Calgary Flames

Sunday Census: James Neal, a Nylander trade, and bringing back an all time great

Welcome to The Win Column’s newest weekly feature: Sunday Census. Throughout the week, TWC will be posing topical and intriguing polls on Twitter (@wincolumnblog) to gauge the fan-base’s stance on pressing issues. Want to make sure your opinion is taken into effect? Vote in the polls, start a debate, and propose alternative suggestions on the polls!

The Flames’ top power play unit has combined for 35 points to start the season.

The second unit? Three points on one goal.

Up until Derek Ryan‘s goal last night, the second unit had not been able to produce a single goal the entire season. That is a huge issue. Sure the top unit has been able to mask this so far, but it is getting to the point where two full minutes of that unit would be the better option.

Our poll question was aimed at finding someone who isn’t currently being used on that unit, that should start getting some time. Michael Frolik, currently with seven goals on the season, could help generate some offense. Travis Hamonic, who has been extremely solid as of late, would be able to throw a monster of a point shot. T.J. Brodie has the soft hands to create plays, but the fans have gone with Dillon Dube. Clearly they like what they have seen from the young forward, and it’s possible he would be able to help generate a bit more offense. Of course, with no career NHL goals thus far, perhaps they just want to see him out there getting additional time.

There were a handful of write-in votes for Rasmus Andersson as well, who was not listed. While he would be an excellent addition to the power play unit, it’s not as realistic as others. With the current 4F-1D set up that Geoff Ward seems like operate with, there are simply other d-men that would work better. That is not to discount Andersson’s play, but that is a situation that I would think the coaching staff wants to prepare him for more.

My vote actually was for Frolik, who garnered the least amount of ballots. Even at the first edition of the 2018-19 Battle of Alberta against the Oilers, we saw the forward temporarily take the spot of Matthew Tkachuk on the top unit. Even over the last few seasons, it is strange not to see him on the power play. He currently has seven goals on the season, it’s completely worth a try. Especially if you put him with Mikael Backlund.

If it wasn’t for Mike Smith’s struggles, there is a good chance that James Neal would be getting the wealth of anger from fans. With virtually the same stat line as last week, Neal hasn’t been able to silence the critics as of yet. His “promotion” to the second line did not last long at all, and he was quickly platooned back to the bottom six.

There is a chance that the third line is the best option for him at the moment, but the real question is where does he finish the season? The majority of fans think he will remain on that third line, with 46% of the vote. Based on last night’s performance with Ryan and Frolik, this may end up being a great line. The sample size is extremely small, but initial impressions are good.

What is more interesting, is that the next highest vote-getter was seeing Neal finish on another team. This may stem from frustration with Neal more than anything, but if he continues to play the way he has the team may look down that path. If you thought that Troy Brouwer‘s contract was difficult to trade, then you may not want to look at Neal’s. Trading him halfway through his first year of a five year deal doesn’t seem like a move that the team wants to make .

My vote once again went with the least popular option: the first line. Now before the pitchforks come out, an explanation. Yes Elias Lindholm has been outstanding and I am in no way suggesting they break that line up, but at some point during the season the top line is going to hit a cold streak. They won’t all be able to keep up their 40G and 80P pace we have seen to start the season. When the team needs a bit of a shakeup, Neal will most likely get his shot with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. This could be for one game, or many more, but he will eventually get a shot and I would assume he takes advantage of it.

With the December 1st deadline approaching soon, and having every sports news outlet reporting on the situation, it is time to briefly discuss William Nylander

Born in Calgary, Nylander has developed into a top tier talent in the NHL. It would be absolutely foolish of any GM to not do his due diligence and inquire about a potential deal; even if it doesn’t make sense for the team. I wanted to gauge the fan-base to see what type of trade they would think Brad Treliving would use to leverage Nylander out of Toronto.

To not a lot of surprise the majority of votes included a current roster player, but were divided on whether a pick or prospect should be included. It is entire likely that a trade of this magnitude would have to include both, but the fan-base leaned more towards a prospect. There were a handful of write-in votes for the combination option with both picks and prospects, which makes a ton of sense.

My vote was for the majority: roster player and prospect. This of course would most likely involve a pick as well, but I think Toronto would opt for the prospect. Potential trade scenario? I would assume the Flames would like to offload Michael Stone, but would easily have to give up an Oliver Kylington to make that happen. Stone, Kylington, and a 2nd round pick: who says no?

Easily the most popular and controversial poll of the week, I wanted to see which Flames great the fans would want in their prime on this current roster. There were obviously a ton of candidates, but I narrowed it down to four options: Theoren Fleury, Al MacInnis, Mike Vernon, and all time amazing human being Jarome Iginla. Can you guess where my vote went already?

Iginla easily took the crown, with nearly 60% of the vote. Not much of a surprise, as he is the franchise leader in almost every statistical category. Simply, the thought of Iginla slotting on the top line with Gaudreau and Monahan elicits an emotional reaction from most Flames fans. This would be the dream scenario. This is 100% where my vote went.

While Vernon received the next highest amount of votes at 22%, it was a write in candidate that would have made things much more interesting. The nostalgia for Vernon’s cup run in ’89 seemed to blind the fact that Miikka Kiprusoff
would have been a much better option in his place. With goaltending being a huge issue as of late, the all-time leader in games played, wins, and shutouts maybe would have been the favorite choice for fans. I sincerely apologize for not including him on the initial list.

Want to be a part of the conversation next time around? Follow us on Twitter @wincolumnblog and be sure to keep a look out for our polls throughout the week.

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