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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation player evaluation: Michael Stone

Seeking to plug a hole in his lineup, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving acquired Michael Stone from the Arizona Coyotes prior to the 2017 trade deadline. In concert with adding Matt Bartkowski, Stone’s addition displaced Dennis Wideman and Jyrki Jokipakka and helped solidify the team’s blueline – and probably got the Flames into the playoffs that year.

In a word, that’s what Stone has been as a Flame: solid. There’s very little that’s flashy or exciting about his game, but that’s arguably the entire reason he’s on the team.

2017-18 season summary

For the vast majority of the season, Stone played on the third pairing and played primarily with Brett Kulak. While he undoubtedly tried really, really hard as a second pairing player during the 2017 stretch drive (and playoffs), it’s probably not controversial to declare that he slots better as a depth player rather than a primary piece.

Stone plied his trade for just shy of 17 minutes a night, with his third pairing minutes being supplemented with second unit duties on the penalty kill alongside TJ Brodie. His playing style is low event – he’s effectively a replacement for Deryk Engelland in terms of minutes, playing style and handedness – and he had several stretches of the season where you’d be surprised to learn that he played.

He rarely hit the scoresheet, he rarely made impressive or disappointing moves, and he was essentially a safety blanket for young Kulak for much of the season.

Games played Goals Assists Points TOI/GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% rel OZS% PDO
82 3 7 10 16:45 49.66% -5.29% 50.95% 0.980

When Travis Hamonic was briefly absent, Stone moved up and played with Brodie, and he also played a bit with Matt Bartkowski on a few occasions where Kulak was a healthy scratch. In terms of his Relative Corsi, the Kulak combo was the most effective (-3.43%), followed by Brodie (-5.32%) and Bartkowski (-10.03%). All of his most-used combinations are negative Relative Corsi options, because that’s essentially what happens when you’re a depth defender – if Stone was able to generate offense more readily, or defend more effectively, he wouldn’t be a third pairing guy.

Case in point: he briefly played on the power play. He displayed a really hard shot at the mid-season skills competition and fans seemed excited for him to get a chance to use it. It never really materialized, because in game situations he just can’t get his shot off quickly enough (or accurately enough) to be overly effective. Despite those limitations, he was third among Flames defensemen in even strength goal-scoring. (Yikes.)

Compared to last season

2017-18 was Stone’s first full season with the Flames. He was used in the prior season as a second pairing option with Brodie, but he seems to have been slotted better on the third pairing – he’s less often in a position to create offense, but he’s also in a situation where bobbles or gaffes would hurt the team less. He averaged two minutes fewer per game in his new role.

His offensive underlyings were strong – his Corsi For, Fenwick For and Shots For Per 60 Minute rates were all close to career bests for him – but as was the theme for the Flames, his chances rarely went in. His defensive underlyings weren’t amazing, but it was among his best seasons in limiting Shots Against Per 60 Minutes. (His Corsi, Fenwick, Scoring Chances and High-Danger Chance rates were around his career average rates.)

In general: Stone was fine.

What about next season?

Stone seems like a decent bet to return (he’s under contract through 2019-20), but he’s also arguably the most replaceable Flames defenseman. If you trade or otherwise move Stone you gain $3.5 million in cap space and provide Rasmus Andersson an opportunity for regular NHL minutes. Andersson’s likely an upgrade on Stone offensively, at least based on his recent AHL performances, and he’s at worst a slight downgrade defensively. The goal differential calculus is potentially a wash and it’s likely that a 21-year-old will get better at both ends of the ice, while a 28-year-old Stone basically is what he is at this point.

The “he is what he is” factor probably made Stone an attractive commodity when Treliving was scrambling to solidify his defensive group a year ago, but given the team’s limitations it probably presents a current opportunity to upgrade the roster with some tinkering around the lineup fringes.


#5 – Mark Giordano #7 – TJ Brodie
#8 – Chris Stewart #10 – Kris Versteeg
#11 – Mikael Backlund #13 – Johnny Gaudreau
#15 – Tanner Glass #18 – Matt Stajan
#19 – Matthew Tkachuk #20 – Curtis Lazar
#21 – Garnet Hathaway #23 – Sean Monahan
#24 – Travis Hamonic #25 – Nick Shore

 

  • freethe flames

    Stone is a nice insurance policy but an expensive one. In an ideal world the Flames could package him with a prospect and help the team now. No need to speculate at this point as only time will tell. Have a great Victoria Day; I’m going to the driving range.

