On the Devin Setoguchi Addition

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It got a bit harder for a rookie to crack the Flames recently with The team adding free agent forward Devin Setoguchi to a one year deal. 

As evidenced by the cheap, last minute contract with the Flames, it’s been a steady fall from grace for the former 8th overall San Jose draft pick. Setoguchi scored 31 goals and 65 points as a sophomore in 2008-09 and looked to be a burgeoning star for the Sharks at the time. Unfortunately, the Taber AB native rode a lot of beneficial circumstances and percentages to his break out performance that season. Although he scored 20+ goals two more times after that high water mark, he has never since cracked the 45 point barrier. 

The good news for the Flames is that Setoguchi is likely better than the results he put up in 75 games for Winnipeg last year (11 goals, 27 points). He suffered from a career low on-ice SH% of just 5.92. His offense was further depressed by a career low personal shooting percentage of 8.5%. Setoguchi’s true ability is probably much closer to the 35-45 points he typically managed in Sharks and Wild colours, which would be huge value at $750k. In addition, at 27 years old, he’s more likely to rebound than to to decline.

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On the other hand, Setoguchi’s not much more than a middling, middle-tier NHL forward. He has never meaningfully driven possession at any point in his career. Last season, for example, Setoguchi managed a relative corsi rate of -3.7/60 on an average Winnipeg Jets club. That’s despite completely run of the mill circumstances.

With just a single year contract, Setoguchi is a low risk, moderate reward type of signing. If he gets back to 20 goal and 40 point territory, his NHL stock may rebound enough for him to become a tradable asset at the deadline. He’s also young enough that he could be retained with a longer term deal should he suddenly figure things out this season. In addition, Setoguchi is a natural shot RW player, a commodity in short supply in the Flames organization currently.

Of course, for those hoping to see a few kids on the roster come October, this addition clogs up the depth chart somewhat. In addition to Setoguchi, Calgary now has nine NHL wingers in Glencross, Hudler, Raymond, Jones, Colborne, Bollig, McGrattan and Byron inked to one-way deals. Lance Bouma may also be added to the list, depending on when he re-signs (and if Bob Hartley considers him a winger or a centre). 

As such, any kid who makes the team is going to have to climb over a vet or two to do it (or pray for a lot of injuries). That said, it also allows the Flames to pursue some veteran trade options without completely gutting the depth chart and throwing the kids into the deep end.

Verdict – Thumbs up. Although he’s unlikely to make a big impact on the organization, Setoguchi is a good buy low gamble. 

  • beloch

    This is a good signing for the Flames, it is a low risk move. It’s already been written in a prior article what the projected number of games the younger players could be playing this season. They can’t ice a lineup of a lot of kids, if the Flames are in the same spot by March or worse then they will throw kids into the lineup like Candy. Gaudreau and Baertschi will probably play a much higher number of games. Devin fills in a need on RW, he’s an everyday NHLer and could be more productive than last season. My only fear is that he falls off the map more like Cheechoo and Heatley have. Hope that’s not the case.

  • beloch

    This signing is a response to Hayes signing elsewhere as well as the fact Bouma has not siged. While I have nothing against Setoguchi as a player and see him as upgrade from TJG I don’t know if we needed another forward(yes I know we need RW.) This could also signal future trades for a prospect. What we needed was a 27 4/5 defenceman more than a depth 27 year old forward.

    • beloch

      The Flames have too many third pairing defenders right now, especially with rookies trying to break into the lineup. They could use a legitimate second pairing defender though and some more quality prospects for Adirondack would be very welcome. None of these are likely to come on the UFA market.

