…Or "how I continue to worry and have yet to learn to love Steve Staios"
It’s no secret that I was an outspoken critic of the Staios acquisition. I felt it was the needless addition of a bad contract to a team already low on cap flexibility going into next year. In addition, the theorized short-term benefits of adding Staios seemed paltry, especially in light of his age, declining abilities and the fact he boasts some of the worst results amongst all NHL defensemen this season.
Staios has appeared in 7 games since arriving. How has he done over that span?
Well, he’s averaged over 18 minutes per game thus far. That’s good!
He’s been on the ice for more than half of the ES goals scored against the Flames (5 of 9). That’s bad.
He is a cumulative -3. That’s bad.
He has already taken 5 minor penalties. That’s bad.
He is underwater in terms of scoring chance differential (-21) and corsi (-21). That’s bad.
He has averaged 1:46/game on the PP. Because he’s a man that has scored 2 goals in the last 127 games played, that’s bad.
Some of the poor results aren’t necessarily Steve’s fault. He’s been deployed in the Flames top 4 rotation with Jay Bouwmeester in tough circumstances thus far. Given his abilities and struggles as a third pairing guy in EDM this year, I can safely say that the current assignment is above Staios’ head. So, I’ll grudgingly cut him some slack in that regard.
The team as a whole has a winning record since Staios arrived (that’s good!), but they haven’t been able to claw their way back into the playoff picture (again, bad). What’s more, the outshooting/possession stats have begun to falter back down to pre-mini-rebuild levels and, despite the nominally positive record, there’s been no real change in the team’s on-ice play or demeanor since the addition. There’s been good games and bad games, but all well within the established character of the club to date. For example, Jarome Iginla has gone back into hybernation recently, managing zero points, 12 shots on net a -4 rating over his last 4 games. I mention this, because the ostensible reason for acquiring Staios was his "high compete level, experience and character". Now, I assume that was meant to mean those qualities would somehow rub off on the other players in the dressing room and elevate their performance…but, to my eye at least, there’s been no evidence of that yet.
Of course, another thus far unstated consequence of bringing Staios aboard is the resultant scratching of Adam Pardy. Now, Pardy is a third pairing defender in this league and his utility is probably limited. However, he remains a relatively young, potentially improving asset. One whose development in now stgnating so the team can give reps to an obviously declining player in Steve Staios. Nevermind that Pardy has been the superior player this season by a number of measures – let’s assume they are equals at worst and Staios is marginally superior at best – the truth is Pardy could be a cheap, capable contributor to this team for a number of years down the road. Staios won’t be.
That said, we’re only 7 games into the ‘Steady Steve’ era. That’s a tiny sample size and not enough to judge anyone’s performance. I wouldn’t bet my own money on Staios measurably improving going forward, but I’m willing to admit, for now, that we haven’t quite seen enough of the guy to write him off completely.