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Report: Flames eyeing Swedish free agents

As per usual, Sportsnet analyst Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 31 Thoughts column included several interesting items. This week, there was a tidbit regarding the Calgary Flames and their reported interest in adding free agents from the Swedish professional ranks.

Here’s Friedman:

8. A number of NHL teams were in Sweden over the last couple of weeks to scout potential free agents. There are four I know of: defencemen Lawrence Pilut (age 22) and Joel Persson (23); winger Michael Lindqvist (23) and centre Par Lindholm (26). Pilut’s father, Larry, was born in Detroit and played in the NCAA before going to Sweden, where he settled. Among the teams who were watching: Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Nashville, Vancouver and the Rangers. Likely more.

The Flames have a long history of drafting and developing Swedish players, from Mikael Backlund dating back to Hakan Loob and Kent Nilsson. Presently they have a pair of youngsters playing in Sweden in the form of 2016 pick Linus Lindstrom and 2017 pick Filip Sveningsson. Bobbie Hagelin is their longtime amateur scout in the area.

The big question: is there a fit between the Flames and the four Swedes that Friedman name-dropped?

  • Lawrence Pilut (22) is a left-shot defenseman who plays on HV71 in the SHL. Coincidentally, HV71 is the parent club of Sveningsson – while the Flames prospect has primarily played in the junior league, he did play on the big club with Pilut. The defender leads his team in scoring with 27 points in 36 games.
  • Joel Persson (23) is a right-shot defenseman who plays with the Vaxjo Lakers in the SHL. He’s fourth on the team in scoring with 26 points in 35 games, but has no apparent Flames connections.
  • Michael Lindqvist (23) is a right wing who plays for Farjestad BK, the team where Loob is present. He’s third on the team in scoring with 34 points in 32 games.
  • Par Lindholm (26) is a left-shot center who plays for Skelleftea AIK, the team where Lindstrom plays. He’s second on the team in scoring with 39 points in 36 games.

Since his hiring as Flames general manager in the spring of 2014, Brad Treliving has averaged about one European free agent signing per year: Jakub Nakladal from SM-Liiga in 2015, and Daniel Pribyl and David Rittich from the Czech Extraliga in 2016. Based on the team’s history and their tendency to look for value in these types of free agent deals, these players seem right up their alley.

We’ll have more on this as it develops.

    • everton fc

      I hope they don’t move Wotherspoon. Like Hathaway, and Jankowski, to a lesser extent… He’s done his time in the organization (like Kulak) and deserves a chance.

        • deantheraven

          What would be ideal is if Brodie goes for a palatable combo of picks and… No, I don’t see another roster player coming back as any help right now. The forward group looks solid- solid enough to deal with some major injuries and continue to play at a high level- and the top 6 have developed strong chemistry. Maybe Tre has to make a bigger deal: Brodie + 1 of Frolik, Backlund, Lazar, Stajan, Brouwer or Jagr…
          Yeah, no.

      • Rudy27

        He’s definitely done his time and I felt played a fairly solid game when he was up here. I just don’t get a warm and fuzzy that the Flames organization sees him in their future with all the other defensive prospects.

        • Stu Cazz

          Your right not a good feeling about Wotherspoon. Has been put on waivers by the Flames in the past. No other team has claimed him and the Flames have not given him a decent shot as I presume they think he is not an NHL’r. He is past the critical age of 23 I believe…he is better off moving to another organization….

  • deantheraven

    It’s a good bet that Tre and the Flames connections will be looking at some of these guys. And why not, if you can sign ’em to a nice, low 2-way deal. There will be some spots open in September and it seems Tre & GG are finally willing to give some NHL time to prospects from Stockton to fill in, and hopefully make it full time like Jankowski (and maybe Hathaway). Adding 1 or 2 FA’s in the summer will keep the internal competition healthy. There are too many prospects that will probably be regulars next year. Kulak, Jankowski, Hathaway Rittich are in, Hrivik, Mangiapane have good shots at filling bottom 6 holes left by the departures of Stajan, Versteeg* ( +any trades involving roster players out and picks back between now and then.) Andersson could play here but not without a move, and ditto for Wotherspoon and Kyllington. Plus, there’s Klimchuk and Shinkaruk… The more I look at it, it looks like Tre will be making a few deals in the next 6 months. The question is, how many roster players and how many prospects will have different addresses next year?

    * Personally, I hope Steeger decides to hang ’em up and stays on as a special assistant to somebody. Not that I wouldn’t be happy to see him recover and be able to play (at the same level), but it’d be great to keep him in the org if he can’t play. Always good to have a smart ass on your team.

  • freethe flames

    Every good GM has his staff turning over every rock looking for that lost gem; maybe one of these guys could be that. It will soon be time for GM’s to start looking for NCAA grad who are free agents. When will one of our intrepid writers do an article on this.? Also Conroy was talking about the Flames trying to get Fox to leave this year. That would change things.