What to do with Matt Stajan?



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As the summer has gone along, I’ve spent some time fiddling with the Flames roster. While the weird mishmash in the top-9 makes for nearly endless combinations, the one constant in almost all of my iterations is: there’s no place for Matt Stajan.

The beleaguered former Leaf spent the last season and half mostly plugging away on the third or fourth lines for Brent Sutter. The Flames erstwhile bench boss made it abundantly clear he didn’t have much use for the player, particularly after his older brother was ousted from the GM chair. Stajan was functional as a bottom-6 center, although outside of a nice outburst at the end of last season (based mostly on SH% and therefore not really indicative of anything) Matty Franchise never made much of case for moving back up the dpeth chart.

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The Flames depth at center looks something like this:

  1. Mike Cammalleri
  2. Roman Cervenka
  3. Mikael Backlund
  4. Matt Stajan
  5. Blair Jones
  6. Roman Horak
  7. Max Reinhart

Both Cervenka and MIke Cammalleri are guys who could be (maybe should be) moved to the wing, which is perhaps Stajan’s only chance for real ice time this season as a Calgary Flame. There’s the possibility Hartley will like Matt more than Brent, but even then the truth is Stajan is mostly suited to third line duty.

The one combination that might make sense is:

Tanguay – Backlund – Cammalleri

This would have to be Calgary’s power-vs-power fist line. Cammalleri plays on his off-wing with a couple of decent puck distributors, setting him up for one-timers in the offensive zone. Backlund brings the two-way play and Tanguay is still good enough to float the first line’s on-ice SH%.

Glencross – Cervenka – Iginla/Huder

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Cervenka is a question mark, but it’s possible Glencross and Iginla would be able to help him get his NHL legs, assuming the second line’s matchups aren’t too diffcult.

Baertschi – Stajan – Stempniak/Hudler

This is a third line that should only see other third lines, but it has potential to put up some points given that caveat. Stempniak is a capable all around player in this role and a sheltered unit with other NHLers is probably where Baertschi should start off. Stajan is good enough to at least not drag this unit down if they are managed properly.

Comeau – Jones – Jackman

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A decent enough plugger line. Some jam, some speed and nobody is too expensive.

There are some gambles here, but that’s tue of just about every Flames line-up one cobbles together. Overall, this might be the only combination where the inclusion of Stajan doesn’t make me wince.

Trade or Buy-out

Of course, you probably noticed in my hypothetical lines that at least one winger gets shunted to no-mans land if Stajan remains in the line-up. In the above example, it was Jiri Hudler. To fix that, one has to move Cammalleri back to center and bump the other pivots down a notch or two, which means either Stajan usurps Backlund or Cervenka (ugh), Stajan on the 4th line instead of Jones or Stajan as a very expensive healthy scratch.

Given the Flames moves this off-season and the fact they seem to have pencilled Baertschi into the line-up, it’s a safe assumption the club plans to erase the final vestiage of the Phaneuf disaster from the roster.

A trade is an ideal solution, but also unlikely. The best chance the Flames have for moving Stajan is dealing him to a team looking to make it to the salary cap floor. There are 9 teams currently under the supposed cap floor of $54.9M, although it’s obvious from the CBA talks that that number is bound to fall. Unfortunately, it’s currently impossible to forecast just where the floor will end up, meaning potential deals with clubs like Phoenix ($44M) and the Islanders ($47M) will have to be put on hold until the CBA is finally worked out.

And, of course, there are probably a number of teams who will gladly line-up to dump their prior mistakes on the few clubs who will be scrambling to spend cap space, so there’s no guarantee the Flames will win that particular lottery.

Ultimately, things will probably come down to an amnesty buy-out option. It is almost a guarantee the next CBA will feature a one-time, get-out-of-cap-jail free card and I have little doubt the Flames will exercise it on Matt Stajan. The 28-year old has two years left at $3.5M, although his actual salary drops to $2.5M in the final two seasons.

Stajan himself is probably praying for the buy-out. It would remove him from a situation where he is stained by his association with the failed Sutter regime and Phaneuf trade while allowing him to sign elsewhere on the cheap to revive his career.


  • RKD

    The problem with the Flames aren’t players like Stajan. In fact, if we are going to be successful it is because players like Stajan find their game again.

    Personally I would move Iginla. He would be great as a dedicated scorer in a secondary role. He isn’t great as the top forward on the Flames. I would also move Bouwmeester and Kipper and bring back a starter caliber goalie like Crawford, Reimer, Bernier, or Neuvirth.









  • @Steve

    The scary thing is that our existing line-up could be a MacKinnon/Jones line-up if Kipper doesn’t repeat. They would also supplement that line-up with the return from the big 3.


    Which would still put him in the top 30 or so in scoring among C. I have no illusions about what Stajan is. But I think banking on him to be a competent 2 or 3 line C is no more ludicrous then expecting Backlund or Cervenka to be one.

