What have we learned about the Calgary Flames blueliners a month past the trade deadline?

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
17 days ago
The Calgary Flames have undergone significant roster changes since the season began in October. But all due respect to Elias Lindholm, no position has seen more significant changes than the Flames’ blueline. The club has traded three everyday defenders since November and lost an entire pairing – Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin – prior to the trade deadline.
A month later, what have we learned about the Flames’ remaining blueliners? Let’s go down the list alphabetically!

Rasmus Andersson

Andersson’s had a weird experience over the last month. Ideally, he’s an offensive-zone deployments guy with another defender who perhaps is a bit more able to take care of their defensive responsibilities. He worked pretty well historically with both MacKenzie Weegar and Noah Hanifin in such situations.
Well, Andersson’s getting heavily offensive zone starts (61.5% offensive zone face-offs)… but he’s getting some tough possession and goals-against results. Part of that is because he’s getting match-ups against tougher opposition – which allows Weegar and Daniil Miromanov some easier match-ups – but part of that is because he’s being leaned on to carry less-established partners like Oliver Kylington, Dennis Gilbert and Nikita Okhotiuk.
Simply put, I don’t think Andersson is bad, but he’s being asked to do too much.

Dennis Gilbert

Gilbert played one game and didn’t perfect all that great in a game the Flames lost against Edmonton. Gilbert’s been a good soldier for the club over the past two seasons, but it feels like he’s being crowded out a bit by all the new additions to the Flames organization lately.

Joel Hanley

Hanley is a perfect third-pairing defender. He’s gotten buried in the defensive zone in terms of zone starts (42.9% offensive zone face-offs) but his underlyings are superb, with over 60% expected goals for. He’s a non-entity offensively, but that’s not his jam and that’s not what he’s being asked to do.
If Hanley is on your third pairing or is a seventh defender, you’re probably feeling pretty good about it.

Oliver Kylington

Kylington is a really good, mobile offensive defender. But he’s missed 20 months and, at the NHL level, it feels like he’s still working the foibles out of his defensive game. As I stated earlier: I don’t think the combination of Andersson as a defensive partner and the way they’re being used is the ideal match for them.
If you have them together and have another strong pairing to insulate them against strong opponents, it works. If you have Kylington with a more defensive-minded partner like Brayden Pachal, it works. But Andersson and Kylington and the role they’re playing right now… just look at their possession metrics (sub 50% expected goals for) and their goals for/against (heavily in the red) and you can see how it’s gone.

Daniil Miromanov

Let’s call a spade a spade: they’ve set Miromanov up for success based on how he’s being used and him getting MacKenzie Weegar as a defensive partner. Their styles mesh really well, they’re generate a lot offensively, and they’ve ended up drawing a mixed bag of quality opposition because it feels like teams are putting their big guns out against Andersson/Kylington and their secondary guns against Miromanov/Weegar.
I’m curious how he’d look in a less sheltered role, but Miromanov has been very good.

Nikita Okhotiuk

I feel bad for Okhotiuk a bit, because he hasn’t played much and it’s tough to get familiar with a team’s system or develop chemistry when you’re only playing sometimes. But with heavy offensive zone starts, it just hasn’t clicked yet. He feels like somebody who’s a third-pairing guy ultimately.

Brayden Pachal

Pachal has played every game, almost exclusively on the third pairing. He looked best as a complimentary piece to Oliver Kylington, but he’s played with a rotation of different guys and he’s been really, really reliable. The biggest complaint I have about him is ill-timed penalties. But he defends pretty well and throws his body around and brings an element to the team that nobody else really does.

Ilya Solovyov

Solovyov played one game on the third pairing. He was fine in what was primarily a defensive role.

MacKenzie Weegar

Weegar’s been excellent. He’s played primarily with Daniil Miromanov, and has been leaned on heavily on both sides of special teams. He has 12 points over 15 games and strong underlyings at five-on-five, so it’s hard to criticize his performance overall.
Which defender has impressed you the most in the past month? Let us know in the comments!
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