    • Honkydonk

      I will be posting this comment every day this week.

      I hope Treliving is embarrassed seeing the Knights make the final.

      Furthermore it is evident the screw up that hurt this teams trajectory this year was a simple trade for Hamonic that cost is a first and two seconds.

      A second round could have fetched you Tuch last draft! A first would have gotten your Marsesault or Fluery who’s the same as basically as Smith!

      There were plenty of opportunities staring him in the face and he screwed them all up.

      I am honestly amassed how evidently useless team management is in the NHL because it’s still a buddy buddy systems instead of who thing objectively.

      It’s a joke

      • piscera.infada

        Why is this so hard to understand? The Flames were NEVER getting Fleury. By a number of reports, they tried to acquire him no less than 3 times. It was also extremely public knowledge that Fleury was not willing to waive his NTC to go to any Canadian market.

        So no. The Flames could not have “gotten” Fleury.

        Further, Tuch and Marchessault were trades to protect other players on their respective teams. Quite simply the Flames had no leverage there, and therefore no opportunity to acquire them at those costs. Moreover, those were bad moves in hindsight. The GMs who bought into the “side deal” narrative were the ones who completely bungled the expansion draft. We won’t be seeing any of that next time.

        • Honkydonk

          They could have acquired tuch from Vegas do not tell me any different. They have made many a trade to acquire picks and he could have been one of them.

          30 idiot GMs were made a joke of this year by showing the ring a Rosie and buddy buddy NHL.

          Flames have been in the NHL how many years? And one just one Stanley Cup. If you give anyone with any sort of ability 25 kicks at a can they would statiscally be but better than 4 percent.

    • Off the wall

      I don’t know about a 7th D, however what about Calvin de Haan, as a replacement as a #5 Defence?
      He’s solid defensively and has a bit more offensive skill then Stone? He’s a shot blocking monster. We could use someone who isn’t afraid to do that. Our D needs some toughness and De-Haan has experience and should come cheaper than Stone due to his injury last season.

      Gio- Hamilton
      Kulak-Hamonic
      DeHaan- Andersson

      That’s if Brodie is moved…

      • RealMcHockeyReturns

        I REALLY like a certain RFA (so trade would be needed) who is JT Miller in Tampa. Left-shooting but can play all 3 forward positions and 25 years old. Tampa has pretty good defence but Brodie would be a very nice #4 for them. Maybe they want Stone too! Why do so? We need more top forwards (any position) and also on D we know Kulak, Andersson, and even perhaps Kylington or maybe Valimaki should move up to NHL soon or we waste prospects…not moving some D out means Fox can and will sign elsewhere. Gio and Hamilton are stars (or can be at least) so Flames need to move OUT some older D and Brodie and Stone make the most sense (well maybe Hamonic but cannot see it happening).

  • Kevin R

    Bottom pairing depth D at 3.5 mill is going to be very difficult to trade at the draft. Not sure if that gets any better in August if teams miss out on UFA frenzy & have a hole to plug. Me thinks he will be a Flame & would probably be one of those TDL moves whether we are in the playoffs or not.

    • piscera.infada

      Bottom pairing depth D at 3.5 mill is going to be very difficult to trade at the draft.

      GM’s acquire those kinds of players all the time. Especially young-ish, right-handed defensemen with a “big shot” who have a not-too-distant history of being top-4 players.

      The Flames have to be honest with what the reasoning for trading Stone is. If you’re looking for a big return, you’re probably right. If you’re looking to open up the roster for prospects, then a 3rd rounder (or something similar) is certainly not out of the question.

      • Kevin R

        Hope you’re right & I would be ecstatic if he scooped a 3rd rounder for him. Wouldnt be opposed to throwing a prospect like Shinkaruk or Porrier to upgrade the pick to a 2nd.

        • piscera.infada

          I don’t really think that’s accurate. There’s likely a GM out there (because there always is with defensemen) that (wrongly) views him as “top-4 Mike Stone” and therefore miscast last year.

