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Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving is leaving no stone unturned in his effort to add more skill and depth to the organization.
Having already added two international free agents (defenseman Alex Yelesin and goaltender Artyom Zagidulin), Treliving went right back to the well signing Swedish blueliner Carl-Johan Lerby to a two-year entry-level contract, which doesn't kick in until 2020-21.
The 21-year-old put up 21 points in 47 games with Malmo (SHL) this past season. That was good for 18th in scoring among defenders. Of the 17 to produce more points, only one other (Johannes Kinnvall, 21) was under the age of 24 and it's worth noting his output on a per-game basis was less than that of Lerby.
He does seem promising, and I think the one-year delay before kicking in the ELC makes a lot of sense.
I very much doubt Lerby wants to leave his home country to ride buses in the AHL. He'll want to play in Calgary, and that's just not realistic for 2019-20. They already have a ton of NHL-caliber defenders, and the belief is Yelesin can be one as well. Simply put, there is absolutely no room for Lerby to break through. That won't be the case a year from now.
If T.J. Brodie hasn't already been traded, his contract will be up. I doubt he'll be sticking around long-term. Michael Stone's contract will be up and he certainly won't be. Although I expect Travis Hamonic to re-sign, it's worth noting his contract will also be expiring.
The Flames are going to need some defenders – ideally on the cheap – to compete for depth spots. The hope is Lerby will be ready to do so in a year's time, and he'll carry a cap hit of less than $1 million should he earn a job.
Treliving and co. obviously liked what they saw from Lerby and, at just 21, there's reason to believe he'll continue to grow.
If that proves to be the case, and he takes another step in 2019-20, he would undoubtedly be getting more attention this time next year. I think the Flames were smart to get ahead of the curve and lock him up now.
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