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Calgary Flames' top-4 is better without Travis Hamonic

July 12, 2020, 9:52 AM ET [1 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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Travis Hamonic is currently one of Calgary’s six best defensemen. Even so, his absence from the playoffs might well be addition by subtraction. At least relative to the role he would play.

Hamonic has a reputation as a stout defensive defenseman, which he no longer lives up to.

This season the Flames conceded shot attempts, scoring chances, and goals – things good defenders usually help prevent – at a higher rate with Hamonic on the ice than any other Flames defender in the big-5.

That was no fluke. In some cases the differences were truly significant. For example, the Flames allowed 3.35 goals/60 at 5v5 with Hamonic on the ice. The closest defender to him was Noah Hanifin at 2.84 goals against/60.

Despite Hamonic’s inability to slow down opposing offenses, he played a ton. He finished one second back of the team lead in average 5v5 ice per game. Only Mark Giordano played more across all situations.

That would make sense if Hamonic was getting strong results or the Flames had nobody else of note on the backend. But they do, which is why I think Hamonic’s departure is as much a positive as a negative.

Rasmus Andersson is now a stone cold lock to play top-4 minutes on a nightly basis. He should serve as a big upgrade.

Andersson has shown the ability to play up with Giordano on the top pairing, and his results with Hanifin on the 2nd unit are noticeably better than Hamonic’s.

I think Calgary’s top-4 is better without Hamonic and, now, I’m less concerned than I was about them being able to handle Winnipeg’s speed.

The Jets’ top line will undoubtedly see a lot of Mark Giordano. That would’ve left Nik Ehlers, the league’s No. 1 5v5 scorer over the last 20 games, going toe-to-toe with Hamonic on a regular basis. Given Ehlers’ elite play through the neutral zone/in transition – and how much Hamonic has struggled there over the last couple of seasons – it could have been recipe for disaster.

I think Andersson is much more equipped to slow Ehlers and co. down. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com

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