          The simple point is if the Flames are truly ready to turn things over to the prospects, there’s really no sense in sitting on Stone. However, if they feel they can wait on trading him for the right deal (ie: an injury on another team, or the like), they can probably pump-up a return pretty easily.

          He’s likely the most eminently tradeable Flame right now though, so I think they’re likely fine taking what they can get.

    • Off the wall

      Your probably right Kevin.
      Our defence was a bit underwhelming and Peter’s will have a more structured defensive strategy.

      If we do nothing with our D, (no trades) we should still see a better outcome for our defence.

      I seem to remember Stone being really good in the 2016-17 season when we acquired him.
      But then so was Hathaway.

      Here’s hoping we can get back on track with our defensive game..

      • Kevin R

        Something tells me that Tre hasnt forgiven the players for quitting on the coach in the last 10-12 games of the year. Not sure standing pat is in Tre’s vocabulary. If Tre is watching any of these playoff games, the emotion he must be seeing & comparing it to his team, he must feel he has a bunch of zhombies on his team. I wouldbe more surprised if he did nothing than if he makes some blockbuster trades involving core & almost core players.
        Just like Brouwer. I get the feeling he will be given 4th line duty & some pk. If he doesnt excel at that this coming year, I see him waived & if not claimed, sent down to Stockton & bought out next year.

  • RKD

    I have no problem with Stone, he looked pretty good on the pairing with Kulak. However he’s expensive given where he is slotted maybe he could net us a forward, I bet some teams may insert him on their top 4.

  • SgtRoadBlock

    I Don’t see BT trading away any of his AZ Boys cause he know what kind of Living hell it’s like to play in Az … lol
    so again i see two things happening
    1. The Flames Roster get a free pass and see what they can do with Peter Pan
    2. He Move a core d man and a forward for a Top 6 right winger and pick up a Canes player Peter like from his old team..

  • Walt Whitman

    Side question, since this is the most active comment-thread at the moment: why are people referring to the new coach as Rebar? Can someone explain this just so I, and others, have an understanding of the nickname’s origin/connotation? Thank you.

    • The GREAT WW

      Because GG stirred his specialty coffee with a chocolate covered pastry stick, while Peters stirs his coffee with a rusty piece of Rebar.
      Obviously…..

      WW

    • Off the wall

      Origin was from Mickey O.
      I (we) love the nickname.
      Mickey succinctly described Peter’s disposition ( bit gruff and tough) and aptly called him Rebar. Tough as Rebar and perhaps cements this team together?

      I honestly don’t know how he came up with the idea, but it’s brilliant. To me anyhow!!

    • Mickey O

      Gulutzan orders a skimmed milk latte with extra whipped cream, and a gluten-free bagel on the side.
      Peters orders a black coffee from the bottom of the pot, and stirs the sludge using a piece of rusty rebar.

      Apart from the fact they are both drinking coffee, there is no way they are clones of each other.

      – That was the original observation after Peters was hired. It seemed to be a bit of a hit around these parts. The follow-up was Peters munching on a piece of rebar the way others would snack on a pepperoni stick.

  • Garry T

    It would be a good idea to pick up de Haan. We could call Ottawa to see if they were interested and if so talk
    Magnus Paairvi and a 3rd. for Stone. Magnus could go on the Backlund line and turn them into an offensive juggernaut
    as he played well with Backlund in the world cup recently. Frolik is due for some fun and fun is scoring more as a line.
    I would also pick up Michael Grabner or JVR to play on the first line and Bernier from Denver as our backup and go to guy in 2019. Then it’s time to cut loose a lot of guys and bring the boys up from Stockton.

    • Baalzamon

      Paajarvi isn’t making anyone an offensive juggernaut. His career high of 34 points was set in his rookie year. He hasn’t scored more than 16 since. His rate production doesn’t imply that he’s in line for a sudden increase with more ice time, either (about the same as Lazar in that category).

    • Mitchell

      I’m honestly a little skeptical about Grabner. He is one dimensional (speed), and getting up there in age. He also doesn’t inspire confidence in me that he will actually put any significant points up. Look at his time in New Jersey, and in Toronto. How many of his goals were on empty nets again? Any contract he receives will be short term with a low cap.

  • Squishin

    I wasn’t overly impressed with Stone this year. Andersson needs a spot to play, and Stone is the logical one to move. Even if it’s a 4th or 5th rounder back, we can live with it. His contract is overpriced, and those players are harder to move, as we know.
    Seems to me we’ve had some success in the 4th round anyway 😉

  • FL🔥MES

    It’s still seems odd that Tre signed Stone for 3 years when we had good defensive prospects in the system. And $3.5M is just too much for a third liner. Time to move on and bring in Ras.

    • Beer League Coach

      The surprise to me was the timing of the signing. Per capfriendly the trade was Stone for a 3rd rd pick in 2017 draft and a conditional 5th rd pick in 2018. The condition being if Flames re-signed Stone before July 1, 2017 AZ would get the 5th rd pick in 2018. The extension was signed on June 30, 2017. Why not wait 1 more day and save the draft pick? Especially when we overpaid (both in $$ and term) to re-sign him in the first place.

  • BendingCorners

    Stone for Leivo. Toronto needs a replacement for Polak (and Hainsey, if Dubas is as smart as I think he is) and Leivo doesn’t sit very high on their depth chart. Last year was a down year for him but he is a big strong RHS with some skill and should at least be better than Hathaway, Lazar and Brouwer. I’d try him on all four lines to see where he fits. After watching Vegas turn sows’ ears into silk purses, it’s tempting to acquire under-performing players and push them with new opportunities.

    • freethe flames

      I like the idea of acquiring Leivo but I think Stone would be an over payment. Leivo has played 50 NHL games over 4 seasons in the Leaf organization. I think he can be had for less. Stone is better as an insurance policy or as part of a bigger deal.

  • Just.Visiting

    I’ve never understood the choices made at the draft last June. I was perfectly fine with how Brodie and Stone played at the end of the 2016-2017 season, and would have been OK with entering 2017-18 with them together. This would have allowed the young D a chance to develop in the minors before the real window of contention began, particularly if I knew that I was potentially drafting Valimaki. This also would have allowed the Flames to try to use picks for assets up front if they were so inclined.

    They gave up a lot for Hamonic. The scouts appear to have seen something different than I did, as I didn’t think he was a material upgrade on Stone once I saw him play (perhaps a bit better defensively, but not as much offensive upside as Stone, and the dynamic with Brodie was poor). While Hamonic played better near the end of the season, I don’t think the level of play even then was what people had expected.

    The part I’ve never understood given the depth of the system at D is why sign Stone at all after the Hamonic trade and the addition of Valimaki to an already deep D futures assembly line. It seemed pretty clear after the signing that Stone would probably be moved out at some point in the upcoming season.

    Now we have Ras and possibly Valimaki and Kylington knocking on the door and no spots open for them unless we move out someone.

    Unfortunately, we’ll end up getting less than full value on any trade we make on the D side given the combination of the negative impact of GG’s “systems” on individual performance and that there will be a belief that we need to make a deal to thin out the D ranks.

    I wonder if we were considering trading Ras, Kylington or Fox if we could get a comparable F prospect back in return?

    • Korcan

      I agree the term on the Stone signing was a bit of a head scratcher. The only way it makes any sense is three years was what Stone’s agent demanded and Tre wasn’t convinced Andersson would develop at the pace he has.

      As for Hamonic, I have nothing bad to say about him. IMO he is a very good 2nd pairing stay at home defenseman with an edge to his game who was negatively affected by Brodie’s miserable season. If Brodie is not traded, we will hopefully see a better season from him and thus from that pair — they did show signs of improvement as the season wore on.

      Purely speculating now. Regarding the prospects, I hope they aren’t traded unless it is part of a package for a significant upgrade at Center or RW. The way I see it, if Tre feels the window of opportunity is now, this will likely happen. My guess is Killington being the odd-man-out if they trade Stone and the same for Fox if they trade Brodie. If the sky falls and they trade Hamilton (and it had better be Marner coming the other way), then my money says they hold onto all their D prospects in the hopes that one of them develops into a top pairing, scoring D.

