Wanna blog? Start your own hockey blog with My HockeyBuzz. Register for free today!

Grading the Calgary Flames' off-season moves

November 13, 2020, 11:36 AM ET [40 Comments]
Todd Cordell
Calgary Flames Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me on Twitter @ToddCordell

The Calgary Flames were very active this off-season, making a lot of sizable changes to the roster.

Most – check that, all – of those moves came in free agency. With next to nothing happening in the NHL world right now, I thought it’d be fun to revisit the signings and put a grade on each of them.

Jacob Markstrom: 6 x $6M

The Calgary Flames have had at least some uncertainty between the pipes for years. Even when their goaltending was fairly competent – like last season – there were always times where their 1A would hit concerning rough patches, and questions about who should be starting come playoff time. I think GM Brad Treliving had enough of that. He wanted to plug the hole with a longer-term solution – rather than a stop gap – and he did that in signing Markstrom.

I think it is fair to be concerned about how the contract will look towards the end. But it is also fair to say, as currently constructed, the Flames are more built to win over the next couple of years than a handful of seasons from now. Markstrom’s presence definitely improves their chances.

He was flat-out excellent over the last couple seasons in Vancouver. He posted strong numbers behind a team that gave up a lot of shots, and chances, and was named their team MVP back-to-back years as a result.

I don’t know that Markstrom is an elite starter, but he is an above average starter. With Markstrom leading the way, and David Rittich penciled in as the 1B, the Flames figure to have one of the better goaltending tandems in the league next season.

Grade: B.

Chris Tanev: 4 x $4.5M

This...this was not a good move. Tanev was once as stout as pretty much anybody in his own zone. That’s no longer the case.

The Canucks were not good defensively last season and yet, on a per 60 basis, they allowed more chances, high-danger chances, and goals with Tanev on the ice than without. That’s generally far from the norm but his numbers have declined significantly over the last few years and that will likely only continue now that he is on the wrong side of 30.

I think Tanev has a lot of similarities with Travis Hamonic in that his defensive game no longer lives up to the perception of how good it is; and he’s not going to make up for it with offense.

Tanev has a lot of hard milage on him, as well as an injury history, and I think he’s making too much money for too long.

Grade: D.

Dominik Simon: 1 x $700K

Calgary hasn’t gotten much from their bottom-6 of late and they really didn’t have much financial flexibility to improve after signing Markstrom and Tanev. That had to look through the bargain bin, and I think they made an excellent selection in Simon.

He has averaged 30 points per 82 games over the last two seasons, which is very good offensive production from a depth player. His defensive impact was also quite good in Pittsburgh.

In terms of objective traits, Simon is a good skater, forechecker, and he has the ability to make some plays with the puck.

I think he is a very solid bottom-6 piece, and I think he is capable of playing up on occasion when necessary. I loved this move.

Grade: A.

Josh Leivo signing: 1 x $875K

This is another depth move I liked. Leivo is a good shooter and brings some scoring pop to the middle of the lineup. He can play up as a 3rd wheel with two quality players, and he can be productive against softer competition if he is lower.

He’s not going to score 20. He’s not going to lock down opposing team’s top players, or provide much of a physical spark.

But he will produce some points in a depth role and is capable of skating on a power play unit. I’m not sure he’ll play every day for Geoff Ward. He is a nice plug-and-play option to have around, though.

Grade: B.

Joakim Nordstrom: 1 x $700K

I didn’t care much for the Nordstrom signing. His relative numbers in Boston were downright horrific. He’s not going to carry the mail up ice or provide anything of value in the offensive zone. He’s essentially an OK in-zone defender whose value there is mitigated by the fact he spends too much time on his heels. It doesn’t matter if he is mostly in the right position if his team doesn’t have the puck and is getting hemmed in. It’s only a matter of time before a price is paid.

On one hand, he signed for pennies and could easily be shed if he struggles.

On the other hand, Nordstrom is the hard-working, gritty-type coaches tend to fall in love with. It’s not hard to imagine him playing every night with poor results while a guy like Leivo or Simon – with better numbers – sits in the press box.

Grade: D.


All in all, I’d give the Flames a B- for their off-season additions to date. They added an above average starting goaltender and addressed their depth issues with a couple of low-risk pickups.

But – but – they lost a really solid defenseman in T.J. Brodie and replaced him with a lesser, more injury-prone player in Chris Tanev.

They also added an overrated depth winger in Nordstrom who strikes me as somebody who could be frustratingly overused (much like Lance Bouma during his tenure in Calgary).

Recent posts:

Flames make another smart, low-risk gamble with Josh Leivo

Flames make smart gamble on Dominik Simon

Flames sign Andrew Mangiapane to two-year bridge deal

Flames make risky bet on Chris Tanev

Flames sign Jacob Markstrom to long-term deal

Are the Flames ready to move on from Noah Hanifin?
Join the Discussion: » 40 Comments » Post New Comment
More from Todd Cordell
» G23 Calgary Flames vs Ottawa Senators: The Tkachuk Bowl 2.0
» Senators 6, Flames 1: Another deflating loss
» G21 Calgary Flames @ Ottawa Senators: The Tkachuk Bowl
» Flames 3, Maple Leafs 0: Big Save Dave steals the show
» G19 Calgary Flames vs Toronto Maple Leafs: Right the ship