Calgary Flames 18 days until the season starts: #18 Matt Stajan

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 30: Matt Stajan
CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 30: Matt Stajan /

Pre-season starts in two days and the regular season is just 18 days away! Let’s look at a Calgary Flames player who sports that number.

Since the start of August, we’re counting down the number of days left until the regular season starts up again! Every day until the start of the season, we’ll be talking about a Calgary Flames player whose number correlates with how many days there are left.

Yesterday, we talked about a player who hasn’t played in the NHL for long but has already established himself in a specific role. That was #19 young Matthew Tkachuk.

Today, let’s continue to look at current members on the Flames roster. And let’s look at another Matt. With 18 days left until the regular season starts, let’s look at #18 Matt Stajan.

Related Story: 19 days until the season starts: #19 Matthew Tkachuk

Who is Matt Stajan?

Name: Matt Stajan

Birthplace: Mississauga, ON, Canada

Position: C

Shoots: Left

Birthdate: 1983-10-19

Height: 6’1” / 185 cm

Weight: 87 kg / 192 lbs

Drafted by: Toronto Maple Leafs, 57th overall 2002

Stats with all NHL teams, regular season:

Before being drafted in 2002 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, his hometown team, he was playing with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL. That season, he had 85 points in 68 regular season games. He also had 11 points in 11 playoff games.

The following year, having already been drafted, he was playing in the OHL for another full year before making his NHL debut. That season with the Bulls, he had an “A” on his jersey and this time, he had 94 points in 57 games. That was eighth in the OHL in points and sixth in points per game among players who played at least 40 games.

That year in January, he also played with Team Canada at the World Juniors. He had one goal and one assist in six games. Canada won the silver medal that year.

When his season ended in the OHL, the Maple Leafs signed him to a three-year ELC. That was on April 3rd, 2003. The following day, he made his professional debut with Toronto’s AHL affiliate team. He scored one assist in that game.

The next night, he was recalled by the Leafs to play in his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators. He scored his first NHL goal and the only Leafs goal of the night. The following season, he earned a full-time spot on the Leafs roster playing in 69 games and scoring 14 goals and 27 points.

In 2005-06, Stajan’s main focus was to improve his two-way play. So he was one of the Leafs primary penalty-killers. And because of this, he had eight shorthanded points that season which was tied for the league-lead.

In the middle of the season in 2009-10, Stajan was part of a seven-player blockbuster trade between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames. This was the trade that sent Dion Phaneuf to Toronto.

Related Story: Throwback Thursday - Dion Phaneuf/Matt Stajan Trade

The rest of the season, Stajan put up 16 points in 27 games.

However, his following few seasons weren’t the best, and he was demoted by head coach Brent Sutter. He went from playing on the top unit to a bottom-six role. He went from averaging 19 minutes a night to around 13-14 minutes a night.

But a new bench boss came to town in 2012-13 with the hiring of Bob Hartley and Stajan was going back to playing more minutes a night. And with the stats you can see above, he improved.

And then 2014 came and something tragic happened. In early March of 2014, Matt and his wife Katie gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Emerson, but he unfortunately passed away shortly after birth. Stajan took eight games off but realized he needs to play again and be playing with his teammates – his second family.

Related Story: Throwback Thursday - Matt Stajan's Emotional Penalty Shot

On March 22nd, the Calgary Flames were playing a game against the Edmonton Oilers. Stajan had a penalty shot… and scored. Right away, he pointed at the sky and it hit the hearts of hockey fans everywhere.

Since then, Stajan has mainly established himself on more of a bottom-six type role and being an excellent two-way centre and a strong penalty-killer. Some may say he’s somewhat overpaid for his role ($3.125 million AAV), but his contract is up next season. We don’t know if he’ll be re-signed or not, but with all the community work he does and with his leadership, he may be re-signed, just for slightly cheaper.

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He has that veteran experience and is a leader in the locker room. He may not have a Stanley Cup to his name yet, but I’m sure he’s still making Emerson proud everyday.