During the 2021–22 NHL preseason, The Win Column released a survey to find out who would win the fan-vote as Calgary Flames Most Valuable Player for the upcoming season. Now, the results are in and this is how all of the voting broke down for the fan survey.
Surveying for the MVP
The way the poll worked was that two random players would be shown and the player with more perceived value would be picked the voter. Random combination after random combination would be presented, and continued indefinitely after every selection. A voter could vote as many or as few times as they wished. Over the course of thousands of votes later, the breakdown for the Flames MVP made itself clear.
There’s plenty of statistical jargon explained in the polling process, but in short, this polling method is called a pairwise wiki survey. Pairwise, because the single polling question is always answered by selecting one option between a pair of answers, and wiki to reflect how Wikipedia evolves over time based on participant contributions. This method allows for a lot of insights to be gathered regardless of whether one voter submits one or hundreds of answers.
To recap the poll options, every single player listed in the Flames’ depth chart as per CapFriendly.com as of October 4, 2021 was included in the poll with no omissions. This includes the Flames NHL roster, but also AHLers, prospects, and reserve list players. This was intentional to add more variety to the poll and see which prospects are deemed more valuable in comparison to depth NHLers.
Over time, Flames players are ranked based on the probability that they would be selected in the poll against any other random Flames player. The ranks are scored out of 100, with 100 reflecting an option that would win 100% of the time.
After 13,722 votes, here are the final results of who’s expected to be the Flames’ 2021–22 MVP.
Tiers are broken up into unequal groups to have clearer breakdowns at the top of the rankings, while lower ranked players are grouped into larger tiers due to their lower overall impact. The tiers are as follows:
First class Flames
A select group of Flames ended up with probabilities over 90%, making them by and large the strongest options for MVP. This was capped off with Matthew Tkachuk taking the honours for most likely MVP with a probability of 96 out of 100. Following him was a sequence that included the Flames’ starting goaltender and the other two players in the top line with just one percentage difference between them—Jacob Markstrom at 95%, Elias Lindholm at 94%, and Johnny Gaudreau at 93%.
Chris Tanev is the highest rated defenceman at 92%, which ties him with reigning IIHF MVP Andrew Mangiapane. Lastly, Noah Hanifin rounds out this group of seven with 91%. These are the players perceived as being the most valuable to the team for this coming season.
Second tier Flames
Here are all the Flames with probabilities falling between 80 to 89 percent. These are strong players by all accounts and definitely integral to the Flames core, but they aren’t expected to exactly be game changers on a gamely basis.
Newly acquired Blake Coleman led the group, coupled with essentially the remainder of the Flames’ top-nine forwards and top four defencemen. It’s unlikely that any of these players would usurp other candidates ahead of them, but they each have non-trivial chances to make huge impacts on this team depending on how they play.
Third string Flames
Opening up the range to go from 60 to 79 percent, these players are likely to make some kind of impact, albeit at a much smaller scale. The first set of prospects appear in this tier too, with the honour going to Connor Zary. Following him are actually two other prospects in Jakob Pelletier and Dustin Wolf, in an order that conveniently matches TWC’s Calgary Flames 2021 Prospect Rankings, which was ranked prior to the 2021 NHL Draft.
Matthew Coronato would easily be ranked in the top-three for Flames prospects, and he isn’t far behind in this survey, just a couple spots down after Milan Lucic and Nikita Zadorav mark the first two players to be ranked lower than a prospect with zero NHL games.
Far from fourth line Flames
As we move down the rankings, we’ll open up the range again, this time including everyone from 30 to 59 percent. In this group are mostly replacement level players and a significant number of prospects. That’s kind of exactly where you expect prospects would be mixed as there’s always the coin toss of them developing into NHLers or fading away as time marches onward.
However, some prospects did place considerably high, likely based on their potential upside. This includes Jeremie Poirier, Yan Kuznetsov, and Ryan Francis. Also in this group is the Flames’ lowest regular NHL skater Erik Gudbranson, earning a mark of 32%, meaning many players were selected over him.
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Zero impact Flames
Finally, the remaining players ranging 0 to 29 percent. There are a handful of prospects, both too old to have much hope for, or too new to be a known entity. Kevin Gravel is the only NHLer in this list and he’sd a longshot to make an NHL appearance at all this season.
Notably, the one prospect who has fallen well out of favour was Tyler Parsons. This isn’t due to his history of unfortunate health circumstance—both physical and mental, which hopefully he is able to overcome in the long-term—but moreso to do with how he entered camp with problems associated to his quarantine status. Not a great outcome for the once highly touted goaltender.
There are names in this list that don’t even ring bells as Flames players, and that’s cause they are on the depth chart in the reserve list, but not much more than that. This list is finished off with Yuri Trubachev, a 38-year-old centre playing in the KHL. He owns a MVP probability of 10%, which is in honestly a lot higher than expected for the last place skater. There were probably some coin toss selections between unknown players, or perhaps grudge selections taking an aging KHL lifer over an NHLer with significant negative impacts.
Tkachuk takes the crown
Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey! We’ll see who truly emerges as the Flames’ most valuable player as the 2021–22 season progresses!
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images