The FAN 960 Flames Zone

With his five year contract now complete, defenseman Cory Sarich enters unrestricted free agency for the second time in his career.  The first time lead him to Calgary.  Where will the second time see him end up?

Pros

Sarich is probably the most feared physical player on the Flames roster and we’ve seen that ability turn into some highlight moments.  His hit on Matt Cooke in the season opener back in October is a recent example while his crushing check to San Jose’s Patrick Marleau a few years ago is the most resounding.  The fact is, Sarich can hit and uses his strong frame to get forwards to shy away from his corner.

Much like Scott Hannan, Sarich is also very responsible defensively when he’s out there against the proper opposition.  He’s no longer going to be used in a shutdown role against the best players on the other side, even though that was a role he was very good at earlier in his career.  But, when he’s out there against opposing players further down the depth chart, he can still be a steady and punishing force.

Sarich does bring a ton of experience to the position, which you can see on the ice.  But I also wonder how much it translates to the locker room.  He’s won a Stanley Cup, he’s been deep in the playoffs, and he has almost 900 NHL games under his belt.  In theory, Sarich would be a good voice to have on a team to help teach younger blueliners the finer points of the position.

Finally, he won’t be expensive.  I think Sarich realizes at this point that he’s limited at the position and therefore shouldn’t be expecting a new contract paying him close to the $3.6 million he’s made the past five years.

Cons

The cons for Sarich are almost identical to those of Scott Hannan, whom we profiled last week.  His hard style has taken a toll on his body which has affected his foot speed in a noticeable way.  He’s never been the fastest skater, but now struggles to keep up with the speedier forwards on the other side.  The speed of the higher end forwards can also force him into making mental mistakes, as sometimes the bosy can’t do what the brain wants it to.

Sarich’s age also plays against him.  He’ll turn 34 in August, and while he’s still a capable NHL defender in the right role, there’s a question as to where he fits with the Flames.  Is Sarich the right fit on the third pairing going forward? Or are the Flames better served in giving those minutes to a guy like T.J. Brodie or Derek Smith?  Or maybe someone who played in Abbotsford last year?  I’d lean towards the latter two options myself.

Verdict

Much like Hannan, I wouldn’t sign Sarich unless other options are exhausted.  Those options include finding a tough minutes, top four defenseman on the free agent market this summer or deciding to go with someone younger in the third pairing.  If those options aren’t realistic, then the conversation can be had to keep one of either Sarich or Hannan, but not both, if they’re still unsigned.  In that case, I’d lean towards Sarich, because I think he brings a little more to a third pairing role than Hannan does.

10 Responses to “UFA Profile: Cory Sarich”
  1. 1.

    Sarich is a good defenseman but his previous contract overvalued him. People love to jump on the Sarich hate train but the guy is solid. Also, if the Flames ever make the playoffs in the near future he’s the type of guy you want on the blueline. Look at the Kings forwards manhandle everyone this year.

    - Casey
  2. 2.

    @Casey

    I like Sarich quite a bit. I think he’s still a capable defenseman and I was a big defender of his throughout last season, because you’re bang on about how people gave him a rough ride because of his contract. However, he’ll be 34 to start next season and I just don’t know if there’s a great fit there for him on the Flames.

    - Pat Steinberg
  3. 3.

    I would be greatly disappointed if the Flames signed Sarich, even if it was a last resort option.

    Cory is a physical D-man capable of delivering the big hit, unfortunately he is too slow to do so without putting himself out of position or out of the play. His age and slow play also limit how effective he is at pressuring the opposition, which usually lead again to him being out of position, or taking a stupid penalty.

    Like many players on the team, he is a relic that is like a family heirloom that Feaster can’t seem to let go of.
    I’d rather see those minutes going to Brodie and see the team seriously go after a 3-4 D-man via free agency.

    - Jeremy B.
  4. 4.

    @Jeremy B.

    You’re way off base with that. He was a solid and consistent performer for the Flames basically all year long when playing on the third pairing. Your pre-determined anti-Sarich bias makes it impossible for you to have an objective opinion here. You look only at his mistakes and not his steady play that was huge for Calgary in the final four months of the season. He was very good last year and is still a capable NHL defender.

    - Pat Steinberg
  5. 5.

    It would be great to just let him go. Let Hannan go too. If Garrioch is correct that the sens are looking to move Gonchar get him in here.The Flames need a scoring D and gonchar’s .500 ppg would be perfect.

    - Brad
  6. 6.

    @Pat

    I think if the price is right the Flames have to sign him à la Hannan last year.

    - Casey
  7. 7.

    @Pat

    Being a capable defenseman does not make him a favorable option. If the Flames are going to rely on the likes of Cory Sarich, then they are doing nothing but chasing their own tails.

    My “bias” of Sarich is not unfounded. I’m not willing to reward him with another contract, especially ANY sort of term because the guy had a month or two of above average play.

    I’m tired of the team holding on to guys that are capable of playing at a certain level instead of going after guys that DO play at that level or above it.

    - Jeremy B.
  8. 8.

    I agree with Jeremy B. At this point the default answer to the “re-sign a UFA” question should be ‘no’ and I don’t see any reason to make an exception here. I’d much rather take a risk on a younger player who has more upside possibility. Things have grown stale in YYC and bringing in new faces should be a priority.

    Is Mclovin up for a Gorge trip this September? Got my Beauford 41 Flames jersey ready…

    - propositionWes
  9. 9.

    Although I didn’t mind Cory for the majority of his tenure in Calgary, I feel the vets time here is over.

    I believe he could still be a bottom two guy on some NHL teams, but as you’ve mentioned, his speed hurts a ton. I do however like the fact that he was hard on the body. If Jay Bouwmeester had half of that physical play Cory has on the ice, he’d be living up to the 6+ contract.

    At best in Calgary, he should be a 7th Dman; and as we saw earlier, that’s not what he wants. He’s probably only worth a contract that’s less than half of what he was making this year.

    I don’t see Feaster signing him. He has kept his promise so far with moving on from the older guys in favour of the younger kids. Which, of course, I like.

    Now if Flames were to dump the money they save from not signing Sarich into Schultz (bonuses), than I’d be a real happy camper.

    - MGolupsk
  10. 10.

    I don’t think signing Cory Sarich is going to be a priority for the Flames.

    - Justin Whitney
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