Calgary Flames

Reviewing expectations for each Calgary Flames forward at the 2022–23 midseason mark

Half of the 2022–23 NHL season is complete and what better to go back and look at my expectations for each Calgary Flame in the preseason. This is back when I had a lot more faith in Darryl Sutter and thought the Flames were going to play to win and not play to not lose. It makes me kind of sad looking back because was most optimistic I was about the Flames season.

Jonathan Huberdeau

Expectations: 92–102 points, better defence, build on 5v5 game

Jonathan Huberdeau has been one of the most disappointing Flames so far this season. I said that Huberdeau would be the next star in Calgary unless something disastrous happened, and something disastrous has happened. That disaster being Huberdeau’s play style not working with current Flames system. Huberdeau is on pace for only 58 points which is no where near the range of points I had expected. He also has not built on his 5v5 game—it’s actually gotten worse. My one saving grace is that his defence got way better this season, but it’s not something to be excited about if it’s taking away his offence.

Verdict: Expectations not met

Elias Lindholm

Expectations: 37–45 goals, 75–85 points, similar even strength offence and defence

When discussing who has been the best Flame this season, Elias Lindholm‘s name should always come up in conversation. Lindholm leads the team in points and assists and is third in goals. He is on pace for 76 points, but only 25 goals, so he should finish in the point range I expected, but be off in goals by quite a bit. As for his offence and defence, the offence is around above average, while his defence has been very good. Although he’s only met one category of my expectations so far, I’m happy with his play.

Verdict: Expectations met

Tyler Toffoli

Expectations: 25 goals and 55 points

Tyler Toffoli has been the nicest surprise of this Flames season. Toffoli is second in points and goals, and third in assists. His play compared to last season has been outstanding and he has been good at both ends of the ice. He is currently on pace for 68 points and 28 goals which completely surpasses my expectations.

Verdict: Expectations surpassed

Andrew Mangiapane

Expectations: 35–40 goals, 60–70 points, fantastic analytics

By far one of the most disappointing Flames so far this season is Andrew Mangiapane. Mangiapane was coming off a year where he had 35 goals and 55 points on a defensive third line, so many were expecting big things, myself included. Mangiapane has eight goals and 19 points so far which puts him on pace for 15 goals and 36 points, both way off what I expected. His offensive analytics are still great, but his defence has taken a hit. Now that he’s back with Blake Coleman and Mikael Backlund we are starting to see the Mangiapane we know, but with the results we have currently, he has been a disappointment.

Verdict: Expectations not met

Nazem Kadri

Expectations: 25 goals, 65–73 points, defence to regress

Nazem Kadri had a career season last year and was expected to regress. Currently sitting first in goals and third in points, Kadri has been one of the better Flames this season. Kadri’s defence did regress like I expected it to. He is on pace for 30 goals and 62 points. My expectations were pretty close to perfect, just a few less points, and a little more goals.

Verdict: Expectations met


Expectations 18–20 goals, 35–45 points, strong two-way game

Blake Coleman has served well in his role this year and has been a solid part of the Flames third line. He currently sits with eight goals and 17 points which puts him on pace for 15 goals and 32 points and puts him just outside of the goal and point ranges I expected. His two-way is still dominant and is a force on the penalty kill. Overall, I think Coleman has met expectations.

Verdict: Expectations met

Mikael Backlund

Expectations: 30–35 points, solid two-way, miss the net only 37 times

Mikael Backlund has been one of the most underrated Flames this season. Backlund has played Selke-level defence and has made me look dumb for expecting only a “solid” two-way game from him. He is on pace for 42 points which is better than what I expected. There’s no way I know of to track how many times a player has missed the net, but it seems like Backlund is finding the target more often.

Verdict: Expectations surpassed

Dillon Dube

Expectations: 28–38 points, 12–15 goals

Dillon Dube has been an interesting player this season. Judging by point totals, he might finally be breaking out, but he’s still a very streaky and inconsistent player. Dube still has average offensive numbers and struggles defensively. He is on pace to post career-highs in goals and points with 19 and 43. Nothing groundbreaking, but I’d say he still surpassed my expectations.

Verdict: Expectations surpassed

Adam Ruzicka

Expectations: If a regular, 20–28 points, if not, 7–10 points

I’ve always been a huge Adam Ruzicka believer, so I very happy that he proved me wrong. Ruzicka has been great this season with 20 points in 33 games which puts him on pace for 43. It’s unlikely he hits that amount of points since his ice time has be reduced after a few bad games.

Verdict: Expectations surpassed


Expectations: 20 points, top 20 in hits

In my opinion, Milan Lucic has been the Flames’ worst player this season. All of his redeemable qualities seemed to fade away. Yes, him and his line have put up a good amount of points lately, but they’re riding a massive PDO heater, so I’m not buying it. Lucic is on pace 23 points and sits outside the top 20 in hits. Although he is on pace to get more than 20 points, he hasn’t met my expectations.

Verdict: Expectations not met

Trevor Lewis

Expectations: 10–15 points

Trevor Lewis is a player I was completely wrong about. Although most of his success came from earlier in the year, Lewis has actually been serviceable and not useless like I expected. Lewis is one point shy of matching the 15 points I expected him to get with 39 games to go.

Verdict: Expectations surpassed

Brett Ritchie

Expectations: Extra forward, 4–7 points

Brett Ritchie has been more of a regular than I expected. Ritchie has already surpassed the point mark I expected as he has eight. He has been a serviceable fourth liner when needed and has scored some odd goals.

Verdict: Expectations met

Kevin Rooney

Expectations: never scratched, 10–15 points, or replaced by game 15

The only expectation I was 100% correct with. Kevin Rooney was replaced by game 15 and later sent down.

Verdict: Expectations met?

How did my expectations pan out?

Surprisingly, with how I view this season, I only considered three players to have not met expectations. Those three being Huberdeau, Mangiapane, and Lucic. Even more surprisingly, five players surpassed my expectations, highlighted by Backlund and Toffoli being a part of those five.

So if only three players have been disappointing and five have been better than expected, why does this season feel so rough? Huberdeau not producing hurts the team a lot since he was supposed to replace the lost star power from the offseason. As for the players that surpassed expectations, all but Tyler Toffoli and Mikael Backlund have had their fair share of inconsistencies.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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