2014-15 By The Numbers: #29 Deryk Engelland

When the Calgary Flames announced the signing of Deryk Engelland during free agency season, most people went through this basic thought process:

  • “$2.9 million over three years isn’t bad for a big, physical right-handed defenseman with playoff experience. What’s that per season?…” [Editor’s Note: that’d be $967,000 per year.]
  • “Wait. Wait. It’s not $2.9 million over three years?…”
  • “Oh God, please no…”

Immediately, it became evident to those who follow the team that it was expensive for a third pairing guy. And considering that Dennis Wideman ($5.25 million) had underperformed and Ladislav Smid ($3.5 million) was what he was, it seemed a bit steep – particularly considering either one of those three would sit regularly or someone would play well over their head in the second pairing.

Here we are, a season later, and I think Engelland turned out about as well as everybody thought he would.

Engelland played with a lot of different players over the regular season. Here’s the 100+ minutes club.

Player Together Apart Diff.
Brodie 36.4% 47.7% -11.3%
Diaz 45.6% 47.3% -1.7%
Bouma 35.1% 44.7% -9.6%
Gaudreau 44.7% 47.0% -2.3%
Colborne 38.8% 44.0% -5.2%
Jones 40.2% 45.2% -5.0%
Smid 39.8% 44.0% -4.2%
Stajan 36.4% 48.8% -12.4%
Backlund 41.7% 47.1% -5.4%
Bollig 40.2% 42.1% -1.9%
Raymond 39.6% 44.7% -5.1%
Monahan 45.9% 45.5% +0.4%
Hudler 48.5% 46.0% +2.5%
Jooris 39.5% 49.5% -10.0%
Byron 41.6% 48.2% -6.6%
Granlund 35.9% 43.1% -7.2%
Glencross 46.0% 45.7% +0.3%

Let’s not dress it up: these are awful, awful results. Now, raise your hand if you expected better? Over 87 games this season (and playoffs), his Corsi For percentage is 40.6 and his Relative Corsi percentage is -5.6%. His Relative Corsi over the past four seasons? -5.2%, -3.4%, -1.9% and -5.2%. He’s always a little bit worse than just about everybody else on his team.

This is exactly what they Flames paid for. On good teams or bad teams, he’s been a bottom pairing, physical presence guy. And I bet if you look at his WOWY table for any of the seasons since he’s been in the NHL, it looks a lot like this season’s does.

Here’s his deployment:

For three-quarters of the season, Engelland got the easiest match-ups on the team, albeit with a bunch of defensive zone starts alongside a mixture of Ladislav Smid and Raphael Diaz. His WOWY results with Smid and Diaz aren’t terrible, and more or less reflect his match-ups.

But man, oh man, he dragged T.J. Brodie down like an anvil. On the other hand, look at how his quality of competition jumped when Mark Giordano went down. (And Brodie’s went down a tiny bit.)

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 1.17.35 PM

It’s hard to be too tough on Engelland when we all know that he was playing well over his head.

Engelland is a perfectly fine sixth or seventh defender on a deep team. He provides a physical element that nobody on the blueline really delivers, in that he physically punishes attacking forwards for entering his zone. There’s a value in a guy that physically wears down the other team. But the issue is he’s not good enough to play against the other team’s best players (as we saw at times this season), so he’s effectively just wearing down third and fourth liners, while making nearly $3 million per year.

Based on the available metrics, I think it’s safe to say that Deryk Engelland is the worst possession player on the Calgary Flames. And that’s fine, because he wasn’t brought in to be a possession player or a puck-mover. He was brought in to fight, play physical, and be a positive locker room presence.

But does the good he produces for the team worth more than how he drags down his teammates, possession-wise?

As a right-handed defenseman, Engelland’s a rare commodity. He has playoff experience and size, and those qualities and his handedness drove up his price over the summer. Until a right-handed depth option appears from the farm to take his third-pairing spot – and it could be Kenney Morrison or John Ramage or Jakub Nakladal – or the Flames find somebody willing to take him off their hands, Engelland’s gonna ride out his deal.

Deryk Engelland is what he is. He’s always been what he is, ever since he made the NHL. Don’t blame him for his contract or his possession numbers – if somebody offered you that kind of money to play the minutes he plays, you would’ve said yes, too.

2014-15 BY THE NUMBERS

#1 Jonas Hiller #19 David Jones
#3 David Schlemko #21 Mason Raymond
#4 Kris Russell #23 Sean Monahan
#5 Mark Giordano #24 Jiri Hudler
#6 Dennis Wideman #25 Brandon Bollig
#7 T.J. Brodie #29 Deryk Engelland
#8 Joe Colborne #31 Karri Ramo
#11 Mikael Backlund #32 Paul Byron
#13 Johnny Gaudreau #33 Raphael Diaz
#15 Ladislav Smid #60 Markus Granlund
#17 Lance Bouma #79 Micheal Ferland
#18 Matt Stajan #86 Josh Jooris
Everybody Else
  • TheRealPoc

    I’m not sure how you can watch this guy play, and then look at those quants, and STILL say “he’s a perfectly fine 6th or 7th defenceman on a good team.” No, he’s not. He’s AHL calibre at best. Why should you be tolerating crap on your bottom pairing?

    And enough with the physical presence rhetoric, because it’s patently false. When you’re too slow to maintain proper gap control, and you’re too slow to effectively pursue in the cycle, you’re not putting yourself in a position to make many hits at all, period. Does anyone here really want to argue they saw Engelland exact a consistent physical toll on his opposition this year? Because at least to my eyes, he spent a helluva lot more time getting pyloned than he did taking a piece out of his opponents. Hell, even in static situations…how many times did we see him on for a goal against where he’s standing two feet away from Ramo/Hiller and unable to clear the crease?

    He cannot play at this level, in any capacity. And that kind of futility should not be tolerated. End of story.

  • Reidja

    Is Ryan being charitable? Yes. I for one spent a whole third period yelling at him from the stands late in the season, so I agree that his play presents a liability (poor Brodie). However, since the Flames season was so improbable and intangible, I don’t think an outsider can fully grasp his absolute value on this team. Would he be in my top 6? No, but I’ll accept Hartley’s discretion on how important Englland is going into 2015-16.

  • TheRealPoc

    This is a case where the stats and the eye-test tell the same story. Engelland is not good enough to play in the NHL. Neither am I. I just wish somebody would offer me a contract like that.

    I’ll admit that I did enjoy watching him fight two Canucks at the same time.

  • beloch

    One of a few key litmus tests to determine if Treliving was successful this summer will be if Engelland plays in the NHL next season. If he does, Treliving should have done more.

    I have to add, if Engelland ever plays with Brodie again, that’s grounds for firing someone. That should never happen again.

  • TheRealPoc

    I think beloch just hit the nail on the head. If the offseason concludes and Engelland’s still your #6 on the depth chart heading into camp, you seriously need to question what the hell’s going on with our evaluation criteria.

    We’re playing in an era of no-change icings. For a guy who can’t make a 10-foot outlet pass to save his life, that’s troublesome. The game has evolved past d-men of his ilk – arguing otherwise is a waste of time.

  • al rain

    Life is usually not a black and white affair – there are nuances and shades of grey and different perspectives to most every story. Which is why it’s refreshing to read @TheRealPoc’s comments here – no mumbled excuses or holding back for the sake of political correctness, just vitriol.

    And perhaps that’s because Derek Engelland deserves just that.

  • OKG

    Engelland would be better utilized as a 4th line RW. Well, at least next year if he plays it’ll be on a pairing with Schlemko, who’s a possession beast. I’d have preferred a Schlemko/Diaz bottom pairing though, that was a beauty.

    Are players of Engelland’s ilk really dying in the era of no-change icings?

    I would say: yes, you need to be able to make an outlet pass. You can still have stay-at-home Dmen, but it needs to be guys like Hjalmarsson who don’t let themselves get hemmed in..

    The bright side about Engelland is that he’s a fitness freak, so that might have been a nice addition from a leadership perspective, if a bit redundant on a team captained by Mark Giordano.

  • The Last Big Bear

    1) I am still not in any way convinced that shot-counting metrics are an effective way to evaluate defensive defencemen. I’m not saying that there is not an analytic was of evaluating these players, but Corsi numbers *usually* do not jive with either the eyeball test, or the usage these players see in the NHL. A good Corsi might say something positive about a defenceman, but a bad corsi doesn’t really mean anything in my mind.

    2) One of the salient exceptions to this is the Calgary Flames, where their defencemen’s Corsi numbers over the last few years actually *do* jive quite well with their ability.

    3) Deryk Engelland, by corsi numbers, the eye test, and his TOI, is… well… yeah.

    No.

    • FlamesRule

      Totally agree with first point BB

      Should rename these articles “by the corsi” and while you’re at it the site Corsination – since it’s the only number that matters here.

      So predictably boring Ryan.

    • OKG

      There are two type of corsi numbers, shot attempt suppression (relative corsi against) and shot attempt generation (relative corsi for)

      Generally defensive defensemen are not expected to post strong Corsi for numbers and purely offensive dmen tend to struggle in corsi against unless they get sheltered starts.

      The problem is guys like Engelland are terrible at the shot attempt ::suppression:: half of things too. A guy like Sarich or Oduya will have strong shot suppression stats even IF they are terrible in shot generation.

  • RKD

    This was a bad signing, there’s no good way of looking at it. BT made a mistake in signing this guy because he had ‘good character’ in the Pens dressing room. We need to get rid of this guy asap.

    • TheRealPoc

      You mean the series where the Sedins spent 70% of their TOI in Calgary’s end? Can’t believe the rope-a-dope strategy didn’t keep working against the Getzlaf/Perry line in the next round, seemed bulletproof.

  • TheRealPoc

    He can be a tolerable 3rd pair defender, but he needs someone like Schlemko who can pass and skate the puck out, not another pylon like Smid who can’t!

  • TheRealPoc

    Good defensive defencemen end d-zone sequences with efficiency and tact, because they’re able to jump lanes in the cycle, win the small battles & races to the puck, and generally demonstrate some quantifiable form of shot suppression. It’s not a complicated formula: contain & engage, regain possession, solve the problem in your own end, move the puck north.

    Consistently getting hemmed in your own end because you’re not agile or skilled enough to do any of the above isn’t indicative of being a defensive defenceman. It’s indicative of being a total plug.

    I mean, how can people actually watch Engelland shift-by-shift and excuse his play? By literally any objective measure you want to use, he is a flaming dumpster fire.

  • Derzie

    On the plus side, Engelland is a gamer, seems like a great guy and is part of our team. On the downside, everything else. We’ll find out this year if he was a Burke mistake or a Treliving one.