    Bottom line is we are in rough shape. We can’t put a Penguin’s caliber line-up together. But we also can’t afford to take silly gambles on the existing line-up being a competitive team next season only to lose Kipper/Iginla for nothing and be stuck with the line-up above next season.

    Its moot though. Feaster won’t make the changes he needs to so expect more of the same until the bottom falls out and Edmonton gets to start making fun of us.

  • I’m with Sincity on this one. Save the owners money, Trade Iggy & Kipper & get the best prospect & 1st rounder packages you can, I would perhaps keep JBO, with him & if Butler & Brodie continue to improve & have better seasons than last year, we’ll still probably be a 12-10th place team. You’ve just freed up about 13 mill in cap space & have lots of exciting young players to try & slot into the lineup in the next few years. But then that would be a make sense rebuild which isnt going to happen. So in liu of that I propose:




    Just realized now Stemps is the healthy scratch. So why did we resign him anyone? Some one has to go, ah hell, just buyout Stajan & get it over with:(.

  • Austin L

    I think come training camp you have to give Jones a chance to be the third line center. Maybe this year he will prove that he can be tough to play against opposition. I know it’s hoping for a bit too much but oh well. Baertschi has to be something better than the 4th line. Start on the third, then hopefully by the end of the year he’ll be top 6. Seems like reasonable expectations for me.

    I see us drafting 6-10 this year. And it looks like this year the draft is even more of a deep solid draft. Maybe something will happen where a guy in the top 5 (Forsberg) drops down to 11th or something and we can scoop him. Another scenario is, maybe, just maybe, by the trade deadline if we’re doing really bad and are in 12th or 13th that its time to trade at least somebody and get a couple draft picks, then use them to trade up.

  • beloch

    Some facts:

    1. Stajan’s Sh% was around 13% over his last few years in Toronto, but nose-dived to 7.4% in his first full season in Calgary.

    2. Stajan’s sh% for the first 37 games of last season was 2.7%. Over the last 22 games it shot up to 17.5%, giving him that “outburst”.

    3. Stajan’s sh/60m has been flat over the last 5 years at around 5.

    4. Stajan’s minutes were slashed from 1551 (last season in Toronto) to 1080 in his first season in Calgary. Last year, his TOI was further slashed by another 20% to just 793 minutes.

    Stajan is a mediocre player, but #3 suggests he has not “fallen off a cliff” since his days in Toronto. His drop in counting stats may be partially due to bad puck-luck, but the biggest factor is that his ice-time has literally been *halved* since he played in Toronto.

    Dutter clearly liked Stajan too much (ergo, his contract) and Butter liked him too little. If there’s one Flame that should be the most excited about having a new coach, it’s Stajan. This season is his big chance to redeem himself. Stajan is unlikely to play at the level his contract warrants, but benching him should be viewed a failure on the part of the coaching staff to properly use team resources.

    Unloading him for free would, of course, be nice. However, at this point the Flames are better off riding out his contract than giving up anything to get rid of him. He should be a serviceable piece for the next two seasons and he’s not going to be around long enough to impede a rebuild.

    • This season is his big chance to redeem himself.

      It is, but probably not with the Flames – there just seems to be too any impediments ahead of him on this roster. Hell, in re-signing Backlund, Comeau and Jones + adding Hudler, Cervenka and (likely) Baertschi, Feaster moves this summer suggest Stajan doesn’t even exist in the eyes of the organization.

      • It could also just be a reaction to not having enough depth last year when the injury bug demolished the team. Same as what they’ve done with the defence.

        Stajan, in my eyes anyways, is a player who’s capable of moving up the lineup if he needs to, but isn’t even going to make a positive impact in a top 6 role. I’d have him slotted into the third line centre, but he’s not really strong enough defensively to be useful there on a top-level team either. He kind of reminds me of Kyle Wellwood that way – not good enough for top 6, but not good enough defensively to play a 3rd like checking role.

      • beloch

        Perhaps we’re not on the same page when it comes to what “redemption” is.

        Given that he was #4C or a healthy scratch for a significant part of last season, I would see it as a major redemption if Stajan held #3C for the majority of 2012-2013. In your lineup you’ve already penciled him in as redeemed! His salary is ridiculous for a #4C/scratch, but it’s merely “generous” for a steady third-liner with some potential upside. As Flames fans, we should start getting used to “lowered expectations” when it comes to such things!

        I think Stajan’s goal coming into training has to be to impress Hartley enough to be slotted in above Jones. He (and Jones) also need to be good enough that Hartley doesn’t decide to use both Cammalleri *and* Cervenka as pivots, leaving Jones and Stajan to duke it out for #4C or perhaps a gig as a spare-parts winger.

        • True, but in my line-up I have healthy scratched newly signed Jiri Hudler and moved Cammalleri to the wing in order to make that happen.

          I’m guessing that’s not realistic, particularly when everyone is healthy. As far as I can tell, given all the wingers, the Flames are banking on Cammalleri and Cervenka playing the middle. That or Sven Baertschi is going to battle Comeau for the 4th LW spot and little else.

