Perhaps one of the most perplexing decisions last year was the acquisition of Brandon Bollig at the 2014 draft. Moods were high as the Calgary Flames had drafted 18-year-old Sam Bennett and things began to look even more fruitful as the team had fully embraced the rebuild. Then the organization traded a third-round pick for a depth forward who had just came off a career year in Chicago.
Bewildering as it was, the confusing trade and fondness for using Bollig over others at times hit two unusual pinnacles of absurdity in the season:
- Brandon Bollig on the power play (with ample time left on the PP)
- Brandon Bollig deployed as an extra attacker with the goalie pulled (they lost this game, too)
We saw Bollig get far more playing time than folks in the press box who appear to possess higher upside in creating offence, shot suppression, shot generation, and skill. Wasted minutes resulted in the team being hindered with him on the ice very frequently. Those minutes could have been used to develop and hone the skills of rookies and the youth movement in the franchise.
Playoff performance aside, it does not justify nor vindicate or even absolve him of his play. Nor does it prove doubters wrong of Hartley's decision making. Though it would be ignorant to not acknowledge at the very least that those goals were important.
With all that said, here are the rest of the Matchsticks and Gasoline's takes on what to make of his season:
Brandon Bollig wasn’t all bad. Occasionally, he was a functional forward. He scored two playoff goals, which was awesome, and delighted us all. (This is where we ignore the fact it took him 43 games to actually get a goal to begin with in the regular season.)
That was pretty much about it, as Bollig was routinely crushed every time he went on the ice. Not physically - although his supposed physical presence didn’t help much - but in literally every other aspect of the game, he did not fare well. And occasionally he didn’t fare well physically, either. Literally anyone could have easily replaced him and the Flames wouldn’t have been worse off at all. With new, emerging young forwards coming up through Calgary’s system, his days will hopefully be limited. Because seriously, I can’t take another 60 or so games of this.
Mike FAIL (D):
Brandon Bollig quit acting as a child to become an NHL player. He won the Stanley Cup and makes more money than I ever will. He should have stuck to acting. I have no idea at this point how I survived this season without suffering an aneurysm or smashing my face into my desk every time he did something.
Yet he still played 62 regular season games and ALL post-season games. He did score more goals than Ryan Suter though so suck on that Minnesota. In small, small, small periods of time (you can count them on one hand) he did things that were okay. But listen, if John Scott can score three goals why can't Brandon Bollig?
Bollig didn’t contribute much offensively at all. He was a possession sieve. He was occasionally used on the power play and was generally useless. He had next to no luck and the Flames were outscored massively with Bollig on the ice. "But that’s not the point in having him!" No, but that’s the point of hockey. Individuals that don’t do anything that contributes to winning shouldn’t be employed, fluky playoff goals be damned.
Brandon Bollig is there. He’s on the team. He tries to play his role out on the ice, and sometimes he makes good plays, even if they are few and far between. He scored some crucial goals - he scored the first goal in the Dome in each round of the playoffs - so he gets some appreciation for that.
Based on social media, he seems to be a great presence in the locker room for the younger players, providing some veteran leadership and being a friend. Perhaps he’s another Brian McGrattan-type? But that would require him to be scratched.
It was impossible for the Flames not to enter the season with a tough guy, be it McGrattan or Bollig (it was actually possible, but our management is occasionally backwards). With Bollig, at least they’re getting a really, really, really bad power forward over a pure enforcer. If you’re looking for positives over McGrattan, you could at least mention that he’s somewhat fast enough to keep up with a Matt Stajan induced break out. That’s the only positive. Anything else he does is detrimental to the team. It’s not a stretch to say that his two playoff goals were the most improbable moments of this entire Flames season.
God loves a trier, and boy is Bollig trying. He sort of does his job, kind of, in a way, without ever being convincing about it. He has scored a couple of crucial goals this year though. It will be interesting to see how long he hangs around for when the better prospects push into the side ahead of him.
Whenever Brandon Bollig gets the puck in the offensive zone, Brandon Bollig shoots the puck. Maybe he’s trying to hack his Corsi, but either way it’s upsetting because his shots are consistently low quality and are really just turnovers in disguise. As a team the Flames generated the fewest goals for with Bollig on the ice (1.15 goals per 60 minutes).
I feel like our words speak very clearly about his efforts and play this season. We've collectively concluded and come up with a D as his final grade.
Much like Brian McGrattan before him, what is his exact purpose? Two camps emerge and that's fine. Those who support the role of the character-depth guy who is the "old model role player" and those who want to do away with them. As the youth movement in Calgary continues by drafting, existing players in the system, and players chomping at the bit for full-time roster spots. We need to logically conclude that his role is hopefully coming to an end.