September 06 2016 11:00AM
It's September, the time when hockey fans start to create depth charts and line combinations in earnest.
Brad Treliving did some reconstructive surgery to the club's starboard side this year, so it's hard to predict just how the new forward units will shake out. A new coaching staff behind the bench adds another layer of unpredictability.
For now, all we can go on was what worked (and what didn't) last year. Former coach Bob Hartley cycled through a number of different alternatives up front in his quest to find chemistry. Some worked out well, others... not so much.
Here's a look at the Flames' three best and three worst line combos from last season.
September 06 2016 08:05AM
Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SPORTS
If you were to ask people around the NHL what Jake Gardiner is good at, you'd probably hear a lot of things related to his offensive abilities. Earlier this year James Reimer said that Gardiner has a rare aptitude for passing. Writing for the Canadian Press last fall, Stephen Whyno described Gardiner as a "young, smooth-skating, offensive-minded" defenceman but added that he "could be an adventure in the defensive zone." I think those comments are representative of the general opinion about Jake: he's a talented skater who's got great vision, but he hurts his team when he doesn't have the puck.
Conventional wisdom on Gardiner, however, is wrong. While he struggled a bit early on in his NHL career, over the past few seasons Gardiner has been one of the most reliable players in the league at reducing the burden faced by his team's goalie. The same skills that Gardiner uses to generate offence, like his skating and his vision, help him keep the puck away from his own net.
September 06 2016 08:00AM
When news broke yesterday that Kris Versteeg wouldn't be heading to the NLA due to insurance issues, yet another able-bodied forward became available. This isn't a Chris Higgins situation but more of a chance to pursue a player considerably more skilled.
And if we're being honest here, Kris Versteeg offers more than some existing roster players.
September 05 2016 09:00AM
It’s rather unfair to be labelled the next big thing. The weight of expectation could crush someone not mentally strong enough. Connor McDavid’s NHL career has been highly anticipated since he was 11 years old and his debut only disappointed because we were robbed of a full season by a Flyers defense whose only means of stopping the child prodigy was jumping on his back and driving his shoulder into the boards. While voters played mental gymnastics finding ways to say he wasn’t worthy of the Calder trophy, what’s clear to those who watched was that he was already well past the rookie conversation. Now we’re left wondering how many in the league McDavid isn’t already better than.
September 05 2016 08:00AM
Once again I’ve run projections on the Flames’ coming season.
Similar to previous years I have used a number of different statistical categories to cobble together a picture of where the Flames might end up and how the season may go for each player.