Reasonable Expectations: Curtis Glencross

It’s hard to get a complete handle on Curtis Glencross, especially after the past two seasons. In 2012-13, he missed 8 games due to injury but still had some of the better underlying numbers on the Calgary Flames despite being – based on PDO – one of the unluckiest regulars on the team.

Almost the exact opposite happened in 2013-14, except for the bad luck. That seemed to follow Glencross around, particularly on the injury front.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Season       Corsi %              Corsi Rel %        PDO          
2010-11 53.1% +2.2% 99.9
2011-12 46.0% -3.2% 99.7
2012-13 49.5% +2.3% 96.2
2013-14 42.7% -4.3% 97.8


Pre-rebuild, Curtis Glencross was a strong depth player for the Flames, a second-liner who could score a ton, had a scrappy style of play and always found a way to be around the net. Last season, the bottom seemed to fall out from under Glencross: his numbers weren’t great, despite being shielded post-injury, and he just couldn’t seem to find any momentum whatsoever.


Glencross had a weird year.

He played 15 games to open the campaign, putting up 9 points (including 5 goals) and regularly being featured on the team’s top line. Then he hurt his knee in an early November game in Minnesota and was out for five weeks. He returned in December and struggled to find his rhythm in his first couple games. He finally seemed to find his feet and play with the aggression he normally does…only to go into the boards awkwardly in Pittsburgh in his first minute on the ice – to add insult to injury, Calgary lost Kris Russell to an injury in the same game.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Glencross missed the better part of three months with a high-ankle sprain.

He finally returned in March and after a couple tentative outings, finally seemed to be “back.” He put up 12 points in the last 17 games of the season. Over a full season at that pace, he would’ve had around 58 points. However, he missed 44 games and put up only 24 points.

Glencross’ PDO was below-average for the Flames (largely because of some below-average goaltending when he was on the ice), and perhaps because of who he played with – everybody. Because of injuries, Glencross only played 200 minutes or more with a single forward (Matt Stajan), and otherwise floated throughout the line-up, playing 100+ minutes with Jiri Hudler, David Jones, Joe Colborne and Sean Monahan. In short: it’s hard to get chemistry with a line-mate without playing with him a lot, and Glencross played so infrequently and bounced around the line-up so much that it’s hard to get a distinct read on him.

The big question for 2014-15 is “Who is the real Curtis Glencross?” Is he a veteran who’s going to be a complementary forward in the top nine? Have injuries to his knee and ankle over the past year slowed him a bit, or made him a bit gun-shy at going hard in the corners? (He didn’t seem that way during the last 17 games, for the record.) And most of all, is Glencross able to stay healthy and stay productive? In 2013-14, he wasn’t healthy much but he was rather productive when he was. Can he do both?


My expectation is that Curtis Glencross will miss some time at some point with some kind of injury. I hope I’m wrong, because when he’s healthy he’s quite productive, especially on special teams. You could argue that Lance Bouma’s role on the Flames PK emerged because Glencross was out for long stretches and they didn’t have many options. With Glencross back healthy, it’d be interesting to see how the coaching staff divvies out the PK minutes.

I expect Glencross’ deployment to be contingent on how he’s playing. Granted, that’s a pretty stupidly obvious statement, but given his injuries last season, I’d expect him to get sheltered to start the year to build up his confidence and give the Flames some offense. If that approach is successful, they’ll probably shield him less and less. We saw a similar approach used with him when he came back from injuries initially this season, as he was brought back to play with Stajan and Brian McGrattan for spells before Hartley shuffled the deck when it seemed like Glencross had his wits about him.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Can Glencross stay productive? Probably, yes. How productive depends on how healthy he’ll be. Over a full 82 games, he’s probably a reliable bet to get 50 points, if not a shade more.

Given that I’m not confident he’ll play all 82 games, he’s still probably a smart bet to get to 40+ points as long as he doesn’t have the same dreadful luck with injuries that he did last season.

