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.
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.)
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|