Matt Stajan's Long Road to Redemption

Steve Macfarlane
November 26 2013 09:33AM

 

Backstrom and Stajan Face Off
- pic via clyde

 

If we took a poll of Flames fans a couple of years ago asking whether or not they’d want to keep Matt Stajan on the team beyond the season, nevermind the life of his current contract, the response likely would have been a resounding no. Perhaps not completely unanimous, but certainly overwhelmingly in favour of ditching him in any fashion possible — be it through trade, waivers, assignment to the minors or just wishing for something bad to happen to him.

But five seasons into his stint in Calgary, the 29-year-old centre might be the most popular pending UFA in town. You won’t find a more low-key guy on or off the ice than Stajan, so it’s no wonder the ride on his road to redemption was slow, methodical, and something only whispered about in NHL rinks rather than blazed across newspaper headlines.

Crushed under the thumb of the Sutter regime

In any blockbuster trade there is a centerpiece. When then-Flames GM Darryl Sutter sent Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs in January 2010, not a single marquee player came to Calgary in return. Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers were the return. With 55 points in 76 games the previous year, and 41 in his first 55 with the Leafs that season, Stajan looked like a promising young player finding his groove in the NHL. Sutter made him the primary piece of the trade on the Flames side with a long-term deal that would pay Stajan $14 million over the next four seasons.

In hindsight, that might have been the worst possible scenario for Stajan.

Nothing short of that 50-point plateau would satisfy the masses, and while Stajan produced 16 points in 27 games the rest of the way, things almost inexplicably soured the next season. Head coach Brent Sutter’s doghouse was an uncomfortable place to sleep, and Stajan was stuck there often. After averaging more than 19 minutes a game with the Flames following the trade, he was given just 14 per contest in 2010-11, and less than a minute on both special teams units.

After spending the first five seasons of his NHL career on the first and second lines, making plays on the powerplay, and skating beside the likes of Phil Kessel and Alexei Ponikarovsky, Stajan found himself centering the fourth line for Sutter, beside guys like Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos.

“I was used in a lesser role with Brent. My mindset was to be the best fourth-line centre I could be for our team during that stretch,” Stajan says now, realizing that his image was tarnished and there was little hope of producing points at any regular pace with the role he was given.

“From the outside, people just look at production and don’t realize the opportunity given. We control what we do out there. That’s all you can do. Your hockey career, every season, and even game to game, it’s a rollercoaster.”

Stajan was given no real explanation for the change in role, but he never griped publicly, never turned down an interview on the topic, never stopped trying to improve his situation. But it wasn’t easy.

“Definitely, it’s hard on you,” he says with a reflective laugh. “There’s down time. You try to leave it all at the rink but we are human beings. We go home, we have families. My wife, I’m sure had some nights where she was pretty annoyed with me because I probably took it out on her. “

Into the unknown — a new era begins

With both Sutters gone, another potential lockout on the horizon and a focus on youth just around the corner for the Flames, Stajan wasn’t sure what to expect following the worst two seasons of his career.
When teams were offered two compliance buyouts before the start of the new season a year ago, Stajan wasn’t sure what his future held.

A buyout was a possibility, although Stajan was hopeful a more promising finish to the previous season under Brent might help his case to stick around under Bob Hartley. He did have a stretch of 14 games through February and March that year that saw him post seven goals and 11 points.

“I didn’t know if a buyout was coming,” Stajan said. “At the end of the season, Brent’s last year, we had a ton of injuries. I started to get more of an opportunity to play. I finished the season — I thought — really well.

“Going into a lockout, you just never know what’s going to happen, what direction the team wants to go. I’m thankful that the new coach that came in, nothing did happen and I was given an opportunity to get back to playing a role I’ve played previously and I’ve been successful at.”

Coming in as the new head coach prior to the lockout-shortened season, Hartley had heard all about Stajan’s difficult years. He told every player they’d get a fresh start and a chance to prove to him what they could do and what kind of role they would ultimately play for him.

“I was pretty happy to hear those words,” says Stajan. “A fresh start is what you need after going through a stretch that wasn’t exactly great for myself.”

Hartley was just as happy to realize what he really had in Stajan — a positive role model for the young kids they wanted to give more responsibility to, and a player who could still produce offensively.

“I don’t think he was in very good books before. It just shows that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work. There’s no magic formulas for this,” Hartley says, offering communication as the key to their relationship.

