Welcome back to the FlamesNation Mailbag!
This week, we dive into a common question: So just what’s the point of having Brandon Bollig and Deryk Engelland on the team?
@RyanNPike what reason is there to play bollig, other then saving face? He doesn’t really even fight…
— jamie desrochers (@vowswithinhb) January 30, 2015
@RyanNPike was the signing of stop gap players such as Mason Raymond, and Derek Engelland, detrimental to the development of prospects?
— Craig Taylor (@CraigTaylor97) January 30, 2015
(We’ll take a look at Mason Raymond in-depth later in the week)
Deryk Engelland was signed in the off-season. He has a $2.9 million cap hit. Engelland’s a veteran who shoots right and is much more physical than the other five defensemen on the team. The team wanted to add size and a veteran presence (and some playoff experience), so adding Engelland does make some sense. As for the cap hit? I do not know.
Here’s Engelland’s usage among defenders.
His possession stats are BAD, but that’s not why the Flames wanted him. He’s fought. He doesn’t play a heck of a lot. He hits guys. He’s reputed as being “good in the room.”
The Flames traded for Brandon Bollig at the draft. They gave up a third round pick.
Blackhawks needed to shed cap dollars, and Bollig – a bottom six guy on
that team – was a big body who could play bottom six minutes that
didn’t have a big cap hit. I can see why the Flames wanted him. The only
dedicated functional bottom-six body the Flames had last season was Lance Bouma (and Bouma arguably has upward mobility). So they brought in Bollig to play a similar role as Bouma, and to fight if needed. Basically, Bollig was brought in to be a back-up Bouma who could fight. (And has an excellent beard.) Oh, and he has a Stanley Cup ring.
Here’s Bollig’s placement on a player usage chart: he doesn’t get shielded all that much (lots of defensive zone starts) but he plays almost exclusively against other team’s lesser lights. (But hey, if you think he’s here to fight, he plays against the players on the other teams that would probably fight, too.)
So, that’s why the Flames wanted these guys. Why are they playing, though?
Well, it’s a simple matter of development, I’d imagine. The two guys probably best suited to the roles these guys are playing – small minutes, playing a physical role in the defensive zone against lesser lights – are likely Michael Ferland and Patrick Sieloff.
Would you rather have Ferland and Sieloff getting lots of minutes in many situations in Adirondack, or a teeny bit of ice time in a role that they haven’t proven at the NHL level that they can fill? The Flames paid a pretty penny to bring in Bollig and Engelland, in part because they wanted size, but also because these guys have proven they can fill these specific roles elsewhere. Their success in these roles in Calgary notwithstanding, you can at least fathom the whys.
And, let’s be honest, the role of fourth line (and third pairing) players is usually to not get scored on too often while eating up ice time while the skilled players on other lines get their wind back on the bench. That’s probably not the best spot to throw kids into unless you don’t think they can do anything else.
So, the short answer is: Engelland and Bollig were brought in to fill roles they had filled before elsewhere, and they were brought in rather than kids because the nature of the roles themselves probably aren’t conducive to the development of prospects.