Jakub Nakladal returns to the lineup, Deryk Engelland day-to-day

The life of the emergency recall: you’re only available for as long as somebody else isn’t. Sometimes, that can be an extended period of time – take, for example, Dennis Wideman’s seemingly never-ending suspension – but other times, it’s nothing more than a game or two.

Jakub Nakladal taking a high stick to the face and having his eye fill up with blood was scary, but it was also cause to sit him for just one game. Down to five defencemen without him, the Flames brought up Tyler Wotherspoon.

But wait – Nakladal may be back in the lineup, but now Deryk Engelland is unable to play tonight, and is considered day-to-day with a lower body injury. You know what that means? Wotherspoon gets to stay up – and we have a whole new-look defence, with a completely revamped bottom three guys.

The Flames’ top three of Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton are indisputable; they’re the guys who are (or at least should be) getting the big minutes, and they’re the guys who are going to form the backbone of this team’s defence core for years to come, if their contracts, at minimum, are any indication. (There’s also the fact that they’re all good, which helps.)

The Flames’ bottom three, however, have been in flux all season long – and occasionally, over-played. Too-big contracts given to not-great players (Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Smid, Deryk Engelland) have seriously hindered the team’s chance to see other bodies take on the role – and, as has been the case at least as this season ticks down, perform better.

Case in point: two of the aforementioned three names are injured, keeping them out of the lineup, and Wideman is still in the midst of a 20-game suspension (game 19 is tonight! Do we even care anymore?).

It took the most dramatic suspension in recent history, an undisclosed day-to-day injury, and poor Smid’s horrendous luck when it comes to scary hits to knock out three of the Flames’ most inefficient use of cap: and bring in all of Nakladal, Jokipakka, and Wotherspoon instead, a far more mobile group with significantly more upside, even just by going off of age alone.

Wideman, Smid, and Engelland combine for roughly $11.7 million on the cap. Nakladal, Jokipakka, and Wotherspoon combine for a little over $2.6 million.

Hopefully it’s more of the latter we’ll see in the future. They may prove to be better options on the ice – but at absolute worst, they’re far more intriguing ones.

This also means we’ll get to see someone new partner with Hamilton in the top four. My guess is it’ll be Nakladal: he’s older, more experienced, and it’s time to see what he can do in a bigger role, particularly if the Flames are entertaining thoughts of re-signing him.

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    If you take Kevin and replace him with Kulak, this should have been the lineup all year…. this is definitely progress, just too bad the coaching staff has been so stubborn about icing the right guys. I think Hamilton/Nak will be good together, and we already know that Kevin and TSpoon are a reasonable bottom pairing…. sigh… oh well, at least it is happening.

  • PrairieStew

    Flames website has Nak and Spoon on the third pair and Jokipakka with Dougie – balancing right and left shooters.

    I personally would like to see more of Hamilton and Brodie. If Nakladal can show he is consistent, then he can pair with Gio and Jokipakka can play with Wideman or Engelland when they are back and you’ll have full L-R balance.

  • Lordmork

    I understand why BT hasn’t been able to do anything about those awful contracts, but it’s unfortunate we’ve had to wait all season to see guys who might be better options.

  • MattyFranchise

    I’d most like to see

    Brodie-Hamilton
    Giordano-Nakladal
    Wotherspoon-Jokipakka

    But I can understand wanting the left/right balance. The line blender is likely to come out at some point anyway so I’m not too fussed about the starting pairings.

  • MattyFranchise

    Just for fun, consider this: let’s say Nakladal and Wotherspoon resign and both get modest raises. Let’s make it easy and give em a million apiece. Jakipokka is under contract for another season at 900k.

    That 2.9 million is still less than, count em, one Deryk Engelland.

    Unreal.

  • The Last Big Bear

    I think people are going to be surprised at how good Kevin is, moving forward.

    He may end up on the bottom pairing in Calgary, but he has the tools to play much higher on the roster. With probably 2-3 years before he hits his prime, I could easily see him round into a level of play that could make him a comfortable #3.

    Meanwhile in the anus of the hockey world, Adam Pardy (recently claimed off waivers by the Oilers) just led Edmonton in ice time last night.

  • beloch

    Jokipakka has been better than I was expecting. He makes smart defensive plays and he honestly doesn’t look like as much of a stay-at-home defender as his counting stats suggest. However, he is slow. He’s lost a lot of foot-races already. Pairing him with Dougie may set up some breakaways for the Preds because, if Dougie goes deep and the puck squirts out, Jokipakka is pretty easy to beat. I’d prefer to see him with someone who doesn’t like to go deep.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    How different would the Flames be today if instead of drafting Monahan, they had selected Dickey Nurse’s boy?

