March 01 2017 04:30PM
Perry Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
The Calgary Flames are not contenders. They appear to be on the upswing, and odds are looking good they'll make the playoffs this season, but they aren't a major threat to win anything yet. They're a team that is not in any position to rent players for a playoff run.
And for the most part, they stuck to their word. Michael Stone may or may not turn out to be a rental, but at 26 years of age, he certainly fits into the Flames' age group.
And so does 22-year-old Curtis Lazar. He's the fifth 2013 first round pick the Flames have acquired: a month older than Morgan Klimchuk, who has yet to make his NHL debut; and younger than Sean Monahan, Hunter Shinkaruk, and Emile Poirier. Following the trade, Brad Treliving was emphatic that this was a long-term move, and Lazar was a part of the Flames' plans for the future.
Contrast that to, say, the 35-year-old Radim Vrbata. The Flames are aware they're still building a team, and they decided to spend assets on someone they expect to be a part of it for years to come.
February 22 2017 02:00PM
Since Jiri Hudler in the 2014-15 season, the Flames have had a fair bit of trouble with finding a right winger to play with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Hudler was magic with the duo in the year the Flames went to the playoffs, but he fell off a cliff the following season, and then he was traded.
That line has had a mostly rotating cast since, with multiple other forwards getting the call and none of them really working out.
One of those guys was Micheal Ferland. In the 2015-16 season, he played 144:47 5v5 minutes with Gaudreau and Monahan. The line had a CF of 53.8%, but their GF was a mere 45.5%. They looked great, but they weren't really producing tangible results, things didn't stick, and the Flames had a miserable season, anyway.
Against the Predators the Flames continued to have a not-miserable if inconsistent season, kicked off with Ferland back on that line and scoring two goals to show for it.
February 18 2017 02:30PM
On Jan. 24, Elliotte Friedman offered up some thoughts about shift lengths in his 30 Thoughts column. Specifically, it was about how much time Erik Karlsson spends on the ice over the course of a single shift (#17):
A year ago, Karlsson played the most in the NHL (2,375:55) and had the longest shift length (1:04). But he was tied for 72nd in shifts per game and 34th in overall shifts taken. It’s not like he’s stapled to the bench, as his overall time is eighth. But he’s now second in the NHL in shifts per game, going from 27.1 to 32.2 per night. His length has dropped to 0:50, which is 38th. He’s agreed to stay out a little less, but the trade-off is minimal as they put him out there more.
What does this have to do with the Flames? Well, shorter shifts generally result in more effective shifts. And Johnny Gaudreau has gone from being tied for 64th among all forwards in average shift time in 2015-16 to fourth this season.
That's quite a jump, wouldn't you say?
February 15 2017 08:00AM
It can be easy to get caught up in the moment, especially with something like sports. Teams are built over the course of years and years, and there's never any point in which case you can ever say they're solidly "complete". There will always be some future matter to attend to.
But the present is pretty important, too. Sports are a series of increments, and we get to watch every single moment as it unfolds in real time. So when, say, we see a team that should be exiting the rebuild stage in the midst of the playoff chase, that's progress. But when we see, in the midst of that, them lose 5-0 to a team at the bottom of the standings... well, that really doesn't look like it.
So. Are the Flames actually making progress?
February 12 2017 08:00AM
For the past four seasons, including this one, the Calgary Flames have had the chance to feature a prominent rookie in their lineup. Taken at sixth overall in 2013, Sean Monahan was the first draft pick of the rebuild, and he made the NHL right away. Johnny Gaudreau, having taken every challenge the NCAA could have possibly thrown at him, played his rookie year the season after. Sam Bennett followed up with his the next season.
This season, Matthew Tkachuk has been that rookie. Just like with the previous three, there were questions as to whether he'd be able to make the team full-time at all. Now, over 50 games through the season, we're seeing him be one of the Flames' most impactful players.