Get Rid of Chris Butler

 

 

It is technically way too early in the year to be writing something like this. Just six games in, we don’t have very much info about anyone on the club. It’s entirely possible any of the trends we’re seeing right now will reverse themselves over the long-term.

But I don’t care. I’ve seen enough of Chris Butler. Send him packing.

Butler has been awful (empahsis needed) so far this year. He capped off a rough first five games with his worst performance of the season against the Ducks last night. He and Shane O’Brien’s first shift was a study in incompetence: Butler flubbed a routine defensive zone break-out attempt, resulting in a minute or two of Ducks dominance. After spending most of the period bobbling pucks and passing three feet behind his teammates, Butler topped it all off with a blueline give-away that led to the Kyle Palmieri goal. Later in the game, he took an ill-advised penalty.

Sometimes the numbers and the eyes don’t line up. Not so with Butler. He boasts the worst possession rate(s) on the team. His numbers aren’t merely relatively bad, but bad on an absolute level. The team is getting only about 30% of shot attempts in score close or score tied situations with Butler on the ice.  That’s enforcer, fresh faced rookie, Mike-Brown-on-the-Oilers level of bad. Particularly since a vast majority of the rest of the team are 50% or above by the same metrics – meaning he’s not being dragged down by a sinking ship.

In fact, with the score tied, Butler’s corsi ratio drops down to just 28.2% – which is a number so lousy, I can’t remember the last Flame to post something similar, even in a 5-game stretch. He ranks 529 out of 536 players in the league who have seen 4+ games so far by this metric.

We as a fan base could be more forgiving if this was a new thing for Chris, but he was completely terrible last year as well. His WOWY (with or without you) analysis showed that he made almost everyone he played with worse in 2012-13. When we adjusted his possession numbers for factors like competition and zone start position, Butler was the worst on the team (except for Brian McGrattan). And, like last year, pretty much everyone who plays with Butler this season sees their numbers take a nose-dive.

A Trade Lost

Acquired for Robyn Regehr by Jay Feaster during the 2011 draft, Butler has take big, firm steps backwards ever sicne arriving in Calgary. Originally paired with Jay Bouwmeester in a top-two type role by Brent Sutter, Butler struggled somewhat to keep his head above water, but that was at least understandable given his circumstances. He had merely mediocre results in those days.

Since Hartley arrived, however, Butler’s minutes have gotten much easier, at least in terms of who he plays against every night, but his numbers have gone south anyways. Although Butler can skate relatively well and isn’t exactly small, he frequently struggles to make basic plays, particularly when trying to escape his own zone or when pressured by a forecheck. He has no offense to speak of, isn’t really all that physical and at 27 years old, probably isn’t going to improve. I suspect his possession numbers will regress upwards a bit just as a matter of course (because, really, I can’t imagine anyone is actually this bad), but we’re getting to the point in his tenure in Calgary where there doesn’t seem to be any upside to keeping the player. 

Quite the opposite in fact. He’s been one of the biggest liabilities on the ice for the Flames since the onset of 2012. I don’t think pairing him with Shane O’Brien (who is slow and can’t handle the puck) has done Butler any favors this year and is probably a contributor to his problems. Unfortunately, if a guy in his mid-20’s is a dragged down to below replacement level on a team’s third pairing, regardless of partners. he’s probably part of the problem rather than the solution.

Calgary has surprisingly solid underlying numbers across the board, aside from a few, putrid outliers.

Butler’s one of them.

The rebuild is primarily about sourcing and acquiring high level talent since that’s the organization’s biggest area of need, but they can make little incremental improvements by quietly replacing duds like Butler with guys who are at least average.

    • Greg

      I haven’t followed Regehr at all since the trade, but that’s been my view as well. We got nothing – but from what I’ve heard we gave up nothing also. Was wondering if anyone’s looked closely at Reggie lately and could confirm or deny that impression?

      Also, on the Kotalki/2nd component of that trade, I say meh. That was the going rate for that size of salary dump at the time. It still annoys me, cause the flames didn’t need to dump that contract, and should be on the buying side of those types of transactions, but it was fair market value at the time.

      Point being – nothing + contract for nothing + pick wasn’t a win (or a loss) for either side (pending further commentary on Reggie’s post-trade value).

  • TheRealPoc

    “Proud” to say I’ve been sippin’ on the Butler haterade since day one. I have never seen it with this guy.

    Kent and I exchanged tweets last night after Monahan’s first shift, where he totally trainwrecks an easy behind-the-net outlet pass, banking it off the net and forcing Baertschi into an almost impossible position to retrieve the puck in his corner, with his back to the rest of the play. The result is a dominating Ducks shift for a minute and a half, one which never should’ve started in the first place. Just pathetic.

    I think FN.ca should start a pool to buy his one-way Greyhound ticket to Abbotsford. I will gladly contribute to that fund.

  • mattyc

    ” I don’t think pairing him with Shane O’Brien (who is slow and can’t handle the puck) has done Butler any favors this year and is probably a contributor to his problems. Unfortunately, if a guy in his mid-20’s is a dragged down to below replacement level on a team’s third pairing, regardless of partners. he’s probably part of the problem rather than the solution.”

    sigh…

    Calgary Flames traded Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a 2nd round selection in 2012 to the Buffalo Sabres for Chris Butler and Paul Byron.

    Basically we traded Regehr and a 2nd to get rid of Kotalik.

  • Colin.S

    That Regehr/Butler trade just looks worse and worse. Butler seemed okay that first year like you said, but at this time there are better options, like Smith, or hell anyone currently on a contract with the Heat.