In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, general manager Brad Treliving was busy, as he made numerous signings. The first free agent they brought in was veteran centerman Brad Richardson, who projects to play on the team’s fourth line. The next was Erik Gudbranson, who is a right-handed shot defenceman and will compete for a third-pairing role. They also re-signed two players in Michael Stone and Connor Mackey in what has suddenly become a logjammed blue line. In other news, former Flame Matt Stajan will begin his coaching career this year, as he was named an assistant coach for the Calgary Hitmen.
Flames’ New Additions
On Wednesday, the Flames signed Richardson to a one-year, $800,000 deal. This signing wasn’t something anyone expected, as it was thought that another recent acquisition in Trevor Lewis would center the fourth line, but with this deal, it looks as though he may instead play on the wing.
Richardson, 36, has played in 825 career NHL games, scoring 107 goals and 246 points. He was a member of the 2012 L.A. Kings Stanley Cup-winning team that Darryl Sutter coached, who likely played a big role in enticing Richardson to sign this deal.
That wasn’t the only move the Flames made on Wednesday, as they also announced the re-signing of Mackey to a two-year deal with an AAV of $912,500. The 25-year-old defenceman made his pro debut in 2020-21 after a successful college career with Minnesota State. In six games with the Flames, he recorded a goal and three points, while in 27 AHL games with the Stockton Heat, he put up three goals and 16 points.
Two days later, the Flames announced that they were signing Gudbranson to a one-year deal with an AAV of $1.95 million. The 29-year-old won’t provide much of anything offensively but is a physical force and will likely be a player in and out of the lineup for the 2020-21 season. When called upon, it is likely he will play on the right side of the team’s third pairing. He has played in 563 career NHL games, notching 21 goals and 77 points.
The final transaction they made this past week was bringing back Stone on a one-year, $750,000 deal. Many expected this deal to happen, as most felt the Flames should add one more blueliner to their roster for insurance, and who better than the guy who has spent several seasons with the team as a seventh defenceman. While many did expect this to happen, it seemed odd once it happened, given that they had also brought in Gudbranson, as they suddenly have a surplus of blueliners heading into training camp.
Stajan Joins the Hitmen
On Thursday, the Calgary Hitmen announced that Stajan will be behind the bench for them in the 2021-22 season as an assistant coach. The 37-year-old, who last appeared in the NHL during the 2017-18 season, had been working as an analyst for Sportsnet recently but is clearly excited for his new role.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to help these young men grow and develop at this early stage of their careers,” said Stajan. “It will be great to learn the coaching and development side of the game, working alongside Steve, Trent and Brad.”
Stajan spent the first six seasons of his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs before being acquired by the Flames midway through the 2009-10 season. He continued to play with the Flames until the end of the 2017-18 season and then headed to Germany to play one final season before announcing his retirement. In 1003 NHL games, he recorded 146 goals and 413 points. He will look to help improve a Hitmen team that went 10-8-3 in the shortened 2020-21 campaign.