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?
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) May 11, 2017
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.
Flames are tight lipped, but I'm hearing Calgary is also in on offensive dman Jan Rutta.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 18, 2017