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Flames free agent targets: Zbynek Michalek, Francois Beauchemin, and Barret Jackman

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There could be an opportunity to make further adjustments in free agency. It's definitely worth examining and these three could be options in the short-term.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After adding Dougie Hamilton, and with the inevitable contract coming, there is still an opportunity improve the blueline. Adding one more defenseman could vastly improve the Calgary Flames and push them towards avoiding a Colorado Avalanche-level regression next season. Let's take a look at three UFA defensemen looking for contracts:

Zbynek Michalek - This season

Michalek's 2014-15 season was marred with injuries and trade. A concussion before the trade deadline limited his overall games played to just 68 between the Coyotes and the Blues. In that time, he finished the season with four goals and eight assists. He managed to average 17:50 per game at even strength with a respectable 2:52 of PK time across both teams.

As you can see, Michalek isn't a super offensive defenseman; he's more of a legitimate shutdown guy. This season he shot an above-average 6.75% overall, though he is a 4.2% career shooter. At 51.77% CF despite a -10.46 ZSO% Rel, he can be counted on for tougher starts while maintaining positive possession.

Overall career

Via War on Ice, here is a super high-level view of how Michalek has performed throughout his career with the Wild, Coyotes, Penguins, and recently the Blues.


For four of the last five seasons, Michalek has been a positive possession player at even strength. The main point to keep in mind with him is he is heavily relied upon for defensive zone starts. The last time Michalek saw a positive zone start differential was back in 2007-08. The fact that he can be a positive possession player in tough circumstances is a selling point for him, if the Flames are interested.

Could he be a fit?

Definitely, especially considering the aforementioned zone start differential and positive possession factor. Keep in mind there are some legitimate concerns: health and age. At 32, and fresh off a season with a concussion, it could be something that keeps the Flames away from him. Michalek is an excellent shot suppression defenseman, but there is little offense to go with him.

If his services are inquired about, it should be considered a short-term option. Especially with the defense in the stables like new draftees Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, and the already existing Tyler Wotherspoon. What he could bring is a stable pairing with Dougie Hamilton, seeing the likes of Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, and Deryk Engelland pushed down the depth chart.

Francois Beauchemin- This season

This season, Beauchemin hit a career high in goals with 11 in 64 games played, of which nine were scored at even strength. With that career high in goals, his overall SH% inflated from 4.0% last year to 10% this year. The Ducks used Beauchemin a lot, despite being 34 and on the decline. He saw heavy minutes in the Ducks' pairings averaging 18:58 at ES, 1:32 on the PP, and 2:13 on the PK.

This season at even strength, Beauchemin was a 50.6% CF player, good for fifth in defensemen with 1000 minutes played at ES. Within that, he saw the second toughest zone starts overall with a -1.51 ZSO% Rel for Anaheim.

Overall career

With what data is available from War on Ice, you can see Beauchemin has been a positive possession guy, minus two seasons. He has hovered consistently around equal usage of defensive vs offensive zone starts too, indicating a versatility in his role. However, with age his performance and impact has decreased a bit, something buyers need to be aware of when it comes to him.

Could he be a fit?

The biggest consideration on IF Francois Beauchemin could work out is usage. Heavy minutes with Anaheim in the regular season and the post-season showed his age. At 35, he isn't a spring chicken anymore, and is visibly in decline. If he was acquired, it would be in a bottom pairing role, and on a cheap contract. Sheltered minutes and usage on the power play could work in a second unit role, but nothing extensive. He is still better than Deryk Engelland, which makes sense, and it also means it's worthwhile to consider it.

Barret Jackman - This season

It's hard to comprehend that Jackman won the Calder Memorial Trophy over Henrik Zetterberg and Rick Nash back in 2002-03, but here we are. This season he played in 80 games for the St. Louis Blues, putting up a very modest two goals and 13 assists. This year Jackman saw suppressed usage with an average of 14:31 at ES and 2:16 on the PK.

This season, at ES Jackman had a very respectable 52.79% CF with some difficult zone starts. His -9.54 ZSO% Rel were among the toughest of the Blues' defense. Despite his age of 34, this is a positive on the surface, and worth acknowledging as someone who is capable in their own end.

Overall career


Jackman has seen a variety of different types of usage over his career, only being a sub-50% CF player at ES three times. Predominately deployed over that time in the defensive zone, he has fared well in it, finding relative success. But, at the age of 34, much like Beauchemin and to some extent Michalek, there is a factor of decline that will happen.

Could he be a fit?

Again, like Beauchemin, he could be suited for a bottom pairing role to create parity for the team. You're not going to see a whole lot of offense from the guy either, like Michalek, though he is decent in shot suppression. Realistically the overwhelming theme with all three players is short-term solution, short-term gain. It's all about how general manager Brad Treliving wants to handle things.

Summary

From a personal standpoint of pure suppression and defense, an obvious choice is Zbynek Michalek. For a team maligned by shot attempt after shot attempt, Calgary could use someone in this area. Someone who isn't just going to block shots, but use skill to limit the opposition. Michalek isn't perfect, but on the cheap he could work.

The second choice could be Barret Jackman as there is a potential for slightly more offense. Again, he isn't perfect either when you consider he is on the wrong side of 30. Though, if on the cheap, it may work out.

Of course, the team could roll with the existing defense, including Dougie Hamilton, and we could see how they manage. It's all purely in Brad Treliving's hands now.