Calgary Flames

Flames Sunday Census: Who is the most underwhelming new Flame?

The Calgary Flames were the talk of the summer after going through easily the most amount of significant roster turnover. It was so much in fact that people are still reeling from the impacts this far into the season.

The Flames lost Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Sean Monahan while adding Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, and Nazem Kadri in the process.

Quite the change.

Yet, 28 games into the season the results are extremely mixed. Although expectations were high, the new additions have provided the Flames with such a confusing experience that the team is still trying to find it’s identity.

To be expected with three massive new additions, but it’s obviously starting to turn into concern.

So with this week’s Sunday Census we wanted to see out of all of the new additions who has been the most underwhelming to start off their Flames careers?

The options? Huberdeau, Weegar, Kadri, and—of course who can forget—Kevin Rooney.

Nazem Kadri

It’s quite clear from the fans that Kadri has been just what the team expected. It’s almost unfair of us to include him in this list as outside of a bit of a cold spell, Kadri has been one of the team’s best players.

With 11 goals and 10 assists through 28 games, Kadri is scoring at a 0.75 point-per-game pace—which may be a drop from his 1.23 point-per-game production from last year—this is his second highest rate in the last five seasons.

He’s pretty much been exactly what the Flames ordered and so by no means would I consider his presence to be underwhelming.

MacKenzie Weegar

Full disclosure, Weegar was the player that I personally voted for, but that’s not a view shared by the fan base. With the third amount of votes, I don’t think Weegar has started to earn his way into most of the fans’ hatred so far into the season.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been quite the same player that the Flames expected him to be. That’s why I thought he’s been the most underwhelming so far.

With just six assists through 28 games, Weegar’s offensive production has been falling behind significantly. His 0.23 P/GP is his lowest output since his first full season in the NHL and well behind last year’s 0.55 P/GP pace.

His underlying numbers so far have actually been the reverse of last season:

This season, his CF/60, xGA/60, and CA/60 are some of the best in the league. That can somewhat be expected for a defenceman in a Darryl Sutter system, but as a result his GF/60 and xGF/60 have plummeted compared to the 2021–22 season.

Is it a bad thing that his defence has been better? Not really, but I’m sure the team was expecting his offensive game to pick up a bit more. Especially considering that two of his points came in Game 1 of the season.

It’s too early to tell, but Weegar’s underlying numbers are probably what is saving him from being the top choice this week.

Kevin Rooney

It’s no shock that Rooney is in the top two of this poll, which was an extremely easy decision. Rooney was signed to a two-year $1.3M contract in the first hour of free agency, which looking at it now was an even more strange decision. He is now in the AHL after clearing waivers on Friday afternoon.

Rooney has some of the worst underlying numbers on the team, scored one point through 17 games, and was a constant healthy scratch.

He also forgot which way the Flames were playing in what might be his final game as a Calgary Flame.

Underwhelming to the extreme.

Jonathan Huberdeau

It’s both shocking, and not shocking, that Hubereau is the player that the fans found the most underwhelming to start the year.

I think it primarily comes down to the weight of expectations that he has entering the season, and rightly so. Signed to the largest deal in Calgary Flames history, the prize piece of the Tkachuk trade, and coming off an NHL record-setting season, Huberdeau was looking forward to living up to the hype.

Since then, it’s been a combination of a few injuries and struggling to find the right spot in the lineup under Darryl Sutter.

Now I think it’s fair to say that Huberdeau is going to take some time to adjust to Calgary. Traded after ten seasons with the same team, one in which he was expecting to sign a long-term contract with, must still be jarring. Combine that with playing in a system that is completely opposite to what he thrived in last season doesn’t make for the easiest of situations.

That being said, I think the main reason people may have found him underwhelming is due to the fact that he is almost the opposite of Johnny Gaudreau. Although Huberdeau is a facilitator first, he doesn’t seem to drive play as much as Gaudreau did during his time in Calgary. Maybe at some point he will, but right now he seems to be almost uncomfortable in setting up plays.

What is promising about Huberdeau is his defensive game has drastically improved under Sutter:

What was his worst statistic last season suddenly is his best. Once some point start to pile up, he may turn into the player that many expected him to be. Last night’s penalty in OT that led to the winning goal unfortunately does not help his case immediately.

Plenty of hockey left

There’s still two-thirds of the season left and plenty of time for the new Flames to acclimatize. This team will need to be ready by the time April rolls around and extending patience now can be fruitful down the line.

Who else have you been underwhelmed by? Let us know in the comments below or @wincolumnCGY on Twitter!

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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