Welcome back to The Sunday Census. Throughout the week, The Win Column 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!
Calgary Flames fans have been truly blessed this season with how many epic comebacks this team has mounted through their 33 games thus far. Third period comebacks aren’t really a new thing for fans though, as the 2015 edition of the team was famous for them as well. But this season has a different feel to it. This time, it feels like the Flames are winning these games based on merit rather than luck. It’s not that they haven’t deserved the wins like in 2015; this year they’ve been an excellent team that has done a great job sticking with their game and trusting the process ™.
The Flames lead the league with seven wins in games where they were trailing after two periods, and are tied for first in total goals scored in the third period. So far this year, if you’ve turned your TV or radio off early because you thought the Flames were going to lose, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve missed at least one amazing comeback.
The biggest knock on this Flames team in regards to their comebacks is sustainability. Sure, it’s nice and fun that they have so many this year but is that really a way they should be relying on to get wins and points? Honestly, despite the instinctive answer being no, I really think the Flames are good enough to continue winning in this fashion. This season’s comebacks haven’t come out of lucky bounces or uncharacteristic defensive lapses from their opponents. No, this year, they’ve worked hard and played extremely well in order to get those wins and that’s a recipe for success. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if by year’s end we have another handful of amazing comebacks to talk about in the Sunday Census.
In terms of the most fun comebacks so far this year, the one against the Philadelphia Flyers received the most votes from Flames fans; over half the voters chose this option. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for that game and I have to say that I agree with the voters. That win was truly spectacular and I haven’t seen one like it in a very, very long time. Second place went to the first Battle of Alberta which was a good second choice. Colorado and Buffalo received votes but weren’t close to the other two options.
One game that wasn’t mentioned that I think should get more love is the Flames’ comeback win at home against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks haven’t been a great team this year, but that win came in a game where the Flames didn’t get great goaltending from David Rittich, but still pumped the Blackhawks net full of pucks after all was said and done. This team has been super exciting and I don’t see that changing in the next ~50 games.
As of the writing of this article, Matthew Tkachuk has the 18th most points in the NHL, 11th most goals, 12th most assists, and seventh most powerplay points. He plays on the defensive shutdown line for the Flames and has drawn the sixth most penalties out of all players in the league. He’s been an absolutely dynamite player for the Flames so far this year and is on pace to completely shatter his career highs in basically every statistical category. Conveniently, this is the last year of his entry level contract (ELC) and is a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of the season.
The Tkachuk contract situation is one of the hottest topics in Flames circles nowadays, and the intensity surrounding that topic will only grow as the season progresses, especially if Tkachuk continues to tear up the league. He’s on pace for 35 goals and 94 points, totals that cannot be ignored and will command a massive contract.
William Nylander, a commonly used comparable for Tkachuk recently signed a six-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth a hair under $7M per year. If Tkachuk maintains his pace, there’s no doubt his contract will exceed that amount.
The fact that Tkachuk’s contract is such a big topic right now is a double edged sword for the Flames. On one hand, it’s difficult to sign multiple players to high AAV contracts and Tkachuk’s will surely break the “Giordano cap” established by GM Brad Treliving when he inked the Captain to his extension, and then Gaudreau to his. Tkachuk is too valuable to the team to haggle him down to the $6.75M that Giordano and Gaudreau make; it’s only realistic to assume his number eclipses that mark.
Personally, I think Tkachuk signs for 5-7 years in the ballpark of 7-7.5 million dollars per year. He’s the hearbeat of the team and he has all the leverage in negotiations following the conclusion of this season. And, if the Flames continue to win games, he could bolster his case with a strong playoffs.
However, Flames fans don’t see the Nylander contract as a big deal in regards to Tkachuk’s pending contract renewal. Perhaps that’s because Nylander signed for less than his ask at a reported ~$8M, but still, $6.97M is a lot of money. If the cap does go up to $83M next season, that $3.5M increase will definitely help the Flames sign Tkachuk long term, but it’s going to be a grind to get that contract done. If only Nylander’s deal had come in below the Giordano cap, this whole situation would have been so much easier.
One thing is for sure: the Flames will sign Tkachuk and Tkachuk is going to get paid. He’ll be a fixture on this team for years to come (hopefully) and we can all look forward to watching him mix in his shenanigans in between goal celebrations.
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.