In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, general manager Brad Treliving is reportedly interested in a couple of Vancouver Canucks: J.T. Miller and Conor Garland. In other news, Juuso Valimaki was handed a three-game suspension by the American Hockey League (AHL) for physical abuse of officials. Last but not least, Flames head coach Darryl Sutter recently talked about the big opportunity Adam Ruzicka will have moving forward.
Flames Interested in Miller & Garland
Heading into the 2021-22 season, many believed the Flames would struggle and be forced to sell at the trade deadline. That hasn’t been the case, however, as the team’s play has been very solid, and Treliving is now looking to add to his roster before the deadline. According to Elliotte Friedman, he may have his eyes on two Canucks.
“There’s been a lot of rumours about J.T. Miller, but I think it goes deeper than that,” Friedman said on his 32 Thoughts segment. “A number of their forwards that they’re discussing with teams around the league, I don’t think Pettersson’s part of this, I don’t think Horvat’s part of this, but I think some other players and notable ones are part of this, including potentially Conor Garland. And we’ve all heard some of the rumours: the Rangers, Boston, Calgary, but I think New Jersey’s in there too, potentially on some players that could have term and team control. It’ll be worth watching. We know Jim Rutherford isn’t shy, and I think he’s beginning to get going on what he’s going to do to reshape the Canucks.”
Miller, 28, has been one of the game’s most underrated offensive talents since he joined the Canucks in 2019. His 15 goals and 44 points lead the team this season. Meanwhile, Garland, who was acquired via a trade with the Arizona Coyotes this summer, plays with a ton of grit and can put up points as well. In 39 games this season, he has 10 goals and 24 points. Both players have term left on their contracts – Miller has one more season at $5.25 million, while Garland is locked up for four more seasons after 2021-22, with a cap hit of $4.95 million.
Valimaki Handed 3-Game Suspension
Tempers boiled over on Saturday between the Stockton Heat and Ontario Reign. In the third period, Valimaki got tangled up with Reign forward Brett Sutter, and before much could happen, officials got between the two. However, Valimaki hadn’t had enough. To get back at Sutter, Valimaki shoved the referee, which resulted in his immediate ejection.
Not surprisingly, the league suspended Valimaki for three games. However, it’s a disappointing result for the 23-year-old, who was playing in his first game since Jan. 9 after being placed in COVID protocol.
Ruzicka Has Opportunity to Earn Bigger Role
Though Ruzicka has suited up for nine games with the Flames this season, his playing time has been limited, averaging just over nine minutes per game. That might soon change, however, as Sutter recently told reporters the 22-year-old will get an opportunity to play a bigger role moving forward (from ‘Wes Gilbertson: ‘We need that type of player in our lineup’: Opportunity knocks for Flames rookie Ruzicka,’ Calgary Sun, 01/30/22).
“Bottom line is, going forward, we need a player like him to be a better player,” Sutter said, referring to Ruzicka. “It’s a position that we have to get better at – and that’s not at the expense of Brad Richardson. Brad brings a lot to our room in terms of his leadership and his work ethic. But we need that type of player in our lineup, and to become a better player…(Ruzicka) is a big guy that has a really good skill set. I’ve said it lots – it’s kind of up to him where his game goes. I’m willing to be patient with him as long as his work ethic is based on a third-effort type of situation.”
Though he didn’t make the Flames roster out of camp, Ruzicka got off to a blazing hot start in AHL, with 10 goals and 16 points in 13 games. As a result, he was recalled and is now getting an opportunity with the big club. Whether or not he can make the most of it this season remains to be seen, but he is a promising prospect for the team.
Up Next for the Flames
The Flames have a quiet week ahead with only two games. It’s a back-to-back set against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, followed by the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday. On paper and the ice, the Flames are better than both teams and should be able to come away with four points this week, though nothing is guaranteed in NHL.
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.