    • I too think there is a trade in the works here. There’s a ton of forwards on this team that will be either on the team or bubble players, and you could almost say there are TOO many (and yet the club still lacks depth…that is something)

      So I think someone has to be on their way out at some point. Glencross may have put himself in that category, given that he does have return value and has hinted that he won’t give Calgary a hometown discount on his next contract, but that’s just a hunch more than anything. It just seems like there are too many forwards looking to win forward positions

      • seve927

        Trading Glencross is problematic with his NTC, I suspect it will one of the high end prospects. There is no doubt that Setoguchi helps this team and that it increases the competition at RW but with all the potential we have in the system it just makes it more difficult for the assessment of these prospects at the NHL level. Setoguchi signing makes my philosophy of rolling 4 more plausible so I should have liked it but I was so looking forward to seeing more of the prospects this year. Here are some possible line combinations if Glenx is not traded:


        Leaving McG playing as a situational player.

        I also still believe that this signing sends a message to Bouma’s camp; lower your expectations as we just signed a guy who can?has replaced you in the lineup.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        I’d like to see a trade as well. It would be nice to see a move to improve the defensive depth on this team or a second pairing d-man would great. I don’t see GlenX being traded. While he has perceived value, he’s also one of the few forwards on the Flames that plays “heavy”, a quality that BT and BB seek to add to this team.

  • beloch

    This reminds me of the Raymond signing. Raymond and Setoguchi are both under 30, have been better in the past than they are right now, and are signed to contracts that represent good value for recent performance rather than what they might hope to achieve if they rebound, which is very possible at their age.

  • RexLibris

    As I mentioned before, Setoguchi is a hurdle for the prospects to overcome.

    That it is a short-term, affordable contract is a benefit to the team. It doesn’t markedly improve the team, but that wasn’t likely to happen this late in the summer.

    Agree with Kent – thumbs up.

      • jeremywilhelm

        He is actually 19 and will be playing on the baby Flames if he doesn’t make the big club.
        His December birthday make him a 20 year old during the season.

        He is supposedly tracking to be ready to play at camp, but he has a lot of players to leapfrog his way into the lineup.

        As fir development, he managed 4 points in 2 games with the Heat. If he shows that kind of scoring this season, he will be up sooner than later.

        • Burnward

          His defensive side of the game is where he will need the majority of his development. The AHL is where you get that.

          Let’s be patient but I do agree this kid is impressive!!

  • Rockmorton65

    Awesome signing. Down the right side, we have Jones, Setoguchi, Colborne (based on last year) and McGrattan. If any of the kids comes in and outplays them, they are easily buried in the minors/pressbox. If no one takes it in camp, we have 4 legit RW’s (not all stars, by any means, but all can play in this league)

    I like the signing for another reason. It is literally no-risk. Either he comes to camp, loses the laziness tag he seems to have, adopts the “Flames” mentality of hard work, and becomes the serviceable middle 6 RW we desperately need. Or, he drags his butt, refuses to work, and gets his career buried in the minors, at no hit to the Flames, except for a failed reclamation project.

    It may never be a clear “win”, but its definitely a no lose.

    EDIT: another thought: If none of the kids are ready, then we dont have to rush them into the lineup because we have no other option. Aside from defence, we have that luxury at all other positions now.

      • RexLibris

        I’d expect Hudler to play the LW, otherwise you are robbing Peter to pay Paul.

        Take Hudler off the LW and you have Glencross, Gaudreau (assuming he makes the NHL), and Bollig. Flipping Hudler for Raymond doesn’t really make any difference either.

        I’ve got the LW as Hudler, Glencross, Gaudreau, Bollig with Baertschi as a call up or Gaudreau proxy to start the season.

        RW – Jones, Raymond, Setoguchi, Colborne (a kind of depth, given the circumstances).

        • Burnward

          The OP did not list Raymond as a RW. He listed Jones, Setoguchi, Colborne, and McGrattan. Hudler spent all of last season on the right side, and he’s spent most of his career on the right side.

          To wit,

          • RexLibris

            I’ve also seen Hudler described as a LW/RW/C. He seems to be able to play anywhere.

            If he lines up on the right side, then flip Raymond over to the left behind Glencross and ahead of Gaudreau (by way of quality of competition).

            So that gives you a LW depth chart of Glencross, Raymond, Gaudreau, Bollig.

