Calgary Flames

Flames Sunday Census: The best winger partner for Jonathan Huberdeau

Arguably the most important thing for the Calgary Flames to vault back into playoff status next season is a bounce back year from Jonathan Huberdeau. It’s amazing how one down year can completely change the entire league-wide perception of a player, and Huberdeau is the poster boy for that this summer. After a historic 115-point season in 2021–22, Huberdeau recorded one of the worst statistical drops in NHL history, and is not considered a superstar player by most anymore.

However, the Flames are paying him like he is, and Huberdeau himself has admitted that last season was tougher than normal and he’s feeling back to his old self, so it looks like things can only go up. The question heading into next season, especially with the departure of sniper right winger Tyler Toffoli, is which winger will play on the other side of Huberdeau?

We asked, you answered.

The Win Column - Sunday Census Featured Image - Graphical design showing a Calgary Flames branded laptop with poll results.

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Which winger should play on the other side of Huberdeau?

We presented the following poll:

Dillon Dube

The first option on our poll was Dillon Dube, who came in fourth place by an extremely wide margin. Under 4% of respondents picked Dube, which I actually found a bit surprising. Dube played a large chunk of last season on the Flames’ top line, and has the versatility to play all three forward positions.

He’s a left shot but can play right wing, which is exactly what Huberdeau has been used to in his career with the Florida Panthers. However, the Flames have several left-shot right wing options so that doesn’t give Dube to much of a leg up, but Dube has the speed and grit to complement Huberdeau playing style, one would think.

That being said, Dube has not performed very well at 5v5 analytically and actually bleeds chances when he’s on the ice. Perhaps he would be better off in a more offensive driven role though, and I do expect him to get a turn with Huberdeau next year.

Yegor Sharangovich

The newest member of the Flames’ forward corps is Yegor Sharangovich, and the winner of our poll with over 45% of the votes. It seems like an easy choice. Sharangovich is a pure sniper and has the hands to play in a top-six role. Huberdeau feeding the left-shooting Sharangovich seems like the perfect fit; last season it felt like the Flames didn’t have the talent to convert on Huberdeau’s elite passes, and opportunites were lost all the time because of it. The Flames took a leap bringing in Sharangovich and they clearly see something in him. Maybe that something is a running mate for Huberdeau.

The problem with penciling in Sharangovich on the top line is that it’s a lot of pressure for the young Belarussian. He was health scratched last season at various points and was not the same force he was during his first two seasons in the NHL. The season prior, Sharangovich was third overall in total 5v5 ice time for the New Jersey Devils, falling to seventh last season.


His analytics show that last year’s drop in counting stats was most likely not due to a skill issue. Sharangovich is still driving play and creating more than he’s giving up, and with shooting talent like his it seems like a good bet that he’ll mesh well with Huberdeau on his line.

It might be too early, but Sharangovich is my pick right now, as he is for most Flames fans.

Matt Coronato

Matt Coronato is the wild card in this one, and finished second in our poll with just under 30% of the votes. He has just one NHL game under his belt, but he is a A-rated prospect with legitimate top-six potential. He should realistically start next season in the middle six next to Mikael Backlund or Nazem Kadri, but by the midway point it would not be surprising at all to see Coronato on the right side of the top line.

Coronato himself has said his goal is just to make the team out of training camp, but the Flames’ right wing depth starts and ends with Coronato right now; it would be shocking to see him start in the AHL, in my opinion. One of the biggest issues for the Flames last season was their inability to score goals, so keeping their best goal scoring young gun in the minors seems like a very dumb idea.

Coronato could very well be the player who skates the most minutes with Huberdeau over the course of his eight year contract, but I doubt he gets that role on opening night.

Jakob Pelletier

The French Connection line could live on! Jakob Pelletier will be on the team next season and will likely play in all situations. He and Huberdeau have a close relationship, and that was on display both on and off the ice last season. The only issue with Pelletier and Huberdeau being linemates is the positioning.

Huberdeau was forced to play his off wing last year for a large portion of time due to Darryl Sutter. It wasn’t a good fit, was ridiculed by people all around the league, and it’s not going to happen again. Huberdeau and Pelletier play the same position, left wing, so for them to be linemates someone would have to be on their off wing. It’s not going to be Huberdeau, and Pelletier still qualifies as a rookie next season. It really wouldn’t be fair to ask him to play his off wing, though I’m sure if head coach Ryan Husksa asked, he would say “oui.”

We will likely see the French Connection on the power play together, but I don’t think it’ll be a common occurrence at 5v5.

Best of the rest

The Flames really don’t have too many solid options on the right side. Their right wing depth is Coronato and Walker Duehr, and everyone else is a left shot. Other options include Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, but it looks like the money is all on Sharangovich.

Shout out to Coach M for the objectively correct answer to this poll question:

Regardless of who ends up in that coveted role, hopefully he is able to reignite the elite skill buried somewhere underneath Jonathan Huberdeau’s gorgeous exterior.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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