LHD Matt Bartkowski
This is the nuclear option. Playing Matt Bartkowski on any sort of regular bases signals, to me, that the Flames don’t care about how their bottom pair performs. Over his career Bartkowski has never been anything more than 6/7 Dman. It won’t come down to this, he will likely be on the roster just so the Flames have someone to be a “veteran presence”. He was only ever signed so the Flames would have a defenseman that met their exposure requirements. Just for fun though, let’s take a look at how Bartkowski has performed in his NHL career.
Through 235 career NHL games, Matt Bartkowski has put up 44 points in 235 games (stats from NHL.com). That’s not terrible for a 3rd pair guy, certainly acceptable for a defensive dman. Where he really falls off, however, is his ability to push play the right way.
Last season, Bartkowski ranked in the bottom three on Calgary’s blueline in all of Rel.CF%, Rel.FF% and Rel.SCF%. The previous season, with an awful Canucks team, Bartkowski ranked no better than 2nd last in any of those. Worse even than Luca Sbisa. Finally, a look at his last season with the Bruins (also known as the season that ended with Boston trading Dougie Hamilton to Calgary). This season Bartkowski only played 47 games, in those 47 games, however, Bartkowski ranked no higher than 4th last in any of those categories.
Bartkowski wouldn’t be the answer for Calgary and the Flames brass likely knows this. He will probably see his season spent in the press-box or down in the AHL to provide the young blueliners on the Stockton Heat with a veteran presence to learn from.