New Flames forward Yegor Sharangovich could be a sneaky good fit on Jonathan Huberdeau’s line
Photo credit:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould2 months ago
The Calgary Flames took a bit of a beating on Tuesday afternoon after they announced they had traded veteran winger Tyler Toffoli to the New Jersey Devils.
In exchange for their 2022–23 leading scorer, the Flames received a 2023 third-round draft pick (meh!) and the RFA rights to forward Yegor Sharangovich (who!?). Considering the Flames gave up a first-round pick to acquire Toffoli a little over a year ago, Tuesday’s deal certainly came across as being a tad bit underwhelming.
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The Flames reportedly hadn’t made much of an effort to re-sign Toffoli, who is undoubtedly looking to cash in after a career year. He’s 31 and set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. With the Flames seemingly stuck in limbo after missing the playoffs last season, it wouldn’t have made much sense to cave to Toffoli’s contractual demands. (New Jersey probably won’t be able to keep him beyond this coming season, either).
Sharangovich, who turned 25 earlier this month, should be much easier to retain beyond next season. He’s a pending restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a lacklustre season in New Jersey. By all accounts, he needed a change of scenery, and he got one on Tuesday.
Maybe the Flames will give Sharangovich a cheap one-year deal to gauge his value before re-engaging next summer. Perhaps they’ll look to sign him for three or four years right away. In either case, the six-foot-two Belarusian figures to be a significant part of the Flames’ restructured offensive group in 2023–24.
Back in 2021–22, Toffoli finished with 20 goals in 74 games split between the Flames and the Montreal Canadiens. That same year, Sharangovich amassed 24 goals in 76 games as one of Jack Hughes’ favourite targets in the Devils’ top six. Their paths diverged significantly in 2022–23, with Toffoli scoring a career-high 34 goals to Sharangovich’s 13.
One thing that isn’t in question is that Sharangovich can fire the puck. He scored on approximately 14 percent of his shots over his first two seasons with the Devils before falling below 10 percent in 2022–23. Had he converted at that same 14 percent clip last year, Sharangovich would’ve challenged for his second consecutive 20-goal season.
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Sharangovich can really skate, too. He’s big, although not particularly physical, and his frame allows him to play assertively with the puck on his stick. Given the Flames’ lack of depth on the right side, Sharangovich should be able to stake a strong claim to the team’s No. 1 right wing spot out of training camp.
Five years ago, when the Flames acquired Elias Lindholm from the Carolina Hurricanes, then-GM Brad Treliving said his club had identified the Swedish centre as a player who could “pop” in their system. Lindholm did just that, and Sharangovich fits a similar bill. His shooting and skating ability, combined with his size, makes him something of a scout’s dream. If Sharangovich finds the right fit in Calgary, the 30-goal mark won’t be out of the question.
What if that right fit just so happens to be on Jonathan Huberdeau’s opposite wing? Huberdeau helped turn the likes of Anthony Duclair and Carter Verhaeghe into consistently impactful NHL scorers during his tenure with the Florida Panthers. Sharangovich’s profile is undeniably similar, and he showed in New Jersey that he’s more than capable of holding his own alongside star forwards. When they’re at their best, Huberdeau and Hughes are among the very elite playmakers in the league.
For all their strengths, neither Dillon Dube nor Andrew Mangiapane is a high-end shooter. They fit more into a “grinder” archetype, although Mangiapane has certainly shown to have significant offensive upside in the right role. Sharangovich is something entirely different, though. He’s a big, quick sniper with his best years ahead of him. With a bit more ice time at 5-on-5 and on the power play, he could be a difference-maker.
It certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the Flames just acquired their own version of Andre Burakovsky, who went from back-to-back 25-point seasons and disappointing playoff performances with the Washington Capitals to a 60-point scorer with the Colorado Avalanche after a similar trade in 2019. All he needed was a bigger role and a vote of confidence.
New Flames GM Craig Conroy certainly gave Sharangovich some plaudits on Tuesday: “He can play all three positions. It’s that kind of versatility that sets him apart from other guys. He’s a shooter, he can score.” Conroy went on: “We feel like if we put him in a position to have success, he will.”
It’s far from a sure thing, but it’s not a bad bet for this retooling Flames team to make. Don’t be surprised if, a few years from now, Sharangovich is chugging away in Calgary while Toffoli’s tenure in New Jersey is but a distant memory.
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