“The player is unbelievably committed to team success. He’s a great leader. The good part is that the person is even better than the player. I rarely see a quality human being like Stajan. He cares about everyone. He’s very unselfish. He’s a pro.
“I came in, I had great talks with him. He just took off. He did it. I’m very impressed and I like him a lot.“

Is redemption the end of the road in Calgary?

With 23 points through 43 games last year — a pace that would put him at nearly 44 points over 82 games — Stajan showed Hartley he deserved a bigger role. He’s averaging over 19 minutes this season and is back on the 50-point pace that was expected of him when he came to the Flames.

But his contract expires at the end of this season, and he’s unsure of what that means for his future in Calgary — a place he now considers home, where he and his wife Katie have a house, where their family will grow by one in five or six months when they have their first child.

It’s a city in which he overcame his biggest career obstacle by giving a consistent effort and staying as positive as possible. And given the state of the Calgary Flames, this is a team that may need that type of guy to stick around and share his experience with the young players during the rebuild.

“Through that whole situation I feel like I grew as a player and as a person,” Stajan says. “Now, looking at the whole picture, you see teammates and other guys in the league and friends that are going through the same thing, day in and day out, whether it’s in our profession or in their own lives. Having gone through that, you just kind of be that friend and be that person who tells them, ‘Hey, it’s going to get better.’

“It’s never as bad as it seems and it’s never as good. It’s on you to make sure that mentally you kind of keep yourself in the moment and try to get better. Sometimes it takes longer than you think.”

3d3f7758adff5b9b9ead81bf00567345
Covered the Flames on the newspaper beat from lockout to lockout and continue to do it on my own terms. Follow me on Twitter at @MacfarlaneHKY
Avatar
#1 Monaertchi
November 26 2013, 10:43AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
22
props

Can someone forward this to Backlund, please?

Avatar
#2 FlamesRule
November 26 2013, 10:48AM
Trash it!
18
trashes
Props
20
props

Stajan is a keeper Jay. As the kids develop, he'll slip down the depth chart to second then third line centre and give us his all in each situation. He's got the attitude this team needs - sign him long term!

Avatar
#3 the-wolf
November 26 2013, 10:50AM
Trash it!
14
trashes
Props
29
props

Trade him while he's worth somethin'.

Avatar
#4 Dave
November 26 2013, 11:32AM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Props
5
props

Make him coach!

Avatar
#5 Rockmorton65
November 26 2013, 11:38AM
Trash it!
12
trashes
Props
8
props

I say sign him 3 yrs/ 2.5-3 per. He's been a good soldier for this team. He kept his career going through a nasty situation.

Better yet, trade him for a 2nd or 3rd round pick @ the deadline, let him take his shot at a cup, then sign him in the off-season.

Avatar
#6 the-wolf
November 26 2013, 12:08PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
14
props
Rockmorton65 wrote:

I say sign him 3 yrs/ 2.5-3 per. He's been a good soldier for this team. He kept his career going through a nasty situation.

Better yet, trade him for a 2nd or 3rd round pick @ the deadline, let him take his shot at a cup, then sign him in the off-season.

Exactly. Why waste the chance to get an asset? If he really wants to stay he'll re-sign in the off-season.

Avatar
#7 piscera.infada
November 26 2013, 12:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
8
props
the-wolf wrote:

Exactly. Why waste the chance to get an asset? If he really wants to stay he'll re-sign in the off-season.

Does that ever really work out though? I can't really think of a situation off the top of my head where it's happened, but I'm not really thinking too hard.

Avatar
#8 T&A4Flames
November 26 2013, 12:15PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
6
props
the-wolf wrote:

Exactly. Why waste the chance to get an asset? If he really wants to stay he'll re-sign in the off-season.

Agreed. Same with Stemper.

Avatar
#9 T&A4Flames
November 26 2013, 12:16PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
12
props
piscera.infada wrote:

Does that ever really work out though? I can't really think of a situation off the top of my head where it's happened, but I'm not really thinking too hard.

Keith Tckachuk about 10 times....

Avatar
#10 SmellOfVictory
November 26 2013, 12:19PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
0
props
Rockmorton65 wrote:

I say sign him 3 yrs/ 2.5-3 per. He's been a good soldier for this team. He kept his career going through a nasty situation.

Better yet, trade him for a 2nd or 3rd round pick @ the deadline, let him take his shot at a cup, then sign him in the off-season.

