Carlo Colaiacovo, Anyone?

 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the direction this franchise needs to go if they want to realistically compete next year.

Of course, “realistically” is the key word here-as much as we all want guys like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the likelihood of either of those two guys signing here is approaching 0%. When you take into consideration the owners reluctance to completely “blow it up” (and to be clear, I agree with them on that), you have to realize that the team the Flames ice next year will probably be quite close to the one that is out there this year.

I think it’s quite clear that this team needs another top-4 defenseman to stabilize the blue line. While Jay Bouwmeester’s a top-15 or maybe even a top-10 defenseman in the league, the talent drops significantly once you move onto the “number 2” guy, Chris Butler. Now, here’s where the weakness of the blueline comes into play: even though Mark Giordano is having a remarkably poor season, I still think he’s better than Butler and a pairing of Giordano and Bouwmeester is going to drive possession and limit chances against. However, there is no way that a pairing of Brodie-Butler is going to be able to handle spot duty against top competition; they’d be killed. Logically, then, you need another top-4 defenseman who can come in and not step into an elevator shaft against top competition.

Here’s Carlo

So, that’s where the UFA-after-this-season Colaiacovo comes in. The consensus with Butler this season is that he’s done pretty well in his role, but is still probably better suited as a 3-4 guy. When you consider his underlying numbers this year, it’s reasonable to think he could be a solid possession driver, even away from Bouwmeester-and that’s something this team desperately needs, considering the combined on-ice Corsi of Flames regulars this year is -42.6 events per 60. This year, Colaiacovo’s played the toughest competition among St. Louis defenders, has a close to even ZS% (50.7%), a Corsi Rel of 3.4 and an on-ice Corsi of 9.03.

Contractually, finding the money is pretty easy. You have at least 4.6 million coming off the books this summer and Colaiacovo made only 2.125 million this year. Moreover, he just turned 29 at the end of January, so he has at least 2 or 3 years of quality hockey left. He can also produce points, averaging 29 the past three seasons and he’s on pace for 22 this year, and since you’re getting him as a free agent, it won’t cost you any assets and likely won’t take away from the development of younger players.

That would then leave you Giordano and Bouwmeester to take on the toughs, Colaiacovo and Butler to play against 2nd and 3rd Liners and that leaves Smith and Brodie in sheltered, point-producing minutes. It also gives you solid defensive depth on both of the power play and penalty killing units-so you won’t have Brodie out there on the PK or Butler out there on the PP.

Why you gotta be so negative, man?

Of course, there’s a couple worries here: first off, Colaiacovo’s Relative Corsi numbers have been all over the place the past few years. Last year, he put up a -0.2 rating while playing the easiest competition and had a 58% ZS-but the year before that, the number was 17.8 in similar circumstances. Thus, it’s really hard to get an accurate read on his true skill level.

However, that’s not even the biggest worry-no, it’s the injuries. While he was in Toronto, it was almost comical how many games he missed-and while it has improved in St. Louis; he’s a guy that’s going to miss 15-20 games every season. While that may be positive in driving his value down, having him out of the lineup just so the same pairing you tried to avoid having has to play anyways is obviously not a good thing.

To me, it comes down to this: will the value you’re getting from the player in the 60 or so games he’s going to play outweigh the negative value you’ll get from his contract and play while he’s out? Personally, I think it will in 2nd pairing minutes, but I’m curious as to what everyone else thinks.

  • NateBaldwin

    I would go for him not knowing what reasonable ufa alternatives are out there. I’d like to think one of Brodie or smith will progress to being able to fill in that 3-4 position with butler, but if you lose sarich, hannan, and babchuck (somehow) then aqquiring a 2nd pairing d-man is still a good idea. Assuming that a first pairing guy is out of the question, although I think that’s the case too.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I just don’t think the flames will have a. the cap space to land a big fish or b. the assets to trade for one.

      colaiacovo’s likely to be available-for rather cheap-because of the stigma of injury surrounding him and the fact that st. lou already has 5 nhl d-men under contract next year, with barret jackman likely to be resigned. they also need to sign tj oshie, david perron and chris stewart to new contracts this year.

