Stajan Extended, Hartley Fined

Ryan Pike
January 21 2014 10:59AM


(courtesy uiowa.edu)

A bit of news coming down yesterday that merits some attention.

The Flames signed centre Matt Stajan to a four-year contract extension worth an AAV of $3.125 million per year. The NHL also announced that Flames coach Bob Hartley was fined $25,000 for the shenanigans on Saturday night. (He got off light, as John Tortorella was banished from the NHL for 15 days/6 games.)

Let's deal with these one at a time.

THE FINE

First, the fine. Hartley trotted out an interesting starting five or the Vancouver game - Brian McGrattan, Kevin Westgarth, Blair Jones, Ladislav Smid and Chris Butler. Then insanity went down. The NHL's basis for the fine was by-law 17.3(a), dealing with conduct detrimental to the league. Specifically, the league's stance is Kevin Westgarth was acting like a fool - trying to engage an unwilling combatant in Kevin Bieska - and Hartley was responsible for his actions by putting him out there in that situation. Under the NHL's by-laws, the league can fine just about anyone for any reason.

Were they justified here? 

Yes. They probably were.

THE EXTENSION

Matt Stajan is now signed until the end of the 2017-18 season. His cap hit is $3.125 million, placing him behind Jiri Hudler, David Jones, Dennis Wideman, Mark Giordano and Ladislav Smid in cap hits among players signed for next year. He's ahead of Karri Ramo and Curtis Glencross. But what's his value?

Calgary has four "regular centres" - Stajan, Mikael Backlund, Sean Monahan and Joe Colborne. Let's compare them.

  • Scoring goals: Stajan has 7 goals, just behind Backlund (8) and well behind Monahan (13).
  • Generating points: Again, Stajan's 17 points is behind Backlund and Monahan, tied with 19.
  • Winning face-offs: Stajan wins 48.5% of draws, which isn't great, but he's a giant on a team with a group average of 46.0%. He leads the team, especially Backlund (46.5) and Monahan (45). Colborne is at 48%, but takes much fewer face-offs.
  • Tough sledding: Stajan's second amongst centers in PK time (behind Backlund). His Relative Corsi is 3.8, second among centres behind Backlund (11.5) and ahead of Colborne (1.6) and Monahan (-7.1). Adjusting for quality of competition - Stajan faces the second-toughest sledding among centres behind Backlund in an effort to shield the younger kids - we have a Relative Corsi QoC that's, again, better than everyone but Backlund. And Stajan has the lowest offensive zone starts percentage on the team.

So Bob Hartley constantly tosses Stajan out there in the defensive zone, either at even-strength or on the PK, against the second lines of every team. And Stajan produces decently well, drives play to a good extent, and, more impressively, wins face-offs more consistently than any other Flame. (Side-bar: more impressive is Backund driving play against top lines, but I digress.) He also gives you a leadership element in the room that can't be undervalued or overlooked, but is also extremely difficult to quantify or measure.

In terms of cap hit, I can get it. Stajan gives you something right now that other guys don't give you. But the key there is "right now."

Backlund is an NHL centre. Colborne is a project. Monahan's a rookie, but has showed some promise. In 2014-15, your top two centres are probably Backlund and Stajan. That's fine, as they can effectively shield Monahan. But who else is coming in? Corban Knight and Bill Arnold may be here next season, but both would probably welcome the Monahan shielding, at least to start. Beyond next year, though, the hope is that Sean Monahan finds his sea legs like Backlund did and needs less shielding and favourable match-ups - you can give those to Arnold and/or Knight.

By year 2 or 3 of Stajan's extension, you probably hit a bit of a crunch in terms of ice-time and situations you can put players into, and that's presuming Stajan doesn't start regressing over time. The four-year term is a bit odd. A two-year deal would've been perfect for the Flames, but I reckon the Stajan camp wanted a bit more security, so four years became the figure.

