Flames approval ratings: Which players are fans happy and unhappy with?

The Calgary Flames are trying to find success after the departures of Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. How are the players left viewed?

This is Part 4 of a series examining how fans feel about the most prominent players on their favourite Canadian NHL teams.

To qualify, a player must be a top-nine forward, top-four defenceman, or top-two goaltender according to the team's CapFriendly depth chart who appeared in at least 10 regular-season games with the club in 2022-23.

Other articles in the series: Maple Leafs, Oilers, Canadiens, Senators, Jets, Canucks

The Calgary Flames are coming off a peculiar 2022-23 season.

After a massive roster shakeup that saw Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk leave town, the team posted stellar underlying numbers but couldn't translate that into reliable production. It's rare for a team with an expected goal rate of 55.41% at 5v5 to miss the playoffs, but that's precisely what happened in Calgary.

In that context, the Flames players can be difficult to evaluate.

Were they unlucky? Will they perform better under a new coach? Should they get credit for controlling the play or should they be held accountable purely to bottom-line results?

Let's get started:

Jonathan Huberdeau

 Jonathan Huberdeau's Calgary tenure got off to a bumpy start. (Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jonathan Huberdeau's Calgary tenure got off to a bumpy start. (Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Position: LW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 79 GP, 15 G, 40 A, 55 P — 55.16 xGF% (5v5)

When the Flames acquired Huberdeau they knew that it would be tough to expect him to replicate his 115-point 2021-22 season, but it's unlikely they thought he'd fall as far as he did in 2022-23.

Because Huberdeau is a playmaker first, he's reliant on his teammates to produce, meaning his assist numbers can vary. That said, going from 85 to 40 is a heck of a decline — and he didn't help himself by compensating with scoring.

The 30-year-old needs to make an impact on the scoresheet to justify his hefty contract, but he's likely to bounce back in that respect in 2023-24.

Nazem Kadri

Position: C

2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 24 G, 32 A, 56 P — 53.82 xGF% (5v5)

Kadri's season wasn't as shocking as Huberdeau's, but it was a bit of a letdown for the Flames considering he'd just produced 87 points for the Colorado Avalanche and played a key role in their Stanley Cup run.

The 14-year veteran's work was more reminiscent of what he'd done earlier in his career, which was solid. He fits the Flames as a second-line centre who logs serious power play time, which is a role he's played in both Colorado and Toronto in the past.

Elias Lindholm

Position: C

2022-23 regular-season stats: 80 GP, 22 G, 42 A, 64 P — 55.45 xGF% (5v5)

Like many of the Flames players, Lindholm's offensive production dipped, but he was still a quality top-line centre who played a complete game and finished 10th in Selke Trophy voting.

The 28-year-old was critical to Calgary's special teams ranking first among the team's forwards in penalty-killing time and third in power play minutes. He finished the season on a sour note with one point in his last seven games.

Andrew Mangiapane

Position: LW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 17 G, 26 A, 43 P — 58.14 xGF% (5v5)

After breaking out with a 35-goal season in 2021-22, Mangiapane managed less than half that total last season despite an increase in his power play minutes.

The 27-year-old contributed on both special teams and posted solid possession numbers, but a shooting percentage of 9.3% sunk his offensive production after he'd more than doubled that mark in each of his previous two seasons.

Mikael Backlund

Position: C

2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 19 G, 37 A, 56 P — 60.10 xGF% (5v5)

Backlund is one of the few players on Calgary's roster whose point total increased last season as he set a career-high in his age-33 campaign.

The veteran played extensive minutes on both special teams and held his own in the faceoff dot — something that had been an issue for him at times during his career. Along with Backlund's career-best offensive output came recognition for his defensive work in the form of a sixth-place finish in Selke Trophy voting.

Blake Coleman

Position: RW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 18 G, 20 A, 38 P — 58.67 xGF% (5v5)

Like Backlund, Coleman set a career-high in points — albeit by a narrow margin. He gave Calgary some valuable depth scoring while chipping in on the penalty kill and posting strong possession numbers.

The veteran has a hefty contract carrying a $4.9 million that colours how his contributions are perceived, but 2022-23 was a step up from 2021-22 for him.

Dillon Dubé

Position: LW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 18 G, 27 A, 45 P — 50.23 xGF% (5v5)

Dubé increased his point total by at least 10 for the second consecutive season in 2022-23 as he stepped into an expanded role.

He logged more power play and penalty-killing ice time than ever before, with the primary downside of his season being weak 5v5 possession numbers despite starting most of his shifts in the offensive zone.

Noah Hanifin

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 81 GP, 7 G, 31 A, 38 P — 54.93 xGF% (5v5)

Hanifin's offensive production dropped slightly from 2021-22, but his ice time rose by 1:20 per game and he set a career-high in blocks by 45.

The American defenceman got more power play time than he did the previous season, but that resulted in fewer power play points on a unit that had an underwhelming conversion rate (19.8%). While 2022-23 wasn't a banner year for Hanifin, in some respects he remained a reliable top-four contributor.

Rasmus Andersson

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 79 GP, 11 G, 38 A, 49 P — 53.48 xGF% (5v5)

Andersson was Calgary's top offensive producer from the back end, but he also took on significant defensive responsibility as well, ranking third among the team's defencemen in penalty-killing minutes.

The 26-year-old averaged 24:05 of ice time per game while no other Flame topped 23 minutes. The significant workload was no surprise as the Swede has seen his ice time increase by at least a minute in every season since 2018-19.

Christopher Tanev

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 65 GP, 1 G, 12 A, 13 P — 61.20 xGF% (5v5)

Tanev is a player whose contribution should not be measured by points, and while his offensive production was negligible last season he gave the Flames 20 minutes of quality ice time per game.

His possession metrics were among the best on the team, he ranked second in ice time (186:17) on a Flames penalty kill that ranked sixth in the NHL (85.6%), and his 130 blocks were second on Calgary.

Mackenzie Weegar

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 81 GP, 4 G, 27 A, 31 P — 58.23 xGF% (5v5)

Weegar saw his offensive production and ice time drop in his first season with the Flames, failing to earn any Norris Trophy votes after two seasons of getting down-ballot consideration.

His possession metrics were still solid — even by the Flames' lofty standards — but an abnormally low shooting percentage (2.5%) depressed his production slightly. Calgary experimented with Weegar on the power play, giving him a career-high minutes load with the man advantage, but it didn't amount to much.

Jacob Markström

Position: G

2022-23 regular-season stats: 23-21-12 with a 2.92 GAA, .892 SV% and -18.2 GSAA

Markström followed up a season where he came second in Vezina Trophy voting with one that was unremarkable at best.

The 33-year-old posted the eighth-worst GSAA among all goaltenders (-18.35) in front of a sound defensive team after ranking third by the same metric in 2021-22. Suffice it to say, the Swede is tough to project going forward, though he seems likely to perform better than he did last year.

Daniel Vladař

Position: G

2022-23 regular-season stats: 14-6-5 with a 2.87 GAA, .894 SV% and -7.1 GSAA

Since the Flames acquired Vladař prior to the 2021-22 season he's been a slightly below-average goaltender in a backup role.

His goals-against-average is respectable since joining the Flames (2.82), but that's primarily due to Calgary's excellent shot suppression during his tenure. Over the last two seasons, only two teams have allowed fewer shots per game than the Flames (28.1).