What's next for Bartkowski? He'll probably head to Stockton for some tune up and may never see the light of day as a Flame. This could very well be the Flames Tom McCollum-type answer to their defense ensuring that they are compliant for the expansion draft without having to expose one of T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, or Mark Giordano.
If Flames end up signing him to a real NHL contract, he would qualify as a guy they could expose in expansion draft. https://t.co/lgUEhjuKLh— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) February 15, 2017
If this is the case, it is a brilliant maneuver by Brad Treliving to ensure that all of their assets are protected. It prevents them from having to sign the lackluster talent at the bottom of their defense to a contract extension if they don't want to. That means that the Flames are now entitled to just let the likes of Jyrki Jokipakka, Dennis Wideman, and Deryk Engelland walk if they don't wish to retain their services.
Quite a few fans expect Bartkowski to step in for the Flames stating that he cannot be worse than what the team already has. Sadly, that is not the case. He is quite bad at hockey and doesn't look to be an upgrade over anything that they currently have. He's massively outscored and while his shot differential is the best of the bottom-tiered defenseman on the flames, his expected goal differential is considerably worse than what's already on the team.
That's okay, though. This signing isn't about Bartkowski being good at hockey or being a noticeable upgrade on anything. It is merely a move that gives them flexibility for the upcoming draft that allows them to cut loose dead weight that has plagued them this season. Even if he doesn't play a game for the Flames, this is an A+ maneuver strictly for the flexibility purposes.