  • The issue for Glencross isn’t necessarily production, but how much he gives up the other way. He got his head kicked in at ES last year, the first time that’s happened to his as a Flame. If he rebounds in that regard, he’s a useful player. Otherwise, it doesn’t much matter if you score 20 goals and 40 points if the other team owns 60% of the goals when you’re on the ice 5on5.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      GlenX was just terrible in the early part of the year and prior to his first injury. I thought he was starting to round out as the GlenX of old in the last half of the season. So, my expectation is that he returns to being a useful and mostly responsible player (notwithstanding the odd stupid penalty he’s prone to take.)

      He looked like a guy doing too much and shouldering responsibility of being a leader on this team, in the early part of the year. When he went back to his game he was much better. The NHL is a results business, but I’ll give a guy more leash when he’s ‘trying too hard’ as opposed to dogging it or being a disruption.

      In the end, it’s hard to argue with you position that he was a liability last season, but I think their are good reasons for optimism where Curtis is concerned.

  • PrairieStew

    I’ll set the over under on games lost to injury at 12 and points at 40.

    I think he may have lost his place on the PK, I would see Stajan and Backlund as the centres, with Byron and Bouma the other forwards. That’s OK though – GlenX should be on most PP’s if he is healthy.

    • mattyc

      Iirc, Hartley was running with 6 fwds for PKs. We’ve also lost Stempniak who was a regular too. I’d guess backlund, stajan, bouma, byron, glencross and raymond are the 6 pkers…

      • PrairieStew

        Forgot about Raymond. It will vary from game to game, but assuming Bouma and Byron are getting 4th line ES minutes – they are likely the first 2 over the boards most nights. If Curtis is as brutal at ES as he was at times last year he might be the last in line on the PK.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    “I’d expect him to get sheltered to start the year to build up his confidence and give the Flames some offence.”

    I highly doubt this will be the case, and I see GlenX getting the opposite treatment: a lot of tough assignments early, often, and all year long. Curtis is a Hartly, Treliving and Burke type player, and I expect he be re-signed/extended, not traded by the end of this season.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I’d be entirely okay with him being traded to Edmonton to start the season, if that was a possibility. That way there’s room for both Baertschi and Gaudreau at LW (or even Reinhart).

      • SmellOfVictory

        Based off of previous statements that Glencross doesn’t want to leave Alberta, that Edmonton is constantly after “gritty” players (and he’s one who, at least previously, could actually hockey), etc.

        It seems like a fit, to me. Not saying the Flames shouldn’t be willing to trade him everywhere else, but he does have a full NMC.

        • Glencross can’t really go back to Edmonton, for 2 reasons:

          1: They let him go in 2008, when he came and joined the Flames.

          2: They may not want him back. Their fans have shown indications that they don’t ( and they have too many forwards.

          3 (oops): Edmonton has a surprising lack of cap space. Guys like Viktor Fasth, Nail Yakupov and Mark Arcobello are FA’s at the end of the season, and replacing them could be costly. Justin Schultz has yet to be given a contract.

          There you go.

          • Bob Cobb

            1. The Oilers didn’t let him go, he went to Calgary for the same price Edmonton offered him. He thought he was worth more, despite the fact that at the point he had shown to be a little more than a 3rd or 4th liner, still think he is overrated.

            2. The Oilers have too many forwards, yes, but that’s not why fans don’t want him back. He doesn’t play centre and can’t fill a need, but going to play for the Phlegm’s doesn’t help.

            3. Yakupov is still on his ELC, he’ll be back, he’s an RFA, will get a raise, or traded, but hasn’t shown enough to be very demanding. Arcobello, shown stretches of ability but inconsistent and a career AHL’er to this point, will get a slight raise but that also depends on how Draisitl performs, they could let Arcobello go. Fasth, will get a 2 year deal close to what Scrivens got and Schultz will get a 3 or 4 year deal.

          • WHAT?

            1. If, as if you said, the Oilers offered the same price as Calgary, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t let him go. It means that they were unwilling to go higher than what Calgary matched, so Glennie came here instead. I don’t think the Oil gave him that much of an opportunity there.

            2. Fans won’t want him back regardless. Just know that.

            3. Just because Yakupov hasn’t proven himself doesn’t mean that he will ask for 1 million. He’ll make MacT look back at his tied-for-rookie-lead 17-goal rookie season, at his 11-goal April 2013, at his 1st overall pick. They’ll pay him at least 3, if not more. Arcobello played half of the Oilers’ games last year, and he is capable of playing actual defense. 1.3 million. Fasth is one of the Oilers’ best two goalies (thank you, Captain Obvious). He is capable of winning 35-40 games a year as a starter. And remember, Schultz!