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Now in his fourth season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers and the Wrestling Observer.
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#51 loudogYYC
January 21 2014, 11:19PM
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Burnward wrote:

It's basically what Justin Schultz did to the Ducks. It's an option for all college players.

Schultz used a loophole which Gaudreau no longer qualifies for. Essentially he became a UFA after his 3rd year of college which is where Johnny G's at now and I know for sure Gaudreau won't be a UFA until Aug 15, 2015 and that's IF he goes unsigned.

This whole Gaudreau 'scandal' is so freakin stupid and it's all because of Toronto media and 1 dumb, entitled kid that chose to join a group of dumb, entitled kids in Edmonton.

Give it a rest, thank you.

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#52 mattyc
January 21 2014, 11:19PM
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@Parallex

from a player perspective you're giving up a guaranteed 2 million (ish). You'd be crazy as an agent or player to leave that on the table (or alternatively not push for it).

If the cap is 80$million in year 4. Stajan is only taking up about less than 4% of the cap (or less than 1/25), which means his burden on the cap when it potentially matters is minor (it would compare to someone making about 2.5million today - @cap = 64$million...)

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#53 Baalzamon
January 21 2014, 11:30PM
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@Where.is.ville?

"Signing Stajan to 4 years is an act of desperation"

No, flipping Stajan for a 3rd round pick and then hoping one of the random free agent centers (Derek Roy? ew) will deign to sign with the team would be an act of desperation.

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#54 Burnward
January 21 2014, 11:31PM
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@loudogYYC

Agreed it's a silly conversation. I was trying to help out the other guy.

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#55 loudogYYC
January 21 2014, 11:47PM
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@Burnward

I know, man. I just don't know how to include more than 1 bolded handle in a response.

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#56 Kevin R
January 22 2014, 01:01AM
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My fst reaction was I did not like this signing. Then I was very surprised Burke actually offered him a deal, contrary to all the Burke haters out there, this one was unexpected. I get the sense of it & quite frankly, whatever. Yes we need vets, Stajan probably gave a bit of a home town discount for that extra year, we arent winning anything anyway this year & next. I guess none of us can say if it was a smart signing when we dont know what deals were on the table if we had traded him. Wont lose any sleep on this one.

Interesting to hear the panel talk that Cammi is having discussions with Burke on a potential extension. Not sure what to read into that. Either it's a sign of that impatience factor or Burke is doing his due diligence to see if Cammi wants to stay at a home town discount for the rebuild like Stajan. It in all likelihood it's the precursor to seeing where Cammi is at & probably trading him.

I may get roasted but tonight we had an interesting debate about our D. We ll agreed, we arent big enough & cant handle teams with big grinding forwards. SOB is too old, Butler is too soft, & really,Gio is probably our best guy for clearing the front of the net & having that physical edge to the game. Wideman, is a solid veteran, but not your typical bruiser on the blueline, but a very serviceable & somewhat valuable Dmen on the blueline. Brody & Russell are very good skaters, can get the puck out but you can only have 1 of these type of Dmen on a blueline if you are going to keep Wideman. So who do you keep? Russell or Brodie? Either would get you excellent returns because they are in such high demand right now. The majority in ur conversation feel Russell is the better player of the two & that Burke should get him locked up to a great contract for at least 4 years & try to get a nice piece for Brodie. I have always been a pro Brodie & think he was due for a meh year but is still playing big minutes. But we really do need a couple of 215 - 220 lb bruising dmen that arent pilons. 180 lb dmen may be mobile but we're going to lose he battles on many nights. Curious if anyone else thinks Brodie should be parlayed into something we badly need at this point?

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#57 Burnward
January 22 2014, 02:39AM
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@loudogYYC

Tis all good.

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#58 mk
January 22 2014, 09:39AM
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This morning, I almost cried - when I clicked my Nations bookmark, I got the "Go Daddy - Domain Name is expired, pending renewal or deletion" redirect. :(

I'm glad you're back. :)

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#59 JustAFan
January 22 2014, 11:13AM
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I say Hartley should start the exact same 5 guys as he did against the Canucks...talk to them all before so they don't start anything...make a change 30 seconds in. Send a message to the NHL...I COACH THE TEAM...I DECIDE MY LINEUP...NOT YOU!

