Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Calgary Flames
For the last 12 years over at The Hockey News, I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. Now that I am no longer with THN, my 13th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – The Flames of 2014-15 are often compared to the Avalanche of 2013-14. And while the PDO (now called SPSv%) numbers indicate a likely negative regression for some key players, the possession stats for Calgary were better than Colorado's were (simplified, but this isn't a math course). Furthermore, while the Avalanche lost Paul Stastny and PA Parenteau, the Flames don't really lose anybody…yet they gain Hamilton and Frolik. And technically, they're gaining rookie Sam Bennett too. Those upgrades should stem most if not all of any potential slide. But this is fantasy hockey – we don't care a whole lot about how the team itself fares. Onto the good stuff.
When Mark Giordano went down, Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell saw a huge spike in the numbers. And Giordano's partner TJ Brodie saw a big decline (also influenced by playing through an injury). Now that Giordano is back and Hamilton is on board, look for Wideman to slip dramatically from his 56 points of last season. Because Russell plays a more complete role with this team, his offensive decline won't be nearly as dramatic. And Lance Bouma saw a big jump in his numbers down the stretch (24 points in 39 games), but the arrival of Frolik will push him back down the ladder.
Ready for full-time – Bennett showed in the postseason that he is an NHLer. He should slot into the second line (occasionally third line after the inevitable bad games), but in the end is good for 40 or even 50 points.
Joni Ortio is on a one-way contract. The problem is, the Flames already have two other goalies signed to big money contracts. Look for a trade to be made here, but in the meantime you could be seeing a three-headed goalie monster to start the campaign. For now, don't count on more than seven or eight starts this season from Ortio – but that could change quickly.
Micheal Ferland also showed in the postseason that he belongs. Right now the team is pretty deep up front, so there may be a short-term demotion for him to start as the team waits for injuries or clears up some space (ahem – Mason Raymond). Ferland also gets hurt a lot, due to his style, so for now count on just 55 or 60 games, but minimal fantasy value unless your league counts hits (50 hits in nine playoff games – see here)
Jakub Nakladal is an undrafted Czech rearguard who was signed out of the Finnish League. He has intriguing upside (35 points), but is a defensive stalwart. Little is known about him in the fantasy world, but as things stand now the Flames have an opening on the blue line and the 27-year-old was signed for a reason.
A healthy Backlund and the arrival of Bennett will keep Markus Granlund off the roster to start the year. But he'll be the first forward called when one is needed and in the end could see as many as 35 or 40 games. He'll need to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is an NHLer, or the Flames won't make room for him next summer. The same can be said about Drew Shore, who is in the same boat that Granlund is in, except one notch down on the depth chart. Shore is two years older (24 to 22) so things are lot more urgent for him.
Fantasy Outlook – The Flames finished seventh in NHL scoring and adding Hamilton and Frolik will help them stay close to that. Realistically though, finishing 12th or 13th is about where they'll end up unless Johnny Gaudreau beats any sophomore regression. A lot of high-quality youngsters are already on the team, so the pipeline is probably below-average when talking about fantasy-relevant players. Bright future overall.
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was C-)