The Calgary Flames have scoring issues—particularly on the wing, and even more particularly on the right side. This could be copy and pasted into any post about the Flames since Jarome Iginla left in 2012–13. The year is now 2022 and the Flames are still getting absolutely nothing from pure right wingers on their team.
In recent weeks the topic of scoring help and finishing has popped up in Flames circles, with most fans pointing to the team’s dire need for a top-six right wing. Those fans could not be more right as the Flames are once again in the midst of a season in which help on the right side is the team’s number one need.
Through his now eight years with the franchise, Brad Treliving has continually tried and failed to fix the team’s issues at right wing, mostly through the acquisition of cheap or hail-mary moves. Let’s take a look at just how bad the Flames’ right wing situation has been in recent years.
2021–22 has been ugly
Starting off just looking at this season alone, the production has been absolutely pitiful among pure right wingers on the team. When looking at these numbers I should mention that out of position players like Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane who are natural left wingers are not considered.
No there are not any typos in that chart. Yes Trevor Lewis and his three goals (two empty netters and a shorthanded goal) and seven points are the most by any primary right winger on the Flames this season. In fact his three goals are the only goals scored by a pure right winger on the Flames so far this season as Pitlick and Ritchie have yet to find the back of the net in their combined 35 games played.
In other words, right shot defenceman Chris Tanev’s single goal would rank second among Flames right wingers so far this season. There are currently around 75 right wingers in the NHL who have more goals individually than the entire Flames’ right wing corps combined.
Of note, the St. Louis Blues have three separate right wingers with more individual goals and points than every Flames right wing combined this season. Even worse? Every single natural right wing on the Toronto Maple Leafs has more goals and points than the entire Flames right wing group combined.
2019–20 to 2021–22 doesn’t look much better
Yes you read that correctly, the Flames highest scoring natural right winger over the past three seasons is a player who left team two years ago. Michael Frolik’s five goals during the 2019–20 season before being traded are still the most by any right winger over the last three seasons combined.
The Flames have gotten just 13 goals from natural right wingers in this time range. To put that into perspective, Rasmus Andersson who is a right shot defenceman has scored 10 goals from the blueline over that same time span. Not only would he rank as their highest scoring right winger since 2019, he’s just three goals off tying the entire group combined.
Across the NHL, there are over 60 right wingers who have more individual goals than every natural right winger on the Flames combined over the last three seasons.
The Flames miss Jarome Iginla
Let’s take a look at the top 10 scoring natural right wingers on the Flames since Jarome Iginla was traded near the end of the 2012–13 season, essentially rounding a decade of right wing woes. For this we’ll look at the 2013–14 season up to and including the current 2021–22 season.
At least Jiri Hudler and Frolik had a couple solid seasons for the Flames right? Outside of those two this list is downright awful. The list is a who’s who of cheap stopgap signings and solutions at right wing—a Treliving special. Starting with David Jones, you’d think the numbers in the table would highlight best single seasons by Flames right wingers since 2013–14, not total production over the past nine seasons. But alas, it’s combined totals.
Flames legend Jaromir Jagr finished just outside the top 10 for points, finishing 11th with seven points. He played just 22 games for the Flames, yet was that close to cracking the top 10.
When we dig a little deeper and look at points per game it looks even worse. After Hudler’s very impressive 0.8 points per game, the best points per game by a Flames right winger belongs to Spencer Foo at 0.5, who played just four games with the team. A blip of a sample size earned him that mark, and it’s telling that every other right winger falls below it.
Overall the Flames have had just 16 natural right wingers score a goal for them in the NHL since the 2013–14 season started, and just 12 score more than one goal. In total the team has gotten 244 goals from right wingers across 1,503 games for a goals-per-game average of 0.16.
Some fun names that contributed to that total outside of the top 10 in points were Chris Stewart, Tim Jackman and Jagr with one goal each, Foo with two and Kevin Westgarth with four. In fact two career enforcers in McGrattan and Westgarth both rank inside the top 10 for goals by Flames right wingers since 2013–14.
A change is needed
As it stands, the Flames are set for another pitiful season production wise from right wingers. With Ritchie already lining up in the top-six at times this season, it couldn’t be more clear what the biggest need is on the Flames. Unfortunately that has been the case for nearly a decade and the Flames haven’t done anything about it. Here’s hoping that changes soon.