Brandon Bollig was acquired by the Calgary Flames at the 2014 NHL Draft. It was Brad Treliving’s first transaction as general manager.
Bollig has just completed the second season of his current three-year deal that pays him $1.25 million against the salary cap. He played primarily on the fourth line. He was healthy scratched for roughly a third of the season. When he did play, he was okay.
Bollig played 54 games for the Flames in 2015-16, and was a healthy scratch for 28 games.
Here’s the breakdown:
- October: 10 games, 2 scratches, 8:31 per game, 10 shots, 1 goal, 1 point
- November: 7 games, 5 scratches, 8:10 per game, 9 shots, 0 points
- December: 3 games, 10 scratches, 8:50 per game, 2 shots, 1 assist, 1 point
- January: 5 games, 6 scratches, 10:00 per game, 6 shots, 0 points
- February: 9 games, 5 scratches, 8:58 per game, 10 shots, 1 assist, 1 point
- March: 16 games, 0 scratches, 9:56 per game, 15 shots, 0 points
- April: 4 games, 0 scratches, 10:43 per game, 4 shots, 1 goal, 1 point
The thing coaches probably like about Bollig is he’s fairly steady. Some of the other, younger players are a bit all over the place consistently. But Bollig was often in and out of the lineup, but when he was in he played his 8-10 minutes per game and generally got a shot on goal per game.
He was never a great possession player, particularly as a sparingly-used bottom-six winger. Below is a 10-game rolling average of his Corsi For percentage. (He played much better in March, but he fell off a cliff again at the back-end of the season when the team shuffled things up and brought in some rookies on recalls.)
On a team that wasn’t great possession-wise, he was a 45% Corsi For player (more or less).
IMPACT ON TEAM
As a fourth liner, Bollig was one of the club’s most sheltered players in terms of facing weak opposition and one of the most buried in terms of offensive zone starts. Of the club’s regular forwards, nobody faced fourth liners more frequently (when he was in the line-up). Of the team’s regulars, only Matt Stajan started more frequently in the defensive zone.
Based on his circumstances (primarily facing the worst players on other teams), you’d expect Bollig to do okay in terms of possession stats. He didn’t, which means a combination of himself, his teammates and his zone starts was enough to crater his numbers. Particularly later in the season, Bollig’s line was usually good for a couple offensive rushes per game and maybe a good chance every game or two, but generally he spent most of his time in the muck of the defensive end.
Bollig was better together with Wideman and Russell, and made them better, too. (Don’t get too excited, as Wideman and Russell weren’t particularly good overall.) He dragged down Engelland, Hamilton, Bouma and Stajan. He was dragged up by Nakladal, Jooris, Giordano and Brodie (who all got a little bit, or a lot, worse as a consequence).
In short? Bollig faced fourth liners, primarily in the defensive end, and for a few reasons almost everyone he played with had worse underlying numbers than they did otherwise. Granted, that’s not out of the ordinary for fourth liners, but it’s still sub-optimal.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
The 2016-17 season will be the third and final year of Bollig’s current contract. He’ll likely do what he’s done during his tenure in Calgary. When he plays, he’ll be on the fourth line and play a few minutes a night. When he doesn’t play, he probably won’t make a big fuss – he sat for 28 games this season and never seemed to mope about it – and his isn’t a huge cap hit to keep in the press box.
In the event that the Flames have a youngster that they want to get onto the NHL roster, Bollig’s also not a huge expense to bury in the AHL, either. His performance in training camp and October will probably dictate how much longer he’s in the big league.