Calgary Flames Midterm Report Cards: Defence

Earlier this week we dished out some midterm report cards to the forward crew of the Calgary Flames!

Today we are turning our attention to the defensive corps of the Flames. Just like the forwards, these rankings are generated from the statistics compiled from Game 21 (November 13th, a 3-1 loss to Dallas) to Game 41 (December 29th, a 5-3 loss to Vancouver).

The whole team had an odd quarter in Q2 of the season. They navigated the Bill Peters saga, and entered the Geoff Ward era with a long win streak. Following the initial win streak, their play fell off a bit and they ended the quarter with some average play. After the nightmare of the losing streak at the end of Peters’ tenure, and then the nightmare of the Peters coaching change, the quarter showed some impressive resilience from the club. It wasn’t perfect, but it left them in the playoff hunt with half a season left. Mission accomplished.

Just like last time, we will use a statistical model to rank the player. The model, created by TWC’s own Karim Kurji operates similarly to the power rankings model we update on a weekly basis. The most important thing to not about the model is that it only uses statistics at five on five SVA. Special teams are not factored into the model or these report cards. The player model takes specific on ice statistics including CF%, SCF%, HDCF%, and GF%; individual statistics including goals, assists, individual contributions to team CF, SCF, and HDCF; and an adjustment for time on ice and PDO.

Each player’s statistics are put through the model and combined to produce an overall TWCScore. These scores are then compared to the rest of the league to determine what letter grade they fall into.

To adjust the thresholds to match defensemen, a multiplication factor was applied to the thresholds used for forwards. This was based on averages league wide.

GradeThreshold
A+103
A97
A-91
B+86
B80
B-74
C+69
C63
C-57
D+46
D34
D-23
F0

Having explained the model, lets get into the grades! Class is back in session!

A+

Mark Giordano

TWCscoreTime on IceES GoalsES AssistsPrevious Grade
109.4376:5402A+

Despite a lack of scoring at even strength, Giordano has still been the Flames’ best defenseman this season. His 49.61 CF% in Q2 was fifth among all Flames, and second among defensemen not named Brandon Davidson (who played just three games in Q2). Likewise, he led all regular defensemen in xGF% with 49.9%, SCF% with 51.19%, and was second in HDCF%. He also deserves considerable credit as the captain of the club for navigating the team through the coaching change and some considerable adversity. Last season was a dream offensive season for Giordano, and the offence hasn’t come at the same rate this season. But Gio is still the heartbeat of this team, and the best defenseman to boot.

Again these rankings do not take special teams into account but Gio has been excellent on both special teams as well.

A-

Noah Hanifin

TWCscoreTime on IceES GoalsES AssistsPrevious Grade
96.8369.3110A

Hanifin has been one of the most positive stories for the Flames this year, and is in the conversation certainly for the club’s most improved player. Alongside Travis Hamonic, their pairing posts below average CF% but high quality HDCF% where Hanifin was in the top eight on the team with 51.57%. Individually, he was second among defensemen in shots and led all defensemen in ixG with 1.6 during Q2. Interestingly, Hanifin accomplished those offensive numbers with the second lowest offensive zone start percentage on the team, higher only than his partner Hamonic. His points are down from four ES points in Q1 to just one in Q2, but the underlying numbers were solid, and Hanifin had another good quarter for the club.

B+

Rasmus Andersson

TWCscoreTime on IceES GoalsES AssistsPrevious Grade
86.6351:1902B

Newly signed Rasmus Andersson had an interesting quarter, as he spent considerable time on the top pairing alongside Mark Giordano, while spending most of the quarter at his usual spot on the third pair. In the last grades I lamented that I wished Rasmus used his big shot more. I was pleased to see that he led the D corps in shots in Q2 with 34 ES shots in 21 games. He was not rewarded with a goal in that time, but a guy who shoots the puck like Andersson will only be snakebitten for so long. He was third among D-men in iSCF and was creating chances. Results will come. His CF% of 49.83 was the highest by a defenseman in the quarter. He might not have had the toughest matchup, but the Flames will take that out of their third pairing.

Travis Hamonic

TWCscoreTime on IceES GoalsES AssistsPrevious Grade
86.6251:0712B

Hamonic is a player where the numbers match the eye test. He had the lowest offensive zone start percentage on the entire team, beginning just 37.33% of his shifts in that end. Unsurprisingly, he gives up a lot of shots, and his CF% is 10th on the team. However, Hamonic is sound defensively, and his HDCF% was second on the team in Q2, behind only Zac Rinaldo who posted ridiculous advanced statistics in a limited sample size. That pretty much tells the story of Hamonic. The guy is an absolute warrior who has a habit of flipping the puck up the boards too often. Therefore he gives up a lot of shots but keeps most of the high danger chances out. The club will take it. Leading among D-men with three ES points is an added bonus.

B

TJ Brodie

TWCscoreTime on IceES GoalsES AssistsPrevious Grade
84.9279:3012B-

Most importantly, Brodie got healthy in Q2 and responded well from a scary medical situation. On the ice, it was an improvement for Brodie as he played some of the better hockey we have seen from him in recent years. He was helped by having the highest GF% on the team during Q2, while having an average xGF%. That was helped by an on ice shooting percentage of 8.48%, highest among regulars (Rinaldo has the highest). He also has the second highest on ice save percentage at 95.81%. Still, Brodie deserved some good luck, and with three ES points he was tied for the lead in scoring during the period. Solid period for Brodie even though it came off a pretty scary time.

C

Oliver Kylington

TWCscoreTime on IceES GoalsES AssistsPrevious Grade
65.4197:5802C

I wrote about Kylington and Stone more in depth here. Kylington has not been excellent for the Flames this year, and many probably hoped he would develop faster. His CF% was near the bottom of the club in the period (48.74%). He had the third last xGF% (42.90%), fifth worst SCF% (46.22%), and the worst HDCF% on the team with 35.03%. Stone has been slightly worse, but the Flames would have been hoping for more of an improvement from Kylington in Q2.

Michael Stone

TWCscoreTime on IceES GoalsES AssistsPrevious Grade
64.5204:1301Incomplete

If the numbers for Kylington sound bad, Stone’s are worst. In Q2, Stone had the worst CF% on the team (43.73%), the worst xGF% (38.54%), the worst SCF% (39.32%), and the second worst HDCF% with 37.60%. Note that those are worst on the team, not just defensemen. Yikes.

INCOMPLETE

Brandon Davidson

TWCscoreTime on IceES GoalsES AssistsPrevious Grade
46.139:1000N /A

Davidson actually played okay in the three games he was in for. But when the team got healthy, he was back out of the lineup and sent back down to the AHL. Barring another injury we probably won’t see him again this season.

What are your thoughts on the Flames defenseman corps this season? Let us know in the comments.

Related: First Quarter Report Cards: Forwards

Image by: Brett Holmes – Getty Images

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