The Flames' Most and Least Valuable Players for 2009-10

Ask anyone who the Flames' most valuable players were this season and you would probably get these answers: Miikka Kiprusoff, Rene Bourque, and Mark Giordano. While it's hard to disagree with any of the names listed there, I thought I'd take a look at a method used in this piece by Ryan Classic over at SBN's Senators blog Silver Seven and determine who the Flames' most valuable players were by their record with and without certain players in the lineup. While the Flames' season was plagued by inconsistency and poor play, they were relatively lucky in terms of injuries to key players until the end of the season; I took a look at ten players who missed significant amounts of time this season and the team's record with and without those players, and I think it's safe to say that the results won't surprise many. 

David Moss GP W L T PTS WIN% PTS% P/GP P/82
In Lineup 64 35 23 6 76 0.547 0.594 1.19 97
Not in Lineup 18 5 9 4 14 0.278 0.389 0.78 64

Despite Moss' disappointing year in terms of point production after he scored 20 goals last season, the difference in team's record when Moss played vs. when he didn't tells us that he was still one of the Flames' more valuable players this season, although he did miss time during the Flames' nine-game losing streak in January, returning for the final game before the Olympic break. Moss played the fourth toughest minutes of all forwards on the team and saw a lot of time on the penalty kill. Some were put off by his $1.3M salary vs. his output this season and injury prone nature and suggested trading him, but at 28 years old, Moss has just entered his prime and should be due for an improvement next season. 

Daymond Langkow GP W L T PTS WIN% PTS% P/GP P/82
In Lineup 72 36 27 9 81 0.5 0.563 1.13 92
Not in Lineup 10 4 5 1 9 0.4 0.45 0.9 74

The debate over Langkow's value in his worst season since 1998-99 with the Flyers raged on all year and perhaps longer. While it's true that a 34-year-old centre making $4.5 million should be producing more than 37 points in a season, the team's numbers during his ten-game absence certainly speak to his value to the team. While it can be argued that being separated from Iginla for the majority of the season hurt his counting stats, Langkow is still one of the Flames' best defensive forwards and arguably their best option at centre going forward. While Daymond is aging and there will probably be teams looking for a player of his ilk in the off-season, I still think trading him now would be a mistake. There's still the possibility that his numbers could improve next season. 

Rene Bourque GP W L T PTS WIN% PTS% P/GP P/82
In Lineup 73 34 30 9 77 0.466 0.527 1.05 86
Not in Lineup 9 6 2 1 13 0.667 0.722 1.44

118

At first glance, it looks like Bourque's value to the team was perhaps overstated this season, but he missed six games during the Flames' hot November, during which they went 5-0-1, and three games before the Olympic break where the team lost twice and won once. Bourque faced the second toughest comp of all Flames forwards, spent a significant amount of time shorthanded, and still managed to finish the season a plus-7 while scoring a career high 58 points. 

Nigel Dawes GP W L T PTS WIN% PTS% P/GP P/82
In Lineup 66 33 26 7 73 0.5 0.553 1.11 91
Not in Lineup 16 7 6 3 17 0.438 0.531 1.06 87

Nigel Dawes exceeded expectations as a waiver-wire pick-up from the Phoenix Coyotes in the off season. He tied his career high in goals and set a new one for points with 32 at 25 years old and for only $850K. His questionable absence from the lineup after the Olympic break in favour of players like Jamal Mayers and Ales Kotalik appears even more so in hindsight, as he scored four of his fourteen goals between then and the end of the season, more than both the aforementioned Kotalik and Mayers in their time with the Flames this season. 

Curtis Glencross GP W L T PTS WIN% PTS% P/GP P/82
In Lineup 67 33 26 8 74 0.493 0.552 1.1 91
Not in Lineup 15 7 6 2 16 0.467 0.533 1.07 87

Glencross is a player very similar to Dawes, and his value to the team appears to be nearly identical. While Glencross is slightly older and bigger and perhaps more defensively inclined, their careers seem to be following similar paths and both are very useful players whose contributions come at good value for the Flames. 

