Some news out of St. Louis today, as Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Blues will not be re-signing pending unrestricted free agent Barret Jackman.
With the Calgary Flames likely attempting to upgrade their defensive group over the summer, would the 34-year-old left-shooting Jackman be a fit in the Stampede City?
The short answer is “maybe, and it depends what happens with Ladislav Smid.”
At this stage of the game, Jackman is a steady, stay-at-home defender. You wouldn’t call him fleet of foot, but he uses his 6’0″, 200 lbs frame efficiently. With 800 games under his belt, Jackman is a proven leader on the ice, but he’s also developed a good understanding of his own limitations.
And strangely, a glimpse at Jackman’s WOWY numbers shows that he plays a lot with good players, but generally his teammates have better possession stats with him than without him – a rarity for a defender such as him.
If the Flames wish to potentially replace Ladislav Smid with a better, albeit older, version of Smid, Jackman fits the bill. Moreover, I’d wager the Flames could probably get Jackman reasonably cheap – which is the big key here given the Flames cap space limitations over the next few seasons.
For the curious, here’s where Jackman’s fallen historically on a player usage chart [opposition gets tougher as you go up, but zone starts get easier when you go to the right, so the easiest minutes are bottom-right and toughest are top-left]:
When Jackman has been given tough minutes, he hasn’t been great. But when he’s been given either easier opposition OR favourable zone-starts – e.g., third-pairing time – he’s been quite effective for St. Louis. He’s basically what the Calgary Flames had hoped that Ladislav Smid would end up being, but hasn’t been.
If the question is Smid or Jackman, I take Jackman.
If the question is Jackman or Diaz or Schlemko, I probably take Schlemko.
Either way, signing any of these guys would probably be a stop-gap measure to buy time until the Flames feel Tyler Wotherspoon is ready for prime-time, or until any of Stockton’s defenders have the chance to mature into guys that can challenge for NHL roster spots.