Calgary Flames

Sunday Census: NHL Trade Deadline thoughts and identifying the Flames top players

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!

The NHL tradeline has come and gone, and Brad Treliving made a few moves to bolster Calgary Flames’ defence in lieu of injury woes. With the additions of Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort, the defensive log jam immediately became the Flames’ reality. So much so that it also led to the departure of Brandon Davidson for future considerations.

All in all, not a bad haul for adding much needed depth, though many felt the Flames should have been even more aggressive in adding to their front end in order to truly enter contender status.

As it often goes, things don’t always turn out how you want them to. So with the total return, we wanted to know the sentiment on the deadline return:

The runaway leader here was Gustafsson. Many are bullish on the fact that he’s just one season removed from a 60 point campaign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Offensive defencemen are a hot commodity and having him with the Flames seems to be much welcomed addition.

Forbort on the other hand, doesn’t quite have as much hype as Gustafsson. Even the future considerations return for Davidson bests Forbort in terms of satisfaction with the acquistion. Forbort adds a good depth option and has done will in his limited sample size with the Flames.

Having played against top competition while with the Los Angeles Kings alongside Drew Doughty, Forbort can probably be reliably slotted in wherever he is needed from top pairing to top of the press box. If he takes his role in stride, he could be more valuable than initially thought.

Realistically, going out and acquiring two roster players for the back end should allow the Flames to ice more optimal defence pairs game-by-game, which is an absolute necessity at this point in the season with the playoff race as tight as it is.

The big question mark comes with the future considerations. Whether it will amount to anything worthwhile is yet to be known, but the Flames’ brass has gotten better at finding late gems at the draft. Perhaps they’ll strike gold yet again.

GM Treliving did what he could giving non-ideal circumstances, and it’s a good bet to say if the Flames handle their business, they have a good shot at playoffs.

Next up, a more topical question. Don’t let its simplicity fool you, this one is crucial for the Flames identity down the stretch:

The line of Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, and Andrew Mangiapane is one the hottest lines in hockey right now. Going on an absolute tear as of late, the line is definitely worthy of hockey nickname lore.

The resurgence of Backlund rightfully couples with the revival of nicknames of Backlund’s past. What’s the right call? Is it 3M or MMA? It’s a tough call this time around, the original 3M had Michael Frolik, who like the other 2Ms has a first name starting with an M. But Andrew doesn’t fit the mold, at least not without the Mangiapane.

It’s a reliable option that does require exactly one mental somersault to really vibe with it. 3M ties the Flames together when things can fall apart. 3M sticks to it and gets the job done. 3M is versatile. You simply can not go wrong.

MMA though… It’s a solid nickname for a line that throws punches, closes out games, and wreaks havoc in the minds of the opponents’ corner. The overwhelming amount of skill and tenacity that MMA brings really makes them mixed martial artists on the ice.

The masses seem to like both nicknames, but after all rounds have finished, we come to a split decision: MMA defeats 3M.

So, about MMA. Let’s focus on their on-ice results a bit more. They’re starting to rack up the goals and helping the Flames continue their playoff push. How potent will this line be down the stretch?

With the Flames’ matinee game against Tampa Bay yesterday, MMA already made the poll out of date, with Mangiapane collecting a goal and Backlund and Tkachuk each with an assist, bringing their current season total to 127 after 64 games played.

Suffice to say Backlund’s made the past month one to remember. He has a whopping 19 points in the month of February, nearly half of his season total. Tkachuk’s not far behind with 15 points and Mangiapane yet a bit further back with 12. In February, Backlund is 6th in the league in scoring, Tkachuk 22nd, and Mangiapane 48th. (Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau are also in the Top 50 for February, coming in at 26th and 31st, respectively).

That’s 46 total points over the past month for MMA, and they have over a month of hockey left before the regular season comes to a close. Can they continue to elevate their game? Based on how things have gone for them, the Flames are relying on their hot streak continuing and they very well might continue to spark the Flames right into a seeded playoff position.

While it seems like most people have them slotted to end the season between 145-160 points, they’d need 18 points between the three of them to reach the mark, which seems almost a certainty.

Call me hyped but I think there’s a real chance they’ll end up in the 160-175 point range. If they keep up what they’ve been doing, it’s a shoo-in. Best of luck to MMA and may they carry the Flames into the post season. Fl-amen.

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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