  • jeremywilhelm

    High ankle sprains often take more than 3 months to recover from. I know this from experience.

    He probably came back when he could start skating but his mobility was limited. The last time I high ankle sprained it took me nearly 6 months to be able to pivot without any pain in my ankle while skating.

  • mattyc

    Are players actually more and less ‘injury prone’, or is it really just bad luck? Seems to me there’s maybe a small subset of injuries that are due to style of play or whatever, but it seems like a lot of them are a result of plays that could happen to everyone.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I’d say yes. Many injuries tend to be chronic or recurring, which would mean that acquiring said injury would make you injury prone. I don’t know if there’s a genetic predisposition for some people toward injury, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

      • piscera.infada

        Further to this, from experience there are certain places where injuries repeatedly occur from “normal wear and tear” once they’re injured. I had a bad groin injury in Bantam that would flair up again every now and then making it very hard to get good power from my stride. I also had a couple of head injuries, that eventually forced me out of the contact game.

        From people I played with, it’s entirely common for similar issues to occur after sustaining knee (especially the ligaments) and back injuries.

        Further to @jeremywilhelm‘s comment; you’re exactly correct. High ankle sprains are brutal. I’ve never had one (thank god!), but there are instances of NFL WRs, RBs, and CBs, missing entire seasons after sustaining one – or at the very least being extremely hampered for a prolonged period coming off of one. It’s a very common injury in Basketball and Football, not so much hockey. However, the amount of swelling and ankle work that you need to pivot would be excruciating, methinks.

      • mattyc

        I’d agree there’s some feedbacks there with chronic/recurring injuries (for instance once you get a concussion, getting concussed again is easier). There’s also style-of-play considerations: I’d expect a Lance Bouma block everything/lots of hits to be tougher on the body than a Hudler finesse game.

        Overall though, I wonder if we’re too likely to unfairly call someone injury prone based on a few bad luck plays (which is what I wonder is the case for Glencross).

  • Contract year and a guy who has publicly stated that the hometown discount days are behind him.

    I would expect a conscious effort by GlenX to clean up his failings and maximize his space in the “show me the money” line.

    For his sake… I hope that includes minimization of the selfish penalties he is want to take. Those are hard to kill and leave a certain stench behind.

    Should be an interesting year for Mr. Glencross.

  • I expect if GlenX is healthy he could pot 20-25 goals, I don’t expect him to be shy of going to the corners or dirty areas because of his injuries. If he plays tentative or hesitates then he’s not going to be playing his style. Kent is right though, if he’s one the ice when the other team is scoring goals then it doesn’t matter what he’s doing offensively if he’s not going to commit to playing well defensively. He can’t be disappearing on the road or invisible in games when we need him the most.

  • I would describe Glenny as an enigmatic player: he has the ability to carry the team and make great contributions at times when things go right; OR if Glencross is “off” he can be cranky, sullen and goaded into taking damaging penalties at the wrong time.

    In simple counting terms, over the last four years Glencross’s numbers were:
    – .34 goals per game average (28 goals per 82 game season)
    – .63 points per game average (52 points per season)
    – 18.0% shooting percentage
    – 1.3 hits/game or 107 per season

    It’s a tale of two Glennies…

    Glenny the Good:
    – I’ll take the 28 goals and 52 points any time from him…he can uses his blazing speed, excellent shot and solid body to great advantage.
    – During these times he exhibits leadership, strengthens the sense of team, and will to win…and exudes confidence and supports others to follow.

    Glenny the Bad:
    – This is the guy I do not want to see. One or two poor plays and he goes in the dump, becomes petulant, gets very chippy, takes bad penalties regardless whether it’s a tie game late in the third, and loses focus defensively.

    No question Glencross has talent and can be a solid foundation player for the team. But his challenge is between his ears…

    I hope to see the good Glenny for the vast majority of this year…he’s a treat to watch. Regardless though, he does not fit in to the long-term plans of the team and needs to be traded, likely for a second rounder by Feb or March.


