Matt Bartkowski (Defense) - Midseason Grade: N/A
Our Individual Grades
Bartkowski arrived as a late season FA signing to help bolster the Flames struggling back end on defence. He and Michael Stone arrived in town and both pushed Dennis Wideman to the press box and Bartkowski, alone, should be applauded for that. He paired well with Deryk Engelland during the regular season, but both were exposed come playoff time. None of his 24 games with the Flames this season stood out and I can’t imagine bringing him back would be a huge priority for the Flames.
Wow, was Bartkowski bad. We thought Dennis Wideman was bad, but then we saw Bartkowski. I was okay with him being signed for expansion draft fodder, but then for some reason he became a staple in the line up.
His play can be deceptive because he is a quite good skater and throws the body around. But he does not put it all together. He makes a lot of poor decisions at both ends of the ice and got shelled in shot-attempts. At best, he could be a 7th defender next season because it would not hurt to healthy scratch him, but it would be a mistake to give him a regular spot in the line up next year.
I don’t quite get all the hate for Bartkowski, I thought he had interesting elements to his game and looked pretty good at times. Him and Deryk Engelland were exposed late in the season but such is the case with most third pairing defense lines. By no means was he great, but I found him to be adequate and I still think he was better than Wideman.
His numbers weren’t great, but I think he’s a fine third pairing defenceman who can always be scratched if necessary. I still think the Flames were in a better position after signing than before they signed him. He improved the bottom pairing and will be a veteran depth option for next year, but anyone expecting him to be more than that will be disappointed.
Much like Niklas Grossmann was a means to circumvent the cap a bit by ensuring the Flames were as close to the salary cap with the L.T.I.R. usage on Ladislav Smid and Tom McCollum was supposed to insurance that the Flames had a goalie to expose that fit the expansion draft rules, Matt Bartkowski was supposed to be nothing more than a way to circumvent the draft rules so that the Flames ensured themselves that they could protect Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton. Much like Grossmann, Bartkowski wasn’t really supposed to play - after all, he was cut from an AHL team for a reason.
Still, Glen Gulutzan paraded him out there for results that were perhaps even more disasterous than the much maligned Grossmann. Bartkowski had the worst relative expected goal differential on the team, was constantly out of place, and had zero business being out there over Brett Kulak who was performing quite admirably. Perhaps the team felt Kulak was playing too well and thought they could hide him in the minors, but if that was the case then they should have found somebody - anybody else to replace him with than Bartkowski who was the worst Flame this year.
His performance was disgraceful and hopefully he doesn’t sniff the roster next year. He simply isn’t a good hockey player and the Flames will no longer require his services after the expansion draft. I’d go so far as to say that he isn’t even good enough for Stockton either. Please make him go away.
Our Final Grade: D
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