‘Tis the season! As the calendar flips over to December, the holiday season is upon us. With this season comes holiday wishes, whether they be for gifts, for good fortune, or for some new developments. Flames fans are sure to have their own holiday wish lists for their club, especially considering the slow start through the first half of the season. We decided to ask our own contributors at The Win Column for their own holiday wish lists. We discussed lineup changes, player development, and adding to the roster. Lets see what we are wishing for heading into the holiday season!
What is one current lineup change you are wishing for this season?
Karim Kurji: One change I hope Geoff Ward makes is to stop dressing Michael Stone. Brandon Davidson posted much better numbers across the board when he was called up, and Stone has proven to be an absolute liability on the ice. He’s a perfect seventh defensemen, so let him be that. Davidson provides more value for the same price.
Bill Tran: I wish the Flames would experiment more with a Johnny Gaudreau/Matthew Tkachuk line. With the Flames in need of offence, deploying those two together could be yet another good option to wreak havoc in the offensive zone. Elias Lindholm would be the ideal centre for that line.
John MacKinnon: After he put his lines in the blender, it’s safe to say that Ward is comfortable taking significant leaps of faith with his players. In terms of what change I would want to see? I think it would be worthwhile to test out Sam Bennett in the fourth line center role over Mark Jankowski. Although the PK deployments may take an initial hit, I think that Bennett needs to find a consistent spot to develop more, and frankly the fourth line seems to be the best option. The rest of the team needs to figure out their new lines first, but this would be the one I want to see as Bennett is at least having a better season than Jankowski.
Khalid Keshavjee: One change I hope Geoff Ward makes is to try Dillon Dube on the second powerplay unit instead of Mikael Backlund. Like Backlund, Dube is an excellent two way forward who can cycle the puck incredibly effectively. However, he also has a nose for the net along with a wicked shot. Putting him alongside Andrew Mangiapane and Derek Ryan who can take the shot, and with either Milan Lucic or Bennett (once he’s healthy) in front of the net could make that an effective second group
Jon Donville: I would love to see Rasmus Andersson on the first power play either with Mark Giordano or instead of him. Right now the power play struggles to the puck to the net because it relies on low percentage passes through the seam. Particularly when Johnny Gaudreau gets the puck on his wing, his shot is not enough of a threat and passes are tough. If Andersson was stationed either at the top of the formation or in the righty one timer spot, the unit would have an easier way to get pucks through, as it could move around the top of the formation, or come directly from a shot from the top. Andersson has a cannon that I would like to see used more.
What is one development you wish to see from a Flames player?
Karim: I love me some BSD, but Rittich needs to stop playing the puck. Over the course of the entire season, it’s hard to find many goals that lie solely on Rittich’s shoulders when he was in his net. He’s not the greatest puck handler, and that’s okay. Stick to what works, and that’s making saves in the crease.
Bill: By and large, it’s David Rittich‘s puck handling. Someone named Mike Smith convinced Rittich it’s a good skill to have and I’m not happy about it. In an alternate universe, Rittich didn’t spend time backing up Smith and that version of Rittich is probably the best one.
Khalid: In order to continue an offensive play, the Flames defensemen, and particularly Captain Mark Giordano, have been pinching at the point to try and keep the puck in. This has lead to a number of odd-man rushes going the other way. While it is understandable that a team that has struggled to score will do everything that they can to keep the offense going, it would be good to see the defense make smarter defensive choices.
John M: I think something that I would love to see would be Rasmus Andersson taking more control over the 2nd PP unit. He clearly has showed his skills when the team is down 6v5, so why not apply that to special teams? He obviously has to play more PP time, which he is getting right now as part of the second unit, but if he is able to develop into the quarterback over Noah Hanifin, the Flames may have a hidden treasure.
Jon D: Johnny Gaudreau is a special talent, but he has to stop settling for the low angle goal line shots. Goalies all see the shot coming, and way more often than not the shot misses the net and creates a turnover when it hits the glass and leaves the zone. For Gaudreau, turning low zone possession into more efficient scoring chances will be key to him turning things around after a tough start to the season.
What is one addition you wish the Flames would make to their roster?
Karim: Matthew Phillips has been stellar for the Heat this season. He is hovering around a point-per-game, can play center or wing, is small but unafraid to crash the net, and is just an awesome story. He’s been doubted his whole life, fell to the sixth round, and I think deserves at least a cup of coffee in the NHL.
Bill: I think the Flames will be hard pressed to get this deal reignited given how integral he has been to the Minnesota Wild’s rebound, but Jason Zucker was one player who would have been a great fit with the Flames. Brad Treliving should still have Zucker on his radar and figure out some trade options just in case.
Khalid: It is time for Matthew Phillips to get a look in the NHL. He’s slightly above a point per game right now in the AHL in his second full season, and is clearly showing himself to be too good for that league. For the Flames, he’s a right shot, can play centre or wing, is an excellent skater, and isn’t afraid to drive hard to the net. It is time to see what he can do at the NHL level
John M: In terms of addition, I think the Flames could still bolster their forward group in any capacity. That’s not to take away from the current roster, but there still seems to be something missing. Will Czarnik and Bennett be those types of additions, or will the Flames look to leverage them in trade talks? I would love to see someone like Jean-Gabriel Pageau or Jason Zucker join the top six, but would be a tricky move. I think the addition will come through the current crop of injured or minor players and hopefully they find the right connection, most likely through a combination of Czarnik/Bennett/Phillips.
Jon D: I’ll go a different direction with this one. One of my frustrations with the Flames roster is that several of their bottom six forwards provide neither scoring nor physicality (Tobias Rieder, Mark Jankowski, Michael Frolik to name a few). I would love to see both addressed, especially given the playoff aspirations of this group. Therefore a name like Chris Kreider who can skate, score, and provide some physical play would look great on this roster. The contract probably does not work, but the Flames would love the big winger.
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