The Flames announced the signing of Calgary native Ryan Stone to a one-year, two-way contract at league minimum this evening. Stone scored six assists and was +2 in 27 games with the Oilers last season, during which he suffered a major knee injury that required two surgeries to repair, but it was his underlying numbers that impressed the guys over at The Copper & Blue, who have previously compared him to Curtis Glencross, another former Oiler who defected South to Calgary:
Ryan Stone has much the same reputation with the fans as Curtis Glencross did. To the fans of advanced stats, he's one of the few Oilers that had the puck moving in the right direction last season, albeit in a limited amount of time. For the fans of the traditional view of the game, he was full of piss and vinegar, second on the team in hits per game, and always-willing to stick up for his teammates. For fans concerned about the salary cap, Stone should have a very reasonable cap hit, and reasonable contracts are something the cap-strapped Oilers lack.
There's another team just down the highway that is also lacking reasonable contracts and the last time this happened, they swooped in to pull a Group 6 UFA out from under the Oilers' noses, and this time the player is Calgary-born and raised. How Steve Tambellini and his newly-found clarity handle this situation may give us hints as to how the rest of the off-season will go, and if Stone ends up a wing on the third line for the Flames, the teeth-gnashing will begin anew.
Derek Zona also had this to say about Stone in a late-season update on the forward's condition:
Stone wasn't a world-beater this season, with only six assists in 27 games, no one was mistaking him for Ales Hemsky. But Stone brought an element to his game that the Oilers lacked - physical play with on-ice awareness. Even though he only appeared in 27 games, Stone is still 9th on the Oilers in hits with 54. He doesn't possess great foot speed, but he's smart enough to read the play and understands where he should be on the ice in order to avoid getting beaten because of speed.
Stone played and average of ten minutes at ES per game in the Oilers' bottom six and appeared to have secured a position on Edmonton's third line prior to suffering his second knee ailment in January, a role he could possibly slide into in Calgary with the losses of Nigel Dawes, Eric Nystrom, and Jamal Mayers. A bottom-six forward capable of outplaying the opposition for cheap is always valuable, and, although Stone played on the wing in Edmonton, I like the possibility of him centering a potential line of Ivanans and Jackman much better than I like the possibility of Backlund being dragged down by those two . Kent has Stone pegged as AHL-bound barring injury, especially with the likes of Craig Conroy and Brett Sutter still reportedly in the mix, but at $500K he's a good bet to provide value for his contract if/when he's healthy, and is nonetheless a good buy for the cash-strapped Flames.