When talking about Matt Stajan, it is really easy to go into his personal story: how he overcame the tragedy of losing a child to become a father again, and still perform on the ice.
Putting that aside, there's been a real change to his game this year. Bob Hartley made him the third - or fourth - line centre, focusing on his defensive strengths and playing to them. With that came a pretty good year for Stajan wearing the flaming C.
We love him, and we make no excuses for showing it.
Matt Stajan spent a lot of the season on the fourth line. He was forced to babysit Brandon Bollig while playing reduced minutes, and as a total surprise, didn’t score a whole lot. But he did something nobody else on the Flames other than Mikael Backlund did: sheltered the rookies and took the tougher circumstances, because he could handle it.
Stajan was valuable for the Flames as a reliable depth option, plain and simple. Lighten your expectations of him - because he’s definitely not going to be a top-six centre on this team, and that affords fewer options for scoring - and look at the minutes he plays. He makes things easier on everyone else without totally getting killed. And of course, having Micheal Ferland on his left wing instead of Bollig is a pretty big upgrade, and maybe it’s one that will stick.
Mike FAIL (B+):
Matt Stajan aka Matty Franchise aka Matty the Babysitter was for some reason relegated to fourth line duties for much of the season. Funny how when you cut a guy’s minutes, limit his play, and force him to play with players that hinder your play, his scoring dries up. The only positive of this was taking the harder minutes from the youth, allowing them more comfortable starts.
He is an optimal bottom six guy who does little things on the ice that a lot of folks miss.
Stajan gets a lot of flack for not putting up points, but he was otherwise quite good this season. He was trapped with Brandon Bollig who is utterly useless for a large portion of time and still put up decent possession numbers and was serviceable on the penalty kill. He’s a fantastic option as a bottom six player at this stage in his career and can move up to the second line in a pinch, even if many dislike his contract.
What a year for Matty Franchise. A real feel-good story always gets me, and what’s better than Stajan's? The birth of his son AND a solid season topped off with a game (and series) winning goal against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6 of the first round.
He will get grief for his points production, but what he did is much more than that. He was stuck on the fourth line all season, mostly with Bollig on his wing. He was a great shutdown player, and (usually) the best centre for faceoffs. He played the worst zone starts of all Calgary forwards, allowing the young guns to be more sheltered. What he did with Ferland was great - the duo shone against the Canucks. It’s hard to say enough about him because he just does so much for the team that goes unnoticed.
I will always love Matty Franchise.
Stajan has slowly transformed from goat to GOAT under Bob Hartley. One of the positive things that the coach has done has been to use Stajan in his natural, defensive role, and it’s been a success. The fact that his line was trusted to shut down the Canucks in the playoffs tells a lot about how good he’s always been. Please never let Bollig near him again.
Before this season, and really before I joined Matchsticks, I never really got Matt Stajan. Then, the guys here started to point things out about him, and I noticed them, and all of a sudden it all made sense. He’s a core part of the Flames' success, not that the press, or Stajan himself, will mention it. The only issue I have with him now is his contract, which certainly isn’t his fault.
No Flames player gets more of his starts in the defensive zone than Matt Stajan. And no Flames player (other than Ferland) allows fewer goals against per 60 than Matt Stajan. He may not provide a ton of offense, but Stajan plays a role and he plays it well.
An absolutely uniform B grade for Stajan, with the only variables being plus and minus symbols. At this stage in his career, he's found a role that suits him and he can play it very well, without being flashy and setting the world on fire.