The Calgary Flames ushered in the Christmas break sitting in the second wild card position. After a turbulent start filled with multiple areas of deficiencies, the Flames most recently picked up seven of a possible eight points on their California road trip to elevate them up the standings. Now, with the holiday spirit willing everyone to sit back and relax for a few days before the Battle of Alberta, we’re turning to the fans to which Flame might finish as the team’s leading scorer. We asked, you answered.
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Flames forwards leading the way
After 35 team games played, the four forwards with the most points are Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Nazem Kadri, and Jonathan Huberdeau. Their scoring stats are as follows:
With this information, and over half the regular season remaining, there’s no telling which of the four will end up with the most points, or if a fifth player currently lower down could possible catch up and then some. That said, let’s see who’s currently deemed to be the most likely to lead the Flames.
The longest-tenured Flame among the group of four, Lindholm is leading the team with 32 points in 34 games. After being a part of the best line in the NHL last season, it’s nice to see him still putting up points despite losing two elite linemates. Clocking in at 0.94 P/GP, he isn’t far off from his career-high of being exactly a point per game player last season with 82 points in 82 games.
Lindholm has a four-point lead over the next highest scoring Flame, and while it isn’t a huge margin, he’s still the one picking up points at the highest rate. If he remains consistent, he can easily accomplish the feat of being the Flames leading scorer. Since joining the Flames, he has always finished second or third, usually being behind either Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, or even Sean Monahan back in 2018–19.
This season probably offers Lindholm his best chance of being the Flames’ highest scorer. Given his already established lead, as well as the fact that in theory a $10.5M Huberdeau should be outscoring him over 82 games, this might be the only time Lindholm can lead the charge. It’s up to him to keep up his pace.
Not far behind, Toffoli has been an outstanding player for the Flames this season. He’s everything the Flames targeted at the trade deadline and more. Leading the team with 14 goals, he’s done his best to provide the scoring touch the Flames desperately need.
His usage and favourability with head coach Darryl Sutter is likely what will give him the best chance at leading the Flames. He’s clearly a staple of the team and he’s getting results. Unless his play falls off, he should be in the scoring race throughout the rest of the season and a few good games can see him catching up.
Even if he doesn’t catch Lindholm, it must be mentioned that Toffoli is currently on a career-best scoring pace. His 0.8 P/GP pace would push him north of 60 points for the first time in his career (66 points is projected with his pace). His previous best was 58 points in 2015–16. Not a bad way to start his first full season with the Flames.
Kadri signed with the Flames coming off a career year with the Colorado Avalanche. His 87 points in 71 games blew his previous best of 61 points in 82 games in 2016–17 right out of the water.
The expectation with Kadri was that he likely wasn’t going to hit a pace of 1.23 P/GP, but he would still be an offensive driver for the team. Well, he is definitely contributing on offence right now, pulling in a point pace of 0.74 P/GP. While it’s decidedly lower than last season, it’s still impressive and puts him on track for 61 points.
Further, his 26 points right now came with a stretch of seven games where he went without a point. So there’s definitely an argument to be made that his true pace this season might actually be a bit higher than 0.74 P/GP. A more consistent scoring presence can push him well past 61 points and have him challenging for the point lead as well.
We now arrive at Huberdeau. His 24 points has him tied with Rasmus Andersson for fourth on the team. If anyone says they had Huberdeau being tied with a defenceman in points at the Christmas break, they’re lying.
It’s abundantly clear that Huberdeau did not have a great start to his time as a Flame. That said, he has looked a lot better as of late and is even on a four-game point streak where he put up six points. The main criticism of his play in the immediacy is his reluctance to shoot the puck, which is a bit reason why he’s sitting at just six goals after potting 30 last season.
His point pace of 0.75 P/GP actually edges out Kadri’s pace. However, it’d see him scoring about 59 points with his missing games due to injury. However, the bigger issue here is that there is simply no way Huberdeau’s production stays this low. He probably has the best shot at elevating his game to a new level to rack up the points in the second half of the season.
He has been consistently above a point-per-game since 2018–19 and he’s really not that far away from reaching that threshold. The takeaway with Huberdeau is that he should see his production increase, but it’s unclear whether it’ll be enough to overtake the other three for the team lead.
Hockey is a team effort
Individual accomplishments are nice and the more points all four of these players put up, the better it’ll be for the Flames. It’ll be interesting to see which player elevates their game in the second half as the team continues to push to lock in a playoff spot.
Which Flame will end up with the most points? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire