The Flames did their best to make a splash on July 1st this year. Signing Mason Raymond and Jonas Hiller were both moves that were widely applauded as sensible pickups for decent dollar amounts. However, there was a third signing that fateful day.
The Flames signed Engelland for three years and an average of $2.9 million per (about 400k more than Glencross will be making this year btw) in a move that was largely regarded as one of the biggest head-scratchers of the day.
If not just out of a masochistic desire to pick scabs, lets let’s get to meet Deryk (sic) Engelland!
When Engelland was signed, I remember plenty of adjectives being used to describe him on TSN including “policeman,” “hard-nosed,” “gritty,” and “enforcer.” Sadly, it is hard to measure how effective one polices the ice in a given game, especially when he is hardly allowed on it, so we will just have to take them at their word.
Also, I am sure by now we all know that Deryk Engelland isn’t – as Ryan described our old buddy Laddy Smid yesterday – ‘Mr.Corsi’, but did you know he is also a human boat anchor? Using a random sampling of a few Penguins from last season, let’s take a look at Engelland’s WOWY numbers.
Engelland played more with Orpik (230:37) at even strength than any other defender and even Orpik, who didn’t exactly have the best season himself last year, was far better off without Engelland. Virtually every Pen who played with Engelland last season was dragged down CF% wise which I am sure isn’t surprising anyone.
This should be alarming for Flames fans because there isn’t exactly a wealth of players who can drive possession that are able to carry Engelland around the ice (think of a Russell/Engelland pairing for instance). The presence of DE on any pairing is likely to exacerbate the weaknesses in that other d-man and sink that pairing into possession sludge.
What we can tell from his usage is that although Engelland wasn’t exactly sheltered but didn’t exactly do well either. This leads me to wonder just what kinds of situations he will be put in here in Calgary. It seems like there isn’t an ideal spot to put him in, other than with the guidance of a much more adept defender, which barring a BrodanoThe players around him on the chart also reveal the kinds of players Engelland was likely playing with at defense and forward.
Oh right! I forgot to mention, Engelland can(‘t) play either forward or defense, much like a Jim Vandermeer I suppose. I am not sure what horrifies me more, the thought of a Smid/Engelland pairing (as discussed in Ryan’s piece yesterday) or a Engelland/Bouma/McGrattan fourth-line Truculescent Gritastrophy. Actually, the more I think about it, I am liking that forward line as some sort of postmodern critique of the NHL forward…
LOTS AND LOTS OF SNIPES!
There isn’t really a chart, table, or graph that is flattering to Engelland so there isn’t really a lot of point to examining him on the basis of statistics. Right or wrong, the Flames believe that there are things that Engelland offers that cannot be measured by statistics and that’s why they felt it was necessary to lock Engelland down.
My problem isn’t with the move on paper, the Flames have oodles of cap room and aren’t making any noise this year anyway so what’s the harm? My problem is the philosophy that is perpetuated by the seemingly endless string of Engelland-like signings. The Flames are clinging to an antiquated model by continuing to employ players that only offer this one, murky, and famously hard-to-quantify part of the game and it is frustrating.
That being said, Deryk Engelland suiting up for the Flames is not the end of the world, I understand that, and hopefully he won’t be given an opportunity to do much damage minutes wise.
As far as what to expect from Engelland this year? Fights, 6-7 defencemen minutes, and some hair-raising defensive plays. Realistically, the best the Flames can hope for is that one of the younger d-men usurp Engelland’s spot and that Hartley has the sense to surrender is spot if he isn’t playing well.
Last season, the Flames (eventually) had the good sense to banish Shane O’Brien when it became plainly obvious to everyone involved that he was essentially a surly turnstile. Here’s hoping Engelland enjoys a late-bloom in Calgary or becomes very familiar with press-box popcorn.