Calgary Flames

Flames Sunday Census: Polling how the Calgary Flames should deploy Chris Tanev

Chris Tanev will play a huge role for the Calgary Flames in the upcoming season. Touted for being one of the best defensive defencemen in the league, there will be eyes on him to see if he lives up to his expectations. How will the Flames best utilise him for the upcoming 2020-21 season? We asked, you answered.

Sunday Census has been revamped the 2020-21 season, where we’ll be posting polls on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram revolving around a central question or theme. Be sure to check out all three platforms to participate in each week’s set of polls!

Tanev’s partner

As the Flames continue their training camp, one of their pressing tasks is to sort out their defensive pairings. With the departures of T.J Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Erik Gustafsson, and Derek Forbort, the nightly defensive corps will look completely different this year.

Only Mark Giordano, Rasmus Andersson, and Noah Hanifin will return as regular defencemen, and even their deployment isn’t set in stone yet either. Tanev will join Nikita Nesterov as newcomers, while Juuso Valimaki will return to NHL action from his injury.

Oliver Kylington will vie for a bigger role, and Connor Mackey might get some early looks too. Chances are it’ll be Nesterov, Kylington, and Mackey competing for the last spot, or rotating with each other.

For Tanev, his spot on the roster is basically guaranteed, and it’ll be a matter of who he plays with that’ll be a bigger question. Turning to Twitter, it looks like most expect him to play with Noah Hanifin, followed by playing with Valimaki. Least expected is partnering up with Giordano, but more on that later.

Tanev and Hanifin playing on the second pairing allows the Flames to keep the Giordano/Andersson pairing together, and the third pairing would likely form based on who is best suited to play with Valimaki.

In short, there will be lots to learn about the state of the Flames defence early on in the season. If Tanev can replicate his defensive prowess that he’s built a reputation on, that’ll be welcomed for the Flames.

Tanev’s effectiveness

On our Facebook stories, we asked: “Where will Tanev provide the most value?

  • Even Strength
  • Penalty Kill

Due to a technical issue, the story wasn’t archived, so the story isn’t available for this question. The issue has since been resolved.

The results showed that 57% of the respondents expect Tanev to be more effective on the penalty kill. That’s an apt expectation for the defenceman, who again, built his reputation for his defensive ability.

Tanev and Giordano will likely start together on the first unit, which means the two of them will have plenty of ice time as a defensive duo, albeit not an even strength pairing. Perhaps it’s a mix of heightened expectations for the Flames to be better, but also reasonably evaluating the team, but their penalty kill has potential to be quite effective in limiting scoring chances.

We’ll see if this holds true once gameplay gets underway, but the acquisition of Tanev looks to be an alright bet if he’s deployed properly by the coaches. Don’t give him a single offensive zone start and use him for his defence, and his value will look better right from the get go.

Tanev’s minutes

Over Tanev’s career, he’s averaged 19:44 per game, but that includes his first three seasons from 2010-11 through to 2012-13 where his role was more sheltered. Since 2013-14 til now, he has floated right around the 20 minute mark, some seasons with less, some with more.

His highest average came in 2015-16 where he played 21:45 per game, and his lowest since 2013-14 was actually from last season, where he played 19:32. Last year, he played primarily with Quinn Hughes at 5v5.

The Canucks had Tyler Myers, Hughes, and Alex Edler playing more minutes than Tanev. It’s reasonable to expect that the Flames will have a similar outcome where Giordano, Andersson, and Hanifin will play more minutes than Tanev too.

That being said, with Tanev likely taking second pairing and first penalty kill unit responsibilities, he might hit 20 minutes a night with relative ease.

Turning the tables with Tanev

The Flames brought in Tanev to play defence. Plain and simple. He won’t ever be a skater relied upon to score goals, or even generate offence for that matter. Whether he’ll fit in with the Flames’ system is yet to be determined.

While his on-ice results might suggest he’s on the downturn, here’s to hoping he’ll be properly motivated to play for a new team and can bring his usual defensive self night in and night out.

Photo by Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports.

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