Calgary Flames trade of the off-season: Six months later

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 6: Elias Lindholm #28 of the Calgary Flames celebrates after scoring the game-winining goal against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 6, 2018 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 6: Elias Lindholm #28 of the Calgary Flames celebrates after scoring the game-winining goal against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 6, 2018 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

We’re almost to the halfway point in the season and so far, the trade that made headlines in June is working out for the Calgary Flames.

It’s been almost six months since the Calgary Flames traded Dougie Hamilton and I’ve finally stopped crying about it whenever I drink, so that’s pretty cool. Almost six months since D Dougie Hamilton and F Micheal Ferland were traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for D Noah Hanifin, F Elias Lindholm, and D Adam Fox, who’s one of the best NCAA defensemen.

At first, Flames fans were somewhat iffy with the trade. The way many people saw it was Hamilton > Hanifin and Lindholm > Ferland. In this case, there wasn’t a reason to throw Adam Fox in the mix. However, there was also talk that he wasn’t going to sign with Calgary once he was done in the NCAA, but in that case, they could have gotten more assets from him.

But nonetheless, the trade happened, so let’s focus on the guys in the NHL.

More. Flames trade Hamilton and Ferland to Hurricanes. light

Lindholm vs Ferland

Among all players with new teams, Lindholm leads the pack for points with 34 points in 32 games. More than John Tavares, the biggest name of the off-season, who has 33 points. And more than Jeff Skinner, another player who left Carolina who was at one point leading the NHL in goals (but is now tied for second with 22). I think the real losers, in this case, are the Hurricanes, but anyways.

With 16 goals, just one away from tying a career-high, Lindholm’s shooting percentage this season so far is 18.6%, and while that’s quite high and could fall a bit, I don’t see it falling a whole lot. He has a great wrist shot and a great release, probably one of the best in the NHL. And it’s not even that he’s shooting more (which he is), but his shots are a lot better this season than they have been over previous seasons. Not only does he have a great wrist shot, but he’s been great right in front of the goalie to tip the puck in. Over the last few seasons, looking at this shot chart, that’s where he had the most success. Basically right in front of the goalie.

The difference is this season, he’s not only getting more ice-time, but he’s getting more time at that role.

Not only is he doing better, but his entire line is as well, and the team, in general, does better when he’s on the ice. If we look at the unblocked shot rates at 5v5 with and without Lindholm on the ice, it’s incredible.

The Calgary Flames are MUCH more successful with Lindholm on the ice (that could also be just the entire first line in general), but he’s been an incredible addition to this team.

Ferland, on the other hand, has also been finding success in Carolina. He was injured for a couple of weeks and just returned to the lineup the other night, where he unfortunately left because he got injured again, but as Flames fans know, Ferland is very hot and cold. He’ll have a stretch of averaging a goal per game for three weeks straight, and then go the next two weeks without registering a single point.

In fact, all of Carolina is struggling in scoring and face the worst shooting percentage in the NHL at a mere 6.6%. Wow, it sure looks like they could use a Lindholm or a Skinner right about now, hey?

Sorry, trying to stop.

Ferland is currently on a four-game pointless streak (but again, he left the game he returned due to injury). He’s also gone another four games without registering a point, something he’s done another time at this point this season. For context purposes, the longest Lindholm was held pointless was two games.

Read. In defense of "The Trade". light

However, Ferland’s shooting percentage is still quite high at 15.5%, slightly higher than his last couple of seasons, which are still quite high considering he spent a lot of time on the third line. But his teammates have said that he has a sneakily good wrist shot and he’s been quite underrated. His 11 goals in 25 games leads the team and he still has 15 points.

While he’s spent time on the first line for a while at the start of the season, it seems like he’s been on the third line lately. Probably due to Carolina trying to find some sort of spark and mixing up the lines a little. But with his injuries and the Canes not having any sort of sniper on their team, the Flames may end up winning the trade when it comes to the forwards.

Hanifin vs Hamilton

Noah Hanifin currently has 14 points in 32 games, which he’s currently on pace to beat his career-high of 32 points in 79 games. But points aren’t always the most important thing when it comes to defensemen. He’s partnered up with Travis Hamonic who is doing the best he’s ever done in terms of puck-possession, and that’s due to being paired with Hanifin. Hanifin has also been excellent on the penalty-kill this season, and maybe even better at 4v5 than 5v5. Well, not necessarily better, but he seems more poised.

Hanifin is averaging more ice-time than he has in his previous seasons with Carolina and he’s blocking a lot more shots than he has. While his shooting percentage is somewhat on-par from what he’s used to, his PDO is hovering around the 100 mark, meaning his shooting percentage isn’t really all that bad, considering.

Dougie Hamilton, on the other hand, isn’t finding a whole lot of success in Carolina, but to be fair, not a lot of players are. He currently has three goals and 10 points in 30 games and while his CF% is actually great, he has been on the ice for quite a few goals allowed. His shooting percentage is at a mere 2.8% and he’s not shooting where he should be.

As we saw last season with the Calgary Flames, Dougie finds the most amount of success in his shots when he shoots from within the circles, specifically the right circle. However, he’s not taking a lot of shots from there this season, at 5v5 or on the powerplay. To be fair, he’s not getting a lot of powerplay time to begin with (another issue with Carolina), but when he does get that time, he’s not taking shots where he should be.

A big problem we saw with Dougie on the Calgary Flames last season wasn’t even about him, but about player utilization. Dougie’s biggest issue? Coaches don’t know how to utilize him properly. It took Glen Gulutzan 51 games last season to finally put him on the first powerplay unit after fans had been begging to put him on since the start of the season. This season is no different.

He’s not on Carolina’s first PP unit and at the start of the season, he was on their third pairing. He moved up to the second and then to the first, but he’s moved back down to the third again. It seems like he’s not as comfortable, playing wise, in Carolina as he was in Calgary paired up with Mark Giordano.

So, who won the trade?

While it’s still hard to say who “won the trade” in the first season, some things are clear. The Calgary Flames are finding a lot of success and a big part of that is due to the addition of Elias Lindholm. While the Hurricanes aren’t finding a whole lot of success lately, it’s not at the fault of Hamilton or Ferland. But they gave up assets they could definitely use right about now, like Lindholm.

There have also been reports that Ferland may be asking for somewhere around $5 million. The Flames have Lindholm locked at $4.85 million until 2024. If you ask anyone if they’d rather have Ferland for $5 million or Lindholm for $4.85 million, you’d be crazy not to take Lindholm.

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As I said, it’s still hard to determine who won the trade per se, especially with Adam Fox part of it. But so far this season, it’s been more beneficial for the Calgary Flames, and that’s what matters right now.