December 23 2016 03:00PM
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski - USA TODAY Sports
The Canucks never had serious interest in taking Matthew Tkachuk with the fifth overall selection in last year's draft. It was a two-horse race between Pierre-Luc Dubois and Olli Juolevi. When all was said and done, fate forced their hand, and they plucked the Finnish blue liner with their first pick.
For some, that was an egregious misstep. Tkachuk's counting stats were in line with what we'd expect from a first overall selection and he'd played a starring role on the CHL's top line with the London Knights. What's not to like?
I counted myself among those less convinced, though. Whereas the final consolidated 2016 Draft rankings had Tkachuk as the fourth best player available, I had him tenth on my board. Tkachuk, taken sixth overall by the Calgary Flames, has six goals and is playing on the Flames first line. These are early returns in a small sample, but I think we're at a point where I have to take the proverbial 'L' on this one.
December 23 2016 10:12AM
This morning, it was announced that Pitlick is done for the year with a torn ACL in his left knee. If Pitlick didn't have bad luck he would have no luck at all.
December 23 2016 10:00AM
Back in mid-November, the Calgary Flames went back to basics. They began to play a tight-checking, road style of hockey even before Johnny Gaudreau was injured (but ironically really started to embrace that grinding style in the same game he broke a finger in on Nov. 15). That simplistic "box 'em out" style of play really helped them survive Gaudreau's absence.
When I looked at Calgary's underlying numbers since Nov. 15, two things jumped out at me:
- Man, their special teams are a lot better than they were (in terms of on-ice results).
- Holy cow, they're lucky their special teams are a lot better because they're not generating very much at all at even strength.
December 23 2016 08:00AM
If Seinfeld has taught us anything - and I have been led to believe it has - then today is a very important day.
Today is Festivus, and with it comes a key tradition: the airing of grievances.
What better a subject for that than a professional hockey team hoping to escape its rebuild?
When the season started, it was rife with grievances. The Flames were unwatchable, the entire season was lost because the new coach had no idea what he was doing, the abhorrent special teams only furthered that point, the kids that were just signed to big contracts turned out to be terrible after all, then the steady veterans we thought we could trust were also terrible, the new goaltending was bad, and we were going to have to start doing draft profiles in October.
But then the Flames started winning some games - some on a streak, even! - and things got less bad. Maybe the team started adjusting to that new coach, the special teams stopped being the worst ever, those kids started scoring and veterans started looking like their old selves, at least one goaltender rose from the ashes, and now, they're probably at least going to be playing meaningful games in March. At least. We hope.
There's still plenty to grieve about, though. Let's go for it!
Nation World HQ
December 23 2016 05:00AM
Is JVR on the move in Toronto, Brandon Sutter is the teams 4th best center in Van, Jets bracing for expansion, are the Flames really for real, it's time to breakup McDavid and Lucic, the NHL needs to wake up, travel fatigue is truly a thing, early 2017 draft rankings and more in this week's Nation Roundup brought to you by Violent Gentlemen.