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Demand for a Top Four Defenceman is Skyrocketing — Flames-Lightning GDT

November 17, 2022, 10:45 PM ET [25 Comments]
Trevor Neufeld
Calgary Flames Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
A cursory glance around the league indicates an interesting trend this season. That being the need for an adequate top four defenceman.

Among division rivals, we see the Oilers and Canucks sitting near the bottom of the league in defensive teams stats. Much of that can be attributed to a lack of blue line depth. More specifically, quality blue line depth.

Let’s look at the sheer amount of defencemen the Canucks have tried out over 17 games. We’ll include their even strength goal differentials and put the goals for/against in brackets.

Even Strength Goal Differentials — Vancouver
Luke Schenn +4 (15-11)
Guillaume Brisebois +1 (3-2)
Tyler Myers +1 (11-10)
Quinn Hughes 0 (16-16)
Tucker Poolman 0 (1-1)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson 0 (16-16)
Riley Stillman -7 (3-10)
Kyle Burroughs -5 (2-7)
Jack Rathbone -3 (3-6)
Noah Juulsen -1 (0-1)
Ethan Bear -1 (5-6)

GA/GP: 4.06 (30th)

While not as dramatic as Vancouver’s, you can see Edmonton is also missing a piece or two.

Even Strength Goal Differentials — Oilers
Cody Ceci +4 (14-10)
Tyson Barrie +3 (16-13)
Darnell Nurse +2 (18-16)
Markus Neimelainen +1 (5-4)
Evan Bouchard -8 (8-16)
Ryan Murray -4 (4-8)
Brett Kulak -1 (10-11)

GA/GP: 3.56 (28th)

While this may be construed as a shot at these two divisional rivals, it’s more to illustrate the point that there are several teams looking for one or two more pieces to solidify their top four. Riley Stillman, Kyle Burroughs, and Jack Rathbone might need their minutes scaled back. As should Evan Bouchard and Ryan Murray.

Instances like this seem to be common.

Nick Leddy was playing a questionably high amount of minutes (21:38/GP) in St. Louis before Parayko started playing through injury. Their ranking defensively? 25th

Jacob Bryson plays the fourth most even strength ice time on the Sabres and has been outscored 11-22 in that time. 27th best defence at 3.59 goals per game.

Former Calgary Flame, Erik Gustafsson, plays on the first pairing on the Capitals with John Carlson to — mixed results. He’s been outscored 6-13 at 5v5. 16th.

Senators GM Pierre Dorian is rumoured to be looking for a top four defenceman. As is Kyle Dubas of the Leafs following the announcement of Jake Muzzin and TJ Brodie going on IR.

This is a long way of saying that it’s going to be a seller’s market for defencemen in the 22-23 season. The Flames are unlikely to add any pieces in that regard. Players such as Carson Soucy, Luke Schenn, and particularly John Klingberg will be fetching a high return given the apparent level of demand.

Just to play Devil’s advocate here, provided Oliver Kylington returns by the deadline, what would be the price you simply couldn’t say “no” to for any given defenceman on the Flames roster?

Last year the Ducks acquired a former first round pick in Uhro Vaakanainen, John Moore, a 2022 first-round pick, and second-rounders in 2023 and 2024 for Hampus Lindholm. A defenceman who signed the comparable contract used to define what McKenzie Weegar agreed to.

Say the Jakob Chychrun trade takes the price to new heights. Two first round picks, a second and a third. How do you justify not sending off a signed Weegar for a similar price? Perhaps higher given there may be a few bidding teams that missed out.

That turns the Tkachuk trade into something along the lines of:

Shipped Out
Matthew Tkachuk

For

Shipped In
Jonathan Huberdeau
Cole Schwindt
2024 1st round pick
2023 1st round pick
2024 1st round pick
2023 2nd round pick
2024 3rd round pick

It’s a pipe dream — wishful thinking at best, but undeniably strong asset management. Especially if Calgary’s defence can handle losing a man once Oliver Kylington returns.

Just adding that much draft capital to the organization could open doors that we’ve never imagined in regards to upgrading the roster.

Food for thought. Let’s move on to today’s game.


Lightning-Flames
After a surely relaxing two full days off between games, the 7-6-2 Calgary Flames are in Tampa to face off against the 9-6-1 Lightning.

While the two records may indicate that one team is superior — they’re both coming off two straight wins and they’ve both had at least one day off between games.

A few things to keep an eye on.


Special Teams
You have to imagine the Tampa penalty killing units had a meeting yesterday. The Dallas Stars went 2/2 against them on the power play on Tuesday. The game ended up 5-4 OT loss, so obviously those two goals made the difference.

Against the LA Kings, the Calgary Flames went 1-for-2 on both the power play and penalty kill.


Rolling
All four forward lines on the Calgary Flames scored a goal in the first period against the Kings. Darryl bought himself a few days free of criticism about his lineup configuration.

Most notable was the line of Ruzicka-Lindholm-Toffoli. Lindholm has arguably his best game of the season, notching three points and countless opportunities. Ruzicka did well in forcing the puck down the wall to get the play started from a lower position in the offensive zone.


Physical Showdown
Tonight’s contenders have been top ten in one area in particular through 17 days in November. That being the hitting department.

Tampa Bay
GP: 7
Hits: 222
Hits/60: 31.07 (4th)

Calgary
GP: 8
Hits: 238
Hits/60: 28.7 (6th)

With both teams rested, expect a heavy game for both teams.

Flames Projected Lineup

Ruzicka-Lindholm-Toffoli
Lucic-Kadri-Mangiapane
Huberdeau-Backlund-Lewis
Coleman-Dube-Ritchie

Hanifin-Andersson
Zadorov-Weegar
Tanev-Gilbert

Tampa Projected Lineup
Courtesy of Lightning Insider. @Erik_Erlendsson

Hagel-Point-Kucherov
Stamkos-Paul-Killorn
Colton-Namestnikov-Perry
Maroon-Bellemare-Koepke

Hedman-Cole
Sergachev-Perbix
Fleury-Myers

Vasilevskiy
Elliott

Game time is 5pm mst. Catch it on Sportsnet West and Bally Sports Sun.


Trevor Neufeld


@Trevor_Neufeld

Stats via naturalstattrick.com and nhl.com
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