Calgary Flames: What Geoff Ward can bring to the team

MANNHEIM, GERMANY - AUGUST 22: assistant coach Geoff Ward of Team Germany during a training session on August 22, 2016 in Mannheim, Germany. (Photo by City-Press via Getty Images)
MANNHEIM, GERMANY - AUGUST 22: assistant coach Geoff Ward of Team Germany during a training session on August 22, 2016 in Mannheim, Germany. (Photo by City-Press via Getty Images) /

With the newly acquired Calgary Flames assistant coach Geoff Ward, let’s see what qualities he can bring to the team.

With the Calgary Flames hiring two new assistant coaches, they now have their bench bosses complete. One of those assistant coaches is Geoff Ward, who will be primarily working with the Flames powerplay and working with the team’s forwards. But is he any good?

In the last three seasons, Ward was working with the New Jersey Devils, also primarily with the powerplay. They finished 9th, 22nd, and 10th in those three years on the powerplay. Slightly inconsistent, but their roster has also been changing in those three years. Ward was also an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins for seven years, including when they won the Cup in 2011.

The most impressive was this past season when nobody quite knew how they would do. And they definitely surpassed expectations. The Devis had about 3-4 powerplay guys they would mainly depend on, with big dependence on Taylor Hall.

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With the first powerplay unit including Hall, Kyle Palmieri, and Will Butcher, those three worked very well together and they mainly led the powerplay. That first PP unit was a four-forward unit, so we have to wonder if Ward will try that out with the Calgary Flames.

The Flames tried that, and it sometimes worked, but for the most part, the Flames spent too much time around the perimeter and not enough time setting it up and getting pucks to the net. Their most successful unit consisted of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk in front to deflect, and Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton at the points. Ward may try having a four-forward unit. It’ll be interesting to see the same forwards, move Dougie over to Gio’s side, and have Kris Versteeg shoot from the right where Dougie usually is. Then have Gio and TJ Brodie on the second unit since we’ve seen that they can work well together.

With the Devils, in Ward’s first season with the team, Kyle Palmieri was their leading scorer at just 57 points. However, he almost doubled his point total from the season before with the Anaheim Ducks (albeit he wasn’t on their top line, but still) and he more than doubled his powerplay points. Taylor Hall had a big improvement this season, going from 53 points to 93 and more than doubled his powerplay points. Ward also worked with Nico Hischier, the first overall pick at the 2017 Draft and playing in his first season at just 18-19 years old. The young centerman put up 20 goals and 52 points and could make his way as a runner-up in the Calder race.

The Flames, as a powerplay whole, have arguably a better full unit than the Devils. Ward may also be able to work with Sam Bennett a bit and help Bill Peters out with what to do with him since Peters praises Ward’s ability to recognize in-game corrections.

Via Calgary Flames:

"“Real excited about both these hires,” enthuses Peters. “High-end coaches. Geoff’s got 10 years experience in the league. He won the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011 on a real good coaching staff.“Just his reputation around the league is strong. Very good with the powerplay. His eye for in-game corrections but also post-game on video with things your team needs to improve on, he’s excellent.“Career coach, excelled on multiple levels and represented Germany internationally, done a good job there.“Real good relationship with players. Real good conduit between the coaching staff and the dressing room, in my opinion.“Very innovative. Creative in his work. He fits what I need on the bench and on the specialty teams.”“Really excited when I met with Geoff and we went over our (PP) personnel and what he’s going to be able to do with the group,” says Peters. “When we talked, we were on a lot of the same pages.“So he’s gonna run it but I’m going to have some input, as well.”"

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As long as it doesn’t take 51 games to recognize that Dougie Hamilton is the Flames’ best offensive-defenceman and to put him on the first powerplay unit, I think the powerplay will have a big improvement.