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.