TWC wishes everyone good health and hopes everyone is staying safe. It is looking increasingly unlikely that the NHL will return to action this season. With that in mind, we wanted to hand out NHL awards to Flames players. We took all of the league awards and awarded them to the most deserving Flame. Some were very competitive, some were not (see: Dillon Dube for Calder). We wish we still had hockey, but if the season is over, then here are the 2019-20 Flames NHL awards winners!
Considered by many to be the heart and soul of this team and a future captain, Tkachuk was Calgary’s best player over the course of the season. He led the team in points with 61 in 69 games, and was top three in CF% with 52.72%. He was also fourth on the team with 52.71% xGF%, living up to his reputation as a positive play driver.
Most importantly, Tkachuk provided some consistency for the club in a season where the team could rarely find it. Even when he was not scoring, Tkachuk was driving play in a positive direction and was always noticeably involved in the action.
Before the stoppage of the league, Tkachuk reunited with Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund to form a deadly second line, and the trio was a big reason why the Flames were alive in the playoff hunt. Tkachuk also led the team in power play points and moving him to the half wall was a nice change for the club.
He is a fan favourite for a reason, the guy is a superstar and a franchise cornerstone. In an offseason that is bound to have questions, he is one of the few sure things. He is not going anywhere.
It was not the same year he had last year, but Giordano was still the best blueliner on the club this season. With 31 points in 60 games, he did lead the defensemen in points. He also had the highest xGF% on the entire team despite playing monster minutes.
He also finished near the top of the team in both SCF% and HDCF% so he was a positive contributor all season. He did all of this while only starting 46.20% of shifts in the offensive zone, so he was playing difficult minutes while still producing positive metrics.
Gio did not play at an actual Norris level like last year, but for the in house version of the awards he is the man. The captain led the way again this season.
I went back and forth on this award. On one hand, Cam Talbot‘s year long numbers were better than Rittich’s, and he really came on in the second half of the season to make this an interesting race. But ultimately I have to give the nod to Rittich who was not only an all-star, but the club’s best player for long stretches of the first half of the season.
Perhaps nobody deserves more credit than Big Save Dave for helping the Flames to navigate the tough early stretch and turn their game around following the coaching change. His numbers fell off a bit recently, but Rittich was spectacular when the rest of the team wasn’t.
Combine that with the fact that he played the lions share of minutes playing in 48 games compared to Talbot’s 25, and Rittich gets the Vezina this year.
This one was obvious as Dube was the only rookie that played regularly for the Flames. All in all, it was nice to see Dube bounce back from a somewhat turbulent start to his career last season where he failed to stick with the team.
After dominating the AHL, he dressed for 45 games with the big club, scoring 16 points between six goals and ten assists. His underlying numbers were definitely not great as he was second last among regulars in CF% and xGF%.
He also was on the lower end in terms of scoring rate at five on five. The eye test was better for Dube, and playing alongside Milan Lucic for most of the year probably did not help a young, skilled player. The numbers weren’t great, but Dube stuck in the NHL and had his moments in a full rookie season. He is also the only candidate, so he walks away easily with the Calder.
The Art Ross is awarded to the player with the most points, so for the Flames it was Tkachuk. Long story short it was another really good season for the franchise cornerstone.
Lindholm probably could have made this list in a couple different places so it is good to see him make it here. He led the team with 29 goals this season and was one of the most important players on the team.
Like the Art Ross, the Rocket Richard trophy is not discretionary, so this one is automatically Lindholm’s. Another very good season from a young player who will be a part of this core for a long time.
Most Flames fans probably wish it wasn’t this way but there were actually quite a few candidates for this award. TWC prefers to prioritize analytics, so I decided to base the award off penalties taken per 60 minutes of ice time. Johnny had the lowest number on the team, taking just 0.27 penalties per 60 minutes this season.
His habit of getting caught yelling into hot mics during games almost bumped him down, but Johnny Hockey was statistically the most sportsmanlike player this season.
For me this came down to a decision between Backlund and Derek Ryan. Ryan was the second best face-off man on the team, winning almost five percent more than Backlund. But aside from face-offs, the rest of Backlund’s stats are spectacular.
One of the more important statistics when evaluating defensive play is HDCF%, and Backlund was third among forwards in this metric at 53.35%. And for what its worth, the two who were higher than him were Mangiapane and Tkachuk, his most common linemates. With a 50.63% CF%, he was also among the top forwards in that statistic.
Lastly, he was a significant contributor to the penalty kill all season and did a nice job on that unit. The offensive game took a while to come for Backlund before an explosive second half, but defensively he was still the best forward this year.
Another one that is a bit of a shoe-in, Ward deserves tons of credit for the job he did this season. Was he perfect? No. Few coaches are. But he was a breath of fresh air for a team that so badly needed it from the locker room out to the media.
The players seemed more relaxed when he took over, and most importantly he led the team to some solid results. Under Ward, the club went 24-15-3 and had clawed their way solidly back into playoff contention. That was no small feat for a team that had seen really disappointing results early in the season before a massive scandal rocked the organization.
Ward’s style seemed perfect to be a calming influence at the helm, and he deserves much credit for his work salvaging this season.
We take these players and their toughness for granted sometimes, but what Brodie did was nothing short of spectacular. After suffering a cardiac incident in practice, Brodie missed a few short weeks and was back playing in the best hockey league in the world right away. It was inspirational, and despite the hockey world’s “play through everything” attitude it was amazing to see Brodie back in the lineup and playing good hockey.
It was a great story, and most importantly it is great to see T.J. healthy. A scary incident for all, but the comeback was an inspiration to all who watched it.
P.S.: special shout out to the Flames training staff, as well as medical staffs around the league. The NHL had a few scary incidents this season, but all were expertly handled. Especially in the current moment when we should be thanking all medical professionals, shoutout to those in the NHL this year who saved lives.
All the contributors to the COVID-19 Employee Relief Fund
After the season was cut short and after the Flames organization made a much-criticized move to not pay employees over the pandemic, many Flames players and their families made donations to the employee relief.
There were some others too, so this is not meant to single any of the players out, but in a time when the community needed a boost the team stepped in. Good on them for showing leadership in a difficult time.
Don’t agree with any of the awards? Let us know what you think!
Photo: Getty Images