The Saddlesphere breathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday, as promising young RFA rearguard T.J. Brodie signed a two-year "bridge deal" with the Flames, which will see him earn
While some wanted to see Brodie signed to a longer-term deal so that the club would perhaps save some money in the long run, eat up a couple of Brodie's UFA seasons, and wouldn't have to worry about signing him to a second RFA deal and the salary arbitration in two year's time hanging over their heads, there are some benefits to Brodie signing a bridge deal now.
Brodie, who turned 23 in June, is still very young, and has only played 104 NHL games. As impressed as we all were with him last year when he saw his responsibility was increased from a bottom to a top-pairing defenceman, he still has room to grow and improve. When his current contract expires, he will still only be 25 and a few years away from his prime as a player. The short term of the deal gives the Flames a potential 164 games to really determine what kind of asset Brodie is to the organization, and then to pay him accordingly (which is to say, the big bucks). At 22-years old, Brodie showed that he was a capable top-four defender; five of the top eight players he hit the ice with most frequently had better possession numbers with Brodie than without him, and his ability to navigate the ice and find openings makes him a stand-out in his age group. It's just unfortunate that the Flames will likely be wasting these two years of his career where he is probably most likely to out-perform his contract on rebuilding.
Josh Jooris and John Ramage
The Flames also announced earlier this week that they have signed NCAA centre Josh Jooris, whom attended the organization's recent development camp. Jooris earned a two-way deal with an average annual value of $925,000; the 23-year-old scored 12 goals and 28 points last season with Union College, and was described by Jay Feaster as a player with "good grit," and "high compete level," as well as one who is in possession of "size and skill." I'm beginning to feel like he is incapable of describing hockey players in any other way, and also that I should consume at least three shots of hard liquor according to the rules of the impending Jay Feaster Drinking Game.
Flames Nation's Ryan Lambert has heard mixed reviews with regard to Jooris' college career, with some observers calling him overrated as a result of playing alongside 20-goal scorers and some saying that he is a capable player in all three zones who possesses some of fundamentals of a good hockey player.
Ultimately, however, he doesn't see Jooris making the leap to the big leagues in the near future:
So this should come as no surprise, but Jooris is, at 23 years old, looking like a definitive AHLer to start his career. That's fine, that's great, but to expect any more than that from a guy who underwhelmed in college from a production standpoint seems like a lot. It's important to fill out the AHL roster, obviously, and competition is never a bad thing, but all these quotes about how this is an NHL contract and so forth, well, that's true only in the most technical of senses.
Defenceman John Ramage also capped off his college career this spring; the 22-year-old son of former Flame Rob Ramage was drafted in the fourth round in 2010 by the Flames, and spent four years with the University of Wisconsin Badgers, where he collected 14 goals and 53 points over the course of his NCAA career.
Last year, Ramage scored eight goals and 20 points in 42 games en route to the Western College Hockey Association Championship. The Flames signed him to a two-year contract worth $900,000 back in April, and he will join the Heat in September, where he'll have to have a stand-out performance in order to break through the Flames' current log-jam at defence.
Olympic Camp Rosters
Slowly but surely, the 2014 Olympic hockey camp rosters are trickling in. Jarome Iginla was a notable exclusion from Canada's initial invite list, while former Flames defencemen Jay Bouwmeester (the proud owner of a brand new five-year contract extension with the St. Louis Blues) and Dion Phaneuf also made the list.
Elsewhere, Karri Ramo was invited to Finland's camp and Sven Baertschi and Reto Berra both received calls to join team Switzerland for tryouts. The up-and-coming Swiss pushed team Canada to the brink in 2010, forcing the Canadians to the shootout, where Sidney Crosby scored his second-most important GWG of the winter games.
Jiri Hudler is another Flames player that could be on the radar for his country at the upcoming Olympic Games, but the Czech team's camp roster remains under wraps, at least publicly.
Enjoy your long weekend everyone!