A Case For Cory Sarich


I’m not a huge Sarich fan. I think he’s capable enough when he focuses on the small things, but he’s slow, not very agile, and provides little to no offense. That said, the Flames should absolutely look into re-signing the blueliner.

A lot of Flames fans and writers seem to think Sarich is indicative of the problems that plague the Flames – this is true, to an extent. His cap hit is (or was) too large for what he brings (or rather, doesn’t) to the team, and that limits who Calgary can bring in to fill in on the blueline. He represents the classic Darryl Sutter style of management, which is to say "Bigger and harder hitting is better" regardless of skating ability. So while Cory Sarich is a fine example of these two basic problems, he’s hardly the larger problem itself.

As a UFA this year, the first issue is easily fixed: Sarich clearly isn’t in line for a pay raise and the Flames could probably have him for something in the realm of $1M. With the salary cap likely to go up again, can anyone really argue that $1M is way out of line with what Sarich should be earning?

The second issue, in a sense, was already fixed by the Flames last season. Sarich was given slightly tough zone starts (47.8%- sixth toughest on the team among skaters with at least 30 games) and slightly easy competition (8th easiest on the team). How’d he do with that ice time? Better than you’d expect: Sarich ended up with the second highest Relative Corsi on the Flames at +12.0 (his most frequent partner, Brodie, was first at +17.0, though in slightly easier minutes).

Bang for the Buck

So while it’s clear Sarich isn’t Nik Lidstrom in terms of longevity as a quality NHL player, he’s certainly not a liability in limited minutes. Still, there has to be a better defenseman for the bottom of the pairings, right? Actually, not particularly. There’s plenty of roughly "equal" players, but most of them will cost more and are less familiar with the team and the city.

Sarich, on the other hand, will almost certainly come cheap for the Flames. It’s also worth noting he’s not an "Anton Babchuk" bottom pairing defender either – he can play 16 minutes a game and not be an absolute trainwreck given his decent possession numbers. Babchuk, for the sake of contrast, began more often in the offensive zone and saw easier competition than Sarich and ended up with a worse relative corsi rate (-2.8/60).

The real reason to resign Sarich, however, is one of hockey philosophy. The Flames won’t gain anything by letting him walk to another team. Sarich on the Flames is not a question of rebuilding or not rebuilding he could likely be had for a cool $1M, which wouldn’t preclude the Flames from signing other players. If he stays, the Flames have a known quantity who’s not a complete liability for cheap. He’s familiar with the city, management, and the rest of the Flames.

Sarich isn’t a player hockey operations should expend more than a modicum of energy trying to re-sign, but if he’s happy to stay at a low cost, there’s more reasons to do so than not.

  • everton fc

    Milan Jurcina w/the Isles is still unsigned. A big guy, right-handed shot, 170-plus hits last season… Could also help Cervenka with his English… his adjustment to North America.

    He was a 1.6mill cap hit last season. The only down side (perhaps a big one)… -34.

  • RKD

    Cory Sarich hasn’t played a full season since his last year in Tampa.

    Sure he can eat up some decent minutes, but like Hannan he was caught many times standing still against opposing forwards.

    Once in a blue moon, he would hit a guy with a devastating check and isn’t going to give you much offensively.

    Make a pitch for Suter, if that doesn’t work out, go after a Colacovico, Carle, Wideman, etc.

  • loudogYYC

    Oh HELL no!

    Sarich is the oldest 33 year old I’ve ever seen. He makes Chris Chelios look like TJ Brodie!

    Honestly, I’ll be surprised if Sarich is signed before August 30th. In 5 years that he’s played here, his greatest accomplishment has been staying here for 5 years. I loved the hit he put on Marleau, but we lost that series.

    Seriously, what can Sarich do that Shane O’Brien can’t?

  • BurningSensation

    He’s wrong for all the reasons already suggested; too old, too slow, brought on board by the wrong GM, and easily replaced.

    I’d prefer keeping Hannan to Sarich.

  • If Sarich is resigned, I assume Hannan has to go and should be replaced IMO by Wilson. While Smith showed up well at the beginning of the season, after the injury he wasn’t the same player.

    Next year I see:

    Bou – But
    Gio – Bro
    Wil – Smith/Sarich/Babs

    I think Wilson has more offensive upside and skates well. Sarich on the other hand is one of the few D-Men on the team, other than Gio, that will really lay anybody out. There isn’t much to be afraid of on the flames defence anymore. Bou/But are pretty easy to play against, you almost never see anybody get hit EVER when they are on the ice.

    I like Sarich for the physicality he brings. That said, as for many of the current Flames, its probably time to turn the page on them now.