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Questions Bubble on the Blue Line — Where Does Kylington Slot?

May 3, 2023, 11:20 PM ET [87 Comments]
Trevor Neufeld
Calgary Flames Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
As a primer here let’s look at Calgary’s blueline by the end of the season. Mind that Kylington generally plays on the left side.


With news of Oliver Kylington’s intent to return to Calgary next season, it’s getting a little awkward on the Flames blue line. Particularly the left side.

Three major events have happened since the smooth passing 25-year-old’s departure from the organization.

1.) McKenzie Weegar Has Been Acquired and Signed
While he shoots on his right side, Weegar has found a place for himself on the left side of the first pairing. Given that his play improved drastically as the season closed out it is probably best to keep him in his current deployment.

Kylington likely didn’t have a shot at that first pairing. Maybe the 60th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft will prove to have a much better game after a year of recuperation, but it’s doubtful. Weegar’s ascension means that:

Kylington Will be Battling Hanifin for His Familiar Lineup Spot
That doesn’t bode well for Oliver. Despite Tanev’s shoulder and concussion issues hindering his play this season the two put up some serious numbers at 5v5.

As most advanced stats go, it’s more of an indication of sustainability when given a large enough sample size. Per Moneypuck, Hanifin-Tanev put up a very solid 67% expected goals for vs against over 317:30 of even strength.

The caveat here is that the Flames were favoured by almost every model for expected goals percentage. If any of these free models were exact? The Flames would have finished first in the Western Conference and between second and fourth in the NHL.

Ok. Caveat acknowledged. How did they actually do?

They were the fifth most deployed combination and went 18-15 at even strength. Still not bad considering even Darryl seemed unsure if Tanev should be playing.

Compare that to Hanifin-Andersson going 44-42 over 973 minutes and Weegar-Andersson going 14-9 over 279:30 and we can paint a faint statistical picture of why the pairings were the way they were.

What also happened?

2.) Stetcher Didn’t Look Bad
The acquisition and deployment of Troy Stetcher was a bit confusing. You could argue that the pairing of him and Zadorov lost the Flames a playoff spot. The two were outscored 11-6 down the st(r)etch at even strength. That includes two of the three goals Zadorov scored in game 82.

You could argue that a lot of it was on Zadorov. He had a number of misplays at the tail end of the season. The thing is: they were pretty good away from each other.

We’re going heavy on stats that may or may not mean much, but neither of the two was outscored at even strength after the deadline when paired with any other defenceman. Stetcher and Weegar even put up a godly 91.7% expected goals percentage in their ten minutes together. Small sample size and a questionable statistic sometimes, but an interesting micro stat.

Whether Stetcher returns comes down to the asking price and the vision of the new GM, but he may prove tough competition in camp. This brings us to our next point.

3.) Dennis Gilbert Proved He Can Run With the Big Dogs
Gilbert and Stetcher proved a much better pairing than Zadorov-Stetcher. They outscored their opponents 5-3 in 56:30 of 5v5. With some tough cap decisions looming this offseason, Gilbert at $762,500 may be enough to kick someone else out.

Hanifin at 4.95 for another season is a value contract. Weegar at 6.25 per season is a value contract. Even Zadorov at 3.25 is a value contract. All of his 14 goals came at either 5v5 or with the opponent having their goalie pulled.

Where is the room for Kylington?

Assuming the next general manager needs to move a left defenceman, who would you choose to be traded?

Trevor Neufeld


Stats via capfriendly.com, moneypuck.com, and nhl.com.
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