February 16 2017 12:31PM
As expected in preparation for the NHL Expansion Draft on June 21, the Calgary Flames made a further step to solidifying who they'll be protecting and exposing. It just looks like Matt Bartkowski, who signed a two-year, two-way contract today, will be the sacrificial lamb for June.
Still, though, it's a positive sign that the organization is planning ahead - carefully I might add - about how and who is potentially Vegas bound.
UPDATE: $612,000 AAV via CapFriendly.
We've already detailed who and what Bartkowski is at this stage in his career in two separate posts, which you can read here and here. For the time being though, we can see some semblance of a plan for the expansion draft creeping out from the front office. It's all but written in stone that Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, and T.J. Brodie will be protected.
This team is caught in a precarious situation where they're a fringe playoff team right now, fighting for points every night, and hoping St. Louis, Nashville or Los Angeles drop out soon. You can't (really, you could though) make a huge trade shoring up help for the second pairing by trading away assets for a player that will have to be exposed at this rate.
There are just no easy answers for the front office and for Brad Treliving. In some ways you can attempt to make the case that he has backed himself and the team into this situation. On the other hand, it's kind of nice that they have accrued quite a bit of talent to protect at forward.
Maybe for Bartkowski the team can squeeze as much value as possible out of him before the end of the season; and next season, too. We know that Jyrki Jokipakka at this rate is probably on the outs with the team after his season so far. Dennis Wideman, who strips years off fans' lives with his indiscretions on ice is long gone at the end of the season, thankfully.
Brett Kulak, as discussed earlier today, and speculated on Twitter could be on his way back to Stockton to see consistent playing time again.
Finally with regards to Deryk Engelland, whose name has been touted recently as a potential option to re-sign, isn't ideal for how this team is transitioning. Remember, he'll be 35 by the end of the season. Investing any sum of money in a player who has aged well beyond his prime is an egregious risk. It would be asinine given the wealth of talent in Stockton who will be chomping at the bit come this fall.
Regardless, if the team can put Bartkowski in a situation to play and where it won't create a negative on-ice impact over a Wideman or a Jokipakka then it's worth trying at this point.