      I’m sure there are other alternatives out there, but given the market last year I think accepting he’s going to miss 15 games and saving a million in cap space for a defender of the same talent level is probably the right way to go.

  • Carlo is okay, but as you say he’s also really delicate. The most games he has ever played in a single season is 67. You can pretty much pencil him in to miss 15-20 games per year.

    If you’re signing a depth guy, health is a only a moderate concern. If you want to plug him into the top-4 rotation, however, that’s a lot more problematic.

  • The Flames absolutely need a legitimate top 4 D. They will also have the cap space to get one.

    Colaiavoca is a great option if he makes it to free agency. Jackman is another Blues free agent worth looking at.

    Many won’t agree with me but Wideman is another option I wouldn’t mind the Flames looking at. Though his offensive numbers might make him cost more then his defensive game is worth. Though his right handed shot makes him even more valuable to the Flames. His shot also keeps you from wasting 2.5 million on a guy like Babchuk.

    There are a handful of guys available. Suter is clearly at the top of the list, but I agree he is a long shot. But I think Feaster should be able to find a top 4D in free agency. Though based on last seasons free agency expect to pay more then we would like to.

    • T&A4Flames

      I agree with you on Wideman. I’ve been thinking of him as an option for a while. I would love to see CGY go after Suter, I think the money may be better spent on 2 D for the same price, though. I’m not overly familiar with some of the D men in the east so I’m glad you did an article about this. I was also thinking that Gilroy form OTT may be a good option as well and he is also a right shot. With losing Hannan and Sarich, we could really use a righty or 2.

      Calgary needs assets so I would like to see them add a couple of possible top 4 guys. Who else is out there?

      I’m not appposed to Colaiacovo but I think ther are better options.

    • everton fc

      I can’t see the Blues letting Jackman go, though I agree, he’d be a good pickup, albeit 31 years of age next season.

      Carle’s one to look at. Did the Panthers resign Garrison? If not… I’d look at him, as well. Can score… Big…

  • Please no!!!! We don’t need another often injured guy. And with this free agent class so thin, this guy could be making around 3-4 million $ if a team is desperate enough. I don’t want the Flames picking up another Anton Babchuk

  • loudogYYC

    Good article, I think the Flames would do next years goalie a huge favor by locking up a top 4 D.

    I’m more with @Kevin R and think Feaster should go after Carle or Grossman, although for the right money, Oduya would probably fit well too.

    I’m not sure what his underlying numbers look like, but Andrew MacDonald seems to play a lot of minutes in NYI and isn’t getting murdered. Not a big guy but skates well with or without the puck. NYI has him under contract for 2 more years at $550K so Feaster would have to pull a smaller trade.

    What do you guys think?

  • SmellOfVictory

    so, of the guys that have been mentioned here:

    carle: more points (34), only missed one or two games (68gp), underlying numbers are pretty much identical. cap hit is 1.2 million more then cc this year. he’s going to end up signing for 2 million more then cc. year and a half younger.

    wideman: 43 points, no games missed, way easier comp (-.011) and .2 worse corsi rel, but starts 1% more of his shifts in the d-zone. imo, not enough to make up for the difference in comp. cap hit is 1.75 million more this year, and will probably be overpaid because of his offensive output. 2 months younger.

    grossmann: easier comp, starts 6% more of his shifts in the d-zone, but a corsi rel of -15.8. has missed 8 games this year, 9 points, cap hit is 500k less then cc. 2 years younger. he’ll likely get a small raise.

    gilroy: everything about him screams “meh”, but he’ll be cheap. his underlying numbers are typical of a good 3nd pairing guy but he does have 18 points this year. he’s a year and a half younger and his cap his this year is 1.125 mil less then cc. missed about 8 games.

    jackman: 2 and a half years older, made 1.5 mil more against the cap, weaker comp but tougher starts, 4 corsi events lower per 60, missed a few games, 12 points. likely won’t get too much of a raise, even on the open market.

    and a couple of other guys I took a look at because their names caught my eye:

    zanon: 20 games missed with concussion, but previous to this year 4 seasons with less then 5 games missed in each. starts 5% more of his shifts in the defensive zone, plays easier comp, corsi rel of 4.9. I think the difference in comp and corsi as well as the awfulness of the wild this year probably means that he and cc’s underlying numbers are close to equal. is a year and a half older, made 250k less against the cap this year.

    rozsival: looked at him purely out of curiosity, realized I’m an idiot for even considering him, closed the tab.

    if you’re going to pick a guy from that list that a. isn’t currently wearing a st.louis blues sweater and b. isn’t being signed to a one or two year deal, the only guy it should concieveably be is carle.