  • Skuehler

    GlenX is a talented pro hockey player with a good work ethic. Could the fact that he hasn’t found his groove the last couple of years be attributed to injuries, yes, but also to the sea-change happening around him. In the last two years almost everybody around him has changed. He was part of the former core. That would be a huge adjustment. Chemistry with line mates. The discouragement of playing for a team clearly out of contention for anything. Uncertainty. Different coaching styles and game plans. Varying roles and expectations. Really what do we expect from the guy. No doubt he’s been slumping but maybe a full healthy year with some good linemates and some consistency around him is all that’s needed.

  • I see a healthy Glencross (i.e. 75-82 games). Actually.

    I also see him putting up 30+ goals for the first time in his career. Actually.

    I see him scoring 32 goals, adding 29 assists, and breaking the 60 point mark for the first time in his career. Actually.

    I see him not being an all star. That honour goes to Mark Giordano. Actually.

    I see him re-signed in February to a 3 year deal with an AAV of 4.5 million for a total of 13.5 million. Actually.

  • Move Glencross to clear room on the left side for Sven and JG before he gets injured again and while his value is still high. In 2 seasons Glencross will be no better than a 3rd liner IMO. Time to move our next biggest asset (outside of Gio and Brodie) in order to fill in some holes. If he’s not moved I think Sven will be.

    If Sven is moved, what’s the opinion from people on Gormley? Consider:

    – Coyotes need young offence up front, Flames need young D.
    – Both players are on the verge of cracking the NHL, but both have too much depth at their respective positions in front of them.
    – Both we’re selected 13th overall.
    – Gormley was selected with a pick that originally belonged to the Flames.
    – Treliving would know Gormley very well.

    Just stuff that I thought was interesting. Thoughts?

  • The Last Big Bear

    His on-ice is as good as anyone else on the Flames.

    He’s got the wheels.

    He’s got the hits.

    He’s got the snipes.

    I am a huge believer in Corsi-based metrics for evaluating forwards. But you have to acknowledge that some guys buck the numbers.

    Glencross’ shooting percentage is exactly one such example. I don’t care much if he is slightly out-shot (or even significantly outshot), because his shots are pretty reliably twice as likely to score as your average NHLer. This is not a sample size issue, this is not going to regress, he just has an abnormally high sh%.

    I’m actually shocked at how low his PDO has been, but I guess that shows you how BRUTAL the Flames goaltending has been, where a guy who consistently sinks 15-20% of his shots ends up underwater by PDO.

    Anyways, I predict a 68 game season for Glencross, 26 goals and 17 assists for 43 points, and a $5m x 4 year contract extension.

    That’s too much money for too much term, but he took a deep discount when the Flames needed the cap space, and its time for the Flames to pay him back.

    • mattyc

      Glencross’ SH% is about 16% in 3 of the 4 years extraskater has data. In 2011-12 he shot 23.6% playing with Jokinen and Iginla. I’m pretty confident the numbers he put up that year aren’t representative of his ‘true talent level’.

      sidenote: PDO uses on-ice SH%, so that would better explain his low PDO, even with a high personal SH%

      I don’t care much if he is slightly out-shot (or even significantly outshot), because his shots are pretty reliably twice as likely to score as your average NHLer.

      The only problem with this, is that the math doesn’t work out. He’s still been on the ice for more goals against than for the last 3 years. (This is probably because when he’s on the ice the flames still score on only 8% of their shots. Maybe Glencross takes all the cherry goals, or maybe it’s something else?)

      edit: I’d still like to add that I don’t think Glencross is a bad player. He’s probably a 20-20 guy playing 15-17 minutes a game. That’s definitely not a bad thing to have on any team. (I don’t think he’ll get $5milx4 though, that’s too much

  • Brownblazer

    I used to get so mad at Glenx before the rebuild when he would stop being his best gritty self with hustle and hits because he would go on a bit of a goal streak. Then he would stop the hustle and keep clean and try to be a sniper only (and not what the team needed).

    I fear b/c of his injury proneness and the teams lack of scoring depth he might consider himself the teams sniper and lack the gritty edge/speed he used to play with (and in the end not play with what I think is his competitive best and brought him success).