Flames Comparables: Stajan and Hagman



Every Thursday we’re using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year.  The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today’s.

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Part 1 of our series covered Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, and Part 2 looked at Olli Jokinen and Lee Stempniak.  This week we’ll be looking at Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman.

Matt Stajan, C

Matt Stajan was acquired in the Dion Phaneuf deal, a trade that whose prime advantage for the Flames was shedding themselves of an overpriced contract.  Unfortunately in doubling Matt Stajan’s cap hit to $3.5 million is part of a long-term deal that runs three more seasons, the Flames gave up that advantage in the hopes that Stajan and Hagman could together deliver more value than Phaneuf and prospect Keith Aulie.

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Stajan was acquired in his prime, scoring 55 and 57 points with Toronto and Calgary at age 25 and 26, and his Snepsts projection was consequently optimistic last year: 18 goals and 54 points over 82 games.  Unfortunately Stajan struggled, lost almost 5 minutes of ice-time per game, saw his shooting percentage cut in half, and managed just 6 goals and 31 points in 76.

Age Player            Season  GP  G  A PTS
30 Terry O'Reilly     1981-82 70 15 21  36
29 Per-Olov Brasar    1979-80 70  8 20  28
30 Doug Mohns         1963-64 70  9 17  26
27 Glen Metropolit    2001-02 35  1 17  18
26 Vaclav Prospal     2001-02 81 19 39  58
30 Larry Regan        1960-61 37  3  5   8
29 Dave Creighton     1959-60 14  1  5   6
29 George Lyle        1982-83 16  3  4   7
28 Phil Roberto       1976-77 43  3  8  11
29 Orland Kurtenbach  1965-66 70  8  6  14

VUKOTA                        66 10 24  34
Worst (Kurtenbach)            82  9  7  16
Best (Prospal)                82 19 40  59
Average                       82 10 23  33

Ouch – only one out of ten historical comparables rebounded to top-six form: Vaclav Prospal, the Bret Saberhagen of hockey.  Watching Prospal’s stats from season to season is like watching a ping-pong game, his average swing is 22 points a year.

While there may be several examples of players effectively ending their careers, there are actually a wide range of possibilities for Stajan – a 20-point 4th liner on death watch, an overpriced but usable 35-point depth option, or a return to 55-point top-six form.  It will be a highly critical season for him, because if he doesn’t regain full form, he could soon find himself packaged with someone useful and sent to Buffalo.

Niklas Hagman, LW

Niklas Hagman is pretty much the only Calgary Flame paid anything substantial ($3.0 million) without a no-move clause, making him a prime candidate for trade deadline departure should he fail to regain top form.

Hagman, who turns 32 this December, has represented Finland in the Olympics three times, scoring a silver and a bronze and, having spent his NHL career in Florida, Dallas, Toronto and Calgary, has also had the time to compete in the World championships five times, winning gold in 1998. 

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On a personal note, he’s the son of the first Finnish player to play in the NHL, ultimately making Niklas and Matti the first Finnish father and son to play in the NHL. 

He had his break-out season at age 28 in 2007-08, capping the first of three straight seasons topping 20 goals and 40 points going into last season.  His Snepsts projection did call for that streak to end at age 31, but only barely.  Instead he lost almost 3 minutes of ice-time, saw his shooting percentage continue to plummet, and wound up with just 11 goals and 27 points in 71 games.

Age Player            Season  GP  G  A PTS
30 Eddie Shack        1967-68 70 23 20  43
32 Paul Fenton        1991-92 60  9  3  12
34 Nick Libett        1979-80 78 11 10  21
31 Brian Noonan       1996-97 73 11 21  32
30 Randy Wood         1993-94 84 19 14  33
34 John Madden        2007-08 80 20 23  43
34 Ray Ferraro        1998-99 65 13 19  32
34 Gus Marker         1941-42 17  2  5   7
31 Ted Irvine         1975-76 69  8 11  19
31 Bob Sweeney        1994-95 45  5  4   9

VUKOTA                        63 14 16  30
Worst (Sweeney)               82  8  7  15
Best (Shack)                  82 26 23  49
Average                       82 14 17  31

Hagman has a total of 26 close historical matches – including Ales Kotalik last year (though not in the top ten), together reinforcing the top-ten average of 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points over 82 games.

Entering the last year of his lucrative contract, Hagman has a lot of incentive to push back into the 20-goal, 40-point range at the upper end of the projection, like his closest match Eddie Shack – who was also on his top-ten list of comparables last year – along with one guy who shared the same name as a football announcer, and another of a porn star.

If it turns out that he can do no better than the father of a professional wrestler then instead of wearing a Flaming C at year’s end, Hagman might be wearing a C with a weird whale jumping out of it, or maybe with a little blue H inside … or something like that.

Coming Up

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Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross
David Moss and Brendan Morrison

Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano and Anton Babchuk
Tom Kostopoulous, Tim Jackman, Cory Sarich, Chris Butler and Scott Hannan
Mikael Backlund and Brett Carson
Raitis Ivanans and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond.

  • Good stuff. On Hagman, I’d say a good year would make him even more likely to be traded at the deadline since it would pump his value a bit. I can’t imagine the Flames looking to re-sign him next summer either way though.

  • joel

    I don’t mind Hagman one bit; when he’s on. As far as we’ve seen during his tenure with the Flames, he hasn’t been performing consistently at a top six level, and I’m not convinced on his usefulness as a bottom six guy who can handle tough minutes, or control the puck against other bottom guys. Here’s hoping he can bounce back to form, atleast enough to get something for him sometime before the deadline, opening up a spot for a guy who will start the year getting some seasoning in the AHL.

