Raphael Diaz will be wearing red in training camp — just not the shade Detroit envisioned.
On Monday, reports out of Switzerland claimed Diaz will attend Calgary Flames camp on a PTO, turning down an earlier invite from the Red Wings in the process.
Diaz, 28, appeared in 63 games for the Canadiens, Canucks and Rangers last year, scoring two goals and 15 points. Known primarily as an offensive defenseman — he had 14 points in 23 games with the Habs during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign — Diaz also represented Switzerland at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and played in four playoff games with the Blueshirts en route to last year’s Stanley Cup Final.
Diaz is also a right-handed shot, something the Red Wings had been looking to add all summer. It’s possible the Swiss rearguard liked his chances of sticking in the NHL with Calgary more than Detroit, which makes sense — the Flames’ projected top six isn’t overly deep with Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, Kris Russell, Ladislav Smid and Deryk Engelland; as such, the likes of veterans Sheldon Brookbank (also on a PTO) and Corey Potter (signed to a two-way deal) came aboard in the hope of landing jobs.
The Calgary Flames found some defensive reinforcements for the upcoming season.
The Flames signed former Oilers and Bruins defenseman Corey Potter to a one-year, two-way deal. Last season, he spent time with both the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins playing in a total of 19 games with both teams.
Potter, 30, joins a Flames team in need of solid defensive help. With Mark Giordano leading the way, the rest of the blue line corps is a bit dicey. Ladislav Smid, T.J. Brodie, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, and Deryk Engelland round out what would appear to be Calgary’s top-six on defense.
While that crew could use more help, the thing they need most is depth and Potter will help out there especially with the rest of the depth hopefuls being young like Tyler Wotherspoon and Patrick Sieloff.
Potter’s best season came with the Oilers in 2011-12 when he had four goals and 21 points in 62 games. He’s played in 52 total games in the two seasons since then.
Another day, another Oiler heading to Russia.
This time, it’s defenseman Philip Larsen — the 24-year-old Dane has reportedly inked a one-year agreement with Yugra of the KHL, according to Sports.ru.
Larsen, who came to Edmonton as part of the Shawn Horcoff-to-Dallas trade, appeared in 30 games for the Oilers last season, scoring three goals and 12 points. He was in and out of the lineup repeatedly and spent some time with AHL Oklahoma City prior to parting ways with the club.
As mentioned above, Larsen is just the latest Oiler to bolt for the KHL. The first was Russian Olympic defenseman Anton Belov, who left Edmonton after just one year (and 57 games) to sign with SKA St. Petersburg. Shortly after departing, Belov said part of his reason for returning home was that he no longer wanted to play under Edmonton head coach Dallas Eakins.
Not long after, forward Roman Horak — acquired in the Ladislav Smid deal with Calgary — opted to sign with Vityaz Podolsk after making just two appearances with the Oilers, spending the majority of his time in OKC.
A second young Edmonton player has left the organization to sign in Russia.
Roman Horak, the Czech center acquired from the Flames in last year’s Ladislav Smid trade, has signed for Vityaz Podolsk of the KHL, the club announced on Monday.
Horak, 22, was originally a Rangers draftee and dealt to Calgary in 2011. He enjoyed his best NHL season with the Flames in 2011-12, scoring 11 points in 61 games — as a 20-year-old — before scoring seven points in 20 games during the 2012-13 season.
Horak struggled to get in the lineup with Edmonton, however, making just two appearances while spending the majority of his time in AHL Oklahoma City — where he performed quite well. Horak had 21 goals and 48 points in 53 games for the Barons this year.
As mentioned above, Horak wasn’t the only Oiler to leave for the KHL this offseason. Defenseman Anton Belov also departed to sign with SKA St. Petersburg and, shortly after leaving, said part of his reason for going to Russia is that he no longer wanted to play under Edmonton head coach Dallas Eakins.
To say Ales Hemsky wanted a better start to his Sochi Olympic experience is an understatement.
The Edmonton forward was benched for the entire first period of Czech Republic’s 4-2 loss to Sweden on Wednesday, and finished with less than seven minutes of ice time. Following the game, Hemsky tried to put the situation in perspective.
“It’s hard if you don’t play the first half of the game,” Hemsky said, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I’m not used to it. I didn’t sit like that for how many years, but it is what it is.
“I just tried to get back and just get my legs going.”
As mentioned, Hemsky didn’t play at all in the first period. He then received 1:23 in the second period and 5:35 in the third, which included some power play time — something of a curious decision, as Czech head coach Alois Hadamczik opted to put Hemsky, the forward he used the least through two periods, on a crucial man advantage with his team trying to mount a comeback.
Hemsky, 30, has struggled with injuries this season and missed seven games in January with an ankle issue, so it’s possible he wasn’t at 100 percent heading into this game (also, starting goalie Jakub Kovar said a few Czech players had fallen ill). But he wasn’t the only NHL forward that saw limited ice — Ottawa’s Milan Michalek got just 6:46 while Winnipeg’s Michael Frolik played 9:44.
Hemsky’s former Edmonton teammate, defenseman Ladislav Smid, spent the entire game on the bench.
Related: What’s going on with Pavelec and the Czech Olympic team?