Wild West Summer Series 2019: Calgary

by chriskane on June 17, 2019

Welcome to week three of our summer series. Like last season, this series is intended to take a look at the teams in the Western Conference one by one. We will do a short recap of what took place, but the deep dive here will be into the players that helped make it so, for better or worse. We will be taking a look at a few players who out or underperformed their expectations and be considering whether this performance might just be the new normal.

 

And now for the technical details. We will be using the Fantasy Hockey Geek tool to get a ranking that combines all of a player’s stats for the searched categories. These ranks are based on a 12 team, head-to-head league, using the categories of goals, assists, power play points, shots, hits and blocks for forwards/defensemen and wins, saves, save percentage and goals against average for goalies. The idea is to compare this ranking with an expected ranking based on the average draft positions from the start of the year. This process does not necessarily identify who was the most important player to each team but gives us not only an idea of who was a steal/bust on draft day, but where each player was valued going into this season. Player eligibility for this series is based on Yahoo, and draft ranks are based on average draft positions compiled from Yahoo, ESPN and CBS by FantasyPros.

 

This week: Calgary

 

Recap:

 

Calgary finished with 107 points – good for first in the West. They had a bit of a goalie carousel throughout the year with Mike Smith and David Rittich swapping terrible and good runs, but the real story was very definitely the first line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monohan, and Elias Lindholm. Each had career seasons – but more on that in a minute. Unfortunately all the good vibes came to a screeching halt in a first round exit against Colorado.

 

Undervalued

 

Elias Lindholm:

Of course we have to begin with Elias Lindholm. He was drafted an average of 248th, right between Bryan Rust (35 points) and Pat Maroon (28 points). He finished the season as the 73rd ranked player and the 20th ranked wing eligible player (though other platforms list center only eligibility) – just ahead of Mark Stone and Phil Kessel.

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

ADP

Alexander Radulov

DAL

RW

70

59

Jake Guentzel

PIT

LW

72

138

Elias Lindholm

CGY

C/RW

73

248

Phil Kessel

PIT

RW

74

28

Mark Stone

VGK

RW

78

139

 

Lindholm had an incredible season. His 78 points were a 33 point increase from his previous high of 45. Moving from Carolina in the off season clearly agreed with him – or maybe it was more the fact that he saw the vast majority of his shifts with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, who were also having career years. It wasn’t just the linemates though, his time on ice shot up as well. His total time on ice was up by more than two minutes from 2017-18 to over 20 minutes per night. About a minute of that time was top unit power play time, putting him over three minutes of power-play time.

 

He had career highs in goals, assists, shots, and power play points. An impressive season, particularly for someone most people were able to grab out of free agency.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

81

27

51

78

0.96

182

14.8

82

26

39

3:12

20:02

 

The good news sort of ends there though. While there is a lot to like about Lindholm for 2019-20, his role, his linemates, the power-play time – there is some cause for concern. First off let’s look at the fact that he scored 27 goals. He had a previous career high of 17. Sure he took more shots and scored a couple more on the power play, but his shooting percentage was a very uncharacteristic 14.8%. His previous three year average was 8.03%, which if applied to 2018-19 would have resulted in about 15 goals. We could get excited and say he is in a new spot on a new team, so maybe this shooting percentage is just the new him – except that his expected goal numbers, both at even strength and on the power play are roughly in line (if not lower) than his 2017-18 numbers in Carolina where he shot 10.5%, and scored 16 goals.

 

To further illustrate the point, there are 48 cases of players scoring 26 or more goals with 190 or fewer shots over the last four seasons. Only one player has been able to do it twice. Lindholm has done it once, but the odds of it happening a second time appear to be incredibly slim.

 

As far as assists go, well it might not be quite so bad, but it isn’t great either. On the power play he had put up career high assist numbers. He also saw a career high in power play time. Most of his other numbers look ok so assuming he stays on the top unit (and there isn’t much reason to think he won’t) the power play points will likely keep coming.

 

The problem comes at even strength. His IPP actually dropped to his lowest since his rookie year. That makes some sense as he is playing with the best linemates of his career so he is not having to drive as much offense. Unfortunately he also doubled his previous high of secondary assists to 15. Secondary assists are less reliable than primary and much more subject to variation. That means it is very much a question as to whether another year in Calgary would see him with 15 secondary assists. He could very easily drop back down to 8-10.

