According to TSN.ca, the Calgary Flames have signed recently bought-out RW Todd Bertuzzi to a one-year deal worth 1.95 million. The move comes just a day after the announcement that Owen Nolan has signed a 2-year pact with the Minnesota Wild for 5.5 million.
If anyone has read my previous blogs, they will know what a huge fan I was of Owen Nolan. A lot of people look to his 32 points as not enough, but he had 16 goals and was our 2nd best player in the playoffs next to Jarome Iginla. I feel that I should address the Nolan signing first because of the respect I had for him as a major contributor for our Flames last season.
Nolan signed with the Flames just a couple days into the UFA frenzy last season and immediately there were critics. And rightfully so. I wasn't a critic, but was very skeptical of that deal, and many other recent moves by Daryl Sutter in the months previous to that.
He took #11 away from Stephane Yelle and sidled right into the second line RW position and took forever to get going in terms of goals. But the little things he did game in game out became evident right from game 1. When Owen Nolan goes into a corner to get a puck, he comes out with the puck. And if, on the very few times, he doesn't come out with the puck, the guy who did get it, is hurt or very sore from taking the pounding from Nolan. He crushes guys, he nitpicks you like an old grizzled vet, and he fights... just ask Zach Stortini, among others. Watching a 36-year old Nolan pound Stortini, a young fighter who's only business in the league is to drop the gloves, right to the ground as if he was 25 again, was a beautiful thing.
It didn't take Nolan long to become my favorite player of last season.
I couldn't be happier to say that I got to witness him at his best last season in a game against his old team, the San Jose Sharks, at the dome, late in the year. Nolan completely dominated the entire game, much like Iggy can do at times, on his way to a hat-trick and a huge win that helped propel the Flames back into Stanley Cup consideration as the Sharks were the hottest team in the league. I threw my toque (hat) onto the dome ice on the coldest day of the year in Calgary, it was about -35C that night. I marched right out into the concourse to buy myself a Nolan jersey only to find that the FanAttic at the dome didn't have any. You could get Warrener, Yelle and even Nilson, but no Nolan... I guess in a way that really sums up his time in Calgary.
Nolan was as underrated a player to the fans as I've ever seen. In fact, I bet half the people, at least, who leave comments on this blog will be happy to see him gone. How wrong you are... seriously... how wrong you are.
Just a couple final notes on Nolan to help solidify my argument of how valuable he was. The Playoffs. Really, that's all I need to say as he was an absolute warrior, playing as a 36 year old with neck problems that would probably keep younger players out for months. Not only did he score the game-winning 4th goal in the greatest comeback win in Flames playoff history... but in game 7, he muscled his way in all alone and beat Nabokov to put the Flames up 2-1 to snag the momentum back. A couple of Eriksson penalties and... oh, whatever, I won't even get started on that...
Kudos to Nolan and his agent for negotiating the crap out of the Minnesota Wild. Not only would Sutter not have given him nearly 3 mil, but there's no way he would have given him more than 1 year. The Nolan group was clearly negotiating a retirement contract, and a good one at that. The Wild are lucky to have Nolan, there's no doubt. And for him to stay in the NW... yeck. Just, 3 mil? Probably the most surprising number I've seen this off-season aside from Cristobal Huet (what on earth is that about?)
Good luck to Nolan and his family... just glad I couldn't find that jersey now!
As for the signing of Todd Bertuzzi... this comes as no surprise really. A veteran presence on the right side to take some of the burden off of Iginla and to replace Nolan. Bertuzzi's last 3 seasons have been riddled with injury but he's still a capable scorer and to ask for 20 goals out of him is not out of the question. But for Flames fans, I would say that's his ceiling.
Last year I watched the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets play at the Honda Center in Anaheim over xmas holidays. A pretty lackluster game altogether really. Aside from the Getzlaf-Bertuzzi line which was flying all night long. They were an absolute force together and it was like watching Big Bert when he was in his glory days with the Canucks. I'll take that as a good sign.
I'm happy with the move, and I just wait for an announcement on the price tag, **UPDATED AT TOP OF PAGE** but I would think that it would be similar to that of Nolan's at around 2.75. But when you look at the two, Nolan is 4 years older than Bertuzzi.
Big Bert may be able to replace Nolan's scoring... but there's no way he attacks the opposition like Nolan did. Thankfully, Sutter got several others who can pick up that slack in Bourque, Glencross and Prust.
In judging the Bertuzzi replacing Nolan move combined with the addition of some other big grinders... the Flames will be better off this year as far as the 2nd line RW goes. Let's just hope Bertuzzi and Matthew Lombardi can develop some chemistry.