There's no question that the Calgary Flames find themselves rather short on the blue line. The team was already slim before this season and the signing of Deryk Engelland has kind of flamed out (see what I did there?). He played 11 minutes on the second pairing last night and has been putting up rather poor performances over the course of the entire season. He's due too much money over the course of the next three seasons, too. This is not good.
The other problem for the Flames is that there's not exactly a litany of depth on the team or down on the farm. They have a 31-year-old journeyman on the roster in Corey Potter, a 21-year-old relative unknown quantity in Tyler Wotherspoon and from there maybe a 24-year-old journeyman in Mark Cundari. While they have a 65.1 percent chance to make the playoffs, they're also in the beginning part of a rebuild and don't want to send away future assets which makes acquiring players rather difficult. This is also not good.
If only there was some way to improve the defense while not having to give anything up. Fortunately there is! Two different okay defenders were placed on waivers today. Flames fans are familiar with the first one: Tim Erixon, a first round draft pick by the Flames in 2009 was waived by the Chicago Blackhawks today. The other, David Schlemko, was waived by the Dallas Stars.
How exactly would these defenders improve the team? At the very least, one would be replacing Deryk Engelland. Both individuals are left handed while Engelland plays on the right hand side of another right handed defender. Adding one of the two would put Diaz back to his normal side. The other would have to replace another left handed defenseman or just stay a scratch. Here's the W.O.W.Y. breakdown for the potentially displaced and incoming and some summaries.
Wow, those numbers are pretty bad. In 56 games this season, he has four points, zero goals, taken five more penalties than he's drawn and posted a Corsi of under 40 percent. He gets pretty easy zone starts too. Simply put he's awful. Just about the only positive thing anybody can say about Engelland is "Sometimes fights" and maybe "is big."
Erixon's numbers are much better than Engelland's. He's still young at the age of 24, he has some size at 191 CM and 91 KG. Sure the sample size is smaller, but he's had a better effect on the team. The only down side is he doesn't score as much - he has one point in 27 games. Oh and Burke, he's American.
Schlemko is basically a break even guy in possession, but carries some positive score effects. He's a bit older at 27 and his numbers aren't as good as Erixon's, but they're far greater than Engelland's. He's certainly worth a claim for a guy team with no depth. Claiming him would also cut into Dallas's depth as they're chasing the Flames in the standings.
So yeah, the Flames should definitely be considering a claim or two. They have a fantastic opportunity to improve upon a blue line that desperately needs improvement without having to give up any rebuilding assets. They seem like no brain moves. Let's see how intelligent the front office is.