Every offseason, National Hockey League teams experience roster turnover as players retire, get traded or sign elsewhere.
A pair of news items out of Europe seem to indicate the first couple members of the Calgary Flames organization that likely won’t be back in 2017-18.
According to a report from Kazakhstan’s Shaiba.kz, Linden Vey has signed a one-year contract with Barys Astana of the Kontinental Hockey League. This comes on the heels of a Vesti.kz interview with Barys Astana’s club president where he confirmed that the team was negotiating with Vey, as the team may be losing veterans Dustin Boyd, Nigel Dawes, Brandon Bochenski and Kevin Dallman due to the tight economic situation in Europe (and the KHL).
In addition, Ladislav Smid has reportedly signed with his hometown team – Billi Tygri Liberec – according to a news item on the team’s site.
Neither player is technically a free agent yet and so they can’t officially sign elsewhere, but the mass of European news items on the signings make them seem fairly likely to be legit.
Signed as a free agent last summer after the Vancouver Canucks didn’t qualify him, Vey was a very useful player for the Stockton Heat this past season. He was one point behind Mark Jankowski for the team lead in scoring, though Jankowski played more games. He went pointless in four games with the Flames. Only 25 years old, Vey is a pending restricted free agent on July 1 provided that the Flames qualify him. If he does end up signing in the KHL, the Flames would retain his rights for two seasons (until July 1, 2019) so qualifying him seems like a low-risk proposition even if you think he has limited NHL upside. Vey’s been a good AHLer but hasn’t really cemented himself at the NHL level, bouncing between the big leagues and the farm clubs for Calgary, Vancouver and Los Angeles.
Brought to Calgary along with minor league goalie Olivier Roy from Edmonton in a trade for Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit (in one of two disappointing trades between the two Alberta clubs), Smid was a solid if unspectacular bottom pairing defender for a few seasons until injuries piled up on him. He suffered a couple gnarly neck injuries that resulted in surgery, limiting him to just 53 games over the past three seasons. He spent the entire past season on the long-term injured reserve and helping the Flames with various hockey operations tasks. But he’s only 31 years of age and it seems like the itch to play has drawn him back for another season. European hockey has bigger ice and less hitting, so hopefully Smid is able to stay healthy and eventually leave the game on his own terms.