I can't remember how legal this is, but I'd only really support that if the have an understanding that he would want to come back after the playoff run. Otherwise, extending him might be best.

Avatar
#11 Kent Wilson
November 26 2013, 12:23PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
12
props

What this also illustrates is how much role, circumstance and coaching decisions impact a players results, his ability to contribute and, of course, the resultant perception of the player. If Brent Sutter sticks around, there's a better than even chance Stajan is bought out or waiting to play out the string as a 4th liner.

Elite players and lousy players will almost always naturally find their own level in the league. But the huge middle class in between is to some degree dependent on external forces to dictate their output.

Avatar
#12 redhot1
November 26 2013, 12:26PM
Trash it!
24
trashes
Props
8
props

I made an account just to comment on this. Matt Stajan, out of the "big three" UFAs (Staj, Stemp,Cammy) is the one I think we should sign. If we trade him away, that means Monahan would be thrust into the No 1 centre role, which I think would be a big mistake (See RNH a couple hours up the highway). Let Monahan develop behind Stajan, at least until he overtakes him, which may be next season, or the season after that, whatever. We could sign him for a fair price, because it appears he likes Calgary and wants to stay here. I would sign him for 4 years at 4.5 per.

Avatar
#13 redhot1
November 26 2013, 12:26PM
Trash it!
9
trashes
Props
9
props

Also, I've heard he's a good leader in the dressing room

Avatar
#14 Johnny Be Gaudreau
November 26 2013, 12:26PM
Trash it!
25
trashes
Props
14
props

People are suggesting we resign Stajan? This is even a debate?

What benefit is to be gained from resigning him? All I see are negatives. 1. he takes up a roster spot from someone like a Granlund or an Arnold 2. He's not a 50 point guy and he won't be given he's now on the other side of the hill and going downwards not upwards. 3. This is a rebuild 4. there are other better veterans who produce who can help the kids out.

If the Flames resign Stajan I will send them anthrax in the mail i swear.

What can Stajan do that Backlund cannot? The mere fact that management would even consider this makes me vibrate with anger.

Avatar
#15 T&A4Flames
November 26 2013, 12:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
8
props
SmellOfVictory wrote:

I can't remember how legal this is, but I'd only really support that if the have an understanding that he would want to come back after the playoff run. Otherwise, extending him might be best.

If there is a quality return, the risk of him not returning isn't a big deal, IMO. Stemper is the 1 of the pendinf fwd UFAs that I wohld consider resigning if a good deal can't be found. We are weak on the right side through out the org so we could afford to sign him for a 3 or even 4 year deal. Bes been a great mentor; with Horak first and now Mony any Baert and he's found a level of consistency in his game as a Flame.

Avatar
#16 wot96
November 26 2013, 12:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
19
props
redhot1 wrote:

I made an account just to comment on this. Matt Stajan, out of the "big three" UFAs (Staj, Stemp,Cammy) is the one I think we should sign. If we trade him away, that means Monahan would be thrust into the No 1 centre role, which I think would be a big mistake (See RNH a couple hours up the highway). Let Monahan develop behind Stajan, at least until he overtakes him, which may be next season, or the season after that, whatever. We could sign him for a fair price, because it appears he likes Calgary and wants to stay here. I would sign him for 4 years at 4.5 per.

1. The price you suggest is insane. 2. The length you suggest is insane. 3. Backlund can step into any role they are currently playing Stajan in and he's younger including taking heavier minutes in front of Monahan.

I'm not saying trade him or keep him (I would listen to offers and decide from there) but I wouldn't dream of keeping him on those terms. You would be better off losing him for nothing than doing that.

Avatar
#17 T&A4Flames
November 26 2013, 12:42PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
12
props
redhot1 wrote:

I made an account just to comment on this. Matt Stajan, out of the "big three" UFAs (Staj, Stemp,Cammy) is the one I think we should sign. If we trade him away, that means Monahan would be thrust into the No 1 centre role, which I think would be a big mistake (See RNH a couple hours up the highway). Let Monahan develop behind Stajan, at least until he overtakes him, which may be next season, or the season after that, whatever. We could sign him for a fair price, because it appears he likes Calgary and wants to stay here. I would sign him for 4 years at 4.5 per.

You're kidding me right? 4 @ 4.5 per????

