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The Calgary Flames have made some changes over the past few weeks. Some players have joined via free agency, while others have moved onto other gigs.

To get a sense of how the organization’s NHL-ready depth has been impacted, here’s a look (using Game Score) of how things have been altered at each position.

About game score

In short, game score is an attempt to measure single-game performance through aggregation of a bunch of statistical information. Dom Luszczyszyn over at Hockey Graphs (and now The Athletic) created the metric in an attempt to formulate an effective measure, both for skaters and goalies. (He aimed to make a “good” game score equally achievable for skaters and goalies, so coefficients were scaled with that in mind.) It’s effectively a measure of player productivity, which can be averaged per game, or per season, or over several seasons.

For this exercise, we’re looking at what an average game is for each player over the past three seasons. (We calculated the average game for each of the past three seasons, then averaged that to provide a three season average.)

Goalies

Jacob Markstrom
3yr Avg: 0.843
(0.730, 0.808, 0.990)
David Rittich
3yr Avg: 0.587
(0.455, 0.670, 0.635)
Louis Domingue
3yr Avg: 0.512
(0.863, 0.671, -0.003)

Fundamentally, Markstrom (0.843) replaces Cam Talbot (0.607) and Domingue (0.512) replaces Jon Gillies (12 NHL games, not quite enough for inclusion). It’s hard to argue that the Flames didn’t get better in net. They have a better 1-2-3 punch than they did a year ago, though Domingue is coming off a rough season.

Defensemen

Mark Giordano
3yr Avg: 0.851
(0.835, 0.981, 0.736)
Rasmus Andersson
3yr Avg: 0.345
(0.230, 0.367, 0.437)
Noah Hanifin
3yr Avg: 0.523
(0.639, 0.526, 0.403)
Chris Tanev
3yr Avg: 0.204
(0.240, 0.149, 0.224)
Juuso Valimaki
Injured last season
Last NHL season (18-19): 0.213
Nikita Nesterov
In KHL last 3 seasons
Last NHL season (16-17): 0.464
Oliver Kylington
2yr Avg: 0.162
(0.198, 0.126)
Alex Petrovic
In AHL last season
2yr Avg (17-19): 0.156
Connor Mackey
No NHL experience
Alexander Yelesin
4 NHL games

The Flames are now without established regulars TJ Brodie (0.504), Travis Hamonic (0.407) and Michael Stone (0.238), basically replaced by Tanev, Nesterov and Petrovic. Erik Gustafsson (0.641) and Derek Forbort (0.181) are also gone, but they weren’t huge pieces of the Flames regular rotation and were short-term playoff rentals. But the Flames lost some good players.

If you want to be skeptical: Giordano is 37, Tanev isn’t an offensive powerhouse, Andersson is untested as a top pairing guy, Valimaki hasn’t played NHL hockey in a year and a half, and Nesterov hasn’t been in the NHL in three seasons. And the depth defenders are promising, but relatively untested.

If you want to be optimistic: Andersson’s gotten better every season, Valimaki is crushing the Finnish league, and Nesterov has been strong in the KHL.

Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau
3yr Avg: 1.067
(1.125, 1.271, 0.805)
Sean Monahan
3yr Avg: 0.905
(0.983, 1.093, 0.637)
Elias Lindholm
3yr Avg: 0.802
(0.620, 1.027, 0.759)
Andrew Mangiapane
3yr Avg: 0.356
(0.029, 0.456, 0.585)
Mikael Backlund
3yr Avg: 0.708
(0.689, 0.804, 0.630)
Matthew Tkachuk
3yr Avg: 0.986
(0.961, 1.083, 0.916)
Milan Lucic
3yr Avg: 0.316
(0.413, 0.232, 0.303)
Sam Bennett
3yr Avg: 0.336
(0.381, 0.386, 0.243)
Dillon Dube
2yr Avg: 0.250
(0.201, 0.300)
Josh Leivo
3yr Avg: 0.461
(0.288, 0.479, 0.615)
Derek Ryan
3yr Avg: 0.534
(0.621, 0.548, 0.436)
Dominik Simon
3yr Avg: 0.469
(0.437, 0.566, 0.404)
Zac Rinaldo
3yr Avg: 0.085
(0.052, 0.071, 0.130)
Glenn Gawdin
No NHL experience
Joakim Nordstrom
3yr Avg: 0.180
(0.190, 0.284, 0.066)
Adam Ruzicka
No NHL experience
Matthew Phillips
No NHL experience
Buddy Robinson
12 NHL games

The Flames are bringing back their entire top nine, plus Ryan. They’ve swapped out Mark Jankowski (0.316) for Leivo (0.461), Tobias Rieder (0.211) for Simon (0.469), Austin Czarnik (0.425, with small sample sizes in two of the three seasons) for Nordstrom (0.180), and they also lost Alan Quine (0.119, with small sample) and Ryan Lomberg (11 NHL games).

The Flames have some untested depth players in Ruzicka, Gawdin and Phillips, but the signings they’ve made have probably created a situation where Rinaldo and Robinson won’t be in the everyday lineup by default. This snapshot arguably underrates Dube and Mangiapane, who have been progressing quite a bit over the past couple seasons.

Sum it up

Based on averaged game scores over the past three seasons, the Flames are definitively better in goal and deeper at forward than they were when they started. They have a bunch of question marks on their blueline, though. If a few of their gambles on the back end turn out to be smart moves, they could be a better team overall.


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