      • joel

        I still believe Hagman is a useful player, don’t get me wrong. I just see him as a should be top six talent, being forced to third or fourth line minutes (albeit by his own merit) and we all know we have enough guys to fill in there. This puts Hagman in a tough situation to excel and the organization in a tough spot to move him. I heard on the Fan he is in really good shape this year, so maybe he surprises us and bounces back to put up 40 points again.

  • I think Hagman can beat his Snepsts projection, but not by much.

    Stajan’s a real wildcard though.

    The Flames have invested a great deal in Stajan, so you know they believe in him and will give him every chance to succeed.

    For that reason alone, I think Stajan will defy Snepsts and do quite well.

    • I don’t think there’s anyone left in the organization that “believes” in Stajan. The Jolly Rancher may have but it’s just as likely he was trying to justify the Dion fiasco when he signed him to that contract.

      The odd thing is that it’s hard to imagine a guy who is less of a “Sutter guy” than soft-as-warm-butter Stajan.

      That being said he set the bar so low last year that he might just beat expectations.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        “That being said he set the bar so low last year that he might just beat expectations.”

        If the team is lucky and Sajan plays okay this year, he could end up on a floor team next season, since his salary will be less than his cap team next season.

        It’s a dream, I know.

        His cap is 3.5M and his salary will be 2.5M.

      • SmellOfVictory

        That’s how we know Dutter had gone entirely off his rocker – he traded away his prize draftee for a bunch of dudes who he’d not have given a second glance the season prior.

  • Vintage Flame

    Yikes.. I was trying to remain really optimistic about both these guys after hearing that they had gone to great lengths to improve fitness and be ready for the start of the season.

    .. But these two lists of comparables, kind of has my optimism regressing a tad.

    Going to be interesting, that’s for sure.

    I hope Feaster holds true to his word that if these guys are bums, that they will sit in favour of the younger kids to be given a chance.

  • everton fc

    Would anyone take Hagman after a 20 goal campaign… 4mill/2years ($2mill/season)? I think he’s useful, if deployed in a useful fashion, for the right price… (Not saying the Flames should or shouldn’t re-sign him if he has a 20 goal/40 point season)

      • You’re thinking of Stajan. Hagman is a UFA at the end of this year. No one plucked him on waivers last year for 1/2 price, kind of suprising, not sure what value he has this year. If he sucks he’ll be waived & shipped down to Abbottsford. If he rebounds, Feaster should extract what he can & anything of a 3rd rounder or better will be like winning a lottery.

  • joey joe joe jr shabadoo

    what a joke the Leafs organization must have been under Ferguson Jr.

    it’s as though these guys have had to (re-)learn how to be professional hockey players. Isn’t understanding how to eat properly and train properly what hockey players learn when they are 18-19 years old?


    If Stajan, Hagman and Stempniak can rekindle any chemistry they had in Toronto we could have a very, very dangerous 3rd line playing. These guys can score a ton against weeker competition. And our 4th line has great potential in Morrison, Jackman and Glencross *TK. Bottom 2 lines can be interchangable, but looks good to me! GFG!

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I hope your right, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. The Eastern conference is weak and adding Stempniak isn’t likely to be the magic needed to get the other former leafs working. These guys probably got a lot of ice time, on a very bad team. Also, all Leaf players are perennially over-rated by their local media and the message has national coverage.

    • I can’t see that being the Flames third line, if only because there’s just too many players up front for that to happen (when everyone is healthy). If Stajan, Stempniak and Hagman are in your top nine, then you also have Bourque, Moss, Jokinen, Backlund, Tanguay, Iginla, Glencross and probably Morrison to put somewhere.

      • You just listed 8 guys that should be in top 9 & the way Jackman played, he should also deserve consideration as well. So that former Leaf line of Stajan, Hagman & Stempniak just dont belong here. Maybe Stempniak can fit with the top 9 & get some chemistry, at 1.9mill lets give him that chance but holy smokes, what the heck are we doing having 6.5 mill of cap space in the pressbox &/or taking up spots of functioning 4 th line wingers like Kostop, Bouma & P3l. You can man that 4th line at less than half the cap of 2 wingers & use the money to upgrade our top 6. I dont get it, I dont get Dutters thought process when he traded knowing this scenario would play out. I like Feasters merit philosophy, but this scenario is just a waste of owners money & cap space. The quicker this gets resolved the better from my point of view. The trade deadline cant come quick enough.

  • Jarom

    Given that both Hagman and Stajan performed so poorly last year, I doubt that they will do worse. The question is how much better will they be. Unfortunately I doubt we will get value for the the money both of them are being paid.

  • Dr. Nick

    I think Hagman and Stajan numbers will go up this year, but only by a few points. It isn’t that they aren’t capable of more (I mean the shooting percentage jinx has to wear off sometime, right?), it’s just that they probably won’t be given the time or opportunity to be able to score more points.

  • everton fc

    I still don’t think Hagman is with the team at the start of the season. I think they’ll be able to unload him during camp.

    We are stuck with Stajan, though.

  • “he could soon find himself packaged with someone useful and sent to Buffalo”

    This made me laugh and cry all at once.

    I see Hagman with little upside, his hands have left him but he always gives full effort. Stajan is more a wild card. I could see his final boxcars being somewhat reliant on Backlund’s performance. If Backlund sticks in a top six role, Stajan will be stuck in the bottom six. If Backlund falters though, I think Stajan will be given the first crack at the top six minutes as a centre.