    Kid is still a rookie and he is playing an average of 21 minutes a night against the opponents’ top lines. He is already the undisputed heavyweight champion of the NHL. His fights are like early Tyson where he destroys the other guy straight away. No science to his sweet science other than destroy ASAP. Can you imagine how much bigger the undersized Flames would play if Darnell had their backs?

    How much better can Monahan become, especially when my old granny can skate faster than him? Nurse is nowhere near his peak. In a year or two I can see him playing Drew Doughty minutes. Doesn’t have the playmaking upside of Doughty, but he is already the kind of defenceman who opponents are wary of when he is on the ice. Kid’s gold just like the old man AKA Mr. Clutch.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        By whom?

        Look at all the liberties guys are taking on Gaudreau and how often do their slashes and hacks result in a penalty? Now imagine if Nurse had Johnny’s back. I highly doubt these punks who can chop away at Hockey with impunity would be as generous with their sticks if they had Nurse to answer to.

        • MattyFranchise

          I don’t know by whom, we’ll have to see how long his suspension will be and which team the Oilers will be playing in his first game back.

          As for a Flames player? As I said over on ON I don’t think he’d win it but Hathaway vs Nurse sounds like a pretty good tilt for anyone that’s into that sort of thing.

      • Jake the Snail

        He may get to hang onto his ass a while….a 3 game suspension is coming for Nurse IMHO. That was a brutal beating – should be charged with assault.

        • The Last Big Bear

          He definitely deserves to get cold cocked by whoever San Jose is keeping around for muscle these days. He’s a punk, but he can fight, so hopefully it’s someone big who rearranges his stupid smirk.

    • The Last Big Bear

      Well, for starters, Nurse would probably be playing bottom pairing minutes on the Flames, in other words where he belongs.

      He’s playing 21 minutes, and getting turnstiled, part of the reason his team is the worst in the west, or as I like to refer to it “Oilers-th Place”.

      There is no planet where Nurse is the heavyweight champ of ANYTHING. I can only assume you’re emboldened by him straight-up sucker punching a guy on the way to the bench, who didn’t even drop his gloves, a chicken-**** move for which he’ll likely receive a well-deserved suspension.

      Do you think the Flames might play as big as the Oilers play when Darnell has their backs? Like the weakest and softest team in the league, that’s a complete joke in the push-back department? Wow. That would be GREAT.

      Does Monahan need to get better? He’s a big-bodied goal scorer who was 7th in the NHL in goals for centres last year. Oh no. Hey, remind me again how many times Taylor “the best LW in hockey” Hall has ever scored 30 goals? Zero, you say? Shocking.

      Nobody in the NHL is afraid of Darnell Nurse. It’s cute that you think he’s going to get any better, though, given that no high-end Oilers prospect of the last 15 years has ever shown any material progress after their first or maybe 2nd season in the NHL.

      Oh, and by the time Doughty was Nurse’s age, he had an Olympic Gold Medal, Norris nomination, led a championship team in TOI, and had a Stanley Cup. But hey, Nurse is playing getting killed playing garbage minutes on the worst team in the NHL, so really that’s a GREAT comparison.

      Now go away. Grown ups are talking about hockey. If you’re going to troll, at least have a clue.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        A bit of an exaggeration that he would be playing bottom 6 minutes in Calgary as the Flames defence is one of the worst in the league.

        If a guy is getting routinely turnstiled, he isn’t playing 21 minutes on any team in the NHL.

        That was not a fight last night. He suckered the punk. When Nurse has scrapped this year–and he has done it often–he has demolished his opponents.

        Oilers are playing bigger this year compared to last in large part due to Nurse’s presence.

        Got a disagree with you on Nurse in that his ceiling is very high. Will he reach it? No reason to think not, but nothing in life is a guarantee.

        I only said that Nurse will be playing Doughty-like minutes, not that he is at or will ever be at the same skill level as Doughty.

        As for you, your Oiler hate just runs off you. Your argument would hold a lot more sway if you didn’t place your agenda before you opinions. As such, instead of sounding informed and intelligent, you come across as bitchy and whiney. Would love to hear your views on Nurse spin on a dime if he got traded to the red men. In future, drop the agenda and stick to the facts if you want to cut any ice with me, buddy boy.

  • Sol Goode

    Nurse vs Ferland would be a crazy tilt. Ferland is no joke in a scrap. Nurse just throws wildly and tries to man handle you, I could see him getting dropped by Ferland.