July 14 2011 05:33PM
The Calgary Flames have signed defenceman Brendan Mikkelson to a one year contract and have inked prospect forward Max Reinhart to a three year, entry level deal. Mikkelson got into 19 games with the Flames last year and also spent time with the Abbotsford Heat while Reinhart had a very nice season with the Kootenay Ice, helping lead the team to a berth in the Memorial Cup.
I have zero problems with either signings. Mikkelson's is an affordable deal regardless (one year, two way contract at $721,900), but the fact it's for one year shows this is a big season for him. He didn't show a lot of progression at all last season, being sat down as a healthy scratch on a regular basis. Watching him practice throughout the year, he really struggled to get the nuances of Calgary's system down, especially with the exit of the defensive zone. If progression isn't shown, either at the NHL or AHL level, then the two sides go their different ways; if progression is shown, the Flames can revisit another contract with Mikkelson next summer.
As for Mikkelson's role this season, I see him being a seventh defenceman at best on the NHL club. Calgary has six defencemen on one-way contracts as it stands right now, after the signing of Anton Babchuk, and Mikkelson hasn't shown the ability to displace any of the guys ahead of him. That said, in a number seven role, he'd be easy to slot in with an injury or if the team was looking for a shakeup. If a player like T.J. Brodie were to make an impression at camp and make the team, Mikkelson is easy to send to the AHL and he can play a big role there and be one of the first guys called up. He is wavier eligible but I don't think that's much of a factor.
As for Reinhart, there's no doubting he's one of Calgary's top prospects. After a great season with the Kootenay Ice, Reinhart really cemented himself near the top of the Flames system with his great playoff. He put up 27 points in 21 games, which was impressive, but he did it while playing against the best players on the other side. Max routinely saw time against names like Brayden Schenn and Ryan Johansen throughout the postseason, and having him play such an important shutdown role during the WHL playoffs really impressed me.
It's the standard three year entry level deal for Reinhart at $900,000 per season. He was Calgary's third round pick, 64th overall, at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.