Jakub Nakladal reflects on his early NHL experiences

The Calgary Flames hoped to make a splash this past summer with the signing of Jakub Nakladal. A veteran of the Czech Extraliga, the Swiss National League A, and the Kontinental Hockey League, the thought was that Nakladal would provide a great right-shooting option for the team.

Unfortunately, he was hurt during training camp and didn’t make a huge impression. However, after a strong season in the American Hockey League with the Stockton Heat, Nakladal’s in the NHL.

We had the chance to catch up with the 28-year-old prior to the trade deadline.

You’ve finally made it to the NHL; what’s the biggest difference between this league and the AHL?

It’s a huge difference, for sure, for me. But I’m still here and I’m part of this organization and playing in NHL, so it’s a great feeling. For sure it’s a bit different from the AHL. For here, it’s so smarter, the players are so smart, so every shift I have to be focused and all the time be ready.

You were injured in training camp and probably didn’t get to show everything you had. And unlike previous seasons, the Flames have been fairly healthy on the blueline so they haven’t needed call-ups until now. Was that the toughest part of this season, biding your time and waiting for your shot?

I think probably it’s the toughest season of my life in this way, mentally. But it was my option that I sign a two-way contract and I believed in myself. The only thing that I did was be patient and still believe in myself that my chance one time would come. Last year was more injury than this year, but I think if you want to play in this league, you have to make everything for it and I was patient and now I’m so happy that this chance will come.

You’re an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Have you had any talks with the Flames about contracts yet or know anything about the future?

I don’t know anything right now. In this time, I really don’t care because I try to focus for my games and try to do my best. We’ll see what’s going to happen after season. I hope that I’m going to stay in NHL for next year.

Coming over to North America was a big risk and a big change. Now that you’ve played for awhile, was the move worth it?

It was best decision in my life, I think, because like I said many times it was my dream and the hockey’s great here, absolutely best in the world. And everything about the hockey like the locker room, the guys, all the organization, it’s absolutely great and you cannot see this or similar like NHL, like organization and all this stuff, in other leagues. So I think it’s the best decision, what I did.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Maybe it is just me, but it seems like Nakladal has a cannon for a shot. He has a heavy shot and when misses the net you can hear a thud unlike any other players on the team. He does not always hit the net but when he does it is heavy. I am not sure that he is as fast as some of the defenders but I like his game.

    • Christian Roatis

      If one of Wideman or Engelland can be unloaded, I can see them inciting a 3-way battle for the last two spots between Jokipakka, Wotherspoon and Nakladal.

      • MattyFranchise

        In addition I can see the Flames talking Smid into retiring. His neck is effed and the team would get cap relief for the last season of his contract since he’s under 35.

        That opens a spot for Nak. I think Wotherspoon is the odd man out because of his contract status. He’s a low cost bottom pairing defenseman that all teams want.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I know it is going to be tough for Andrsson to come in next year as a 19 year old but I think he will challenge for one of those 2 spots. He was one of the best at training camp but they were never going to keep him.

  • beloch

    I’ve really liked what we’ve seen from Nakladal so far. He’s been sheltered, but has performed extremely well. He currently leads the blueline in even strength CF% (by a wide margin). Of all the third pairing guys currently on the team, Nakladal is the most ready for increased responsibility. It’s time to put him with Dougie and see what happens, because we know Engelland is not a guy you want on your second pair long-term.

    Even though Nakladal appears to be an upgrade over Engelland, Smid, and Jokipakka, he’s not signed through next season, and the Flames will have seven one-way contracts on their blueline without Nakladal. If he doesn’t prove himself to be a second-pairing guy before Wideman returns, I have a bad feeling that he’ll be the odd man out. That would be a shame because he’s earned a spot on this team.

    Treliving needs to find a way to sign Nakladal up for next season because he improves the Flames’ blueline.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Say what you want about Hartley, he saw what he liked in Nakladal’s game and plays him on the PP he also like what he saw of Spoon’s game and used him on the PK. Both did well in their roles. I would argue that the PK looked the best it has all year (small sample size) with Spoon on the ice.

      • beloch

        The WOWY sample for Nakladal is currently too small but, for what it’s worth, both T-Spoon and Jokipakka are, so far, better with Nakladal than apart. This is the other reason why I’d like to see Nakladal paired with Hamilton. It would give us a chance to see if Jokipakka still looks like a NHL defenceman when paired with Engelland.

  • Bob's Hockey Stick

    If were stuck with wideman for another season. would it be wise to buy him out? , sweet talk smid to retire. and we instantly open up room for Nak.

    I do like Nak’s game and feel he’s got a place on the team.

    • freethe flames

      This ultimately makes the most sense unless we can trade him and get any kind of asset; even if we have to carry half of his salary. Hopefully Smid chooses health over money. Then we only have one bad contract on the D and it ends at the end of the year. If Wides(1/2 salary) was gone and Smid retires that saves over $5 to help sign the kids or find a free agent.

      Nak is sound but there are also others knocking at the door; TSpoon, KUlak, Culkan, and then the others who will soon be pushing this group; Hickey, Anderssen and Kylington. If 2 of these 6 turn into real NHL defenders then we have a solid 6 for a long time.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Hope he stays, seems poised and smart enough. I say trade Wideman for whatever, keep the new guys including Nakladal and Jokipakka, re-sign Wotherspoon on a 2-way contract, give more young guys like Kenny Morrisson a chance.

