s probably a reasonable ballpark.
For me, a good indicator of a team that’s underachieving is when their relative rank in Expected Goals For percentage is way higher than their relative points percentage rank, and a team that’s overachieving has an Expected Goals For percentage ranking way lower than their points percentage rank.
So teams that should climb the standings a bit going forward are Edmonton (I’m sorry), Nashville and New Jersey while teams that could be expected to slide somewhat are St. Louis, Washington and the New York Islanders.

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