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.
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%.)
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:
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.