Calgarys best value contracts 2021

The Flames are 87.5% through this 56-game schedule, which means the body of work is more than enough for our annual countdown of the team’s best value contracts. Will Andrew Mangiapane take the number one spot for a second straight season? And how many new faces find themselves on this list?

Before we count ’em down for 2021, here is last year’s top five:

5. Mikael Backlund
4. Derek Ryan
3. TJ Brodie
2. Elias Lindholm
1. Andrew Mangiapane

Once again, there was only one criteria to make this list: a player couldn’t be on an entry level contract. Otherwise, everyone was in the running.

5. Josh Leivo

The counting numbers don’t pop, and we’ve seen him in and out of the lineup at times, but Leivo has been effective in his role most of the season. Sure, some were hoping Leivo could fill a top six role upon signing as an unrestricted free agent in October, but how realistic really was that in hindsight? For $875,000 on a one-year deal, though, it’s tough not to like what we’ve seen. All data courtesy Natural Stat Trick.

55.4 59.8 58.4 54.5

Filling mostly a fourth line role, Leivo has been an effective five-on-five forward for Calgary all season. He ranks second on the team in even strength possession, high danger scoring chances, and expected goals. I’ve liked Leivo for most of the year, and I think he has specifically found his stride under new head coach Darryl Sutter.

4. Noah Hanifin

Noah Hanifin

Prior to sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury on Apr. 24, Hanifin was enjoying his best season in the NHL. The 24-year-old defenceman was leading the Flames in five-on-five ice time, averaging 17:53 per game, and had taken huge strides in his all-around game. Playing most of the season on Calgary’s top pair with Chris Tanev, Hanifin’s underlying metrics looked very strong.

53.0 57.1 55.2 49.2

While always cost effective, this is the first season Hanifin has provided truly great value since signing a six-year deal at $4.95 million annually in the summer of 2018. He was thriving while playing lots of minutes against tough competition and the offence was trending in the right direction, too.

Hanifin was seen by some as expendable coming into the season and his name frequently came up in trade speculation. That has changed dramatically as Hanifin has moved himself into the “untouchable” conversation with his 2021 season. A big part of that is the contract, as it has provided immense value this year.

3. Elias Lindholm

Number one in 2019 and number two last year, Lindholm has found himself on this list every season since joining the Flames. Yes, he “dropped” to number three for 2021, but that doesn’t diminish the incredible value Lindholm brings to Calgary with his price tag. Lindholm is without question this team’s number one centre but, with a $4.85 million AAV, is their sixth highest-paid forward.

On-ice Individual
CF% HDCF% OZS% G/60 A/60 P/60
52.0 51.6 50.5 0.92 1.10 2.02

Lindholm has taken on the head-to-head responsibility of a number one centre well, but it hasn’t detracted from his offence. Lindholm boasts the team’s top points-per-60 rate at five-on-five and is second only to Mangiapane in goals-per-60. And, with 43 points in 49 games overall, he’d be on pace for around 72 in a normal season. The Flames will take that for under $5 million every day of the week.

2. Chris Tanev

You could easily make the argument Tanev has been Calgary’s best player from start to finish this season. In fact, knowing the minutes he plays and responsibility he shoulders, it’s hard to argue for anyone other than Tanev. Year one of a four-year, $18 million contract has been an absolute homerun.

53.6 59.8 58.2 48.8

Tanev’s on-ice impact goes beyond the underlying metrics above, too. First with Hanifin and now with Mark Giordano, Tanev has helped elevate two partners this season. Defensively, his expected goals against per 60 of 1.57 is the lowest total of any defenceman in the NHL this season. That is bonkers when you consider Tanev plays almost exclusively against the opposition’s best talent every single night.

Some were wary of the Flames signing a 31-year-old defenceman for four years when the deal was announced in October. Who knows how things go in years two, three, and four. All we know is that Tanev’s first season in Calgary has been outstanding. Oh, and his $4.5 million cap hit puts him fourth on this team’s blueline.

1. Andrew Mangiapane

We have a repeat winner! For a second straight year, Mangiapane takes home top honours, even though he got a sizeable raise during the offseason. Mangiapane’s cap hit jumped from $715,000 to $2.425 million year over year, but that doesn’t deter us from giving him the number one spot once again. That’s how consistently strong Mangiapane has been.

