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I recently took a closer look at three of the biggest positives from the Calgary Flames in 2020-21.
Today, I’m going to flip the switch and look at three of the (many) negatives from a disappointing year in Calgary.
1. Sean Monahan’s decline continued
Monahan struggled mightily in 2019-20. His on-ice impacts, as usual, were not great and his production fell through the floor. It was a given his numbers would dip after everything went his way in 2018-19 but the extent of the drop off was surprising.
Unfortunately, Monahan did not bounce back in the slightest this past season. The downwards trend actually continued.
He set new career lows in goals and primary points at 5v5 while his chance numbers were the worst they’ve been since his rookie campaign.
Take a look at just how large of a cliff he’s fallen off.
Monahan is not a play-driver and he offers very little defensive value. Essentially, if he’s not scoring; he’s not doing much of anything. And he didn’t score.
I mean, Derek Grant, Michael Raffl, and Jujhar Khaira scored 5v5 goals at the exact same efficiency as Monahan this year. That’s not the company you want your one-trick pony keeping.
Monahan is only 26 so a bounce-back is possible but, given the hard miles on him and the injuries he’s dealt with, it’s possible his best days are simply behind him.
2. Jacob Markstrom was hit and miss
Let me preface this by saying I know some of his struggles this season were a byproduct of the environment. I also understand that it took him some time to get right after recovering from an injury. But, as a whole, his season was disappointing.
The Flames paid an arm and a leg to get his signature because they wanted top-end goaltending and the peace of mind to avoid worrying about the position. He didn’t provide that; at least not as consistently as anyone would have hoped.
Don’t get me wrong. He wasn’t terrible and single handedly costing the team wins. But his closest comparables in terms of Goals Saved Above Expected on a per 60 basis were David Rittich, Linus Ullmark, and Thomas Greiss. The Flames didn’t invest $36 million for goaltending comparable to the guy they had and two no-name netminders on bottom feeding teams.
I think he needs to bring more to the table next season.
3. The young defenders struggled
This was supposed to be a year where the Flames turned the keys over to youngsters like Rasmus Andersson, Juuso Valimaki, and the like.
Instead, the Flames rode Mark Giordano and Chris Tanev into the ground; and it was out of necessity. The kids didn’t play well; at all.
Valimaki’s head-scratching mistakes made it difficult, at times, for the coaching staff to trust him on the 3rd pairing, let alone playing up the lineup.
Andersson, meanwhile, ranked 153/178 among defenders (500+ minutes) in Goals Above Replacement. He was actually worth minus-2.5.
That’s a far cry from the previous two years, where Andersson combined to be worth 18(!) Goals Above Replacement.
I still believe in the talent here – and Andersson has a prior track record of good hockey – but not much progress, if any, was made when much was expected.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com, MoneyPuck.com, and Evolving-Hockey.com