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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Flames sign Carl-Johan Lerby to ELC

In an unexpected bit of news, the Flames announced this morning that they have signed Swedish defender Carl-Johan Lerby to a two year entry level contract.

Lerby is a 21 year old, LHD playing for the Malmo Redhawks in the Swedish Hockey League. He finished this previous season with five goals and 16 assists in 47 games, good for 16th among all SHL defenders, albeit Lerby is younger than all but one of the players ahead of him. The 5’11 defender broke through in the SHLthis past season after spending a few years yo-yoing between the various Swedish leagues, leading Malmo’s defencemen in scoring. He also picked up seven points in 10 Champion’s Hockey League games.

The link to Lerby may have come from the Flames’ own breakout rookie, Rasmus Andersson. The two were both members of the Malmo organization as youths, playing together on one of their U16 teams, and Andersson’s father is the coach of Malmo.

The Flames’ press release notes that Lerby will stay with Malmo for the 2019-20 season and join the Flames organization for 2020-21.

This the Flames’ second confirmed signing from Europe this offseason, the first being Russian goalie Artyom Zagidulin. Russian defenceman Alexander Yelesin has also been confirmed to be signing with the Flames, although it has not been made official yet. They’ve also been linked to SHL forward Joakim Nygard.

  • cjc

    Verrry intriguing. On a points/game basis, Lerby had the 5th best 21-year old season in the SHL since the turn of the millenium. The four guys ahead of him include John Klingberg (borderline NHL star), Oscar Fantenberg, and two guys that never made the jump. He has better numbers than Matthias Ekholm, Erik Gustafsson, Niklas Kronwall and Tobias Enstrom had in the SHL at that age.

    • Bionicle77

      This is very wrong

      David Rundblad, Magnuson Nygren, Matthias Ekholm, Sebastian Aho, Mikael Wikstrand, Eric Moe, John klingberg (twice), Mattias Backman, Tim Erixon, Niklas Hansson, Oscar Fantenberg, Victor Hedman, Rasmus Dahlin, Kristoffer Berglund, Lukas Bengtsson.

      That entire list of players had a higher points per game by an under 22 defenseman in the Swedish league since the 2000/01 season.

      • cjc

        If you’re looking at quant hockey, you can look at age and sort by ppg. I limited my search to just 21 yo (not under 22) and sorted by ppg. There are a few other D who have more points, but took them more games to do it. There may well be some 20 yo and 22 yo that did better, I didn’t look at that.

      • cjc

        Also, instead of saying “very wrong”, explain your methods. You included players that had good seasons as 18/19/20 yo players (Hedman, Dahlin, Rundblad, Erixon, Aho) and never played their 21 yo season in the SHL. Ekholm, Moe, Backman, Hansson and Berglund were better as 20 yo, but took a step back (offensively) as 21 yo. Others (Nygren, Wikstrand) only had better seasons as 22 yo.

        https://www.quanthockey.com/shl/en/player-age/21-year-old-shl-defensemen.html

        Lerby isn’t going to be a Dahlin or Hedman, which is why there is no point in comparing them. It is worth comparing him to players with similar production at the same age in the same league to get an idea of what he might become. The fact remains that he outproduced some pretty decent defenseman at the same age in the same league (Ekholm, Gustafsson, Kronwall and Enstrom). Then again, there are a couple guys that did better than him (Bengtsson, Sebastian Erixon) that never made the jump. So while it’s too early to predict that he’ll be an NHLer, it’s also fair to say that he compares well to some other players.

  • Great Wall of Kipru

    This is actually really exciting elite prospects hadn’t him on the top ten shl free agents too sign. Also they mentioned that letting him marinate in the shl for another would probably be the best course of action for him

  • Beer League Coach

    Why would they leave him with Malmo next season? If he is a legit prospect on D why not bring him over and send him to Stockton where he could learn the Flames system? The Heat definitely need an upgrade over the D squad they played with this past season.

  • SeanCharles

    I like all these young depth signings on defense..

    In the salary cap era we need to cycle out players that are aging and cost too much and replace them with younger, cheaper players that are capable of contributing at the NHL level.

    Next season we will likely do this with players like Kylington and Valimaki earning fulltime spots and cycling out players like Brodie and Stone.

    Yelesin and Lerby are good to have considering the lack of defenseman we have in the organization that isn’t already in NHL.

    • freethe flames

      With the graduation of Andersson, Kyington and Valimaki to the NHL BT has to fill the developmental gap somehow. He still needs to add at least one more and he will also need to add a couple of tweeners to the Heat as well.

  • SouthernFlame

    I dont see what the big deal is about Yelesin. He’s 5’11 and under 200 lbs. They say he is physical but so is Josh Healey. I guess he will have fun in Stockton if anything.

    • Baalzamon

      The difference between Yelesin and Healey is that Yelesin is a KHL all-star whereas Healey is barely an AHL-tier player at all.

      Yelesin could well turn out to be nothing of consequence. Or he could turn out to be a useful depth piece like Valiev.

      • Beer League Coach

        I checked the web site for Malmo Red Hawks and he is shown on their roster with “loan” under the column heading showing expiration date for his contract. I doubt he could be under contract to 2 different teams in 2 different leagues at the same time. There is an agreement of some sort between the NHL and SHL.

      • Beer League Coach

        The optimist in me is hoping he becomes a RH version of Robyn Regehr in a smaller package. He could also turn out to be a bust. Let’s wait and give him half a season in North America before making any judgements. No doubt he will need some time to adjust to the changes in culture and hockey style, big ice vs smaller ice surface, etc.

  • Hankyhank

    Before this year Malmö dumped a few rather expensive and experienced defensemen due to budget cuts. Lerby filled the spot really well and was probably the team’s best defender. He’s gone from averege talent to one of the better d-men in the league during the last season. Mobile, good offence, very allround. If he continues to develop his game he might be an NHL-player someday.

    Nygård is a far more exciting player though. I’d say he’s the fastest player in SHL behind Axel Jonsson Fjällby (Capitals prospect). This year he’s taken some leaps forward in his offensive game. He’s always been good at creating chances but he’s more constructive with the puck now and is racking up more points. He could easily make the bottom six of almost most NHL-teams right now.

  • freethe flames

    The Flames signed Loob to be an extra set of eyes in Europe so I expect the Flames to sign some Euros; some will work out others will not; only time will tell.