 

And then there is this. Over the course of the entire season Lindholm paced at almost a point per game (.96). Over the last quarter of the season though (and into the playoffs) the magic definitely wore thin. Over his final 19 games, Lindholm put up nine points (or a .47 point per game pace).

 

So what am I saying? Well Lindholm had an amazing year, and he is still very much worth owning. If all breaks well and he keeps his current deployment 70 points is definitely still possible. At the end of the day though I am likely leaning more towards 65.

 

Mark Giordano:

Speaking of Flames who had amazing seasons – enter Mark Giordano. Giordano was drafted 118th overall – right between Mikael Sergachev and Jake Gardiner. He ended the season as the third ranked defensemen, and the 15th ranked player.

 

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

ADP

Brent Burns

SJS

D

3

14

John Carlson

WSH

D

9

51

Mark Giordano

CGY

D

15

118

Rasmus Ristolainen

BUF

D

18

111

Morgan Rielly

TOR

D

26

87

 

Like with Lindholm, Giordano put up a career season and like Lindholm, he had the benefit of playing a lot of time with Gaudreau and Monahan on the power play. His 21 power play points are not a career high, but they are close, and it has been three seasons since he put up anywhere near that number of power-play points.

 

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

78

17

57

74

0.95

221

7.7

58

21

144

3:19

0:14

 

By far the biggest change for Giordano though was in assists, and not just power play assists. He had 37 even strength assists, more than his previous two seasons combined. He did all this without seeing much more ice time than in recent years.

 

Without more ice time we might be lead to believe that something else changed – and well his IPP certainly spiked. He was significantly more involved in the offense than in previous years. Now I haven’t gone back and watched a ton of tape to see if Giordano suddenly changed his game at 35, but on the whole I am going to doubt that that is what it is. Giordano managed to catch part of the fire that was Calgary’s top line and top power play, but it seems to have mostly come on the back of secondary assists. He scored 20 in 2018-19, or about double his recent average. Even in his most successful other seasons, his secondary assist rank was significantly lower than it was in 2018-19.

 

Like with Lindholm, if Giordano keeps that power play deployment, those power play points could certainly still be there, but on the whole, and with age coming for him eventually I think a 60 point season would be a much more reasonable expectation. 

 

Overvalued

 

James Neal:

So the other winger brought in during the off season to potentially slot in on the top line was James Neal. Given Lindholm’s success and Neal’s inclusion at this stage in the article you can imagine where we are headed even if you didn’t pay much attention to Calgary. Neal was drafted 168th overall and it certainly wasn’t in the most illustrious of company. Corey Perry, Tom Wilson, and Derek Stepan highlight his closest draft peers.

 

If that group wasn’t exciting though take a look at where he ended up. The 511th ranked player.

 

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

ADP

Andrew MacDonald

PHI

D

509

ND

Brendan Lemieux

NYR

LW

510

ND

James Neal

CGY

RW

511

168

Jordan Greenway

MIN

LW

512

ND

Brad Hunt

MIN

D

513

217

 

Again, I don’t think we need to watch copious amounts of tape to figure out what happened here. Neal didn’t make the first line, spending most of his season with Sam Bennett, and Mark Jankowski, and did not make the top power play.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

63

7

12

19

0.3

141

5

46

6

19

2:12

14:57

 

Everything about Neal’s season was poor. He had a career low in time on ice, power play time, goals, assists, points, and shot pace. The only potentially redeeming number is that his shooting percentage (5%) was so far off of his personal average that he might be due for a couple of more goals.

 

The problem is he will be 32 and has been shedding ice time for the last several years. Unless he is traded he seems to be Calgary’s Corey Perry – a once great scorer who is struggling to stay relevant with age. Is it possible he has a resurgence a la Claude Giroux? I mean sure anything is possible, but he has one 50+ point season to his credit in the last five years. Injuries and low games played numbers account for some of that, but at the end of the day I don’t see Neal being given the opportunity for a big bounce back, or a high likelihood that he will take advantage of it even if he does.

 

 

Thanks for reading

 

Next week: Chicago

 

Previous Team Articles:

Anaheim

Arizona