We’re heading into the part of the hockey calendar that is a bit sparse in terms of action and big events, aside from the ongoing Stanley Cup playoffs, but there are a few key dates on the horizon. One of them is June 1, otherwise known as the deadline for drafted players to sign with clubs.
The Calgary Flames have a couple players that they need to sign or lose their rights: 2013 pick Rushan Rafikov and 2015 pick Riley Bruce. (2013 pick Tim Harrison is done college and the Flames have until August 15 to sign him.) Let’s dig in a bit on Rafikov and Bruce.
Rafikov was Calgary’s seventh round pick, 187th overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft. Under Section 8.6 (d), the Flames retain his rights for four seasons after being drafted since he was selected from a European club.
Rafikov has never come to any of Calgary’s development or rookie camps since being drafted. He’s only ever been to North America as part of Team Russia. He’s gotten his foot in the door with the KHL’s Yaroslavl Lokomotiv in the past couple of seasons and become a useful role player for that club. He signed a contract extension at the end of April for two more seasons. It’s a virtual certainty that he won’t sign with the Flames and so he’ll become a draft-related unrestricted free agent (in NHL terms).
Bruce was Calgary’s seventh round selection, 196th overall, in the 2015 NHL Draft. Under Section 8.6 of the CBA, the Flames only retain Bruce’s rights for two seasons after his selection.
The 6’7″, 212 lbs defenseman has served as an alternate captain with the North Bay Battalion over the past two seasons. Unfortunately, he hasn’t really progressed offensively. In his two post-draft seasons, the similarly-towering Keegan Kanzig had seasons of 0.127 and 0.314 points per game. Bruce? He posted seasons of 0.212 and 0.146. You can be big, but if you can’t move the needle offensively it’ll be tough to get your foot in the door. He’ll head back into the draft pool if he’s not signed by June 1.
I strongly doubt the Flames will sign either player.