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Preseason Report Cards

October 13, 2021, 9:08 PM ET [50 Comments]
Trevor Neufeld
Calgary Flames Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
With the conclusion of the preseason, let’s take measure of how everyone performed.

Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau – A+
Gaudreau looked like he took a step forward with his game this preseason. His reads on the play were sublime and the line of Tkachuk-Lindholm-Gaudreau looked unstoppable. Gaudreau had two goals and three assists in four games.

Sean Monahan – B+
Only drawing into two games this preseason, there were concerns about whether Monahan was fully recovered from injury. His first game he was unremarkable and he only won 38% of his faceoffs. The second game he looked excellent. His skating looked as good as it ever has. He potted a goal and was 75% in the dot.

Elias Lindholm – A
Lindholm looks 100% again and ready to contribute on the first line again this season. He was second on the Flames in preseason scoring with six points in five games.

Matthew Tkachuk – A+
With three goals and four assists in just four games, it’s hard not to be excited when thinking about a healthy Tkachuk on a competent line this season.

Blake Coleman – B
Coleman drew out of the lineup unexpectedly and was held out for a few games without explanation. He looked good in two games posting two assists.

Dillon Dube – B+
Dube had one clear goal this preseason. Stay out of Darryl’s dog house. He did well at that. He showed in playing first line center minutes against a veteran Seattle lineup that he has some latent offence waiting to come out. He had a sneaky good goal through traffic that game. Dube had two points in seven preseason games.

Mikael Backlund – B
Backlund seems to have reinvented his offensive game this offseason to that of a shooter. It will be interesting to see his goal total by the end of the season. The 32 year old Swede had two goals in six preseason games. His chemistry with Dillon Dube seems to be developing.

Andrew Mangiapane – A
Mangiapane brought the same fire he always brings. His four points in six games were underwhelming though — he has more offence in him.

Martin Pospisil – C
The 21 year old Slovak needs to get much stronger for his game to translate to the NHL. He was effectively bulldozing the opposition in the rookie games, but couldn’t but couldn’t get much against NHL talent. Pospisil had one assist in three games.

Justin Kirkland – C
Kirkland has given a "warm body" impression this preseason. He's taken a place in the lineup quite a few times so the Flames could rotate players out. In the Flames’ final preseason game: he showed why he had that opportunity. He plays a very sandpaper game, brings size, and has a bit of skill to go with it. If Justin Kirkland can put it all together, he could be a solid 4th liner. Kirkland had zero points in five games.

Glenn Gawdin – A+
Gawdin made the team out of camp and posted two goals and one assist in six games. A huge step forward for the former Swift Current Bronco.

Brett Ritchie – B
Brett Ritchie quietly showed that his game had developed over the offseason. He brought a much more responsible game. He potted one goal in seven games.

Milan Lucic – B
Milan provides his same bulldozing game to every start he got. It’s great to have a player that mean do it consistently. Lucic had zero points in six games.

Brad Richardson – D
Injured before the end of the preseason — Richardson had an odd five games. The Flames seem like a worse team with him in the lineup. His faceoff acumen was useful, but he’s slow and plays a chaotic game. He had one assist in five games.

Trevor Lewis – C+
Lewis did a decent job and driving the puck to the net. He stood up for his teammates well in the scrums and didn’t look too slow. He should be a 13th forward, but may play higher in the lineup if Sutter wants him in a PK and shut down role. Zero points in six games for the 2006 first round pick.

Byron Froese – C+
Froese showed a bit of offence with a goal (almost two) against the Kraken in a game where Hakstol brought out almost all veterans. The Stockton captain brought plenty of energy, but his game just doesn’t translate to the NHL. Froese finished with one goal in four games.

Walker Duehr – A+
Duehr surprised everyone in camp from day one. His combination of speed, size and skill is a hot commodity in the NHL. He plays like a more physical Shean Donovan.

Mattias Emilio Pettersen – D
The slight Norwegian winger got into the lineup when Coleman drew out unexpectedly. He spent most o of one game stapled to the middle of the bench. When he did get on the ice he didn’t do much. There’s more to his game than what he showed. Injury may be a factor. Pettersen had zero points in two games.