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#60 suba steve
January 22 2014, 11:26AM
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mk wrote:

This morning, I almost cried - when I clicked my Nations bookmark, I got the "Go Daddy - Domain Name is expired, pending renewal or deletion" redirect. :(

I'm glad you're back. :)

I was thinking, that was almost a Feaster/ROR offer sheet type of fumble...so who's head is on the chopping block? Kidding. Glad you're back too.

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#61 Parallex
January 22 2014, 01:15PM
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@mattyc

You're assuming it's on the table... for me the fourth year wouldn't have been on the table. Yes, the player/agent should push for it but just because they push for it doesn't mean they should get it.

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#62 suba steve
January 22 2014, 03:35PM
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@Parallex

That goes both ways. Just because you or the Flames push for 3 yr, doesn't mean you/they will get it. Negotiations are much more involved than that.

If your "final" offer is something like $11.5-$12mil over 3 years and the agent comes back with $12.5mil over 4yr, that fourth year is worth considering.

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#63 Parallex
January 22 2014, 03:51PM
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suba steve wrote:

That goes both ways. Just because you or the Flames push for 3 yr, doesn't mean you/they will get it. Negotiations are much more involved than that.

If your "final" offer is something like $11.5-$12mil over 3 years and the agent comes back with $12.5mil over 4yr, that fourth year is worth considering.

Of course they are but I'm having a difficult time wraping my head around any starting positions that ultimately end up with 30 y.o. Matt Stajan being able to extract 4 years and 12.5M bucks. For me the third year is the comprimise because I'm pushing for a two (not a three) year deal.

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#64 Baalzamon
January 22 2014, 04:32PM
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@Kevin R

I like Russell, but there is absolutely no way, at all, ever, I keep him ahead of Brodie. None.

It baffles me that people think a) Brodie's play has slipped this season and b) Russell has been better than him. Neither of those things is true. Not even close.

Brodie has had maybe three ugly games this season. Maybe (MAYBE) a few more while Giordano was injured. But he and Giordano play some of the toughest minutes in the league, and generally they look quite good. Russell doesn't come anywhere near being able to do the things Brodie can do. Sorry.

Frankly, if that was the choice (keep Brodie or keep Russell because Wideman somehow makes them redundant), I'd take secret option number 3 and trade Wideman.

For the record, the three of them are completely distinct, utterly uncomparable players. Brodie and Russell are sort of comparable, but Brodie is a two-way defenseman and Russell is an offensive defenseman. They have to be considered separately.

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#65 coachedpotatoe
January 22 2014, 04:38PM
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loudogYYC wrote:

The logic is clear, mostly I think we're saying 3 would've been ideal.

Here's the list of potential UFA 2 way centres, their age and their current salary:

Stastny 28 $6.6M

Legwand 33 $4.5M

Roy 30 $4.0M

Bolland 27 $3.375M

Grabovski 29 $3.0M

Ott 31 $2.95M

Boyle 29 $1.7M

I doubt the Flames would be in the top 5 teams that any of these guys would want to sign with, so Stajan at $3.125/year is just fine.

While I agree that it is unlikely we sign anyone from youe list I suspect Burke will at least kick the tires on a few of them come free agency; as we need to add some higher level talent to be more competitive. If he does not pursue the top end UFA's this year I believe he will need to in the next off season. I still think his mandate from King and Edwards is sooner than later. The one thing we have is lots of room to absorb the right UFA's this year and I'm not sure that will always be the case.

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#66 suba steve
January 22 2014, 04:51PM
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@Parallex

Good luck signing any decent and healthy 30 year old NHL veteran to a two year deal. Seriously, not gonna happen, unless you give them ALL the money in those 2 years.

You can stay firm on your demands, then Stajan signs a 4-5 year deal with Florida or any number of other clubs on July 14/2014. Then what do you do?

