CALGARY – It’s rare for Darryl Sutter to report to the media that a young hopeful has successfully built his team.
It’s no secret that the Calgary Flames coach, standing in his way, prefers to rely on long-established veterans.
But after seeing Dan Vladar calmly pull over 37 hits on Wednesday night, Sutter decided he had seen enough.
“He’s proven he can play at this level,” said Sutter of the 6-5, 185-pound goalie that held the Flames in a 3-2 defeat at Winnipeg. “Of all the players trying to build the team, he’s the only one who has shown that he can build the team.”
Coach broke the news with a smirk, realizing that those who’ve stretched their necks to get Vladar this summer can breathe a sigh of relief.
After all, it was a gamble for a 24-year-old Czech native to send a third-round pick to Boston with just five NHL games under his belt, a man they trusted to be Jacob Markstrom’s backup.
“When a player is not established in the league, there is always some risk,” admitted general manager Brad Treliving. “Our[goalkeeping men]have always loved this guy and are very attached to him. He’s been a great goalkeeper at AHL level for several years and we think he’s at the age where he’s ready to take the next step.”
Two years after leading the AHL with an average of 1.79 goals and .936 save percentage, Vladar entered Calgary’s camp and the man chose to start between 15 and 25 games.
For a Flames club that will rely on star scoring to complete their defensive style, they will need to earn at least half of those assignments if the Flames are to return to the playoffs this season.
It’s an important job that the flames are trying to fill with a little bit of creativity.
When you’ve spent $6 million to start, diving into the free agent market to get a veteran replacement isn’t easy given the obvious budget constraints and the fact that many won’t be interested in joining a Sutter team determined to launch nearly 60 games into Markstrom. .
“We’ve looked at the market for refills – you look at the cost of those and whether they sign it and see it as a good opportunity,” said Treliving, who pledged to pay Vladar $750,000 over the next two years.
“At the end of the day, our group is high (Vladar).”
Treliving has signed free agent Adam Werner this summer to recruit the 24-year-old from Stockton to a more experienced roster than raw rookie Dustin Wolf.
The team would rather have stayed in the AHL for a few years before exposing Wolf to the pressures of the NHL.
After following Vladar for years, the Flames’ goalkeeping director, Jordan Sigalet, was the one to spearhead the effort to get him.
“We started with a list of seasoned guys and a list of young, unproven guys,” said Sigalet, who confirmed many veterans looking for opportunities to play in Calgary, where they knew Sutter would ride Markstrom hard. .
“Then at the same time, ‘Do you want an older man who may not want to continue early and not want to start later, or do you want a younger man who is hungry and has room to grow and still has a lot of life? in his game?’ We took that risk and we’re happy with what they’ve done preseason so far, but the regular season is a completely new episode, so we hope it can take that there.”
Sigalet, a Bruins draft pick who played a clear match for the club before retiring in 2001, received a call from former teammate Tuukka Rask after taking on Vladar.
‘It’s a great start for you, at a point where he can play good 15-20-25 games in reserve,’ he said, but still thought he had a higher ceiling than that… so do we,” Sigalet said. “Tuukka confirmed what we saw in the video, great A goalkeeper – a big man who can move. He also admired his character.”
Throughout a solid camp, Vladar insisted he was not willing to look forward to the season or assume he would start the season with the big club. As obvious as the club was ready to nod for Werner, he focused on his next training, starting and saving.
And so, when Sutter’s post-game support was mentioned, Vladar responded with a touch of surprise.
“If he said that, it’s good for me,” said Vladar. “If I ever get a chance, I want a chance to prove that I can be a part of this team and help this team and achieve some success. If he said that, the job starts now for me. I won’t get too high or too low from him. I’ll do the same things I do – into every practice And I prepare for every game and try not to concede.”
When asked what he still had to work on, Vladar was too knowledgeable to reveal any secrets.
“I really don’t want to say it on the news, because the next time we play one then they might do it,” he laughed. “Every goalie has something to improve on. I’m really lucky to have someone really good like Marky and Barbs[goalkeeping coach Jason LaBarbera]. Marky is one of the best players in the NHL and Barbs are really good.
“I am very grateful to have the opportunity to learn from them every day.”