Today, the Calgary Flames added a guy who they hope can partner with T.J. Brodie and fill the black hole that has been the #4 spot on their defense. Michael Stone was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes for a third round pick in 2017 and a fifth round pick in 2018 (contingent on being re-signed by the Flames, as he is a pending UFA). We know that Dennis Wideman has been an abomination in a top-4 role and that Deryk Engelland is not more than a bottom-pairing guy, but is Michael Stone a viable answer?
Michael Stone has had a rough year via every metric really. So far this season he has posted 1 goal and 8 assists for 9 points in 45 games. He does not take many penalties (12) so thats a godsend in regards to how the rest of the team’s season is going. For what it is worth (not much) his plus/minus is -5.
Last season was his best year statistically speaking, where he had 6 goals and 30 assists in 75 games. Those are pretty respectable numbers and look like something a top-4 defenseman would post.
The Fancier Stats
First of all, the Coyotes are a terrible team. So his abysmal raw possession numbers (CF of 42.3%!) look startling, but the team’s are poor in general. However, his are extra poor and his relative possession stats are not good at all.
This is a look at Stone’s 5-on-5 performance over the last 3 years (courtesy of OwnthePuck). First of all, you’ll notice he is used to playing a lot, which is good because T.J. Brodie gets a lot of time on the ice. His point production is borderline top-4, which is acceptable because the Flames already have 3 defenders that can rack up the points. However, his shot suppression and impact stats are very concerning, indicating he is a replacement level player in that area.
However, the alternatives to him (Deryk Engelland, Dennis Wideman) are even worse in that regard, so while he does not represent an ideal upgrade, it is still an upgrade.
A concerning issue is that this season has been particularly bad for Michael Stone. Relative Corsi percentage is a good way to determine how successful players are on teams that struggle with shot differentials in general (ex. Mark Giordano had a dominant relative corsi in previous years, while Kris Russell’s was terrible). Stone’s CF%Rel is -4.5%, the worst of all Coyotes defensemen. That is troubling.
However, one model quite likes Stone. DTM About Heart’s WAR Model (explanation of model here) which incorporates a variety of factors, looks more kindly upon Stone.
The stats are from previous seasons, but has him as a #3 defender as of last year and a #4 defender the previous year. While he may have gotten a boost from playing with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the good news is that T.J. Brodie is a pretty good player himself and could also offer a similar boost.
I know some people really do not like this move. Myself, I am skeptical but interested to see how it plays out. It has been tough watching Brodie drag Wideman around all season long and I do expect Stone to be a more beneficial player for him, which would be huge for the Flames.
I also do not think the cost was egregious, the third round pick has decent value (especially with how well the Flames have drafted in recent seasons) but they have a lot of quality prospects and this could help them make the playoffs. I would also much rather that they spend a third rounder to see how Stone fits in with the Flames, than just sign him for term and money on July 1st and find out he is not a fit at all. This is a good chance for a preview into the player and how he may fit. He’s only 26 and is from Winnipeg, so if it works out for both parties, their could be an opportunity for a contract. He also has no impact on expansion, because the Flames can wait until after the expansion draft to re-sign him if they choose to do so.
Meanwhile, more roster moves will be coming. The Flames now have Giordano, Hamilton, Brodie, Stone, Wideman, Engelland, Bartkowski and Jokipakka on their roster. One of Wideman or Engelland will be moved to the press box, while I would not be surprised at all to see Jokipakka placed on waivers tomorrow morning.
Brad Treliving made a move. It is one that could help to a degree and if it does not, no long-term harm will come of it. I would not say it was the ideal target, but maybe it will pan out. It definitely makes the upcoming road trip even more intriguing to see how Stone fits in. Also, are more moves coming?