            RW – Jones, Hudler, Setoguchi, Colborne

            I still see it as moving Hudler over to one side means sliding Raymond to the opposite. Nice flexibility for the coach and it certainly helps the team to score goals and have some backup against whichever line gets the toughest matchups.

            My point is that no matter where he lines up, someone has to be put on the left side to shelter Gaudreau, if he makes the team. Doesn’t matter if it is Hudler, Raymond, Glencross or the ghost of Christmas Past, the roster will need to be balanced and appropriate roles defined for each player/line.

  • dudeguybro

    My favourite part about this deal is his potential trade deadline value if he returns to a 40pt scoring pace this season. And if it means McGratton plays less in the meantime win-win.

    Just a little hearsay, but a southern AB minor pro who knows him told me Setoguchi’s in considerably better shape this summer than last.

    • I was worried that he was eating (and drinking) his way out of the league but saw him about a month ago and by Settos standards… he WAS rather svelte.

      He lacks passion in his game but perhaps the recognition that the offers were not fast and furious this summer shall motivate him to apply himself with more zeal. His tool chest is upper echelon just gotta get that sparrow heart pumping harder.

      someone up there mentioned Penner…. fair comparable. What could be is obvious… what is…. whelp…

      • Rockmorton65

        One of the things Treviling said about talking with Setoguchi was that the lack of interest appeared to be a wake up call that was received. Let’s hope he was right.

      • McRib

        “His tool chest is upper echelon just gotta get that sparrow heart pumping harder.”

        Hahah, Know a few guys who played with Seto on Saskatoon & Prince George and this describes him perfectly, as apparently he used to drink 5-6 nights a week while still easily putting up more than a point a game in the WHL.

        I hope that the sting of not being signed right after the UFA market opened motivates him, but at the end of the day with all of our young prospects, I don’t see much use after a year or two regardless. Maybe he can save his career, but he is just someone who will never come close to reaching potential was always far too interested in being a pro (chasing skirts, etc) rather than playing like a pro, he is Rene Bourque 2.0!

        It’s interesting in this day and age it seems more and more players are coming from cities like (Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Halifax, London, etc) rather than small town markets who are producing less and less players every year. I think players growing up in a small market are at a major disadvantage not only because of fewer resources available for training, but also because they become such a big deal at a young age that it goes to their heads (i.e. Taber & Lac La Biche). Whereas 40-50 years ago every good player came from a small town (before artificial ice).

        • everton fc

          Perhaps McGrattan can have a positive life-influence on him. When he had good games in San Jose, I liked him. Few and far between, though, as the years progressed.

          As for small markets, perhaps kids from small markets (not to mention families) are moving from rural areas to more established areas – the great diaspora from rural to suburban, which is indeed happening `mainstream`. Unfortunately, I might add, but that`s personal opinion. Would be an interesting research study.

          • McRib

            I’ll agree that he looked alright in San Jose, but he was mostly playing on a line with Thorton and Marleau, which causes me to downgrade play (also why I am not certain Tomas Hertl is going to be a major star yet. See Marek Svatoš, Devin Setoguchi, etc).

            Seto could end up being a 30-35 point guy for us, but honestly so could a Sven Baertschi or Max Reinhart (even if they move over from LW) and to me they are players who have earned the opportunity with this club. Wheares Seto has already been given three or four chances now with various teams.

            This move sends the same message that scared the crap out of me when we hired Bob Hartley and that is when he was with Colorado everyone said he had trouble properly handling rookies.

            I think management has acknowledged Bob Hartley will get this club to compete every night for the next season or so, but once our young players start emerging with the big club… I think Bob Hartley is gone and likely that is why Ryan Huska was hired (who deserves an NHL chance regardless). By making this move Management has clearly acknowledged that they would rather give Bob players with NHL experience rather than rookies for the coming season.. Sorry I just can’t get as excited as most on here, with a move where we picked up a player who the Winnipeg Jets didn’t even want.

          • everton fc

            Wholeheartedly agree.

            Seto takes up crucial development time away from prospects.

