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Grading the Flames defence, goaltenders at halfway mark

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Calgary Flames Jacob Markstrom

On a team that is focused on checking first, you might image there are some good grades for the Calgary Flames defencemen and goaltenders halfway through their season.

You’re right. But there is also lots of room for improvement, which is why the team has been connected on the NHL trade market for guys like Ben Chiarot.

As always, grades are subjective. But these are weighted by offensive numbers, defensive responsibility, underlying numbers and five-on-five play – with things like special teams and off-ice intangibles tossed in for good measure.

Jacob Markstrom: A

By the numbers: 17-10-5, 2.20 GAA, .923 SV%, seven shutouts

This should probably be a half-grade higher but even though Markstrom has spectacular numbers, leading the league in shutouts, and is in the conversation for the Vezina at the halfway point, there’s room for more. A little more consistency would be nice. But with 40 games in 80 days, he’s going to need a breather.

Chris Tanev: A 

By the numbers: 42 games, three goals, 11 assists, 14 points, plus-17

Tanev is so solid and his offensive numbers are a nice bonus this year (although he did get four of those points in a single game). He’s been the perfect partner for breakout blueliner Oliver Kylington, allowing the skilled Swede to take some runs up the ice knowing he’s got support behind him. Tanev is a big reason for the team’s penalty killing success.

Oliver Kylington: A-

By the numbers: 41 games, five goals, 16 assists, 21 points, plus-20

Kylington has been a hue surprise this year and it’s really an incredible story. He was on waivers a year ago and now he’s about to cash in on a nice new contract. He’s incredibly gifted offensively but his growth has really come in body positioning and decision making. Consistency is coming along, too.

Noah Hanifin: B+ 

By the numbers: 41 games, four goals, 14 assists, 18 points, plus-9

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great top-four defender with a good contract, but the Flames could use a little more offensive pop from Hanifin. He plays big minutes and in all situations, although usually on the second units on special teams.

Rasmus Andersson: B+ 

By the numbers: 42 games, one goal, 20 assists, 21 points, plus-10

In some ways, Andersson reminds me of Mark Giordano from a number of years back before he blew up offensively. He’s really good but doesn’t get talked about much. He should probably have some more goals as the top defenceman on the first powerplay unit, but I get the feeling he’s going to blow up in the second half (in a good way).

Dan Vladar: B-

By the numbers: 6-3-1, 2.64 GAA, .911 SV%, two shutouts

He’s in arguably the toughest position on the team but has the confidence of his teammates and – sometimes – his coaches. Vladar has a couple of shutouts and a half-dozen wins in his first full-time NHL season but the numbers are just OK. The team is going to need him to be very consistent over the second-half schedule.

Erik Gudbranson: B- 

By the numbers: 42 games, one goal, seven assists, eight points, minus-2

If it wasn’t for his role on the penalty kill, Gudbranson would be graded lower like his defence partner Zadorov. Gudbranson is a what-you-see kind of guy. No one expects offence but the mistakes need to be limited, as do the harsh road game matchups. He could be better overall with a home-heavy schedule coming up.

Nikita Zadorov: C-

By the numbers: 35 games, three goals, six assists, nine points, minus-2

I’m trying not to take salary into consideration and let the play speak for the grades, but given how externally triggering Zadorov’s new contract has been with the Calgary Flames, and the fact they gave up a draft pick for him, it has to be factored in. He makes way too much money for a six/seven defenceman who has nice moments of physicality and offence but then gets stuck in mud as a play whips by him in his own zone.

Michael Stone: Incomplete

Stone might finally be regretting that habit of his every summer to sign for one year with the Calgary Flames. He has only dressed twice and we just haven’t seen enough to really offer a grade for him.

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