In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. I will first note some ongoing trends that are happening in the league. Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
Twenty-fifth up are the Calgary Flames who are in their 39th year as a franchise. They have made the playoffs every other year for the last five seasons but have not advanced past the second round in any of those playoff stints.
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 2nd
- Goals for Rank: 2nd
- Goals against Rank: 9th
- PP Rank: 18th
- PK Rank: 19th
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 7th
- Western Conference Standings: 2nd
- Pacific Division Standings: 1st
- Coach: Bill Peters (second season with the Flames; 50-25-7 regular season; 1-4 playoffs; 187-163-60 regular season; 1-4 playoffs)
On offense, this team is talented and deep, scoring the second most goals among the 13th most shots, they were hitting above their grade there. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, and Matthew Tkachuk all had over 25 goals and all shot over 14.7%!! For context the league average is 9.4%. You can even go a step beyond that to some great role players, Milan Lucic is the grinder, Michael Frolik is a strong two way players, Mark Jankowski is among the league leaders in short handed points, Sam Bennett is the young infusion of talent etc.. I think this team will take a slight step back, the shooting percentage seemed too good to be true, even with a step back they are still a top five offense.
Defensively, this team had the third most takeaways last season, but they had the second fewest blocked shots and fewest hits. They were fairly disciplined as the 19th most penalized team in the league last year. Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Noah Hanifin, Travis Hamonic and Rasmus Andersson are a fantastic top five. This team allowed the fewest shots against last year largely due to the talent of these players. I think all in all this is a top five defensive unit top to bottom.
In net, there was a nearly perfect split between David Rittich and Mike Smith. David Rittich started 42 games with aa 2.61 GAA (18th in NHL) and .911 SV% (28th in NHL) while Mike Smith started 40 games with a 2.72 GAA (22nd in NHL) and a .898 SV% (44th in NHL). Mike is out and Cam Talbot is in which as of last years stats doesn’t change a whole lot. I focus instead on “Big Save Dave” who, in three consecutive seasons has seen his GAA drop from 3 to 2.92 to 2.61 and his SV% rise from .900 to .904 to .911. I think we could see him emerge as an average goalie from Calgary which would be a size-able step up from what they had last year (allowing the ninth most goals but also allowing the fewest shots).
Behind the bench, Bill Peters went four seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes without making the playoffs. He leaves and the Hurricanes make the Eastern Conference Finals. He joins Calgary and they go from a 37 win season to a 50 win season finishing first in the Western Conference. So I guess you could say the move worked well on both sides? I am not sure what to make of Bill, this team acts very much like a young team exceeding expectations and then finishing beneath them once they are lifted.
- Milan Lucic
- Cam Talbot
Prospects and Picks
Jakob Pelletier – Drafted 26th overall in this years draft Jakob is likely about a year+ out from starting but with the recent promotions of Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki they have some time before needing more young talent. Last year in the QMJHL he had 39 goals and 89 points in 65 games. He has also shined on the international stage with Canada and with some building in his game he can be a goal scorer for the Flames.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
David Rittich – It’s still not a lock that he is a split or even a majority starter over Cam Talbot but from what I’ve seen last year as well as in preseason so far, I think he could take the gig and do a decent job with it. Given the defense in front of him he won’t shine in the save percentage category, leave that to someone in Ottawa, Rangers, Detroit situation. He will however get wins and a lower goals against average.
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$75.1MM Spent; $6.3MM in Cap room; 22 players signed.