Earlier this week, Conor Garland was healthy scratched against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau said it was due to performance issues and could’ve scratched multiple other guys but chose him.
The Canucks have had a terrible start to the season, losing their first six games and blowing leads in five of them. If they are to continue to struggle, they’re most likely going to make moves and it wouldn’t be surprising if Conor Garland’s name hit the market. If Garland is available, the Calgary Flames should be all over it. He would be a great fit to try and fix the Flames’ struggles at the right wing position to start the season.
Taking a look at Garland’s stats and analytics
Conor Garland has struggled to start the year, but not to the same extent as the Canucks as a whole. He has two goals in the five games he’s played. He has at least been solid analytically to start the year too, with 56.10 CF%, 46.51 xG%, and 52.63 SCF%.
With his stats and underlying numbers so far in 2022–23 out of the way, Let’s take a look at his stats and numbers from the past three seasons.
Garland has been right around that 40-point mark pretty much his whole career. Last season, he was tied for fourth in points on the Canucks only trailing J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, and Elias Pettersson. Garland has shown he can produce at the NHL level, but his analytics help paint an even more positive image of him.
Looking at his shot impacts, Garland has continued to be very good in the defensive end and at producing offence. This past season was definitely Garland’s best analytical year, posting his best defensive and offence results. He has done well producing offence at the sides of the net and in the middle of the offensive zone.
What sticks out to me most is Garland’s ability to defend offence from being generated in the slot and in front of the net. Garland’s ability to drive offence and shutdown offence in the defensive end are huge positives that would help the Flames.
Garland’s potential fit with Calgary
Conor Garland is versatile winger with a lot of great attributes in his game. Garland isn’t afraid to battle for puck possession and doesn’t shy away from getting pushed around.
He is a fast and agile skater who seems to always be in the right position to score. Garland has a nice wrist shot as well as a good slapshot and one timer. He has a seeing-eye shot as he always seems to be able to score on screens and through traffic. His specialties in shooting don’t stop there either, as he is really good at sharp angle shooting and getting puck above the goalie’s shoulder.
To add to his great positioning, he always finds a way to score whether it’s picking up the loose puck and quickly getting a chance or fighting for positioning to take a pass. To complement his entire game, he also has good hands and playmaking ability.
I think Garland’s scoring ability would mesh very well on the Flames top line with Jonathan Huberdeau. Since he always seems to be in a great scoring position, Huberdeau would have a guy he could rely on to always create a scoring chance off his passes. One of my biggest problems with Tyler Toffoli being on the top line is how slow he is compared to Huberdeau and Garland being a fast skater would fix that problem.
What a Garland to the Flames trade could look like
Conor Garland carries a $4.95M cap hit for the next four seasons and the Flames only $1.452M in cap space so a player would have to be moved out. Sending down Kevin Rooney would give the Flames a good amount of cap space but not enough. Garland’s value is lower than usual right now and the Flames should capitalize on that.
The Canucks would most likely be asking for a defenceman and Oliver Kylington would be a defender with good value that can be traded, but until he’s back from his personal issue, I don’t think it would be morally correct to trade him.
The idea of Nikita Zadorov for Conor Garland was thrown out there and I would love this, even if the Flames had to throw on a pick to get it done. I think the most realistic option if Garland was to be traded to Calgary would be Kylington heading to Vancouver, but like I said earlier, this option should be off the table until Kylington returns, so a trade like this would have to come later in the year when Kylington is back and playing.
Possible Flames forward group with Garland
It’s an easy shuffle to push Toffoli down to the third line with Garland taking the top line spot and leaving the second line alone.
However, putting Garland on the third line would also be an option, but I think the first line would suit him best. This lineup would allow the Flames to keep the so far dominant second line in tact and thankfully drop Trevor Lewis out of the top-nine.
Garland on the top line would help gel it into a proper line like last year’s top line. Currently Huberdeau is the playmaker just like Gaudreau was, but now Lindholm and Toffoli are both goal scorers and the role of finisher has so far been given to Toffoli which is causing Lindholm to play a game that I think isn’t beneficial to him.
Garland would fill the role Tkachuk had of a player who works a bit harder to score goals and create scoring chances, and plays a decent amount of time around the net. This would allow Lindholm to fall back into his finisher role.
Should the Flames be keeping an eye on Garland?
The Flames should highly consider going out and trading for Conor Garland if he is to hit the trade market. He would help fix the struggles that Flames currently have and would add even more depth to the Flames lineup.
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