For 4 years we've been saying Stajan has not lived hp to his contract of 3.5 despite him being better the last 2 years. Now you want to give him $4.5???

Ya, no!

I would consider 3years @ 2.5 per but no more. I don't mind Stajan, but he hasn't earned that much term and certainly not that salary.

Avatar
#18 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 12:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

if we give him fifteen million, for fifteen years, and he surprises everyone (the way Kipper did) and retires in 3 or 4 years, hey, that wouldn't hurt anyone. and of course, it WOULD be a complete surprise, just like Kipper.

Avatar
#19 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 12:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
13
props

I really have to check and make sure I am not halucinating - did I really read that the Heat are FIRST in the AHL right now?

How is this possible, given the fact that just a couple short years ago, with Sutter's drafting, we had the worst prospect pool in the NHL??? How times have changed!

Avatar
#20 John
November 26 2013, 01:01PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
3
props

It doesn't matter whether we fans like Stajan or not, Hartley likes him and thinks he is a no 1 center. Of course, he's a good puck possession player whereas i think Backlund sometimes is at a lost on what to do with the puck. I think Backlund given his size, talent should be able to get 50 points each season but he doesn't seem to be able to produce in the offensive zone consistently. Thus its in all probability goodbye to Backlund. I think he is a good player but he can't do anything on the McGrattan line.

Avatar
#21 Charleston Kingsley
November 26 2013, 01:13PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
2
props

I don't really see Stajan on this team next year. To put it succinctly, Stajan is an okay hockey player and that's that.

Avatar
#22 T&A4Flames
November 26 2013, 01:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
6
props

@John

I really can't believe that Backs would be any worse than Stajan if he was given Stajans assignments (1st line). Again, not to knock Stajan, but he is not a legit 1st liner.

Avatar
#23 gotommygo
November 26 2013, 01:14PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
1
props

@T&A4Flames

'I would consider 3years @ 2.5 per but no more'

I think 3 years is even too long -- that puts him 'post-apex' doesn't it?

Avatar
#24 T&A4Flames
November 26 2013, 01:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
4
props
gotommygo wrote:

'I would consider 3years @ 2.5 per but no more'

I think 3 years is even too long -- that puts him 'post-apex' doesn't it?

That was my high end. Only based on the arguements that others have given. My own opinion is that we can get by without Matty Franchise. In short I'm on the keep Backlund and move Stajan train.

Backs can handle tough minutes to allow easy time for the kids. We are deepest at C albeit with bottom 6 types and we still have vet wingers to bring them along.

Avatar
#25 Lordmork
November 26 2013, 01:43PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
6
props

For most of this year, I couldn't help but think that we ought to trade Stajan. Why would he want to stick with the team, after all? And he's taking up a space I'd rather give to Knight or something. But the point about him making this home is a worthwhile one, so I guess he might be willing to re-sign here. And he does seem to have developed into a leadership role.

Stajan isn't a first-line centre. But he has been playing those minutes. Without him, (and especially if Backlund is traded) who plays that time? I don't think there's anyone else in the org who can take those minutes without it being detrimental to their development. I wouldn't put Monahan or Colborne or any of our other prospects there right now. And as much as I'd like to see Backlund getting more time, I'm nervous about fielding a team where a 25-year old Backlund is our oldest, most experienced centre.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'd re-sign Stajan for 2 years, and then re-evaluate. Coincidentally, that's about when I'd hope this team would start being competitive again, especially if we're awful for the McDavid sweepstakes next year. I don't think he deserves a raise unless we're desperate to hit the cap floor, though.

Avatar
#26 Kent Wilson
November 26 2013, 01:49PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Props
4
props

@Jeff In Lethbridge

Keep in mind the Heat we re first in their conference through the first couple of months last year as well.

Avatar
#27 Rockmorton65
November 26 2013, 01:50PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Props
0
props
SmellOfVictory wrote:

I can't remember how legal this is, but I'd only really support that if the have an understanding that he would want to come back after the playoff run. Otherwise, extending him might be best.

I seem to remember Tkachuck doing this a few years ago.

The only way I'd want to see the Flames do this is if the other team was aware of his intentions. That's why I said a 3rd. We get less, but stay respectful as an organization.

Avatar
#28 Byron Bader
November 26 2013, 01:59PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
3
props

I'd keep Stajan around for 2-3 more years, at no more than $2.25 - $2.5. We are going to be dreadful at least until 2014-15, might as well have a serviceable guy to show the young guys the ropes. Pass the reigns over to Monahan et al. as they become more comfortable in a year or two.

