Training camp is almost upon us, and the Flames only had six veteran defencemen signed. They've now rectified that with the addition of free agent defenceman Corey Potter, who was signed to a two-year, one-way contract. He's basically a right-handed shot version of Derek Smith, who left the Flames organization after last season and is now in Switzerland.
Potter, 30, didn't play much last year. He scored five assists and recorded 21 penalty minutes over 16 games for the Oilers, while spending six games playing for the Oilers' AHL affiliate. After being waived late last season, he was claimed by the Boston Bruins, whom he played three games for. In his career, the 6'3", 206 lb. defenceman has eight goals, 32 points, and 53 penalty minutes over 123 games.
With the addition of Potter, the Flames defence heading into the 2014-15 season looks something like this:
TJ Brodie - Mark Giordano
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
Ladislav Smid - Deryk Engelland/Corey Potter
Potter requires waivers to be sent down, and the fact that he's on a two-way deal means the Flames may see it fit for him to play for the Adirondack Flames, rather than the Calgary ones. On the other hand, he's also 30 and likely on a very cheap deal, so he may very well just be pressbox fodder, subbing in when someone gets hurt or however long it takes for the Flames to realize that Deryk Engelland's contract was a terrible idea for a number of reasons (one of those reasons being that he, too, is pressbox fodder).
The main impact of this signing is the fact that the Flames added another veteran body to their defence. He isn't a particularly good one, but this almost ensures a player like Tyler Wotherspoon, probably the Flames' top defensive prospect at the moment, will be playing top pairing minutes in the AHL to start the season, rather than joining the Flames in a more limited role. For that reason alone, it's not a bad contract. There's a chance we may see Wotherspoon making the NHL later this season, depending on how injuries and trades shake out.
This contract does bring up where Mark Cundari stands with the organization, though. Cundari, a part of that Jay Bouwmeester trade that just looks worse and worse with every passing day (if not for the grace of Emile Poirier), was traded away from the Abbotsford Heat in an AHL transaction last season, which seems to imply the Flames don't have high hopes for his status as a member of the organization. A restricted free agent, he was re-signed, but now requires waivers to be sent down. He may have been this year's Chris Breen (that is, a prospect the Flames insisted on keeping in the pressbox and dressing for limited minutes on occasion), but adding Potter to the roster points more towards him going back to the AHL and playing substantial minutes.
Anyway, this is ultimately a depth move. Potter probably isn't going to make an impact on the ice, but by bringing him into the fold, the Flames are showing they're serious about not rushing their prospects. So with all that said, I'll leave you with Potter's most famous moment: stepping on Taylor Hall's face.