Photo Credit: Ofsimnupi/Wikimedia Commons

Jan Rutta seems like the perfect fit for the Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames’ defence is likely getting a major overhaul for next season. They have just four defencemen signed for 2017-18: Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, and Matt Bartkowski. That’s a solid top three, plus a guy who fits a role as a seventh defenceman.

That leaves probably three spots open, barring the team considering bringing back Deryk Engelland and/or Michael Stone. Ideally, you hope one of those spots is open for a prospect, but that still leaves room for free agent possibilities.

What about a free agent who isn’t in the NHL, though?

How about 26-year-old, 6’3, 198 lb., right-shot Czech defender Jan Rutta?

Rutta’s most recent showing has been at the World Championships, where he scored one goal in eight games. According to Allan Walsh, Rutta may be signing sooner rather than later after the Russians eliminated the Czechs in the quarterfinals.

Prior to that, he scored 32 points in 46 games for Piráti Chomutov in the Czech league: third on his team in scoring, and second in league-wide defenceman scoring.

Rutta has played four seasons in the Czech’s top league, but his offence has only started to come these past two seasons; in 2015-16, he scored 21 points in 44 games. This could, simply, be the case of a late bloomer looking to make his way over.

And doesn’t that sound familiar? Calgary is a team that has, over the past two years, signed Jakub Nakladal (Czech free agent out of the Finnish league), Daniel Pribyl (Czech free agent out of the Czech league), and David Rittich (Czech free agent out of the Czech league). I’m not sure if another NHL team has gone to the Czech Republic as much as the Flames have as of late.

The Flames haven’t officially been linked to Rutta, but he really does seem like a fit. And Calgary should be appealing, too: while signing these guys hasn’t always resulted in an NHL gig, the Flames have more spots open to offer than most, including one in the top four if he can really impress.

Rutta will be 27 to start next season, so he fits roughly in the Flames’ age group; he’s a right shot, which everybody loves; he’s of decent size; and he has the potential to put up points, which is always useful. We’ll probably find out soon enough just which team won the bid for his services – but he might just be a name to keep an eye on.

  • wot96

    Except that none of the Czechs that Calgary has recruited are playing for the Flames or in the NHL, for that matter. Unless the Flames start playing these guys in the NHL, I’m not sure why any Czech would see Calgary as a real opportunity.

    • BringtheFire

      Well, given that practically any hockey player’s goal is to reach the NHL they would all see it as an opportunity.

      Plus, we made the playoffs and are close to contending, so I can think of fourteen teams that would be less of an opportunity. And the guys you mentioned are growing here. Not everyone has to be ready right off the bat. In fact, it’s a quite rare.

      • cjc

        Of all the Czech’s signed, Nakladal is the only one who wasn’t given a fair shake. Pribyl was injured for a lot of the year, throwing him in the NHL deep end before getting comfortable with the NHL would have been a mistake. Rittich was great, but I don’t think there was any promise of NHL time unless an injury or an extended period of poor play by both Johnson and Elliott forced the issue.

        Nakladal didn’t stick in Carolina after leaving Calgary, and wound up signing in the KHL.

  • Sanintarious

    Would he be someone the Flames would have to protect in the expansion draft if he were to sign before the season? I don’t think he would as he hasn’t played enough NHL games (or any) but not positive on the rules for guys coming over.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    Sure, How about the Stockton Heat sign him to a PTO this coming year to really test his level of play and let some of the guys down in Stockton (who have been working their butts off) get a chance to play up with the Flames First???

      • Puckhead

        Any team would be crazy to guarantee him an NHL job out of the gate. He needs some time to adjust to the smaller rink, plus maybe isn’t good enough to make the cut. He’s also 27 so it’s doubtful that he will improve significantly.

  • BendingCorners

    No matter who the Flames pick up as D4 I’m hoping D5-D7 are Rasmus plus two of Brett/Tyler/Oliver and that Matt B spends all his time in Stockton. I have a hard time picturing any of the prospects being less able than him.

    • PrairieStew

      Bartkowski can be the 7. Don’t want any of the young guys sitting in the press box. Second choice would be Wotherspoon as the 7 if the Flames think he has nothing left to learn at the AHL level and would be biding time till Kylington or Hickey is ready.

  • Flint

    Any scout who just watched Canada squeek by an over-performing German team – thanks in large part to a 48 save performance – is also watching Grubauer’s stock skyrocket. They say no risk, no reward, but what happens when it’s actually no risk? Make the trade Tre.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I think the treatment of Nakladal would work against another Czech signing. I realize it is a business but I think he got shafted. This guy did not look 6’3″ in the video.

    • Stu Cazz

      If he was treated as badly as you say then what isn’t he playing in the NHL? Could it be he was treated fairly by the Flames, given an opportunity but simply was not good enough?

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I feel confident in saying he would have out performed Grossman and likely Joki and was about the same cost. He did not show much in Carolina but played well when he was in the Flames line up

  • Puckhead

    According to ON, it sounds like they’re pretty interested in getting him, especially since the Flames are reportedly interested? Maybe FN should post a few articles on some crappy players and imply that the Flames are reportedly interested in them. Hopefully they take the bait ?

  • Flamesfever

    Flames sign “European” players but how many even play on the Flames? Seems like we sign them n let them stay in the farm, most other teams sign players and they get a legit shot.
    Nakadal spent half the year watching the game from the pressbox, Kulak spends time watching games. Guys need the opportunity to play not just watch and let older players play just cause there “experienced”

  • Just.Visiting

    Seems like potentially another “new shiny thing” that would yet once again see us leaving our own prospects buried in order to chase someone we don’t already have. I don’t think we can go there for a #4, and I think we have homegrown players for the 5/6 to start the season with some combination of Kulak, Ras, Oliver, Healy and Wotherspoon (although I would be hesitant to resign with Calgary if I had other offers of interest based on past treatment). I’m very comfortable starting the season with Stone as #4 to see how he does after a summer of training and seeing if one of the other young players can move up the rotation by year end.

    • Puckhead

      If you want to improve the team I can’t see why you would re-sign Stone. He’s nothing special and will probably want around $3M per. I’d rather see this money used to bring in a legit #4 D-man. Stone should not be used in the #4 spot and is too expensive to be used on the 3rd line. I’m fed up with worn out, slow, old players who are just ok.

  • freethe flames

    If you can add an asset w/o giving up another asset or spending too much money you have to do it. None of us are sure if this guy is good enough to even make the team. If he is better than Nakladal was then we might have something but there is little to get stressed over. The priorities remain sign you own RFA’s(get Bennett and Ferland signed prior to the expansion draft), acquire a goalie (again prior to the expansion draft b/c some teams need to move a goalie and the price should be low); use the draft pick to better the organization for the long term(draft well or trade for an under 25 RW who can play in the top 9) and then acquire a top 4 defender.

  • Cheeky

    Past dictates we don’t give opportunities to euros unless he wants to play in AHL. As per usual we will sign a couple past-their-prime FAs and our prospects will rot in the pressbox. Fingers crossed this is the year we let our prospects actually fight for spots…#freetheprospects

      • Slowmo

        They all get a chance but this is the bigs and you have to bring it. Trust me when I say they would love to have any of Rasmus Kyl or Kulak break into the fold. I for see the first 2 making perhaps next season maybe late this you never know but the 2 swedes are so close in points down in the As it is a toss up who comes up maybe both?

  • Slowmo

    Adam Fox will sign this yr with the Flames and leave College he is going to be our #3 Gio Hamilton TJ and Fox. Ok wish full thinking but man would that be fun to watch me thinks. Hickey is going to betray us and move on to the OIiers Just a felling.