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#67 Baalzamon
January 22 2014, 05:28PM
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suba steve wrote:

Good luck signing any decent and healthy 30 year old NHL veteran to a two year deal. Seriously, not gonna happen, unless you give them ALL the money in those 2 years.

You can stay firm on your demands, then Stajan signs a 4-5 year deal with Florida or any number of other clubs on July 14/2014. Then what do you do?

Obviously you offer Derek Roy 5 years at 5mAAV, because that's so much better than Stajan for 4 years at 3.

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#68 suba steve
January 22 2014, 06:20PM
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@Baalzamon

Exactly. More money, more term, older player. Then there is also the thought that he may want to play for a winner, and he isn't going to get that option in Calgary, not soon anyway.

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#69 Kevin R
January 22 2014, 06:29PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

I like Russell, but there is absolutely no way, at all, ever, I keep him ahead of Brodie. None.

It baffles me that people think a) Brodie's play has slipped this season and b) Russell has been better than him. Neither of those things is true. Not even close.

Brodie has had maybe three ugly games this season. Maybe (MAYBE) a few more while Giordano was injured. But he and Giordano play some of the toughest minutes in the league, and generally they look quite good. Russell doesn't come anywhere near being able to do the things Brodie can do. Sorry.

Frankly, if that was the choice (keep Brodie or keep Russell because Wideman somehow makes them redundant), I'd take secret option number 3 and trade Wideman.

For the record, the three of them are completely distinct, utterly uncomparable players. Brodie and Russell are sort of comparable, but Brodie is a two-way defenseman and Russell is an offensive defenseman. They have to be considered separately.

Actually I am a huge Brodie fan & think this kid is playing great & yeah he coughs up the puck & dishes a few giveaways, what Dman doesn't. But if we need bigger, meaner decent dmen & no guarantees Seiloff will be that, I would rather keep Russell & Brodie cough up Wideman on a trade. That's just me.

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#70 Baalzamon
January 22 2014, 06:39PM
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Kevin R wrote:

Actually I am a huge Brodie fan & think this kid is playing great & yeah he coughs up the puck & dishes a few giveaways, what Dman doesn't. But if we need bigger, meaner decent dmen & no guarantees Seiloff will be that, I would rather keep Russell & Brodie cough up Wideman on a trade. That's just me.

That's......... what I said.............

Your post said that if you're keeping Wideman (which you just stated for no real reason, I might add) you have to move Brodie or Russell (which isn't true). You said you'd move Brodie. I'm telling you that's a mistake.

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#71 Parallex
January 22 2014, 07:06PM
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@suba steve

I become shocked that someone gave Matt Stajan a 4-5 year deal and then thank Jesus/Moses/Mohammed/Ganesh/Flying Spaghetti Monster that I didn't make the same mistake.

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#72 suba steve
January 22 2014, 07:14PM
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@Parallex

And...you still have an empty spot on your roster.

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#73 Parallex
January 22 2014, 07:24PM
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suba steve wrote:

And...you still have an empty spot on your roster.

Which I then fill. Although this has taken a silly turn since I don't think Stajan gets a 4-5 deal anywhere else, (and it was a mistake to give him one here. IMO).

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#74 MontanaMan
January 22 2014, 08:48PM
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Flames will be feeling the wrath inflicted on the Oilers,Islanders etc of veteran players not wanting to play for a team in a 5 year rebuild. Tanguay was on the radio describing the "frustration" of playing for an uncompetitive team and while I may not agree with his approach as a professional athlete, it's understandable that veteran players don't enjoy going out night after night and getting it handed to them. When team management assesses the local talent, the quickly realize that veterans commanding a decent salary will not play in Calgary and unfortunately they will overpay for several years (hopefully not of the Horcoff mistake). Limited number of veterans who will sign but needing to reach the cap floor equals signing veteran players who aren't necessarily your pick of the crop but they want to play here and won't detract from the rebuild.

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