Report: Flames bringing in Nicklas Grossmann on PTO

The Calgary Flames are pretty much full up as far as defencemen go, but that’s not going to stop them from bringing someone else in.

No, not Jakub Nakladal – that we know of (although he’s busy at the World Cup, anyway) – but according to first Dean Molberg and now Roger Millions, it’s Nicklas Grossmann: the 31-year-old 6’4, 230 lb. Swede who has been left without a contract since his four-year deal, worth an annual average value of $3.5 million, expired this past summer.

Grossmann played 58 games for the Arizona Coyotes last season, scoring three goals and seven points total. Before them, he spent four years with the Philadelphia Flyers organization.

Taking stock of the Flames’ defence

It’s going to be tough for anybody new to crack the Flames’ blueline because, well, it’s already pretty fully up. Even if you assume Ladislav Smid is automatically headed for LTIR, there are still six bodies – Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, Jyrki Jokipakka, Dennis Wideman, and Deryk Engelland – to get past.

And that’s not counting out our ever-persistent hope that Nakaldal re-signs, not to mention someone like Tyler Wotherspoon’s need to fight his way into the NHL – or even the chance another prospect surprises and makes the lineup.

And even then, all of that isn’t counting the fact that the Flames have about $8.5 million in cap space – an amount that could go down due to overages – with Johnny Gaudreau still to re-sign.

So yeah, it’s possible for Grossmann to make the Flames out of his camp invite, but he’s going to have to be pretty amazing in order to get a contract.

Grossmann’s numbers

Throughout his career, Grossmann has scored 13 goals and 86 points over 589 games. He’s not here – or anywhere, really – for offence.

So instead, let’s take a look at Grossmann’s underlying numbers, as they should be a fairer way to judge him.

Last season, he had a 5v5 CF% of 44.54% – second worst among all regular Coyotes defencemen, ahead of just Zbynek Michalek (43.94%). He did, however, have the worst zone starts among their blueliners at 24.72 OZS%, so he should get a bit of slack for that. (Michalek doesn’t have the same excuse; he started at 30.40%.)

Via Corsica:

coyotes usage 2015-16

Boyd Gordon is the extreme outlier when it comes to defensive zone starts. Otherwise, it looks like Grossmann played in relatively tough circumstances. He didn’t necessarily handle them all that well, though.

Grossmann’s most common defence partners throughout this past season were Michael Stone (404:56 played together at even strength) and Connor Murphy (284:03). He and Murphy brought each other down, while Stone actually brought Grossmann up from 42.9% CF to 46.2% (while Grossmann brought Stone down from 48.4% – however, it should be noted Stone’s offensive zone starts plummeted when partnered with Grossmann, while Grossmann’s didn’t go up much at all when with Stone).

Defensive starts or not, though, it doesn’t look like Grossmann’s presence actually helped any of his teammates:

nicklas grossmann wowy

Grossmann may be a big bodied, veteran presence, but the Flames already have better options internally (and in the Nakladal department, which would be nice). It’s more likely he’s simply a body for training camp.

  • BurningSensation

    This looks like a favour for a player with Arz connectons to mgt.

    I’ll be shocked if he is retained absent another Dman heading out the door first (Wideman).

        • Greg

          I really hope this is just training camp fodder and not someone they are actually interested in keeping if Smid can’t play.

          BT has said he would like to add a left D and get bigger afterall. I just wish they didn’t set their search criteria as “size > 6’3″, 220 lbs” and then see who’s the best available. I get that size is still an important issue to this management team, but search for CF% > 50% first, and then select the biggest player available.

        • Greatsave

          Before I start, full disclosure: I haven’t watched enough of any of them in action to opine on this from an eye-test perspective, so the following are all numbers-based.

          I’m having trouble coming to the conclusion that Grossmann is as bad as–let alone worse than–either Smid or Engelland. I’ll show you the numbers I’ve examined and let you decide for yourself, or at least show me the error of my ways.

          Over the past three seasons, 14 D-men have played significant time with the Flames: Brodie, Butler, Diaz, Engelland, Giordano, Hamilton, Jokipakka, Nakladal, O’Brien, Russell, Schlemko, Smid, Wideman, and Wotherspoon. Adding Grossmann for comparison makes 15.

          Because some have changed teams over that span, and Grossmann himself did not play with the Flames at all, I’m using RelTM and %ofTeam stats heavily in addition to raw numbers. All at 5v5.

          To kick us off, let’s start with the GF% numbers. Grossmann had a raw 48.06% GF, tied with Wideman for 7th. Engelland: 42.55%. Smid: 35.25%.

          Grossmann’s -1.06% GF RelTM is 10th, although little separates him from 8th (Hamilton, -1.02%) and 9th (Diaz, -1.03%). Engelland? -6.61%. Smid? -11.78%.

          Grossmann did enjoy a 100.80 PDO, second only to Russell’s 101.63, so maybe his Goals-based numbers are skewed. Let’s move on to Corsi.