Avatar
#29 SmellOfVictory
November 26 2013, 02:00PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
1
props
Kent Wilson wrote:

What this also illustrates is how much role, circumstance and coaching decisions impact a players results, his ability to contribute and, of course, the resultant perception of the player. If Brent Sutter sticks around, there's a better than even chance Stajan is bought out or waiting to play out the string as a 4th liner.

Elite players and lousy players will almost always naturally find their own level in the league. But the huge middle class in between is to some degree dependent on external forces to dictate their output.

The weird thing about Stajan is that he didn't blow anyone away on the 4th line, even from a possession perspective. It's like he got busted down, became sad, and didn't try as hard.

Avatar
#30 Bilman
November 26 2013, 02:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
6
props

Although this team is in a re-build, they still need veteran leadership to mentor the new kids. Throwing a bunch of rookies to the lions every night is going to destroy confidence in some of them. This team needs the Gio's and Stajan's to teach the kids the proper attitude and work ethic.

Avatar
#31 Monaertchi
November 26 2013, 02:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
4
props

Maybe keeping Matty Franchise isn't taking a spot away from a young guy. Maybe it's sheltering a young guy from a starting role on a weak team.

Maybe the Flames should try to sign Matty to a reasonable, short term deal and then trade him in the offseason. If a deal can't be reached by the deadline, trade him then.

Avatar
#32 Kent Wilson
November 26 2013, 02:41PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
0
props

@SmellOfVictory

I know, though Stajan has never been great at possession in his career...aside from this year so far. Which is why I expect his underlyings to fall a bit before the end of the year.

Avatar
#33 EugeneV
November 26 2013, 03:01PM
Trash it!
11
trashes
Props
4
props
Johnny Be Gaudreau wrote:

People are suggesting we resign Stajan? This is even a debate?

What benefit is to be gained from resigning him? All I see are negatives. 1. he takes up a roster spot from someone like a Granlund or an Arnold 2. He's not a 50 point guy and he won't be given he's now on the other side of the hill and going downwards not upwards. 3. This is a rebuild 4. there are other better veterans who produce who can help the kids out.

If the Flames resign Stajan I will send them anthrax in the mail i swear.

What can Stajan do that Backlund cannot? The mere fact that management would even consider this makes me vibrate with anger.

To channel a little Don Cherry;

Backlund is a Swedish pussy.

Avatar
#34 wineeditor
November 26 2013, 03:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
8
props

Next year at least one of our 4 Centers SHOULD be gone. You cant move forward without bringing younger players up to compete (and yes I recognize we already have 3 young centers).

Both Stajan and Backlund APPEAR to have plateaued ( I do think Backlund still has some growing to do but don't think he will progress beyond a third line center). Monahan hasn't and the jury is still out on Colborne. (that is why I would keep Colborne over Backlund).

If Stajan goes and you decide your other centers aren't ready for 1st line duty next year you MUST make darn sure you pick up a UFA Center for a couple of years. Over pay if you have to as you don't want your young players to be overmatched. I don't mind trading Stajan and we could get an up grade through a UFA.

If Backlund goes and the return, as many have suggested is small, then you should, if necessary, be able to pick up a similar player for peanuts as well. I don't mind trading Backlund either.

If you think you have one NHL ready Center on the Farm and you are prepared to dip into the UFA market and over pay if required for a couple of years (no more than two) then I have no problem trading Backlund AND Stajan.

At the end of the season rate your centers still on the team then move to fill holes with UFAs or trades. We should have ample cap space next year to over pay if required and players like Backlund can be picked up relatively cheaply.

The glaring need for the Flames right now is lack of size. In the West only Edmonton has smaller forwards. Our forward median weight HAS to increase by about 7 lbs to be able to compete, particularly in the playoffs which WILL happen one day. The Flames forward median weight is presently is about 198 lbs with the contenders for the most part weighing in at over 204.

Size isn't everything but without it you are pooched. Having said that IF we receive players for either Backlund or Stajan I would prefer a couple of wingers, younger and bigger, with the potential to play hockey as well. (Not a McDermid although he may turn out to be useful).

