We’re on to Part 2 of 4 for the Flames 21-22 Report Cards. Today we have six more players receiving their grades for the season. Click here to view Part 1 featuring Ruzicka, Mangiapane, Coleman, Ritchie, Jarnkrok, and Tanev.
Instead of doing a card for each individual player, I will be doing them in groups of 5-6 and in alphabetical order (by first name) over the next week or so. To qualify for this list, a player must have done each of the following:
- Finished the Season with the Flames
- Dressed in a minimum of 20 games with the team (including playoffs)
I will be looking at the fan grades from the end of season report cards and then combining those with the playoff grades to come up with a final 2021-22 season grade.
Dan Vladar, (Years with Flames: 1)
NHL Reg Season: 13-6-2, .906 SV%, 2.75 GAA, 2 SO
NHL Playoffs: 0-0-0, 1.000 SV%, 0.00 GA, 0 SO
Despite being the clear #2 goaltender behind Jacob Markstrom, Vladar provided the Flames a solid backup goaltending presence resulting in 13 wins. Acquired last summer for a third round pick, Vladar took a step forward at the NHL level even if there were times where it seemed like Darryl Sutter didn’t want to play the young Czech goalie.
Among his more impressive performances this year were getting a win on the road in Colorado, shutting out the Bruins in Boston, and making 37 saves in a tight 2-1 OT loss in Toronto where Vladar kept the Flames in it all night long. It is also worth noting that Vladar will be making the league minimum next season which will provide some extra $ for the Flames to use elsewhere. While Calgary could entertain flipping him this offseason and promoting Dustin Wolf, Vladar has created a situation where there’s no need to rush Wolf or look elsewhere for a backup.
Dillon Dube, (Years with Flames: 3)
NHL Reg Season: 79 GP, 18 G, 14 A, 32 Pts
NHL Playoffs: 12 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt
It was a very strange season for Dillon Dube as both he and the Flames really struggled to find the right role for him as the year progressed. He started the year playing a mix of center and wing before shifting back to the wing by the end of the campaign. Dube did get on a hot streak later in the season which helped him bump his point totals to new career highs but his performance in the playoffs was quite underwhelming as he garnered just one assist. He finished the regular season with a B grade but for me it falls back after he didn’t produce much despite being though of as a potential X factor for the club.
Overall though I still think you have to consider this a step in the right direction for Dube’s development with the franchise as he still put together some good analytical numbers despite not really having a steady role all year. For me I still have questions to what his ceiling might be as he’s shown some streaks of being a really good forward, but has also faded out of long stretches of games at times. Calgary will be looking for Dube to be one of the guys who picks up some slack with inevitable turnover coming this offseason.
Elias Lindholm, (Years with Flames: 4)
NHL Reg Season: 82 GP, 42 G, 40 A, 82 Pts
NHL Playoffs: 12 GP, 5 G, 4 A, 9 Pts
When we saw the glimpse of the Flames new look top line late in the 2020-21 season, we thought there might be potential for them to be the Flames best top line since the Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler days of 2014-15. Instead what we saw was not only the best line in decades for this team, but arguably the formation of the top line in all of hockey this year. Elias Lindholm played the triggerman and centre role on that line and wound up with a career high in goals and points as he potted 42 goals, eclipsing both the 30 and 40 goal marks for the first time.
While Gaudreau and Tkachuk are likely to get the majority of the headlines, Lindholm masterfully went about his duties and was just as important to the line as the other two. With his contract having two more years at a very very reasonable $4.85M, he will provide the Flames ridiculous value and cap flexibility as things get tighter with other players getting raises. Lindholm really emerged as a star this year which culminated with him finished 2nd in the Selke voting behind Patrice Bergeron.
Erik Gudbranson, (Years with Flames: 1)
NHL Reg Season: 78 GP, 6 G, 11 A, 17 Pts
NHL Playoffs: 12 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt
When the Flames made the decision to bring on Gudbranson in early September last year, myself and a bunch of others were pessimistic about the signing. This was only amplified by his contract being a relatively hefty $1.95M for a team already pushing near the cap. Gudbranson had been widely panned as one of the league’s worst analytical player and we were gearing up for disaster, especially once it looked like he’d join Nikita Zadorov who wasn’t an analytical darling himself.
Instead, they were fine, in fact they quickly evolved into being a very solid third pairing for the Flames and were tasked with tougher minutes as the season went on. They still had their warts at time but Gudbranson became a very reliable presence on the back end for the team along with providing some of that grit they covet. I wouldn’t mind Calgary bringing him back for next season, but given that he’s probably going to be aiming for a $2M contract again, he’s probably priced out of Calgary.
Jacob Markstrom, (Years with Flames: 2)
NHL Reg Season: 37-15-9, .922 SV%, 2.22 GAA, 9 SO
NHL Playoffs: 5-6-1, .901 SV%, 2.95 GAA, 1 SO
It’s safe to say that Markstrom was right up there with the other Flames star players in terms of effectiveness in the regular season. He was particularly good in the first half of the year, helping the Flames get off to a strong start which has been a rarity in Calgary. Markstrom was fantastic in the regular season, finishing the year in 2nd place in Vezina trophy voting behind Igor Shesterkin.
That performance carried over to the first round against Dallas as he had to outduel a ridiculous performance from Jake Oettinger and did just enough to help the team make the 2nd round. Once the puck dropped against Edmonton though, Markstrom fell apart for a lack of a better term. The Flames definitely weren’t at their best in the series, but Markstrom really struggled to bail them out in any of the games as well. The Oilers tallied 25 goals in 5 games and while the defence wasn’t great, there were a number that also shouldn’t have gone in. To recap, it’s not like he was solely to blame, but there were certainly higher expectations for Markstrom created by his performance in the season. He finished with an A after the regular season, I think he falls to a B+.
Johnny Gaudreau, (Years with Flames: 8)
NHL Reg Season: 82 GP, 40 G, 75 A, 115 Pts
NHL Playoffs: 12 GP, 3 G, 11 A, 14 Pts
Where do you even start with Gaudreau’s 2021-22 campaign? He smashed his career highs in goals, assists, and total points as he put up 115 points in 82 games. Alongside Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, Gaudreau was simply outstanding both on his own and his entire line was the best in hockey. He continued to drive the bus offensively for Calgary this year but also took a major step forward in becoming extremely responsible at the defensive end of the ice.
When the playoffs arrived I thought he did a good job of crushing the narratives surrounding him as he continued to create offense and finished over a point per game. He finished 4th in NHL Hart voting and that was really just because three players ahead of him also put up absolutely ridiculous seasons. If this was it for Johnny Hockey in Calgary, we certainly got a fantastic show but I really hope they are able to get him signed and have his name thrust right into the conversation for the Greatest Flame of All Time.
That’s it for this round. Who was graded too high or too low? Let us know in the comments!