  • Truculence

    Another skinny, non-physical but mobile defenceman with mediocre scoring upside! No, thank-you. See Butler, Smyth, Bouwmeester, and, as of now, Brodie.

    What we really need is a very physical d-man with a good outlet pass and a cannon for a point-shot. Right now, we`re too easy to play against at the back-end.
    Enter Johnny Boychuk. For starters, he`s only 28! A second pairing of Butler and Boychuk would do wonders for out defensive depth, giving Brodie the time to develop on the third pairing. Hell, sign Coliacovo and Boychuk, and use Butler as trade bait to lure…I don`t know, somebody that can skate backwards really fast.

    Yeah, and then we can start planning the parade… (As you may have noticed, I liking grouping three dots together for dramatic effect. I think they call it an ellipsis. I also like to give myself props!)

    • SmellOfVictory

      worse stats, slow as all hell, only 6 months younger and just signed a 3-year, 11 million dollar deal. this post is talking strictly about ufa’s.

      also, I didn’t say anything about a parade. I only mentioned that the team needs to add another top 4 dman to be competitive-that, to me, means 10-6 in the conference.

      • Well, you’re not Glenn Sather, so signing someone like Redden to a $6.5M cap hit contract didn’t seem like an excellent idea to you, haha.

        What about Chris Campoli? His counting stats are mediocre, but he’s 27 and not likely to get a raise on his $1.75M he currently gets. Could be had on the cheap but his counting stats are mediocre, as are his underlying numbers.

        Also, he hasn’t played much this season (left knee injury) and seems to have had a slew of injuries during his career (shoulder surgery, knee + groin injuries).

        Another option might be Bryce Salvadore. He’s much older (36), but his underlying stats are much better than Campoli’s. PDO at 1000 or above consistently, starts the majority of his shifts in the D-zone, but generally gets outshot (negative Corsi and Corsi Rel). His counting numbers are mediocre as well.

        Other options: Matt Hunwick (also plays forward), Danny Syvret, Jason Garrison (yeah, right), Anton Stralman. This year’s crop is pretty crappy IMHO. Most of them shoot leftie too.

        • SmellOfVictory

          campoli’s not a 2nd pairing guy. it would be the same as putting brodie there, imo-he’s also probably the 2nd best guy you’ve listed.

          salvador, hunwick, syvret and garrison all seem like they would be lateral moves. why bring in more guys the organization is already chock-full of? the flames don’t need more 3rd pairing d-men-they already have 5 under contract for next year. if the org decides that they want their second paring to get outshot a bunch, then they might as well just plug brodie or smith in there and ride out the last year of babchuk’s contract instead of putting another on the books.

          just taking a quick gander at the underlyings, the only guy who may be worth a damn is anton stralman. he’s also on pace for 20 points this season. I like him as a last resort, especially because he’ll be dirt cheap.

          but yes, as you say, the crop is pretty crappy.

          one last thing, as I’ve forgotten to put this in both the post above and in 4 comments: screw off, tim erixon. your dumb ass would be playing 2nd paring minutes had you signed here and the flames would have a very solid back-end.

          (I just noticed that this comment could possibly look like I’m belittling you-while that is the case for most comments I write, this one is an exception.)

  • loudogYYC

    you actually think bouwmeester is a top 15, maybe top 10 d-man in the nhl? he is currently 45th in the league in defence scoring, 272nd in +/-, hasn’t been a plus player since 2007, hasn’t had more than 30 points since he joined calgary and hasn’t played regular season for a team that has made the playoff since he was in bantam. wow, the nhl must be pretty thin on defence.

      • Truculence

        compelling…..

        karlsson, pietrangelo, edler, weber, suter, chara, keith, bieksa, kronwall, lidstrom, hamuis, doughty, seabrook, girardi, myers, seidenberg, phillips.

        and then you get into a large group of number 2 or 3 defencemen that he is comparable with.

        go ahead, start framing the advanced stats.