Craig Conroy GP W L T PTS WIN% PTS% P/GP P/82
In Lineup 63 32 26 5 69 0.508 0.563 1.13 92
Not in Lineup 19 8 6 5 21 0.421 0.553 1.11 91

Conroy was another player who caused debate amongst Flames fans this season, and perhaps for good reason. While he still has plenty to offer in terms of defensive play and general hockey smarts, he scored just three times this season and the team was only marginally better in terms of PTS% and P/GP with him in the lineup than they were without, but better nonetheless. It's probably a moot point now as it seems he won't be back, but he'll certainly be missed, if more for his entertaining locker room sound bytes than anything else. 

Christopher Higgins GP W L T PTS WIN% PTS% P/GP P/82
In Lineup 12 7 4 1 15 0.583 0.625 1.25 102
Not in Lineup 14 6 7 1 13 0.429 0.464 0.929 76

 

It's difficult to determine Chris Higgins' value to the team when he joined the Flames almost three quarters of the way through the season, but during his time with the team when he was healthy, it was clear that he was a useful player even when he wasn't scoring, and the team's record with and without him in the lineup supports that observation. His offensive struggles this season were largely the result of poor shooting percentages and at only 26 years old, he appears to have a good chance of improvement if the Flames are able to retain his services this summer. 

Adam Pardy GP W L T PTS WIN% PTS% P/GP P/82
In Lineup 57 28 22 7 63 0.491 0.553 1.11 91
Not in Lineup 25 12 10 3 27 0.48 0.54 1.08 89

Pardy is the one player on this list by whom I was kind of surprised. He missed 7 games due to injury/being scratched/what have you during the season and was presumably a healthy scratch for "reasons" after the trade deadline and the acquisition of Steve Staios. While he had his flaws, he looked like a capable 6/7 defenceman on most nights, playing with the likes of of Aaron Johnson, Cory Sarich, and Mark Giordano, whose influence certainly made him a better player. I'm inclined to believe that the addition of Steve Staios is part of the reason why the Flames were better with Pardy in the lineup than without, but it probably has more to do with the continuation of the team's largely mediocre play after the deadline without the influences of early October and November's percentage-defying streaks. 

Cory Sarich GP W L T PTS WIN% PTS% P/GP P/82
In Lineup 57 24 26 7 55 0.421 0.482 0.965 79
Not in Lineup 25 16 6 3 35 0.64 0.7 1.4 115

If there was any way to make Cory Sarich's $3.7M cap hit next season look less desirable, this is it. Without Sarich in the lineup, the Flames could have been a 115 point team, as opposed a 79 point team with him. Of course this also probably has something to do with the state of the team at the times of his injuries. He missed the first five games of the season, during which the Flames went 4-1, followed up by an injury during the tail end of November that extended throughout all of December, and his return just in time for January's nine-game slide. Shedding the injury-prone Sarich and his salary seems like wishful thinking, but would nonetheless be extremely beneficial for the Flames this off season.

Brian McGrattan GP W L T PTS WIN% PTS% P/GP P/82
In Lineup 34 13 13 8 34 0.382 0.5 1 82
Not in Lineup 48 27 19 2 56 0.562 0.583 1.17 96

Last, and least, the "Dancing Bear" Brian McGrattan. The difference between the Flames' performance without him in the lineup as opposed to with is significant and speaks to the uselessness of not only him as a player but his entire role on the team and to a lesser extent, in the league. He contributed almost nothing during the 34 games he dressed for this season and the Flames were a full twenty-two points better without him in the lineup and could have had six more points and possibly a playoff berth had he not played at all. His only saving grace is that he played all but one game during the nine-game losing streak and was injured and subsequently scratched promptly following it, because he likely would have been even more detrimental to the team had he continued playing. Thankfully he's a UFA this summer, but I'm sure there's an equally ineffectual goon waiting in the wings somewhere. 

There you have it, the Flames' most and least valuable players of 2009-10, and most of them are under contract for next season, for better or for worse. 

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