          Grossmann had a 46.23% CF, good for 8th on this list. From the bottom? Smid (42.24%), Engelland (43.11%), O’Brien (43.57), and the pairing of Russell and Wideman.

          Grossmann’s -3.66 CF% RelTM doesn’t rank quite as high, at 12th, but is still better than Smid (-4.58%) and Engelland (-5.00%), as well as Russell (-3.82%).

          And to put it all in context, let’s look at deployment as well. Grossmann played 32.48% of Team’s 5v5 TOI, putting him 7th on the list, ahead of Smid (29.20%) and Engelland (26.72%). He was on ice for 34.13% of Team’s DZFO, 4th on this list behind Brodie, Giordano, and Russell, and ahead of Smid (27.81%) and Engelland (26.20%).

          Opp stats can be a bit tricky to use across seasons and teams, so let’s take them with a grain of salt, but let’s take a look anyway. Grossmann’s Opp GF60 of 2.21 is tied for 4th with Russell, while Engelland (2.15) and Smid (2.14) are well down the list. For context, Brodie/Giordano faced 2.28 and O’Brien/Nakladal faced 2.07/2.08 at the extremes.

          That is to say, Grossmann didn’t seem to have been as heavily sheltered as Smid or Engelland, so we shouldn’t have to discount his numbers when comparing them against each other.

          So in conclusion, from a stats perspective, I’m not reaching the verdict of Grossmann being so bad that he’d make Smid and Engelland look good. If I had to separate them into tiers, I’d put Grossmann on a level with Jokipakka, Butler, and maybe Russell, above Smid, Engelland, and O’Brien. Jokipakka has more upside due to his youth, obviously, but he was used in somewhat sheltered deployment in Dallas. I’d say the first group there are best deployed as bottom-pairing guys on a good team who can manage as second-pairing guys on a bad team, whereas the second group are bottom-pairing guys even on bad teams, and 6th/7th at best on a good team.

          Now, it may be that other numbers (zone-entry/exit, WOWY, passing, special teams) would drop Grossmann’s value relative to the others on this list, but from my limited research, that’s how I see things.

  • WildfireOne

    From an opening day viewpoint, this is a completely unnecessary move.

    However, it’s just a PTO. That hopefully leads nowhere.

    First Higgins, now this. Who’s gonna complete the trifecta? **crosses fingers and eyes**

  • beloch

    Treliving is just giving himself some options. If the Stockton kids don’t look ready and Nakladal signs elsewhere, then Grossmann might get some serious consideration. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

    • jupiter

      If Grossman becomes a serious consideration it will mean panic has set in.Even if the Stockton kids don’t look ready, they are still a better option than Wideman ,Englland and Smid.Losing Nakladal would be a total failure.

    • deantheraven

      ‘Zactly. Remember that rule about dressing a certain number of vets for each preseason game.Who knows, maybe BT is trying to give Grossman a chance to showcase for another shot at a contract- just not here please.

      • Greatsave

        *shrug* It wouldn’t be the end of the world for me if they signed him to a deal Aaron Johnson-style from last season, and parked him in Stockton to bring Kylington along.

  • The Sultan

    Every time a PTO is handed out people throw their hands up in the air and shake their heads. He’s just a warm body with veteran experience, nothing to freak out over. With any luck he’ll have a good showing and sign in Edmonton.

  • Greatsave

    Nobody’s mentioned this yet but I’ll throw it out there: Kylington played a year with Grossmann’s old club in Sweden, so that may be another connection for them to exploit besides the obvious Arizona one.

  • McRib

    Grading managements performance so far this summer.

    Draft: A+
    After Draft: C-

    Good: Drafting, Elliot
    Bad: Underestimating Gaudreaus worth, Brouwer contract.
    Ugly: Not resigning Jooris, Nakladal, Agostino. PTOs, etc

    I’m so freaking conflicted with our decisions this summer because everything we did before July 1st was sheer brilliance, everything since has been mediocre or worse. I mean did BT take the entire months of July-September off and has Burke just been making the moves since? Management gets a pass after their performance in June, but it’s like everything else we have done is counterintuitive to us getting younger and faster through the draft. Clogging the blueline with anchors is really not the way to highlight our young talent, even our AHL roster moves have been just as baffling. I also really don’t like the “tough negotiation stance” management has taken on extending RFA/UFAs with a only one offer ever ideology, in this day and age that doesn’t fly, agents have too much control and what ends up happening is you replace Jooris who is wanted by many other teams with a Vey who has fizzled out after showing he likely doesn’t have what it takes to be an everyday NHL. One major silverlining is all of the long term decisions (outside of Gaudreau contract) are positive especially acquiring skilled young talented prospects like we have, but all the short term deals of late seem to follow a complete different direction bringing in old slow “grit”. Winnipeg seems to be right in the same situation when you especially look at there goaltending situation and there hesitation to pass the net to young talent.