After re-signing Matt Keetley to a one-year deal on Thursday, the Flames announced the signings of three other farm hands yesterday. 2004 first round pick Kris Chucko was re-upped as well as defenceman Gord Baldwin and fresh-out-of-junior forward Gaelan Patterson; the 2009 seventh round pick scored his first entry level contract after impressing the organization with his modest offensive breakout this past season, scoring 26-33-59 to go along with one goal in three playoff games with the Abbotsford Heat, whom he will likely suit up for on a full-time basis this fall.
Kent wrote on the subject of Kris Chucko's dwindling opportunity last summer, and I'm a little surprised that he was given another chance after missing half the season due to injury and scoring only 9-9-18 and accumulating a nasty -11 in the 41 games he did suit up for, especially over a guy like David Van der Gulik (Colorado), who finished second on the Heat in scoring last season with 16-24-40 and was +13 in 64 games, but the Flames are clearly reluctant to give up on this guy for whatever reason. With an intriguing new crop of forward prospects set to join the Heat next season that includes junior 50-goal scorer Bryan Cameron, 2008 first rounder Greg Nemisz, and perhaps the guy Flames fans are most excited about in Mitch Wahl, this could potentially be Chucko's last stand. He could either be reinvigorated by the this injection of youth or continue to appear a step behind the majority of the club's forward prospects and journeyman AHLers.
I wrote about Gord Baldwin as a guy I wouldn't mind getting another go at things, if only because he was lauded as the next Chris Pronger due to his 6'5", 206 lbs. frame upon being drafted by the Flames. He enjoyed a career year in his third professional season and, despite missing thirteen games, remained one of Abbotsford's lone healthy blueliners. Baldwin finished tied for second in scoring amongst Heat defencemen with 24 points in 67 games and was a career-best +7, but will need to become more mobile if he ever hopes to crack an NHL lineup. It seems odd that he would be signed before Matt Pelech, who is being pencilled in on the Flames' bottom pairing next season by many, but with the parent club experiencing crowding on the blueline and with Ian White seemingly headed for salary arbitration, I suppose management is still waiting to see how things shake out, especially if Sutter manages to move a body or two from the back end.
If I'm not mistaken, Flames prospect camp begins on July 25th, so the process of revealing whether or not the latter two will be left in the dust of the incoming youngsters will begin in earnest then.