Ryan Francis – C+
Francis missed almost all of his first and only preseason game for unknown reasons. He played a bit in the first then a bit in the third. He looked great in two rookie camp games against the Oilers and reminds me of Corey Stillman. He brings incredible urgency in his game.

Tyler Pitlick – C
Pitlick was injured in game one of the preseason. He looked like a checking line winger in his limited viewing.

Adam Ruzicka - C-
Ruzicka didn’t appear to be on his game over three preseason games. Nor did he appear on his game in the two rookie games. He’ll have to get himself back on pace in Stockton. The 6’4” Czech had zero points in three games.

Jakob Pelletier - B
Pelletier looked defensively sound, but needs to add strength to his game. He had zero points in two games.

Matthew Phillips - C+
Phillips played a surprisingly gritty game in two showings. When he started using the periphery of the play instead of getting into the thick of a board battle; he started looking better. He had zero points in two games, but had Calgary’s best opportunity in a 4-0 loss — a nice one-timer from the slot.


Defence


Noah Hanifin – B+
Hanifin didn’t knock down any doors with his play, but didn’t look out of place either. His skating looked excellent as always. He had zero points in three games.

Rasmus Andersson – B
Andersson took some time to wake up this preseason — zero points in his first five games. His passing was off, but he was still handling heavy minutes well enough. He seemed to click in the final game assisting on all three goals.

Jusso Valimaki – D
The 23 year old Finn just couldn’t put it together consistently this preseason. His passing was hesitant and sloppy. His transition game was bad. He did put it together for a game here or a period there, but it wasn’t enough. He needs more urgency to his game. Valimaki was held to one assist in five games.

Chris Tanev – B
Tanev took the harder defensive assignments when he was in the lineup and looked good enough. It’s a head scratcher why he didn’t start any games with his 20-21 partner Noah Hanifin.

Oliver Kylington – A
No Flames player earned more this preseason than Oliver Kylington. He showed us that he could play the way we all knew he could. Well, most of us at least. Three assists in seven games isn’t bad either.

Erik Gudbranson – C
I would love to give Gudbranson a failing grade after so many bad pinches leading to goals. He seems to do it once a game. That said, he stood up for Connor Mackey when Zack MacEwen wanted a scrap. Instigator penalties are extra marks. Gudbranson didn’t register a point in five preseason games.

Nikita Zadorov – B-
Zadorov is both an offensive and defensive liability on the ice. His hitting game is just awesome though. The Flames haven’t had a defenceman like this since Denis Gauthier. He will be driving 32 fanbases absolutely nuts this year.

His hit against the Canucks was the highlight of the preseason. Zadorov had one assist in six games.

Michael Stone – A+
Stone looked great this preseason. He showed some good offence and held his own defensively. With defensemen being the premium during free agency — it’s surprising Stone didn’t sign for more elsewhere. He has a new family though, so perhaps he just wants to stay in Calgary. This may surprise you, but Micheal Stone had three points in three games including two goals.

Connor Mackey – A
Mackey brought a little bit if everything this preseason and it’s surprising he didn’t get closer to stealing a spot. Waiver exemption is unfortunately a big factor in where he plays. Injuries will happen and Connor Mackey will likely be the first one up.


Goalies


Jacob Markstrom – A
Markstrom looks 100% again and ready to steal games. Expect Sutter to play him as much as possible if he can stay healthy.

Daniel Vladar – A+
The 24 year old, 6’5” Czech proved himself admirably. In five starts Vladar proved he can handle NHL shooters. He was the sole reason the Flames stayed in the first game against the Jets.

Adam Werner – B+
Werner looked good in the limited amount of time he got (half a game). He kept the Flames competitive as they got shelled by the Oilers in preseason game one. He looks like he could step in as a backup should injury occur.

Dustin Wolf – B+
Wolf only got into the third of one game against the Canucks saving all seven shots he faced in a 4-1 victory.


Thanks for reading. The Flames play game one against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday at 8pm.



Trevor Neufeld
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