Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Calgary Flames
For the last 13 years (12 with The Hockey News) I have reviewed each team from a fantasy hockey standpoint, and graded them. My 14th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. 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 – First of all, a comment on the purge of goaltenders. Wow. I’ve never seen anything like this, with five goaltenders with NHL experience expelled from the organization. Between the goaltending and the coach, the wholesale changes run deep.
I don’t think anyone can argue that the duo of Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson is far superior to the… whatever that was that they had last season. Goaltending is now stabilized and as long as top prospect Jon Gillies can stay healthy, the Flames finally have a 1-2-3 that can compete with the rest of the league. This will unquestionably help the plus/minus of the key players, for those of you in leagues that count that stat. Mark Giordano’s minus-5, for example, could turn into a plus-10 just like that.
Up front, the Flames got more competitive. This was an issue with the likes of Raymond and Colborne – and it’s not an issue with Brouwer and newcomer Pribyl. With Chiasson, the competitiveness is in question at times, but not the grit.
Ready for full-time – Pribyl is a big forward (6-4, 192) but doesn’t play to his size. He’s coming off a big year offensively in the Czech League and could land a depth role on the team if they don’t sign any other free agents. He’s coming off of offseason ACL surgery but should be ready for camp. (More on Pribyl here)
Matthew Tkachuk will bring the grit, leadership, and determination that the Flames are looking for. But next year, not now. The 18-year-old will get a nine-game look, no doubt, but then he’ll be sent back to London where he will dominate the OHL (again) and make an even bigger splash (if that’s possible) for Team USA at the WJC. (More on Tkachuk here)
Hunter Shinkaruk is not ready for the NHL, but at this point the Flames have not added enough forwards to fill their roster. So as of this writing, Shinkaruk may be the best bet to make the team. Well, actually Tkachuk is, but I don’t think management wants to rush him. Shinkaruk has had a tough go of things since being drafted, but last season he bounced back nicely, and will look to build on that in the AHL in 2016-17. (More on Shinkaruk here)
Tyler Wotherspoon is a stay-at-home defender who uses his 6-2, 207-pound frame to keep the front of the net clear. He could stand to be more aggressive, but at this point there is nothing more that the AHL can teach him. He’ll make the jump and could help fantasy leaguers with BLKS…and that’s about it. (More on Wotherspoon here)
Fantasy Outlook – Calgary gets an ‘A’ for their scoring line – Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are as good a duo as anyone in the league, and only getting better. Look for Troy Brouwer to become a solid dark horse pick, possibly having a career year if he can show some chemistry on that line. A second line with Sam Bennett is good…but his wingers are better suited for the third line (no matter who those wingers turn out to be) and that’s where things go downhill quickly. The third line is okay thanks to Michael Backlund breaking through last year and proving himself a 45-point player. On defense, the Flames boast one of the best 1-2-3 punches in the league with Giordano, TJ Brodie and Dougie Hamilton, but then things drop off (and yes, I include Dennis Wideman in that statement). Goaltending is solid, though injury prone (Elliott, Gillies). The prospect pipeline is weak after Tkachuk and maybe Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington. Sure there are some ‘okay’ prospects, but none that fantasy owners are tripping over to acquire.
Fantasy Grade: C (last year was B)
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