  • RexLibris

    Stajan will be valuable as a depth centre if Cervenka and Backlund don,t pan out this year.SAD .You bet it is,but that,s what you get when you give away picks and make poor draft decisions, and make foolish trades.

    I actually hope Horak has toughened up over the summer and pushes Stajan for his position.

    I was hoping to see Stajan or Babchuk as well as Kipper moved to a team for picks /prospects.

    I love Kipper, but he,s bound to have a mediocre year ,which will expose this team and make it,s choices even more difficult.

    And lastly to Rex.When did Edmonton start making fun at any team?

  • RexLibris


    It’s clear that statistically Iggy is getting out played. He’s scoring goals but goals are going in while he is on the ice… Posession wise flames aren’t having the puck when he is out there. Now, last season Iggy was getting double shifted a lot. How much of these stats which bring his stats down were due to him staying out for an extra shift? Maybe if he is played less, not double shifted, is it possible he won’t have such bad possession and +/-?. Could his bad stats be due to bad coaching. He’s getting older give him quality minutes over quantity. And I don’t mean shelter him, I mean give him a mix of hard and soft minutes but not so many of them…

    Just a question and a thought.

    Any comments?

    Any stats on when he starts to get blown out by the opposition statistically? At the start or end of a shift and was he double shifted…

    I’m blabbing…

    Go flames go!!!!!

  • Reidja

    More Kent pulling crap from his ass to try and shine it up like he’s got a clue? Serious moron if you want to be taken seriously STOP trying to force-feed people with your bile that Jarome Iginla is no better than a 2nd line winger fighting to keep that spot with Jiri Hudler. Did he refuse to autograph more than 2 items for you or something? What a joke.

    Continue the Brent Sutter is an amazing NHL coach BS and ignore that FACTS that slap you in the face (the onces you “forgot” about in your last stupid article, convinient, and get over the fact that the Calgary Flames Hockey Club are far better managed than the junk you’d propose given the chance. Seriously are you trying to get Eric Francis’ job once he’s given enough BJs at CBC to move to Toronto permanently?

  • Reidja

    If we have a season Stajan will get a fresh start in a new system under a new coach. He is the Flames best faceoff man on a team that was worst in the league by an entire % point.

    Why not wait and see how it plays out?

  • Franko J

    For a player like Stajan there is always training camp {if there is one} to prove himself to Hartley. With a new regime hopefully Stajan will get a fair opportunity and create a stronger, competitive atmosphere between all the centers. Through training camp if he proves to be the best center all the better for the Flames. Gives the team even better depth. What I want to see is better competition between players. One pushing the other. At the end of camp have the player who is the most ready and hungry to play. Make the coaching staff have difficult decisions with the understanding of “one who stays and who goes.”

    As Kent has pointed out in a few blogs and many fans know at FN, Calgary doesn’t have the pure talent {on paper and evident by poor shoot out result} of say a Pittsburgh or a Vancouver to steal or win games “easily”, but this team has to have the grit; the work ethic; and most importantly not be satisfied with success in order to make the playoffs. This is where I say the team has failed because players on this team for whatever reason lack the drive and focus to be better individually and collectively as a team. As well, give an honest consistent effort game in and game out. The key for a bubble player like Stajan is all about confidence and drive. As a matter of fact, I think it should pertain to the team as a whole. Confidence and drive.
    Do they have it?

  • joey joe joe jr shabadoo

    the amnesty idea seems a little dubious to me. I have a hard time believing the NHPA/Fehr will sign off on that one. Every team in the leauge has probably 2-4 contracts they would love to simply get rid of, but it’s not to happen easily.

    I doubt the NHLPA is willing to throw +/- 30 players under the bus on this one. I hope the Flames management is operating under the premise that Stajan will be a part of the team for the next two years, because that is most likely going to be the senario.

    sucks, I know, but I think the best Flames fans can hope for is a rejuvinated Stajan under Hartley and hopefully he can round out to be an effective 3rd line C with spot duty on the second line when needed…..

  • RexLibris

    I, for the life of me cant understand why this amnesty thing isnt parlayed into a a key bridge for the both sides to settling some CBA issues. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in a buyout scenario, the player receives like 66% of his $$$ & the team has to carry 50% of the cap hit for the remaining years of the contract? I think so. So, why dont they have a buyout option where the team can buyout a player where the player gets the normal 66% of the $$$ but if the team wants no cap hit count, they have to pay the remaining $$$ of the contract of which that 34% goes to the Revenue sharing fund between the teams. What this does is create a luxury tax for the rich teams that like to give outrageous $$$ a chance to fix the mistakes, benefit their team buy being able to buy that cap space. The players would see more buyouts & ability to double earn & in the long run increase player earnings. The league gets a luxury tax system that helps keep the parity within the parameters of the cap & a a Revenue Share that gives the big $$ market teams a chance to persue the best all the team by throwing money at their continuous stupid contracts they seem to keep doling out. The smaller market teams can go the current buyout rules if they so decide, or they can just live with their mistakes, but that would be a franchise ownership decision. Just food for thought on a nice long weekend.