Jakub Nakladal (Martin Rose/Getty Images)
The Calgary Flames have signed free agent defenseman Jakub Nakladal to a one-year, entry-level deal. The 27-year-old blueliner was also being pursued by the Chicago Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes, but decided his best opportunity was with the Flames.
One day after it was reported that free agent Czech defenseman Jakub Nakladal, 27, was intending on signing a deal in the NHL, the Calgary Flames announced they have come to terms on a one-year, entry-level deal with the sought-after blueliner.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Nakladal’s choices were down to Calgary, Carolina and Chicago, but landing with the Flames likely means Nakladal will have the chance to compete for a roster spot and potentially help a young team that is close to becoming a perennial playoff contender.
While Flames GM Brad Treliving wouldn’t confirm the signing of Nakladal necessarily means he’ll be on the roster next season, he did say the potential rewards for signing the one-time Czech Extraliga defenseman of the year heavily outweighs the risk.
“He’s a guy that our guys liked,” Treliving told CalgaryFlames.com’s Aaron Vickers. “Where he fits, training camp will determine that. We look at this as we think there’s some upside there. There are always questions with players that have spent their careers in Europe in terms of transition and how long that will take. He’s a solid person. He keeps himself in great shape. But we’ll see. Training camp, preseason will determine where he slots in. We talked about continuing to add depth to the blue line. This is that.
“We think there’s upside here, but to us the risk-reward factor we felt when we analyzed it favours upside without a great deal of risk. We’ll see. We think this is a smart, sensible signing with upside in a position that we want to continue to build and add depth.”
Nakladal’s contract is two-way deal, so if he doesn’t immediately factor into the Flames’ plans the option of shipping him to the AHL’s Stockton Heat is always present to aid in his development.
Last season, Nakladal suited up for TPS Turku of Finland’s SM-Liiga and made quite the impact for his club. Though he only scored three goals and 15 points, he’s more of a shutdown defender with a good size frame – he stands 6-foot-2, 205 pounds – and has been part of the Czech national team at several major international competitions.
“He’s a good-sized, right shot defender,” Treliving told Vickers. “He can move a puck, he’s got a big shot, but his game is a defending type of game with the ability to make simple plays, simple outlet plays. I don’t want to confuse him with a guy who’s going to take the puck from one end to the other, but he’s a solid, stable defender.”
The Flames have six defensemen under contract for next season, so if Nakladal makes the roster he will have to do it by stealing a spot or slotting in as the seventh blueliner. It also opens up potential for the Flames to move one of their depth defensemen for help up front.