Avatar
#35 Primo
November 26 2013, 03:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
6
props
redhot1 wrote:

I made an account just to comment on this. Matt Stajan, out of the "big three" UFAs (Staj, Stemp,Cammy) is the one I think we should sign. If we trade him away, that means Monahan would be thrust into the No 1 centre role, which I think would be a big mistake (See RNH a couple hours up the highway). Let Monahan develop behind Stajan, at least until he overtakes him, which may be next season, or the season after that, whatever. We could sign him for a fair price, because it appears he likes Calgary and wants to stay here. I would sign him for 4 years at 4.5 per.

This is a great website where you can freely express your opinion...so here is mine......your note presumes the team is stagnant and will not trade for/develop more centres with greater skill and potential.

Also your contract length and numbers are critically incredibly SCARY! You are not in alignment with reality.

Avatar
#36 beloch
November 26 2013, 03:16PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
8
props

"Stajan was given no real explanation for the change in role, but he never griped publicly, never turned down an interview on the topic, never stopped trying to improve his situation. But it wasn’t easy."

Well, he did call himself a whipping boy in an interview once.

Stajan has been given just 39.0% offensive zone starts this season and has faced the toughest QoC of any center on the team by a substantial margin. He's the Flames #1 shut-down center by a large margin over Backlund (who is also given tough minutes compared to Colborne or Monahan). So how's Stajan doing with these minutes? Bad, but not horrible corsi, and moderate point production. Stajan is an okay second line forward, the same as he's always been. He's never going to be the #1 shutdown man for a competitive team, but he sure looks great with the Flames right now!

Backlund, on the other hand, hasn't been great this season either. He's been given slightly easier deployment with far worse line-mates, and his performance is similar. Really similar. I'm starting to think Backlund is Stajan 2.0. If you swapped these two players' roles it might not actually make much difference. Whether you consider that a compliment or an insult to Backlund or Stajan, one thing is clear, if you have two carbon copies of the same player and you're in a rebuild, you trade the older one.

Avatar
#37 Johnny Be Gaudreau
November 26 2013, 03:31PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Props
3
props

Backland has not played like a soft Swedish player at all this year though. And Don Cherry is a moron who doesn't know hooey about what he's talking.

The problem with Backlund is the perceived expectation that is not being met. However, it is possible that the expectation from management is too high for that players ability. It does not mean that the player is useless. Just simply not being used in a situation that best fits where he realistically lies skill-wise. The Flames want Backlund to be a scoring 2 way first line centre. The second he slumps a bit though they move him to the fourth line with two boat anchors. I ask you how is he then suppose to score? How is that a productive method of sending the message? Giving a guy 40 minutes to score and then putting him on the 4th line if he doesn't isn't exactly fair. They've been patient with other vets who have slumped. Why not be patient with Backlund especially since it's the first time he's been healthy from the start and his possession numbers suggests that his scoring numbers will come along. The reality is Backlund is a two-way "all situation" centre who can play in all three zones comfortably and he can contribute offensively. He's not likely going to be a 30G scorer but he might get you 20-22/season and 12-15 assists. That's a decent 2nd line production. It's equivalent to what Stajan provides for this team only Backlund is 25 and has potential to still improve. Stajan is 29 and is likely only to digress based on simple physiology.

Let's also not forget that Stajan is probably as much aware as we are that this is his UFA contract year and so padding his stats and trying a little harder to make a difference is on his mind. I hate teams that evaluate UFA's in their last year of their UFA status and subsequently forget the previous 3 years of the 4 year contract. That's bad business.

If you say build houses for a living and you hire a framing crew to construct them for the next 4 years and say the framing crew once they get the contract slacks off for 3 years at half the production with a lot of mistakes along the way and then pumps out 2x as many houses with exceptional work in the last year are you going to rehire that framing crew on the performance of the last year alone? I certainly wouldn't.

If they do trade Backlund then I would say for a simple lack of other options they should keep Stajan (just as insulation) but not for more than a 2 year deal. And I'd also recommend they look for better options in free agency. If Grabovski was available last year surely someone will be available this year.

Avatar
#38 kittensandcookies
November 26 2013, 03:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
10
props
redhot1 wrote:

I made an account just to comment on this. Matt Stajan, out of the "big three" UFAs (Staj, Stemp,Cammy) is the one I think we should sign. If we trade him away, that means Monahan would be thrust into the No 1 centre role, which I think would be a big mistake (See RNH a couple hours up the highway). Let Monahan develop behind Stajan, at least until he overtakes him, which may be next season, or the season after that, whatever. We could sign him for a fair price, because it appears he likes Calgary and wants to stay here. I would sign him for 4 years at 4.5 per.