On-ice Individual
CF% HDCF% OZS% G/60 A/60 P/60
54.1 57.2 50.7 0.93 0.93 1.87

Mangiapane is a top five player for the Flames in all the major on-ice categories (shot rate, high danger chances, expected goals). He’s also been one of the team’s most productive players at five-on-five, as his scoring rates illustrate. Mangiapane boasts the best goals-per-60 rate on the team and is second only to Lindholm in points-per-60.

Even with a deserving raise, Mangiapane still gives the team elite value and will be in the running for top spot again next season. If he keeps things up, signing a two-year bridge deal in October is going to pay off huge when it’s time to negotiate a longer deal in the summer of 2022.

The top 5 saves and fight of Ryan Millers NHL career

A Vezina Trophy, All-Star and Olympic MVP are just some of the accolades that ex-Canuck goaltender Ryan Miller accumulated over his 19 year NHL career. Yesterday, Miller announced that this season will be his last between the pipes.

Miller was drafted 138th overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres and was with the club until being traded to the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline in 2014. That summer, he became an unrestricted free agent and signed a 3-year, $18 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks. Miller then left for Anaheim in 2017 and will end his career as a Duck.

Without a doubt, his best years were with the Buffalo Sabres as our list of “Top 5 Ryan Miller Saves” will show, but one of his finest moments came in 2016 when Miller stepped in to rescue then-rookie Troy Stecher from being decimated by Matt Martin, creating a line brawl in the process.

I just want to make it clear off the top, this is a Top 5 list in no particular order.

Save #5 – November 10th, 2016 vs. Detroit Red Wings

Thing you love to see? It. Sure, the save made no difference in the outcome of the game — the Red Wings took it 3-1 — but Miller wasn’t about to sit on the bench and give these guys a freebie. Miller stormed back to his net to rob what would’ve been a sure goal from Henrik Zetterberg. For those wondering: no, Miller didn’t get a penalty for playing the puck in the trapezoid.

Save #4 – April 7th, 2010 vs. New York Rangers

Ryan Miller makes this save look effortless, and the reason for that is because Miller is a movie buff. He’s watched The Mighty Ducks so many times that he knows exactly what to expect when he sees the “Flying V” coming his way. Had Jesse Hall taken Marian Gaborik’s spot in this scenario, we most likely would’ve seen a goal.

Save #3 – November 28th, 2009 vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Not worthy, indeed. Notice how Miller looks and sees the puck clear as day but decides he’s feeling a little adventurous and wants to make the highlight reel that night. So he clearly lets the puck get onto Rod Brind’amour’s (which in french means “brind lover”) stick then shuts the door on the “Bod”. I don’t know who hesitated on that play more.

Save #2 – January 14th, 2014 vs. Washington Capitals

Similar to save #3, It’s been some time since Ryan Miller was on the highlight reel, and wants his time in the spotlight. Miller pretends like he loses sight of the puck and if you look close enough, he’s actually blowing the puck towards Mikhail Grabovski’s stick to help it get there sooner. I think my favourite part of this video is Grabovski’s reaction as he looks up to the heavens wondering what he’s done to end up on the wrong side of this list.

Save #1 – January 15th, 2007 vs. Boston Bruins

Give me a break. A two on one which turns into a two on none as Toni Lydman gets spun around out of position? Paul Mara had the entire net minus the stick to shoot at. Miller has absolutely no business making this save. The fact there’s even any effort made is mind-boggling. Do you know how much that equipment weighs? I do, I played in net once and I’ll never bash a goalie for not making a save again. Anyway, my favourite part of this clip is Glen Murray awkwardly raising his stick in the air to celebrate what he thinks may have been a goal, only to be completely let down when he glides past the crease just to double-triple check the puck never went in. Honourable mention to the call on this save.

Ryan Miller sits 14th all time in wins, and is the winningest American-born goalie in NHL history.

Oilersnation Radio Episode 135 DOWN the stretch we come

Happy Friday, everybody! The end of the workweek is here and that means a brand new episode of Oilersnation Radio is set and ready to lead you into the weekend. This week, we looked back at the series sweep against the Jets, last night’s loss to the Flames, season expectations, and a whole lot more.

To kick things off, we jumped in with a look at season expectations and whether or not the Oilers have met or exceeded what we all thought they would do this season. At the time of recording, the Oilers are sitting in second place in the North Division and that’s basically where every single one thought they would be. We also narrowed the question down to a few specific players that have either exceeded or not met expectations and the answers were varied. From there, we welcomed the newest Nation team member, Matt Wozniak, to the podcast to explain a little bit about his new role with the network as well as chiming in with his hottest Oilers takes. With Woz settled in, we looked back at the games from this past week and offered our thoughts on what went well (against the Jets) and not so well (against the Flames). From there, we looked at a few specific Oilers that need to get going and offered a few thoughts on how they can make it happen.

