Look, I get that it’s still early.
I mean it’s really early. We haven’t even reached American Thanksgiving, which is often pointed to as the first real benchmark of success for an NHL team (though the St. Louis Blues would beg to differ).
After an up and down start to the season, the Calgary Flames now find themselves in second place in the Pacific Division with points in five of their last six games.
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Passing the 20-game plateau on Saturday in their 3-2 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues, it’s as good of a time as any to highlight some of the bright spots on the Flames roster through a quarter of the season.
So, let’s roll out the red carpet and present some (fictional) awards to Calgary’s brightest shining stars.
Jarome Iginla Award (Flames MVP)
Winner: Matthew Tkachuk
Runners-up: Elias Lindholm, David Rittich
Matthew Tkachuk came into the 2019-20 campaign fresh off a breakout 77-point season with the Flames, elevating him to elite territory with players like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan,
Through 20 games however, the 21-year-old has found another gear to his game and has emerged as Calgary’s top offensive weapon early in the season.
Tkachuk is tied with Elias Lindholm with a team-high 10 goals, with many of those coming in spectacular fashion such as his remarkable Halloween winner against the Nashville Predators.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) November 1, 2019
Scoring at almost a point-per-game pace to begin the year, Tkachuk is on track to best last year’s total by a single point while also reaching the 40-goal plateau.
Tkachuk just beat out Lindholm for this award who has also been red-hot for Calgary with 17 points in 20 games, while David Rittich has been solid in his first full year as a starter with a 9-4-3 record and a .914 save percentage in 16 games.
Al MacInnis Award (Top Defenceman)
Winner: Mark Giordano
Runners-up: Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson
Coming off a Norris Trophy (an actual NHL award) winning season, it’s safe to say Mark Giordano runs away with this category.
Calgary’s heart and soul on the blue line is averaging more ice time than any other Flames player at over 24 minutes per night and his offence, while not quite as prolific as last season, is still there for the 36-year-old.
— NHL (@NHL) October 4, 2019
Giordano sits fifth in team scoring with 13 points in 20 games, outscoring the team’s second-highest scoring defenceman in T.J. Brodie by five points.
He’s also tied with Shea Weber, Tony DeAngelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Torey Krug for ninth in NHL defensive scoring.
The two runners-up I chose were Noah Hanifin, who is off to one of the best starts of his pro career with seven points in 20 games and Rasmus Andersson, who has scored six points and holds a strong Corsi rating of 55%.
Alex Tanguay Award (Most Underrated Player)
Winner: Derek Ryan
Runners-up: Andrew Mangiapane, Noah Hanifin
Flashiness has never been a part of Derek Ryan’s game, but you can’t help but be impressed at the numbers he’s put up to start the season in a bottom-six role.
Centring Calgary’s third line, the usual depth option has been dependable this year for the Flames, sitting sixth in team scoring with three goals and nine points.
That’s put Ryan on a 37-point pace and he has a very good shot at reaching 40 points for the first time in his NHL career.
— Sportsnet 960 (@Sportsnet960) November 8, 2019
One of the more surprising players through the first quarter of the season for the Flames has also been winger Andrew Mangiapane, who is up to seven points on the year and is playing a larger role on Calgary’s second line.
As mentioned before, Hanifin has already established himself as one of Calgary’s top defencemen to start the season and is on pace to break his career high of 10 goals.
James Neal Award (Biggest Disappointment)
Winner: Mark Jankowski
Runners-up: Michael Frolik, Sean Monahan
First off before I get called out in the comments, the naming of this award applies only to last year’s James Neal and not the current Edmonton Oilers sniper who is on pace for 51 goals.
Last year, Mark Jankowski broke out in his second full year in the NHL with a 32-point campaign and looked poised to improve on that total in 2019-20.
Well we’re a quarter of the way through the year and not only has Jankowski failed to record a goal, he’s the only Flames player still yet to put up a single point in his 17 games of action.
Mark Jankowski hasn’t been on the ice for a Flames goal this season. Not one. No goal hugs for Mark. Hugs in life are important. Somebody give Jankowski a hug.
— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) November 8, 2019
Jankowski is the only player across the entire NHL yet to tally a single point with at least 16 games under his belt, an incredibly slow start for Calgary’s first round pick from 2012.
The 25-year-old is averaging just over 10 minutes of play per night on the Flames fourth line, while his lone saving grace has been his sky-high 58.3% Corsi rating.
As for Frolik, he was recently relegated to a healthy scratch with just three points in 18 games so far.
Monahan has been right on track with 16 points in 20 games, however he’s on pace for only 16 goals this season which is a far cry from the 34 he netted last year.