At the bottom of the free agency rankings on July 1st, there was Deryk Engelland. An aging defenceman that, even according to the eye test, had little offensive game, and a questionable defensive game. Ahead of him were many other players that had shown some promise of still being useful despite their limitations. The Flames chose Engelland regardless, signing him to a bad contract way above his worth.
For the little expectations we had of Engelland, he somehow fell short of them all, and it's reflected in our grades:
Sometimes Deryk Engelland was… okay? He did score those two goals that one time. But there really wasn’t much to like about his game at all. For someone who’s supposed to be a tough, stay-at-home defender, he sure got beaten a lot, dodged by better players and staying at home a little too much (re: never adjusting to the play and losing the puck often). When he was promoted to the top four, sometimes he simply just tagged along with TJ Brodie, as if his hand was getting held, rather than doing what he was supposed to.
Engelland was a terrible signing - nobody is going to take that contract - but it could be ignored. The problem is, it isn’t, because he’s playing so much. He started the season as a top four defenceman, but was very, very quickly moved to the bottom pairing once it became incredibly clear he couldn’t handle the assignments. Then, when Mark Giordano went down, he took back top pairing minutes, where he continued to fail to handle them, and dragged down Brodie as a result. The entire thing was just a disaster, and with more defensive options available for the Flames over this offseason, he really shouldn’t be on the team.
Mike FAIL (D):
Deryk Engelland scored two goals this year. That’s the same amount as Ryan Suter. Hell, he did it in ONE GAME. Anyone who legitimately defended or still continues to defend this signing should probably go away forever - like Deryk Engelland. I can probably count on one hand how many times he did something sensible all year. I also lost track of how many times he screwed up by about game 27.
When Mark Giordano ascended to heaven (the press box has Nintendo 64 because that’s what Sven and Tyler played while being scratched), Engelland was comically used in a top-four role that made me feel worse than the food poisoning I got from Quiznos a few weeks ago. I swear if I could fail Bob Hartley on anything, it would be the immediate idea of using Engelland with TJ Brodie.
Actual leaked conversation between Hartley and Treliving:
Treliving - "Okay so it looks like Gio is done for the season. We have a few options to work with here. Maybe we should consider using Rafa more. Hell or even Tyl--"
Hartley - "EH say no more, you know oooh wad be real good in that spot with Tee-jay Broh-dee? Engellan."
Treliving - "Wait, what? Are you sure about that, Bob? He is best suited for that bottom pairing. Maybe we can see if we can pick someone up on waivers or use Diaz more. I mean what about Tyl--"
Hartley - "Eh you know dat ere Tyler is not ready. I mean he hasn’t even got all the gaold staws in Supa Mario 64. He isn’t ready. We’ll use Deryk ‘cause he got de big body ‘n he can hit."
And then everything went to horse shit.
Fun fact: Deryk Engelland played hockey in my hometown. Everyone there thinks he is a great hockey player with lots of intangibles and "crease clearing" abilities. Good thing I don’t live there anymore. What they don’t acknowledge is the following: poor skating, inability to pass and distribute the puck, inability to move the puck out of his zone, and overpaid.
At least he is better than Nikita Nikitin in Edmonton. Right?
Engelland has no point. He is an absolute tire fire in terms of possession, he doesn’t put up points, he drags everybody else down with him, he is horrendous on the penalty kill, and he does this despite getting favorable zone starts. He was by far and away the worst possession defenseman on the team, a statistic which is not acceptable but especially not for a defenseman on the third worst possession team in the league.
Some people will state that the Flames were forced into this by virtue of having nobody else better than him and that’s utter hogwash. Engelland isn’t even replacement level quality and his numbers were usurped by Corey Potter and Tyler Wotherspoon, players that Bob Hartley had in the press box. Mark Cundari did decently in the A.H.L. and would have been a better option as well (and for that matter might have been a better option over Potter and Wotherspoon). Nothing would be greater than seeing Engelland shipped off, but that ludicrous contract will prevent that from happening.
Engelland is not a great defenceman, we all know that. His contract is ridiculous, we’ve all said it. Out of the top pairing, his flaws weren’t as noticeable as a result of limited ice time. But when Giordano went down, and Hartley inexplicably promoted Engelland (I would have much rather had Diaz and Schlemko given at least an equal amount of time with Brodie until a frontrunner emerged), an inflated ice time let us see what Deryk was really made out of. He had a couple of good moments, but there were more blunders. Still giving him props for playing so many minutes at the end of the season - above his head and out of his comfort level - remember his three minute shift? Also, he looked pretty badass when he was fighting off two Canucks.
He made everyone he played with worse. I posit that if Engelland wasn’t on the team, a good number of the Flames’ defensive problems would be solved. The third pairing would be useful, should Hartley choose to use them, and they could get more minutes, allowing Russell and Wideman to stay off the ice thus limiting potential disaster.
There was really no reason to promote him to the first pairing after Giordano’s injury. His body of work didn’t justify it. The Jack Adams candidate saw his size and age, and determined those were good qualities for a person to play 20 minutes per night against the opposition’s best players. Hartley forgot about all the times he played Schlemko or Diaz in the third with Brodie, and continued to put him on the top squad. It’s inexplicable.
I propose we use his $2.9M AAV for better purposes. Namely, sending Engelland on an all-inclusive, worldwide submarine trip for 2015-16. Please get him off of this roster somehow.
He got better towards the end of the season. He’s slightly better than Corey Potter. That is literally the nicest I can be about him. Two more years!
There are two critical flaws in Deryk Engelland’s game: one, he can’t skate with the puck, and two, he can’t make a breakout pass. As a result Engelland consistently turns the puck over, stifling his own team’s ability to generate offense and in turn allowing the opponent’s offense to flourish. Statistically this shows itself in the form of team-worst possession numbers and a goals against per 60 minutes surpassed only by Smid and Granlund.
And there you have it. Deryk Engelland is bad, so we gave him a D.
It's probably one of the worst contracts the Flames signed in quite a long time, and at age 33, there's little room he could do to try and justify it. All we need to do is wait for the inevitable buyout.