            The forward positions were already plugged up with less-capable or average NHL players (DJones, Bouma, Byron, McGrattan, Stajan etc.) and while each of them brings a little bit of something to the table…job #1 for the Flames is to develop their prospects by blooding them with some NHL-level experience, and then send them back to the AHL to use this experience to speed their development.

            Quite frankly I’d rather have 8 prospects get 10 games each this year than giving the prospect’s time away to Seto.

            Picking up a serviceable D would have been a much better move than another Fwd…I am sure the 15 prospects competing in the wings let out a collective groan and dampened the overall team spirit and attitude.

            If you were Granlund, Baertschi, Reinhart, Knight, Ferland, Wolf etc etc….what message does this send to all of them…???

          • PrairieStew

            Understand your comment re “spots need earning” but think prospects are aware and generally agree with this.

            However I think bringing in Seto goes against the meritocracy by queue jumping Seto at the last minute ahead of the 7-8 guys fighting for a forward spot.

            For most of the prospects the message received is:
            – there’s another guy to get past,
            – the opportunity to make it to the show is being continually diminished, and
            – you’re not good enough and mgt has no faith in you so they’re bringing in someone else instead of giving you a shot.

            And why have so many prospects if you only support development opportunities for first rounders and Hobey winners?

          • seve927

            With now 9 NHL established forwards and 3 emerging forwards plus Bouma once he signs it makes it difficult for the prospects to make the team out of training camp and while I am an advocate of giving the top 3/4 of these prospects lots of games as IMO they are ready and earned a shot based upon last year. However there is nothing to stop the flames from sending down guys like Byron, Guchi, DJones back down, yes we might loss them to waivers but they are also replaceable. I suspect that there may be trade in the works. Also I think the Flames will keep Johnny up at the start of the season. Who this signing most effects is Sven, Granlund, Ferland and Rhino; the older and more prepared forwards,

          • piscera.infada

            If you were Granlund, Baertschi, Reinhart, Knight, Ferland, Wolf etc etc….what message does this send to all of them…???

            It says, “nothing will be given to you – if you want it, take it”. Platitudes aside though, I’m not sure you can look at the move simply in the vacuum of “depth right-winger (which the team needs) or depth defenseman (which the team needs)”. In my eyes signing Setoguchi does very little for any of the prospects. If one can come in and outperform him on the right-side, then you give that kid the spot. There is nothing owed to Setuguchi in all of this. It simply creates a situation where if no prospect shows he’s ready for the big-club, you have a stop-gap signed for one year at virtually no cost with moderate upside. It’s pure win either way.

          • PrairieStew

            I think the message it sends to the young guys is nothing is going to get handed to you – please continue to work your a$$ off to get to the NHL.

            The guy is just 27 – 4 years younger than Glencross with more games played and almost identical counting stats. We all acknowledge the value of Glencross’s contract at $2.5 – and Seto at 30% of that is a bargain.

            I think/hope there is still a move for another defenceman. Perhaps it comes closer to training camp as a salary dump deal.

  • RexLibris

    I like it. He’s going to fit in well, and buy into the teams new rep for hard work and being hard to play against.

    Gaudreau makes the team and if Bouma gets resigned as he should that leaves one d and one forward spot up. Give it to Bennett for his 9 games unless he totally bombs in camp. Than call up whoever is playing best between Baertschi, Arnold, Reinhart, Granlund, Knight. Best for all if its Sven. Get it together kid.

    Kind of would like to see Wotherspoon as the 7th d man but wouldn’t be heartbroken if its Cundari for the first part of the year.. theyll be entertaining to watch again this year and looking forward to some games! Hiller’s going to be great to see in red as well!

  • jeremywilhelm

    Everything says great signing. I don’t know why, but something deep down inside me is disappointed. I know he’s a proven natural RW we desperately needed. but I was really wanting to see Sven/Knight/Rhino/Wolf in the lineup. We have to see what these guys are this year. & it happens to be a perfect Mceichel year to do it. I know what guys like Seto are, I just want lots of minutes avail to see what we have. But then I think of my hockey pools coming up 🙂 & realize, man there are a lot of injuries in the NHL these days & we are going to see lots of minutes open up as it’s a long 82 game + exhibition season.

