On the Matt Stajan Scratch

EDMONTON, CANADA - OCTOBER 16: Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan  stops with the puck against the Edmonton Oilers at the Scotiabank Saddledome on October 16, 2010 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Flames beat the Oilers 5-3. (Photo by Dylan Lynch/Getty Images)


Although the Flames have made a habit of scratching expensive defensemen this year, recently re-sisgned Matt Stajan has found himself in the stands for the last two contests. With the Flames winning the most recent game versus the Blue Jackets, it wouldn’t surprise me if Stajan finds himself munching popcorn again on Thursday.

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In fact, an extended winning streak during what might be the softest portion of the Flames schedule this year could potentially make what was previously the clubs de facto "#1 center" a regular observer. Hardly an ideal situation. 

My opinion of Stajan hasn’t changed much since I first saw him in Flames colors last year: he’s just okay. He has some strengths (puck handling, vision) and some weaknesses (lackluster strength on his skates, terrible shot rate) that make the overall package acceptable if less than compelling. 

He’s an NHLer for sure and at best a complimentary center on a good team. If he’s not overpaid for his contributions, the truth is he’ll never be a bargain with his current $3.5 million ticket.

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Like the player, Stajan’s results this season are just okay. HIs possession rate is solidly mediocre (+4.06/60). His 16 points in 25 games is right in line with his career average of 50-ish per season.

He boasts the best ES scoring rate amongst regular Flames forwards this year (2.96/60) although the truth is that number is inflated by his team best on-ice SH% 12.4% and team high number of second assists. Let’s just say, neither of those things are strong indicators of future offensive performance.

Stajan’s shot rate has also fallen down to near goon-like levels this year, with just 28 in 25 games played (he had 0 shots in his last 4 games before being kicked to the press box). Although Stajan has always looked to pass first during his NHL career, his current shot rate (1.12/game) puts him in line for his lowest total since his sophomore season in 2005-06. On top of all that, he’s played nearly a full hour on the PP and recorded nary a point.

On the other hand, I’m not sure what the club gains by keeping Stajan out of the active line-up. He’s certainly not the worst player amongst the regular skaters (err…Tom Kostopolous anyone?). Other guys up front on this club – particualrly other big ticket forwards – have been allowed to "play through" rough stretches by Sutter, even extended periods of ineffectiveness *cough* Jokinen *cough*.

So I’m not quite sure what compels Sutter to keep Stajan in the dgohouse.

Like Vancouver and their overabundance of same-ish guys on defense, I suppose there was always a risk of a big ticket getting pushed down the depth chart here in Calgary a la Keith Ballard over there this season, but it still strikes me as a…curious use of an asset. And while I’m starting to get used to some $6M+ in cap space sitting in the press box every night,

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I think it behooves the organization to find a use for the player on the ice or in the trade market here, sooner rather than later. The longer they fail to do the former, the more difficult the latter becomes, if being trade fodder is to be his ultimate fate.

  • Greg

    I really don’t know how anyone can look at the carnage of this roster and not conclude dutter needs to go. You can overlook the Stajan scratch. Or you can overlook the Sarich scratch. You could maybe make a case to overlook both. But when you add Staois, Jokinen, Kotalik, a glut of 3rd liners, bottom in the conference, no cap space, no good prospects, and only 1 pick in the first three rounds… It’s pure carnage and there’s only 1 guy responsible for it.

  • the ragin stajan has never been known as a rugged player. the label of being soft dates back to his junior days. mats lacks the edge needed to elevate his game from depth centre ice man to frontline cog. soft hands but also soft shot and heart. the tough question is what do you do with a 3 plus mill cap hit. the price is a little steep to facillitate a move. ideally stajan is a number two guy, ith some special teams minutes, that being said i think he can help more on the ice than a kotalik or kotospoulus.

  • Greg

    If Daz does his usual thing, He will be strait on the phone to Glen Slather (or EAST DAZ as I like to call him). Stajan will be traded for Wade Redden, Brandon Prust (Darryl loves messing with this dude’s head) and a broken stick

  • My problem with Stajan is summed up in one word: soft.

    The guy is continually turning the puck over at both blue lines because of soft plays with the puck. Instead of a good hard puck push to the corner to facilitate a line change and to keep the pressure on, it’s a soft push which is easily turned into possession for the opposing team. Very frustrating.

  • T&A4Flames

    the ragin stajan is a throwback player. one that comes to mind is injemar hammerstrom. could carry a dozen eggs out for a shift and not break any. ridiculous contract burden.