I hope the Flames can trade O’Brien at the deadline. For anything.
— Kent Wilson (@Kent_Wilson) January 25, 2014
I made that comment last night after Shane O’Brien needlessly gave the puck away in the Flames zone leading to the Predators 3rd goal. O’Brien played just 5 minutes versus Nashville, but ended up -3 anyways.
The puck was bouncing right for Eric Nystrom last night which helped drive the Flames defender’s plus/minus down, but being a huge liability isn’t anything new for O’Brien this season. No doubt his horrible performance was simply the final straw and why Calgary decided to place the slow moving rearguard on waivers today.
Every partner O’Brien has skated with this year has seen his results take a nose-dive, from Chris Butler to Dennis Wideman. The only regular defender who has a worse relative possession rate on the Flames is Ladislav Smid, and he gets fed much, much tougher assignments. No other defenseman on the club sees easier competition than O’Brien this year and he starts more shfits in the offesnive zone (55%). He only averaged about 11 minutes of ice whenever he dressed this season, which is the forward equivalent of about 6 minutes a game.
The Flames traded Cory Sarich for a worse version of Cory Sarich this past off-season. Calgary had the option a couple of summers ago to let Sarich walk as a free agent and avoid this needless and unsightly spiral into O’Brien territory, but instead Feaster made the baffling decision to re-ink Sarich for two more years. Laughingly, I have been told through back channels that the team figured they needed more grit and toughness on the blueline and Sarich was the best option at the time. This is what happens when you privilege play style over play quality.
Whatever the path to the O’Brien decision, the move today is the right one. He’s not an NHL defender anymore.That said, it’s too bad Burke couldn’t pull a Doug Wilson and trade O’Brien for something at the deadline like the Sharks did with the equally useless Douglas Murray last year. Oh well.
UPDATE: Darren Dreger is reporting that O’Brien has cleared waivers.