Could Barret Jackman Be A Fit In Calgary?

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.

Player Together Apart Diff.
Ian Cole 53.9% 54.9% -1.0%
Patrik Berglund 57.5% 53.5% +4.0%
Paul Statsny 55.9% 53.3% +2.6%
Vladimir Tarasenko 58.5% 53.5% +5.0%
Jaden Schwartz 53.5% 51.9% +1.6%
Steve Ott 48.0% 46.3% +1.7%
Jori Lehtera 54.3% 51.3% +3.0%

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.

  • I’ve been a huge Barret Jackman fan for years. Not only is he a decent (aging) defender, but he seems like a good mature leader.

    Like you said, if Hartley doesn’t deem Wotherspoon ready (which I think he is), and it’s up to Smid or Jackman, hopefully Treliving signs Jackman.

    Trail, BC 4 Lyfe.

  • beloch

    The Flames don’t actually need to replace Smid. Treliving’s top priority this summer has to be upgrading the second pair, which would push one of Russel or Wideman to the third pair. Even if Potter, Schlemko and Diaz all walk, that still leaves Engelland, Wotherspoon, Nakladal, and Morrison to duke it out for the final spot on the third pair.

    The Flames may lack depth when it comes to second pairing defenders, but they have an abundance of third pairing options.

        • OKG

          They are part of the age group Flames are targeting but do we know what they really have in 23, 27 and even 22 (T Spoon? A one year contract may fit the Flames but I doubt Jackman will sign for only 1 year.

    • Bang-on. Wotherspoon alone makes the third pairing better. What the Flames really need is an elite #3 D. If they had that and Gio had stayed healthy, the Ducks would’ve had a far, far tougher time.

      Calgary is getting close, but they need to tread very carefully now. No more Engelland type signings. If money is to be spent and/or a big trade made, that needs to be the focus, a true #3 D who can play up on the first pairing if required and keep his head above water on his own accord, not by virtue of Brodie playing like a man possessed.

      No to Jackman also for the reason Kent said. Unless you get a one year cheap deal it’s going to be a bad signing and again, third pairing is not what’s needed.

    • CofRed4Life

      ^ Completely agree.

      I think this is a problem a lot of NHL teams are having. Most teams have at least 1 or 2 elite defenders to eat up top minutes, but then there seems to be a gap in the second pairing, and an abundance of 3rd pairing defenders.

      Because they seem to be so scarce, the asking price is rising significantly (see Petry). I’m really hoping the Flames can develop another top tier/2nd tier defender from within (see Brodie).

      It’s all just speculation and wishful thinking at this point though. We really won’t know much about what management wants or thinks until the end of June at the draft through Free Agency in July.

    • Greg

      Ditto x 2, but I’d go even further and say he’d be simply “another” warm body. Flames not only don’t need another ~$3Mish defender treading water on the 3rd pairing, they can’t afford another. If one of smid or engelland comes the books, then maybe they can afford, but still don’t need.

      What they need is a 2nd pair upgrade who can push wideman down to improve the 3rd.

      And if they can’t get that, I’d take the younger schlemko at half whatever Jackman will get to do that role instead.

  • OKG

    If we are going after a free agent let it be someone under 30 and a right handed shot. I would rather just wait on development than sign another place holder.

    • Greg

      Yup, and describes exactly what we already have $6.4M committed to (for 2 more years!!) in smid and engelland.

      Imagine those magically disappeared, and you could instead sign a Franson or Green type UFA for less. And retain say schlemko for the difference. They’ve got their faults too but would still contribute a lot more to the bottom 4 then smid and engelland combined.

      • RealMcHockeyReturns

        it would be magically delicious indeed if Smid went on LTIR and we signed Green or Franson. Better top 6 D would result, there is no doubt in it. However, not going to happen, Nakladal is the big outside signing and expect Schlemko, maybe Diaz back.

        • JayCMcG

          I’m in this camp as well.

          I know it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of ways to gauge a players value but I’ve had Franson in fantasy hockey for the last two seasons and had a chance to track the contribution he’s made. Playing a top 4 role, Franson offers a balanced mix of powerplay points, hits, and blocks.

          Moving to Nashville killed his stats since that team is pretty stacked on D already, so I don’t read too much into that.

          It ultimately depends on what Franson is looking for but a 2-3 year deal would be a good fit and hold us over until Nakladal or Morrison are ready to step in.


  • Apologize for being off topic but the situation in Arizona just reeks of the commissioners narcissistic attitude of keeping a team in a rink that will never succeed.

    I will agree that he has done a lot of good for the league ,but the Phoenix project was doomed to fail from the beginning.

    The recent crisis is all on you Gary.

  • Jeremy

    If Smid somehow retires or manages to go on LTIR I think the smartest pickup the Flames could defensively make this summer is Cody Franson.
    6’5″ 213 lbs. Right Handed shot defensman. Western Canadian boy from Sicamous. 27 about to be 28 and would likely fit in with our young group.

    What more can we ask for.

    • Burnward

      And thanks to the Petry contract the cost would be??

      Speaking of Petry; if he was career was saved in Montreal and he is now a true 3/4 on a playoff team. Is Justin Schultz career savable? He’s 24, a R handed shot with some offensive upside but a complete train wreck in his own end; but could he play on a third pairing with a solid veteran and learn the game. (I’m not saying I want him as Flame but this is a question that’s been bugging me for some time now)