Darryl Sutter, is that you?

Avatar
#39 everton fc
November 26 2013, 03:55PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
5
props

I don't mind Backlund, but also don't see him as more than 3rd line centre. There are plenty of these in the league, and probably coming up through our farm system down the road. If he has potential, others may have the same. It's not like we're moving an elite player if we move him.

Burke likes grit. That's a fact. Doesn't bode well for Backlund. And maybe not so well for Baertschi, as well. I like them both, but that's how I see it.

I'd personally rather have Stajan as my 3rd line centre during a rebuild than Backlund. And if you play your assets right, not to mention free agency... We have a lot of cap room. Enough for a legitimate 1st line centre. And perhaps a linemate, or legitimate 1-4 d-man. Monahan stay as your #2. Stajan as #3. But I think Colborne gets a look at #3, so Stajan may be gone, as well. But I'd rather have Stajan, than Colborne, during a rebuild. I do see the arguments for Backlund over Stajan, but Backlund has yet to prove himself consistently. And if this organization is not the right "fit" for his skill set, best both parties part ways sooner, than later.

A good 4th line would have Bouma on LW, Colborne at centre, and maybe someone like Ferland on the right side. Or Street, if Ferland proves to be a 3rd line option, which he may very well pan out to be. Street is a player I'd like to see get minutes on a 4th line. A 4th line of Bouma/Colborne/Street - pretty good line, even on a competitive team.

If you look at asset management and cap room, the Flames could easily parlay both into a competitive team far faster than your average, so-called "rebuild". And that's probably how Burke sees it. Why wait 3 years, when you may be set up to be competitive next year? Again, with all this cap space, why not think this way?

Avatar
#40 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 04:05PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
2
props
John wrote:

It doesn't matter whether we fans like Stajan or not, Hartley likes him and thinks he is a no 1 center. Of course, he's a good puck possession player whereas i think Backlund sometimes is at a lost on what to do with the puck. I think Backlund given his size, talent should be able to get 50 points each season but he doesn't seem to be able to produce in the offensive zone consistently. Thus its in all probability goodbye to Backlund. I think he is a good player but he can't do anything on the McGrattan line.

i would guess nobody is confusing Stajan with a first line center even if thhats where he is playing. not even stajan.

Avatar
#41 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 04:08PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Props
2
props
EugeneV wrote:

To channel a little Don Cherry;

Backlund is a Swedish pussy.

please post as tbough you mom is looking over your shoulder... my little kids read over my shoulder... potty mouth. ;-)

Avatar
#42 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 04:10PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
5
props
Bilman wrote:

Although this team is in a re-build, they still need veteran leadership to mentor the new kids. Throwing a bunch of rookies to the lions every night is going to destroy confidence in some of them. This team needs the Gio's and Stajan's to teach the kids the proper attitude and work ethic.

Stajan also shovels the walks and get the mail... he is a keeper

Avatar
#43 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 04:12PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
0
props
Kent Wilson wrote:

Keep in mind the Heat we re first in their conference through the first couple of months last year as well.

is that good or bad?????

:-P

Avatar
#44 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 04:15PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
5
props

if anyone here has studied rebuilds ( i.e. edm.) I have a question for you...

at what point, in the height of sucking, do i start to confidently claim we are already better then everyone else cause we are gonna win in the future even if losing now??? I wanna get this right...

Avatar
#45 wineeditor
November 26 2013, 04:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
7
props

WRT Backlund being moved to 4th line if he slumps offensively a bit you must remember he played 1st line minutes ( 19 min per game and nearly 2 min per game PP) over the first 10 games of the season and produced 2 G and 2 A during that time. This isn't first line production. Stajan came back and took that role.

Stajan isn't a first line center either. That is our real problem. No first line center.

When Backlund got dropped he wasn't going to play Monahan minutes nor should he.

He was in competition with Colborne. When either slumped DEFENSIVELY on the 3rd line they were bumped to the 4th. I don't believe offensive production had anything to do with it. (Neither were rewarded for a good offensive game while on the 4th line).