Listen to this week’s podcast below:

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Analyzing Nick Folignos first week as a Toronto Maple Leaf

The Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans finally got to see Nick Foligno suit up and play some games as a member of the Maple Leafs after being acquired on the eve of the trade deadline. After having to go through a seven-day quarantine, Foligno dressed for his Leaf debut last Thursday in Winnipeg and helped push Toronto to victory as they picked up a 5-3 win on the road.

Before the Leafs acquired Foligno, there were numerous arguments over who would be the better pick up if you were the Toronto Maple Leafs come trade deadline day, Nick Foligno, or Taylor Hall? For me, I honestly would’ve liked either player on Toronto but in my opinion, if I had to pick one guy I would pick Foligno because he just brings so many things to a hockey team.

So now that we’ve seen Nick Foligno play three games for the Maple Leafs, let’s take a dive into how he has played through those games so far.


Foligno’s first 3 games

After finishing up his seven-day quarantine, Foligno got the opportunity to slot in on the top line alongside two of the league’s best players in Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, and its safe to say after getting his legs moving after a long period without playing hockey, he looked pretty good beside those two guys as he plays a similar style to Zach Hyman so it really didn’t look anything out of the ordinary.

Game 1 @ Winnipeg 5-3 W

As I said, Foligno got the opportunity to play alongside Matthews and Marner on the top line in his Maple Leaf debut and he looked pretty good, to say the least. He ended up registering an assist, a shot on goal and three hits while playing 16:12 in his first game in quite some time. He was also strong on the puck and heavy on the forecheck, something that the line knows a lot about due to Hyman playing up there in the lineup with them sometimes. So all in all, after the first game of those three playing together, they looked pretty good and Foligno had a very good debut in my opinion.

Game 2 @ Winnipeg 4-1 W

Now that Foligno has gotten his first game out of the way it was time for the team to sweep this mini-series against Winnipeg and continue their road trip after this game. Well, that’s exactly what they did as they ended up securing a 4-1 win over the Jets and extended their lead for first place in the North Divison. Foligno, just like last game, contributed on the scoresheet and with his intangibles on the ice as he registered yet another assist, followed by two shots on goal, two hits, and a block while playing more this game, 17:02.

Game 3 @ Montreal 4-1 W

Lastly, Foligno got a taste of what it was like to be a part of one of the greatest rivalries in hockey history, the Toronto Maple Leafs vs the Montreal Canadiens. Well, it may not be the same as the rivalries in the past but some of the games against these two teams have gotten a little chippy at times this season, and its probably going to be that way coming down the stretch of the regular season too when they play each other three more times. But for Foligno, he had yet another pretty solid game in the blue and white as he tallied yet another assist while having three hits and a block and registering his highest amount of ice-time as a Leaf so far with 17:30.


Foligno’s overall analysis

So after seeing Nick Foligno play those three games for the Maple Leafs, I think it’s pretty clear that he has been a good pickup so far for this team as they added a top-six/nine forward that brings a lot to the ice whenever he steps on it and it’ll definitely go a long way if they want to make some noise in the playoffs for the first time in almost 20 years.

Through his first three games, despite it being a really, really small sample size, Nick Foligno’s advanced stats have been very good so far. But again, it’s been only three games and an average of around 17 minutes a night on the ice.

If you take a look at these three images they show you Foligno’s advanced analytics through his first three games thus far. According to Evolving-Hockey, (as of April 29th, 2021) Foligno ranks first on the team with a 68.01 xGF% (expected goals for percentage), ranks sixth with a 2.78 xGF/60 (expected goals for per 60 minutes), and ranks second with a 1.31 xGA/60 (expected goals against per 60 minutes)

Although it has been a small sample size and we really shouldn’t judge him just on three games, he has honestly looked good so far and being alongside Matthews and Marner makes it even better. However, when everyone comes back healthy, the main question is going to be if he should remain on that top line and if Hyman should remain on that third-line, or if both of them should switch and allow Hyman back on the top line again and give Foligno a shot on that third-line and help act as a shutdown line alongside a guy like Ilya Mikheyev and whoever else Sheldon Keefe decides to slot there.