Dennis Wideman’s impending suspension complicates things for the Flames. It would leave them with just six available defencemen, which isn’t an ideal situation for any team. But they’ve found a way to rectify that: the Calgary Flames have recalled Jakub Nakladal from the Stockton Heat.
To make room for Nakladal, the Flames have sent Mason Raymond – who was placed on waivers yesterday, and subsequently (and unsurprisingly) cleared – down to the Stockton Heat.
With Micheal Ferland still on the injured reserve, the Flames continue to have 24 players up with the big club. Pretty much the only way Ferland can be activated in time for tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes is either via a trade that sees a roster player go, or a demotion to Markus Granlund, the only waiver-exempt Flame.
Farewell, Mason Raymond
This may not be the end of Raymond in a Flames uniform, but it doesn’t look good for the 30-year-old with a cap hit of $3.15 million. This is twice he’s cleared waivers, now, but the first time he’s being sent down.
Raymond was a healthy scratch of 19 games for the Flames throughout the year. He only managed four goals and five points through the 29 games in which he did dress, his most recent being a rather meaningless tally in the Flames’ 6-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Sam Bennett Night.
Raymond was only averaging 12:20 a game, so he wasn’t integral to the Flames in any way, shape, or form. He was passed by by players younger, cheaper, and simply better, and at his cap hit, it’s hard to see him make a meaningful return any time soon – although who knows what lineup absences the trade deadline will bring?
The last time Raymond played in the AHL was 20 games in the 2007-08 season (the same season he made his NHL debut) for the Manitoba Moose. Through 542 NHL games to date, he’s scored 115 goals and 251 points – but only 16 goals and 28 points with the Flames.
At least he got that hat trick against the Oilers that one time, though.
Hello, Jakub Nakladal
Assuming Nakladal draws into the Flames’ lineup, he will finally, at long last, make his NHL debut. The 28-year-old Czech defenceman was a free agent signing from Europe who chose the Flames over other teams bidding for his services, and the Flames rewarded him by keeping him in the minors for half the season, which isn’t a particularly good look for trying to recruit other free agents in the future.
Nakladal was recalled once before in the season, but was scratched for both games he was up. Considering Wideman’s incoming suspension, though – and by recalling Nakladal, it looks like it may be of some significant length (even a 10-game suspension would keep Wideman out for most of February) – one has to assume he’ll make his NHL debut sometime over the next few games.
So far this season, Nakladal has played 35 games for the Heat. He’s scored two goals and 14 points over that time, but his goals total is a little deceptive: he’s taken 80 shots, for a shooting percentage of 2.5%. That’s astoundingly low, and his low numbers clearly aren’t for lack of trying. He’s tied with Aaron Johnson for Stockton’s highest scoring defenceman, albeit over an extra 15 games: Johnson is, however, four years older.
It’s worth noting that Nakladal might just happen to be an upgrade on Wideman. Wideman gets by far the most generous zone starts of any Flames defender, and yet, with a CF of 44.78%, only Kris Russell sees more pucks go against him. He takes up valuable special teams time and doesn’t contribute much offensively – his very last name is foreshadowing for his shot, when it actually makes it through – and though we’ve yet to see Nakladal at the NHL level, it’s entirely possible (maybe even likely) he’s an improvement.
Nakladal took part in the Flames’ morning skate, so hopefully we see him make his NHL debut tonight. It’s time.
UPDATE: Smid is in and Nakladal out for tonight, so Nakladal’s NHL debut may have to wait for this Friday, Feb. 5 at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets.