Sticking with the Defensemen theme, tonight we turn to the Flames, who have a pair of unrestricted free agent D men coming off of cheap contracts: David Schlemko and Raphael Diaz. Both guys have bounced around a bunch: The undrafted Raphael Diaz has been in the league 4 years since coming over from Switzerland and had four different uniforms (MTL, VAN, NYR, and CGY), while the undrafted Schlemko has played for 3 (ARZ, DAL, and CGY). Both again would be available for cheap: Schlemko cost 1.25 Million last year and won’t cost more than that this year (having been waived twice), while Raphael Diaz played for basically the league minimum last year (700K).
And more importantly, both would be useful additions to the D.
David Schlemko has seemingly never found a home for long in the NHL, never playing over 50 games in a season. He was waived three times last year – claimed by Dallas and then barely played and then by Calgary where he got 20 games. He won’t provide any offense directly – unlike Mark Barberio from yesterday, Schlemko has never put up good point numbers even at the AHL level (where Barberio did).
That said, what he does bring are sterling possession #s from everywhere he’s been (except for the 5 games in Dallas, but well, 5 games). This is without being sheltered at all – he’s played 3rd pair minutes, but never been treated as if he’s a liability when he’s on the ice. And the team has done better possession wise whenever he’s on the ice! Most of that is from promoting more offense but he’s solid defensively as well.
It’s less of a mystery why Raphael Diaz has bounced around than Schlemko – Diaz is listed as 5’11 (compared to Schlemko’s 6’1) and probably is actually shorter. A big D, he is not.
What he is is defensively sound – see the below chart, which suggests he suppresses opponent offenses at a first pair level – he’s still okay on offense, even if he won’t directly lead to goals himself (again, not gonna put up points). He’s a worse option than Schlemko, but will definitely come cheap. In addition, he’s the first right-handed D we’ve talked about, which is a BIG deal – the Isles’ current 7D is Brian Strait (most like), who plays the left side; adding Diaz would allow you to sub in someone if Hamonic, Boychuk, or Pulock/Mayfield goes down.
(I would sign Diaz and Barberio and cut Strait if I had my druthers, but well, I don’t run the team)