For about a month now, Daniel Pribyl’s name has been on Flames fans’ radars. Of course, we can expect the front office to have been aware for far longer than that – and with good reason, as the 23-year-old Czech forward has officially signed a two-year deal with Calgary.
The Flames weren’t the only team interested in Pribyl, but they’re the ones who landed the 6’3, 238 lb. right winger – sticking with him even as he requires ACL surgery (which he actually had done in Calgary, according to Bob McKenzie).
This could be a perfect fit. The Flames are lacking in right wingers, as well as size: two areas in which Pribyl has something to offer, mostly by being a big right winger. The opportunity is there for him as well; since Jiri Hudler’s trade, the Flames have been hard pressed to find a third complimentary piece to Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan’s line.
Not that it’ll automatically be Pribyl’s for the taking – in fact, there’s a fair chance he starts his 2016-17 season in the AHL – but it’s certainly an intriguing thought, and it’s not as though Calgary is swimming in candidates.
Of course, it could end up not working out at all. But we’ll never know unless we try, and the Flames are certainly trying.
Pribyl finishes his time in the Czech league with a point-per-game season: 45 in 45. He played nine playoff games before his injury, in which he scored 11 points.
Over the six seasons he played for Sparta Praha, he scored 47 goals and recorded 62 assists for a grand total of 109 points through 174 games: a .63 point per game pace through his career, starting from when he was just a teenager and carrying through to today. Through 37 playoff games, he had 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 total points: .65 points per game.
His numbers got better as he got older, so it’s reasonable to believe he’s still developing. He’s also only 23 years old – he’ll turn 24 on Dec. 18 – so he fits right in with the Flames’ current age group. This isn’t Roman Cervenka or even Jakub Nakladal coming over as a 27-year-old; this is a younger player with greater size who may have something more to offer – and, based on the position he plays, may be given a very real chance.
Who else do the Flames have down the right side? For now, it’s really just Michael Frolik and Josh Jooris, perhaps Emile Poirier, and a player like Garnet Hathaway being a possibility – but not a high-end one. There have also been a couple of forwards tried on their off-wings, such as Micheal Ferland and Hunter Shinkaruk, but that’s about it.
Calgary may add more players to the right side yet, via draft or trade or further free agency. But this is a team desperate for greater impact on the wing, particularly on the right, so anyone and everyone with a hint of possibility should be welcome, and that absolutely includes Pribyl.
Securing him to a contract with the Flames is the first step. There are a few directions this could go in when the season starts; we’ll find out in the coming months.
But as far as no-risk signings go, this is one that could pay off. If Pribyl turns out, the Flames get one step closer to forming a better, more complete roster; if he doesn’t, then no harm, no foul.