    ALSO time to trade our LW excess for RW talent or right-shooting talent OR sign RW Okposo in off-season (obvious 1st choice from UFA RWs) or maybe the big/decent/older Brouwer (2nd choice from UFA right-shooting wingers). Another odd UFA right-shooter is….gasp….Sam Gagner (Philly).

    I suggest that Ottawa will be impatient in negotiations with large RFA RW Chiasson (filed for arbitration last year) so maybe we should trade Agostino + 3rd for the former 2nd rounder from Ottawa…and obviously I am looking at right-shooting guys here in case you did not get it.

  • RKD

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Naks backs in the Flames uni next season, him and Wotherspoon and now Jokipakka give you somewhat of a stable pairing. I have a suspicion that Smid will retire because this is not only a career ending injury but a life injury he could carry for many years. I think Smid will sit down and think long and hard. Knowing him, he will probably rehab but if his body tells him no then he’s got to call it a day. I don’t know we can get rid of the Engelland and Wideman contracts, no one wants them and it’s too expensive to buy them out.

  • Brodano12

    1. Rotate Nakladal, Jokipakka and Tspoon with Hamilton to see who stick on that second pairing before season’s end

    2. Trade Wideman with half salary retained if necessary for whatever you can get at the draft.

    3. Smid is bought our, retires, or goes LTIR for the year.

    (3.5 – Maybe buy out Raymond depending on the cap, how much we retain of Wideman, and what happens with Smid)

    4. Draft a top 5 forward to play top 6 winger position.

    5. Use newfound cap space to keep Monny/Johnny long term and sign Okposo for ~6 million for 5-6 years.

    This gives us a top 9 of Gaudreau, Monahan, Okposo, Ferland, Bennett, Finn/Matthews/Tkatchuk/Nylander, Backlund, Frolik and Agostino/Grant/Bouma/Poirier/Shinkaruk, and a defense core of Gio, Brodie, Hamilton, Nakladal, Jokipakka, Tspoon and Engelland.

    • freethe flames

      You are very optimistic here and that’s good but probably not very realistic. Hopefully 2 and 3 happen I have already suggested the same thing. Yes we will draft a skilled high end forward but don’t expect whoever it is to carry us to the promised land; he will need to develop as does Bennett and whoever else might play on that line. I’m not sure we can get Okposo nor am I sure I want to sign him for 5 or 6 years, Don’t forget we also need a starting goalie who can steal some games. The kids you mention should be much closer next year and boy would I like to see the flames give Agostino an extended look before the end of the season. Grant as well if he gets healthy enough. But even if all these things happen don’t be surprised if it takes another year to right this ship.

      • flames2015

        I agree, if we are able to draft a top winger, our top 6 will look pretty decent without having the need at least temporarily to money drop on a UFA. We have Ferlund and Frolik that would round out the second line. Our money this summer needs to be spent on goaltending. You can have all the fire power you want up front, but without proper goaltending, it’s just not a recipe for success.

  • freethe flames

    Just took a look at he Heats lineup for tonight. Tspoon is the oldest defender. Other than Raymond and Riley the next oldest guy is Shore. Score 0-0 after 1.

  • freethe flames

    We all have wonderful ideas but way to often we are living in a dream world.(myself included) Let’s a reality check on the facts: Currently the Flames have @49m on 32 contracts for next year, say we sign Johnny and Monny for $13.5(market value based on Barkov and Tarasenko deal) that means @$63m on 34 players and we still need to sign at least 10 more players including 2 FA goalies. Signing any help from the uFA/RFA market upfront is unlikely unless BT can move some bad contracts. Best case scenario is Smid retires(@$3.5m in savings),wideman dealt (we retain 1/2 Salary @$2.6m insavings), Raymond stays in the AHL and Bollig joins him ($1.8 in savings) and we ride out the remainder of Engelland contract.Savings @8m.

    We need to sign at least 2 goalies and here is a list I present UFA Reimer, Enroth, Raanta, Ramo and RFA Kuemper and Anderson, The cost of signing a RFA is based upon his salary if we could get either of the RFA for under $3.6m it would only cost us a second. Ortio could still be an outside option. However any combination of the 4 UFA for under a combined total of $4m would be acceptable especially if the term was no more than 3 years. Long enough for Gilles to develop into what we hope he is.

    • supra steve

      Slow down there buddy. You have already lost all the fans who believed we had a shot at getting Nichushkin from DAL for a package like Russell + Wideman + a 4th round pick because….well just because they wanted Nichushkin and didn’t want Russell or Wideman. You know, like the guy that trashed your post.

      Looking at numbers and their influence on today’s game is a big part of running a REAL hockey team, not the fantasy hockey that gets a lot of attention here.

      It will be an interesting off-season.

      Have a good weekend.

      • freethe flames

        i typed as slowly as I could. You are correct that it will be an interesting off season for BT. He has a long list of things he will need to address:

        1. Decide whether to keep BH. This will be tough to do as it always is. The question will be can BH embrace the rebuild the way BT wants it embraced.

        2. Sign his two RFA. The bar for their salaries has been set with the Barkov deal and Taresenko deal; the question will be how close can he get to those numbers.

        3. Sign two NHL goalies.

        4. The Draft.

        5. Clean up his own RFA deals, who stays, who goes?

        6. Deal with the excess baggage contracts.

        7. See if he can find a first line RW outside of the draft.

        8. Stay within the salary cap.
        Good luck to him.

        It’s a long list and I’m sure we will all have our recommendations. I am prepared to be patient as I think much of this will need two years before we see any real results.

        You have a good weekend as well.