      • freethe flames

        In order to get a premium RW/RHC we are likely going to have to pay a premium and one of our high end prospects may have to go. One of the questions BT has to deal with is how highly does he value these prospects. Sometimes as fans of our local team we can both overvalue and sometimes undervalue our own players and prospects. Take for example TJ many of us are down on him after last year but what is his value around the league. What is a defender on a good contract who has averaged 20+minutes a game, averaged 36 points a year over 5 years, can play the PP and PK worth to team that is short on D? That is what sets the value. For me the return should be a forward who scores in the 45-55 point range as D are harder to get. The minute we put a name on our guy b/c of viewings we judge him and in this case more harshly. What is a prospect like Fox worth? We devalue him b/c we are afraid he might not sign, or we overvalue him b/c of his play in international situations. I’m actually excited to see what different guys might go for. Might there be a way to package a Stone and a prospect to meet a team need? Could a Stone and say Fox(Kylington you name the guy) get the Flames a top 6 forward? I don’t know but one can dream.

      • Mickey O

        Stone was signed the day before he hit free agency. Mentioned this before, but you would have to think there was a Russell type $4M x 4 year contract in play by someone. Stone wanted to stay in Calgary, but there’s no way he would have signed for a 2 year deal – so when Treliving decided he wanted Stone back it was a 3 year deal or nothing.

        Stone was a high priced insurance policy in case of injuries (which didn’t really happen) and to buy another year of Andersson’s development in Stockton. To start with Kulak – Andersson as your bottom pairing with Bartkowski thrown into the mix was a roll of the dice that Treliving wasn’t prepared to make. Now that Andersson has shown that he’s outgrown the minors, he’ll need a place to play.

        Depending on what the team does with another d-man, I could see Stone being a very expensive 7th defenceman until the right deal comes along. Kulak/Andersson/Stone in some kind of rotation on the bottom pairing could be a way Treliving plays it. That isn’t ideal, but to straight flip Stone for a 3rd rounder right away doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Maybe Treliving will hold onto Stone into the season and trade him when another team gets decimated by injuries on their back end, then make a move when you have more leverage.

        • Beer League Coach

          The Russell contract is a logical explanation for signing Stone to that contract on June 30. The only team I can think of that would be that desperate would be those guys 3 hrs north of here. Maybe Stone was more interested in the big bucks than staying here at home with his in-laws. At $4 mil * 4 years I would have let him walk.

  • ComeOn

    I’m just a tad unsure about the perspective on Stone, I realize that most sports bloggers are Sydney Crosby trapped in an unathletic body, but Sydney would have some perspective. Case in point:

    ‘if Stone was able to generate offense more readily, or defend more effectively, he wouldn’t be a third pairing guy’

    Perspective would tend to indicate that, as a third liner who isn’t exactly employed for his offensive skills, that the measure of the man would be his defensive capacities. To double down on that, anybody with a hockey mind can see that the Flames have paired offensive guys with defensively focused guys. So, no, Stone’s contribution isn’t offensive.

    So, perhaps it would be useful to put this all in context…a context that acknowledges that somewhere on a team there must be a defensively competent human…

  • freethe flames

    After watching the Cap/Tampa game last night Smith-Pelly sure reminds me of the Ferland we fell in love with 4 seasons ago. It would be nice to see Ferland play a little more like that and keep up the offensive production.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Seriously? He has been one of the most inconsistent guys in the NHL for his entire career which probably explains why he is already on his fourth club. The last thing I want Ferland to do his model his game after Smith-Pelly’s.

      • freethe flames

        My comment was soley based upon how Smith Pelly played last night not discussing his whole career or even indicating we should pursue him. Last night his game reminded me of what I saw out of Ferland in the Vancouver series and how I hope that Ferland can do more of that again; this would improve Ferland’s consistency and that would help this team.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    A budding rock star GM by the name of Mark Hunter is now a free agent. Are the Flames brass savvy and swift enough to seize the gold ring–maybe its an onion ring considering Hunter’s girth? Don’t bet on it. This is why this club has repeatedly face plopped over most of the past 30 years. They just don’t have the foresight and guts to make the key moves at key times. They only make moves when situations force them to act. Instead of trying to land big Mark Hunter, Flames’ brass are too engaged in charity golf or charity poker, which is presumably good for the image of the club as a good corporate neighbour but pretty lousy for the on-ice product.