In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, Johnny Gaudreau is just one away from becoming the franchise’s sixth ever player to crack the 100-point barrier. In other news, Juuso Valimaki got a brief new shot with the big club after being recalled from the Stockton Heat this past week. He wasn’t alone in that regard either, as Adam Ruzicka was recalled alongside him.
Gaudreau Nearing 100-Point Mark
The Flames have not had a player with a 100-point season since Theoren Fleury did so back in 1992-93. That will soon change, however, as Gaudreau is currently sitting with 99 through 72 games played. Not only will 100 points mark a new high for the 28-year-old, but it will add him to a list with Kent Nilsson, Joe Mullen, Hakan Loob, Mike Bullard, Al MacInnis, and of course Fleury, as the only players to accomplish that feat in a Flames uniform.
Gaudreau has been fantastic all season long, as his 99 points are tied with Auston Matthews for fourth in league scoring. While he likely won’t win it, he has a chance to finish the season as one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy. His highest finish to this point in his career for the Hart came back in 2018-19 when he finished fourth.
While he won’t come anywhere close to Nilsson’s franchise record of 131 points set back in 1980-81, he has a chance to pass Mullen at 110 for second all-time. It would be an incredible accomplishment for a player some were ready to part ways with after disappointing 2019-20 and 2020-21 campaigns. He has set himself up for a massive pay raise this summer, as his current six-year, $40.5 million deal is set to expire.
Valimaki Gets Another Brief Opportunity
Not too long ago, Valimaki was considered the brightest young prospect in the Flames system. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone for him as anyone had planned these past two seasons. He has struggled to impress head coach Darryl Sutter and found himself healthy scratched on numerous occasions last season. Many believed that he would bounce back in 2021-22, but that has been far from the case, as he has appeared in just nine games with the Flames before being assigned to the Heat in early December.
The 23-year-old went on to play 30 games with the Heat, registering 17 points. It was a solid enough stint to get him back into the Flames lineup, as he was recalled last Monday and suited up Thursday against the San Jose Sharks. It appears that will be the only game Flames fans will see him in, at least for now, however, as he has since been returned to Stockton. He will likely remain there for the remainder of the season.
Ruzicka Gets in Two More Games
Much like Valimaki, the Flames chose to recall Ruzicka last Monday. Unlike the defenceman, however, Ruzicka’s stock is rising in the organization, as he is developing into a very solid power forward. The 22-year-old was able to get into two games during this past call-up, the first coming last Monday against the Los Angeles Kings, and the second coming two nights later against the Anaheim Ducks.
He too, however, has since been reassigned to Stockton. This is more a result of the forwards the Flames picked up at the deadline than it is an indication of his play, as he has been solid with five goals and nine points through 25 games with the big club. He will likely earn a spot with them full time in 2022-23. For now, he will go back to the American Hockey League and look to build off of his impressive 11 goals and 20 points through 16 games on the year.
Up Next for the Flames
The Flames have three games on their schedule this week and will look to continue their winning streak which currently sits at four. The first contest will come on Tuesday night against the Seattle Kraken, a team which they defeated 4-1 this past Sunday. They will then take on a divisional opponent in the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, before ending their week with a tilt versus the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Barring a major collapse during their final 10-games, it appears they have first place locked up in the Pacific Division.
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Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.