Johnny Gaudreau

Flames provide Spencer Foo with ‘really good opportunity’

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After giving it a lot of thought, NCAA standout Spencer Foo decided to join the Calgary Flames.

Many expected him to sign with his hometown Oilers. Although he didn’t opt to go that way, he still managed to sign a contract with a team in the province he’s from.

Being close to home isn’t the only reason the 23-year-old decided to settle on Calgary. The opportunity they were willing to give him also played a factor in his decision.

“A couple of different reasons. One was opportunity,” Foo told beat reporter Wes Gilberston. The Flames have a really good opportunity on the right side and have a lot of exciting players down the middle and on the left wing to play with. So I figured that pretty much whoever I’m playing with on the Flames, they’re going to be great linemates, and that’s exciting.”

Having Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and a stacked defense certainly didn’t hurt their chances with Foo.

The Union College product put up some incredible numbers in 2016-17. He had 26 goals and 62 points in just 38 contests. Only Flyers prospect Michael Vecchione managed to put up more points (he had one more) for Union College last season.

Another reason Foo chose the Flames is because he believes they’re ready to win right away.

We’ll see where he slots in next fall.

NCAA star Spencer Foo chooses the Flames

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NCAA standout forward Spencer Foo decided to sign with the Calgary Flames, as The Sports Corporation and team confirmed. The signing might not be official until free agency kicks off on Saturday, July 1, but he apparently made his decision.

After managing 25 points in each of his first two seasons with Union College, Foo exploded in 2016-17, racking up 26 goals and 62 points. You can see some of his highlights in the video above.

He didn’t go drafted, so this could be a case of another scorer blossoming late.

Foo is an Edmonton native, so playing close to home in Calgary likely factored into his decision. He was connected to the Edmonton Oilers in earlier rumors while MLive.com’s Ansar Khan indicates that his final choice came down to the Flames or the Detroit Red Wings.

Calgary is already classifying him as a RW. Perhaps he’ll be that long-desired fit for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan? There’s another positive aspect for the Flames, as this might help to soften the blow of giving up a bundle of assets in the Travis Hamonic deal.

The Sports Corporation tweeted out a photo of Foo, 23, in a Flames jersey:

Stability, Stanley Cup aspirations ‘a breath of fresh air’ for Mike Smith

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The Calgary Flames officially introduced their two newest players on Monday afternoon when they welcomed starting goaltender Mike Smith and defenseman Travis Hamonic to the organization.

The addition of Hamonic gives the Flames what should be an outstanding top-four on defense as he joins a blue line that already features Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton.

While that defense might be one of the better ones in the Western Conference, the Flames are hopeful that Smith can help solidify a goaltending position that was a major question mark this past season and a significant weakness for much of it.

It’s not only a big move for the Flames, but it also seems to be an exciting one for Smith as he goes from a team in a clear rebuild mode that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years to one that suddenly has Stanley Cup aspirations.

On Monday, Smith was asked about what it is like for him going from a team that was constantly surrounded by uncertainty off the ice and what it will be like to play for a team that wants to keep getting closer to a Stanley Cup.

“It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Smith. “It’s something I have been begging for quite some time now. I am a competitor, and I want to win real bad. I feel like this move is an opportunity and a challenge and I am going to take it on full steam. I really respect this team, playing against them is always a challenge. I look forward to being on this side of it and helping this team be real successful.”

Smith spent the past six seasons in Arizona, compiling a .916 save percentage during that time. He is coming off of a 2016-17 season that saw him go 19-26-9 in 55 games with a .914 save percentage.

Flames goalies finished the season with a .910 mark as Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson spent most of the season splitting time in the crease. Neither goalie will be back this season making it the second year in a row they have completely overhauled the position.

With a defense that figures to be one of the best in the Western Conference and an offense led by young stars Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Matthew Tkachuk the Flames are clearly in a win-now mode. That is going to put a ton of pressure on Smith to solidify the position. That pressure does not seem to bother him.

“The position calls for that,” said Smith, via the Flames’ website. “I’ve taken it upon myself to be that guy, every time I go on the ice.

“I’m one guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. I want to win so bad that sometimes it can work against me. I think, though, with experience in the league I’ve learned how to handle that, how to be a solid force back there. I think I can bring some leadership, be a calming influence back there.”

Bettman says NHL will call more slashes next season

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Commissioner Gary Bettman says the NHL will look to enforce slashing penalties more next season.

Following the league’s board of governors meeting, Bettman said pointless slashes to players’ hands will be called more. Ottawa’s Marc Methot and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were among the players to miss time last season with hand injuries from slashes.

Related PHT coverage:

Gaudreau (finger) out six weeks, Treliving says Staal slash the culprit

— Flames made ‘mountain out of a molehill’ over Gaudreau slash

— Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby slash

— Melnyk blasts ‘whiner’ Crosby, who won’t face hearing for Methot slash

Johnny Gaudreau bests Granlund, Tarasenko for Lady Byng Trophy

Johnny Gaudreau has always been able to hurt the opposition on the score board.

The Calgary Flames forward scored 18 goals and 61 points this season, while spending all of four minutes in the penalty box, despite often being the target of the opposition.

Sometimes, other teams and players can go over the line, but Gaudreau kept out of the extracurriculars, earning him the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, which exemplifies sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct in the game.

He beats out Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild and Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues for the award.

All three players combined for a total of 28 penalty minutes between them all season, while scoring a total of 83 goals and 205 points.

The winner is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Here is how the voting turned out:

Points. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Johnny Gaudreau, CGY 906 (54-33-15-16-12)
2. Vladimir Tarasenko, STL 738 (35-31-25-12-10)
3. Mikael Granlund, MIN 445 (12-22-23-16-8)
4. Marian Hossa, CHI 320 (17-13-9-3-5)
5. Oscar Klefbom, EDM 264 (11-8-12-7-17)
6. Auston Matthews, TOR 238 (2-14-12-15-15)
7. Brandon Saad, CBJ 211 (1-10-15-12-20)
8. Jason Pominville, MIN 127 (4-5-4-9-5)
9. Henrik Zetterberg, DET 119 (5-1-7-8-3)
10. Ryan O’Reilly, BUF 98 (1-2-7-11-6)
11. Duncan Keith, CHI 67 (3-2-2-4-1)
12. John Carlson, WSH 55 (2-1-4-2-2)
13. Aleksander Barkov, FLA 54 (2-0-4-3-5)
14. Connor McDavid, EDM 51 (3-3-0-0-0)
15. Erik Karlsson, OTT 50 (3-0-2-3-1)
16. Sidney Crosby, PIT 47 (2-3-0-2-0)
17. Leon Draisaitl, EDM 46 (0-4-1-3-4)
18. Marcus Johansson, WSH 37 (0-2-0-4-11)
19. Jared Spurgeon. MIN 33 (1-2-1-0-4)
20. Rickard Rakell, ANA 29 (0-2-2-1-2)