    Oh well, great signing Flames. When does that prospect tourney start in Penticton or did I miss something?

  • Burnward

    I’d run…














    15 million in cap space. A stacked AHL team creating competition. Top end CHL prospects. None too shabby.

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Personally I struggle with playing Johnny with Monahan at this point in their careers the pressure to produce could be to high and ruin their development as complete players. At the end of the season or next year I could see them being dynamic together but I am prepared to let both develop.

      • T&A4Flames

        Yea, I prefer the idea of putting Raymond and Seto together, or possibly GlenX and Seto. There would be a ton of speed on that line. You could put either Backs or Stajan between them. Hudler-Mony-Colborne did well together at the end of last season. Gaudreau (if he stays up) could really help pick up the offence of Jones and Backs has good skill to both compliment and benefit from playing with Johnny. I like a Bouma-Bollig-McG 4th . Byron will be in tough this year. He’ll have to be even better to lock down a spot.

      • Burnward

        I kind of agree, but I also think Gaudreau is going to be ready for the challenge.

        Soft zone starts for them, second power play unit. Build some chemistry.

        To me, the glue there has to be Colborne. I’m expecting big things next year

  • Burnward

    Hudler is a prime candidate for trade bait. He is a steady performer, can fit in well with any team, can play any forward position and is low maintenance. I expect him gone by Christmas. One thing of interest is with the number of tough guys on the roster, who is going to go? Will the Flames take the “team tough” attitude (Bouma, Engelland, etc) or will they retain Big Ern for the heavyweights? Might be an opportune time to move the heavyweight while he still has value.

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Not sure I think Flames would move Hudler unless they plan to tank after seeing how first 20 games go and if sitting 11th-14th in West. As for McG he seems like a quality guy, leader, and helps guys play relaxed but Engelland can do all the same and Bollig a decent player as per previous Reasonable Expectations article on him so he stays.

  • RexLibris

    I favour playing Setoguchi in the top 6 too enable a fair evaluation in terms of where he fits with the Flames in the future. Remember he is on a one year deal so decisions have to be made quickly!

    If he clearly demonstrates his confidence and scoring touch then great for the Flames, sign him long term. Talented RW’s are hard to come by.

    To make room move Jones to the bottom 6. I am not a Jones fan and believe he was not bought out only because the Flames have too maintain the cap floor!

  • BlazingSaitls

    Flames were sposed’ta let Smid and Engelland(with his horrid contract) drive the Tank to McJebus. I was gonna have fun watching. Now Flames go and make a totally rational, value move. I dont get you guys in Flamesland…

  • Jetflame

    I’d like to see….

    Glenner, Backs and Huds on the 1st line.
    Gaudreau, Monny, and Bennett for the 2nd,
    Rainman (Raymond) Colbourne and Setoguchi on 3rd and the “B-line” of Byron, Boums and Bollig.

    The defense lines are easy. “pick ’em how you want”, but we need another top calibre D tho….maybe big Buff, for Jones, Stajan, Svenny and a 2nd rounder?

  • everton fc

    There has been much discussion about the Flames not going to be able to score as much as last year but I disagree with that sentiment. I actually think the Flames will score more. Bollig’s production is close to what TJG produced, Guchi produced more than Stemp, and Raymond and Cammi had the same number of points(although a different formula)Add to that bounce back years from GlenX, Wides and maybe even Jones and there is no issue about scoring. Add to the fact that we should expect more production from Monahan and that the rookies led by Johnny should combine for more goals than the departed Street, Bjones as call ups and the goal scoring should actually increase slightly. Goaltending should be better as Hillier is an upgrade over McBackup and Berra. Wides should be better on D giving us an average second pairing, the issue is the third pairing on D and the apparent lack of NHL ready depth at this position.

  • seve927

    Meritocracy can’t really be judged in a two-week training camp. If you score 3 or 4 goals in 7 exhibition games, have you earned an NHL job? It’ll happen over the course of the season.