We spend a lot of time dwelling on the faults of the Flames, so much so that we (and by we, I mean "I") get accused of not even being Flames fans. So I'd like to spend some time today dwelling on who the best players based on advanced stats are this season.
And as a side note, I'd like to remind you that you are NOT tripping when you read the list of names after the jump.
1. Lee Stempniak
Yeah, this list is starting off weird already. The player we received in return for Daymond Langkow, our former possession monster, has been a possession monster himself so far. In eleven games he has what is by far the Flames best possession stats. His raw corsi is 8.92, nearly five corsi events better than the next best player. But of course, raw corsi doesn't account for the overall quality of the team, nor does it account for zone starts, or really anything.
So how about those then? His corsi rel (corsi adjusted for team strength) is even HIGHER. At 17, he's miles ahead of the next guy in that area. Just...ridiculous. Still, maybe it's his zone starts that are causing him to have this massive bump in possession numbers? When adjusted for his 51% ozone percentage (using Eric T. of Broadstreet Hockey's Corsi Adjusted method), his relative corsi only drops to 15.6. The next best forward? 8.43. (Note: you will literally NEVER guess who that is- and you'll find out in a seperate piece).
In other words: WHAT THE HELL. Nobody expected this from the player I'm now dubbing "Ranchhand Ninja" (his nickname in Phoenix was "Desert Ninja"). But don't take this as complaining: I'm thrilled.
2. The Jay Bouwmeester/Chris Butler Pairing
Two not-so-popular defensemen? Gotta be fancy stats. Butler, if you'll recall, was acquired in the Robyn Regehr trade, which saw Calgary ship a franchise defenseman out for what at the time seemed like spare parts. And while Butler is hardly the next coming of Pronger, or even the next Reggie, he's shown himself to be capable enough to spend a significant amount of time with Jay Bouwmeester matched up against good players in bad situations.
So how do their fancy stats look? Their offensive to defensive zone start ratio is only 44%- very few players on the Flames have less. Despite that low low number, the Adjusted Corsi Relative number for Butler is 13.3 and for Bouwmeester is 10.0 (of note- I'm rounding to the tenth). Bouwmeester has been given a bit of ice time with Anton Babchuk though, so it's important to remember that Babchuk is pretty much completely terrible, and Bouwmeester's numbers would likely be higher if he hadn't been asked to drag around that dead weight at all.
3. Derek Smith
A strange list ends on a strange note: another off-season acquisition for Calgary is apparently very very good when it comes to corsi events. Averaging something like 13 minutes of icetime in nine games played, he's been one of the better Flames at moving the puck north. He's got a 49% zone start ratio, so he's not just capitalizing on easy circumstances either.
In fact, the expected relative corsi for someone with that zone start is about 1.2. Smith? He's clocking in at 10.5, meaning his adjusted corsi is 9.2: not entirely a small number. I would however to expect Smith to regress somewhat, but for the time being, he's a much better start than, say, Anton Babchuk. Babchuk, you should know, is by far the worst on the team.