          • Mitch2

            Everyone else, besides Phillips, produces more offence than Bouw. However, Bouw plays against the other teams absolute best, night in night out. Bouwmeester is not a top 10 all around NHL defenceman, even though he plays against the Datsyuks, Toews’, and Keslers’ of the world. HE doesnt provide offense anywhere close to E.Karlsson, Suter, Weber, Chara, Keith, Seabrook, Boyle, Bieksa, Lidstrom, Doughty, etc. However, I think he IS among the top 5 defensive blueliners in the league.

          • SmellOfVictory

            would be top 15? even if he’s not, semantics (which is partially my fault). he’s a very, very good defenseman while some of the guys on that list are mediocre in one area and only good in others.

            edler, bieksa, kronwall, hamhuis, seabrook, girardi, meyers, seidenberg and phillips all either have major deficiencies in their respective games that can be picked out by simply watching or they don’t play top competition as well as bouwmeester does-you have to take into account the black hole of suck that is the top line and how that may diminish his stature. bouwmeester’s PP time has also taken a hit this year, which can explain the lack of points even though his even strength point production has increased year-over-year, iirc.

        • SmellOfVictory

          kk 🙁

          I just don’t like it when people dismiss evidence that has been proven to be relevant while also being a condescending dick about it. also I am a child.

          • Mitch2

            Justin what are you doing? You are writing fine articles, no need to get into arguments with readers who disagree. Do you see Stephen brunt responding to criticism like that? And what is this “I’m a child,” rubbish. You’re 20 years old?and I assume are paid to write for this site. Act like a professional Justin, you don’t have to act like Vollerman.

  • everton fc

    I think the the Flames could live through Colaiacovo’s injury woes with Brodie and/or Smith on the upswing.

    If the Flames get 20-30 games into next year and neither Smith nor Brodie are capable of taking on a 4th D role, the Flames are going to have long term problems that signing a plug-in 3-4 D is not going to rectify.

    Also, I usually think a good defencman can overcome playing offside, but all of Bouwmeester, Giordano, Butler, Brodie and Smith shoot left. CC also shoots left. This seems, if nothing else, problematic for the powerplay.

    • everton fc

      I had proposed Garrison earlier. He also shoots from the left.

      Wonder what his pricetag would be? Might be worth a run… ??

      Good point, Tach. So… do you move a leftie, for a rightie?? Brodie’s not moving, nor do I believe Bo and Gio are moving.

      Do you move Butler… Smith… for a seasoned rightie??

      Just a concept.

      Incidentally… Matt Carle also shoots from the left. Not to mention Ryan Suter… Barrett Jackman… Nicklas Grossman… Right-handed UFA’s include Jurcina w/the Isles, Weaver in Florida… Sulzer w/the Canucks… Gilroy w/the Sens…

      And Wideman.

      Funny enough, Babchuk is also a rare breed these days – a right-handed shot on the backend. And we still couldn’t move him!

      Would Wideman be a good fit in here? What about Jurcina?? Gilroy???

  • T&A4Flames

    I thought we all agreed…NO ‘X’ MAPLE LEAFS!!! Or does CC fall out of that category because he’s been out of there and with a decent team for a while now?

  • everton fc

    Carlo came into the NHL with such fan fare (much like any Leaf prospect who once was a 3rd line player or 3rd pairing d-man) he played ok. Havent followed him much since he went to the Blues. At the right price, i’d take him. He’s an upgrade to at least 3 of the current flame d-men.

  • Mitch2

    I like Wideman but the article convinces me, I’d take a chance on Colaiacovo, injury history or not.

    The D woes highlight how Erixon screwed up the Flames D planning. He would have fit nicely into the team.

    It may be time to go young on D, some unproven D prospects for the team garnered in trade somehow from Iggy or Kipper trades. What was once a strong area for the Flames has weakened up considerably.

    The target players to get I have no idea but a youth movement on D is a good idea.

    You can never have enough D and the Flames did do well picking up Smith for nothing as a bottom pairing man. Butler will hopefully continue to improve but no doubt about it another strong top 4 D is definitely on the wish list this afternoon.