Over the last 1/3 of the season (7games) Backlund's Offensive/Defensive Faceoffs have been 17/20 while Colbornes have been 23/24. Not much difference. Backlund has more ice time than Colborne (86-80 minutes)and more PK time (12-2) but less PP time (2-12). Their even strength minutes are Backlund 73, Colborne 74. They are in a dog fight for Minutes.

What is concerning about Backlund is that if you were to extrapolate his scoring over the past 4 years (include this years as well) his average production for playing 73 games per year is 10 Goals and 15 Assists with this years extrapolated total being 7 goals and 17 assists despite playing tons the first half of this season. Those production numbers aren't improving and aren't good enough moving forward as a second line Center unless his Defensive work is the best in the league. It isn't.

Colborne hasn't played enough to warrant such a comparison. Maybe he will blossom or maybe he wont. Time will tell.

Avatar
#46 stumblintrucker
November 26 2013, 04:50PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
5
props

What quality free agent centers in their right mind are we going to sign in the off season? In order to do so we would have to grossly overpay. Nobody in the peak (or past) in their career wants to join a bottom 5 team to be a mentor.

I think keeping Stajan allows us to continue to let Monahan and Colborne/Knight/Arnold grow without being thrown to the wolves. If you can sign him to a short term 2yr/$2.5 per why not. He might actually then become a resource for getting the asset we need in a trade while being a quality dressing room guy.

Avatar
#47 Baceda
November 26 2013, 04:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
3
props
kittensandcookies wrote:

Darryl Sutter, is that you?

haha. Oh ya, and a NTC, can't forget the NTC

Avatar
#48 Kurt
November 26 2013, 04:55PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
2
props
Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

I really have to check and make sure I am not halucinating - did I really read that the Heat are FIRST in the AHL right now?

How is this possible, given the fact that just a couple short years ago, with Sutter's drafting, we had the worst prospect pool in the NHL??? How times have changed!

Is there really a strong correlation between AHL success and NHL prospects? I'm not questioning you, I'm just asking....

My gut tells me there is very very little correlation since the fortunes of an AHL team and NHL prospects unless a high calibre goalie is involved.

The AHL is a team of 25 guys, maybe 2 or 3 who have a shot at the NHL and even less are high quality guys. So unless you have a superstar can a prospect really impact the team THAT much. And if he is a superstar at the AHL he'd probably be in the NHL.

I see goalies being the 1 exception...

Avatar
#49 the-wolf
November 26 2013, 04:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
4
props
Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

if anyone here has studied rebuilds ( i.e. edm.) I have a question for you...

at what point, in the height of sucking, do i start to confidently claim we are already better then everyone else cause we are gonna win in the future even if losing now??? I wanna get this right...

Har! Don't forget about how half the teams in the league would trade rosters with you!

Avatar
#50 the-wolf
November 26 2013, 05:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
everton fc wrote:

I don't mind Backlund, but also don't see him as more than 3rd line centre. There are plenty of these in the league, and probably coming up through our farm system down the road. If he has potential, others may have the same. It's not like we're moving an elite player if we move him.

Burke likes grit. That's a fact. Doesn't bode well for Backlund. And maybe not so well for Baertschi, as well. I like them both, but that's how I see it.

I'd personally rather have Stajan as my 3rd line centre during a rebuild than Backlund. And if you play your assets right, not to mention free agency... We have a lot of cap room. Enough for a legitimate 1st line centre. And perhaps a linemate, or legitimate 1-4 d-man. Monahan stay as your #2. Stajan as #3. But I think Colborne gets a look at #3, so Stajan may be gone, as well. But I'd rather have Stajan, than Colborne, during a rebuild. I do see the arguments for Backlund over Stajan, but Backlund has yet to prove himself consistently. And if this organization is not the right "fit" for his skill set, best both parties part ways sooner, than later.

A good 4th line would have Bouma on LW, Colborne at centre, and maybe someone like Ferland on the right side. Or Street, if Ferland proves to be a 3rd line option, which he may very well pan out to be. Street is a player I'd like to see get minutes on a 4th line. A 4th line of Bouma/Colborne/Street - pretty good line, even on a competitive team.

If you look at asset management and cap room, the Flames could easily parlay both into a competitive team far faster than your average, so-called "rebuild". And that's probably how Burke sees it. Why wait 3 years, when you may be set up to be competitive next year? Again, with all this cap space, why not think this way?

Because, that would get us back to 8th which might be what the owners want, but it will never get us a Cup.

Comments are closed for this article.