Photo Credit: Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports

FlamesNation player evaluation: Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski was signed by the Flames during the 2016-17 season in order to meet expansion draft requirements. He fulfilled his role admirably. Then, in 2017-18, he played 18 games.

2017-18 season summary

Bartkowksi dressed in the first seven games of the season, back when the Flames refused to trust Brett Kulak for some reason. Once Kulak got into the lineup, though, for the most part, he stuck. Of the remaining 11 games Bartkowski played, four were because the Flames decided to sit Kulak at various points in October, November, December, and February.

The other seven times Bartkowski dressed, it was because Travis Hamonic was injured; or because it was the final four games of the season, the Flames had long been eliminated from the playoffs, and Hamonic and TJ Brodie were both injured and nobody else was available to dress at all.

Prior to those final four games, Bartkowski’s season high in ice time was 14:16 (in a 6-0 blowout loss to the Senators); his ice time jumped up to as high as 20:23 once the season was essentially over.

Games played Goals Assists Points TOI/GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% rel OZS% PDO
18 0 3 3 13:21 46.35 -7.19 52.50 .980

When he played, Bartkowski’s most common partner was Michael Stone by far; the two played 113:22 5v5 minutes together. They didn’t play particularly well together, as their CF%s rose by roughly eight or nine points once they were separated, potentially because every other partner they had was probably better than the both of them.

After Stone, Bartkowski played with the kids: Rasmus Andersson (49:52) and Kulak (34:10). Both were better away from Bartkowski as well, Andersson in particular. He actually managed to elevate Bartkowski’s performance, whereas Bartkowski with Kulak trod water.

He did get some penalty kill time when he played: 17:13 in all.

Overall, Bartkowski was a cheap seventh defenceman who wasn’t particularly good – his numbers relative to the rest of the Flames were abysmal – and, with his contract expiring, that’ll probably be about it for his Flames career.

Compared to last season

Bartkowski played 24 games for the Flames in 2016-17, signed out of the AHL’s Providence Bruins in order to help the team meet expansion draft exposure requirements. He scored 10 points in 34 games for the Bruins; for the Flames, he dressed regularly in the back half of the season, scoring one goal and registering an assist over 26 games.

Bartkowski averaged 15:23 in the 2016-17 season, 2:02 more than he did in 2017-18. It was the fourth highest season average ice time he’d had in his career.

In just one season he’s had a positive CF% rel: +4.05 in the 2012-13 season, when he played 11 games for the Bruins.

What about next season?

Bartkowski, who will be 30 by the time the 2018-19 season starts, is an upcoming free agent whose NHL career has most likely already passed him by. He had a decent couple of seasons there, but that’s about it.

The more interesting question for the Flames is who will take his place. Assuming Kulak is re-signed (and there is absolutely no reason for him not to be) and nobody is traded (bit more of an assumption there) the Flames will still only have six defencemen, with need for an extra. Whether it goes to a prospect who pushes another regular out of the lineup – or whether said prospect ends up sitting as the designated healthy scratch – chances are they’ll probably be better than Bartkowski, or at least have far more potential.

#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
#26 – Michael Stone #27 – Dougie Hamilton
#33 – David Rittich #36 – Troy Brouwer
#41 – Mike Smith