One blood clot, months of recovery, and three AHL games later, Michael Stone is back in the NHL.
After playing just three games during his AHL conditioning stint, the Flames have brought Stone back up from the Heat. Sent down just six days prior, he registered two assists in his time with the Heat, reportedly partnering with Rinat Valiev and serving as a mentor to the prospective defencemen still in the minors.
Stone last played in the NHL on Nov. 11 against the Sharks. He has four assists in the 11 games this season, but the low playing time wasn’t just due to the discovery of a blood clot – it was also because Rasmus Andersson had effectively taken over his job. When Travis Hamonic was injured in the first game of the season, the Flames brought up Andersson, and he dressed as a regular, slowly and steadily starting to get more playing time than Stone. When Hamonic came back, it was settled: Andersson was a regular NHLer now, and Stone was the odd man out.
What Stone gives the Flames now, though – aside from the relief that everything appears to be okay – is even more options as the team ramps up for the playoffs. There’s just under a month of the regular season left, and the Flames are now carrying nine defencemen (Juuso Valimaki remains in the AHL, but in theory, he would be the 10th guy, assuming the Heat fail to make their playoffs). Stone is a veteran of over 400 games and would, in all likelihood, be playing a relatively minor role when he does dress.
He also gives the Flames another right-shot defenceman – something they had been missing, as Oliver Kylington and Oscar Fantenberg are left shots, and Dalton Prout, the extra righty, is probably the weakest defender on the team.
There are 13 games left in the regular season; while Stone almost certainly won’t dress for all of them, one would think he’ll still get a couple in here and there. The Flames next play against the Devils on Tuesday – and they’re one of the few teams below .500 in the NHL, so… maybe then?