In this specific job description, the Calgary Flames were … um … shorthanded.
Although this isn’t a top-of-the-ticker transaction, the Flames bolstered their penalty-killing crew with Monday’s signing of left-winger Joakim Nordstrom to a one-year contract.
Nordstrom, 28, spent the past two seasons with the Boston Bruins and will earn the league minimum — a salary-cap hit of US$700,000 — as one of the depth dudes at the Saddledome.
“It’s not going to show up on the highlight reels, what he does,” said Flames general manager Brad Treliving of Nordstrom. “But the grunt work is really, really important too.
“He’s a guy who can kill penalties for us, can give us some foot-speed and physicality in the lower end of our lineup and do a lot of the jobs that aren’t the sexy or high-profile jobs but are important to have success.”
Nordstrom mustered only four goals and three assists in 48 outings for the Bruins this past season but averaged nearly two minutes of penalty-kill duty each night, tops among all of Boston’s forwards in that stat category.
With two of Calgary’s shorthanded regulars, Mark Jankowski and Tobias Rieder, departing as free agents, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he was among Treliving’s targets.
Nordstrom will likely be cast as a fourth-liner, but it certainly seems like a savvy signing to add a dependable veteran at the NHL’s minimum wage.
“He has good foot-speed, good hockey intelligence and he’s a hard, hard worker,” Treliving said. “He has good courage to block shots. He’s good along the wall. He’s a guy who is going to win pucks in 50-50 battles. And those are all the hallmarks of penalty-killing.
“Penalty-killing isn’t overly complicated. You need to have good intelligence, in terms of the spots to be. It helps to have good foot-speed. And then a lot of penalty-killing is just will, right? It’s being willing to get in the shooting lanes, being willing to get your nose dirty. And he’s done that throughout his career, and he’s been really successful at it.”
Nordstrom, the latest Swede to sign with the Flames, has so far totalled 400 appearances at hockey’s highest level, plus 46 more in the playoffs.
He had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup in 2015, although he suited up for only three games with the Chicago Blackhawks that spring after serving as captain of their farm club in Rockford, Ill.
The 6-foot-1, 200-lb. forward played a more significant role in Boston’s run to the final two years ago, including a gig on the top penalty-kill unit.
He already has some fond memories at the Saddledome, too. There, he celebrated a gold-medal victory with Team Sweden at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
Nordstrom is back home and, due to the time difference, was not available immediately after his signing was announced. He’ll chat with reporters Tuesday.
His new boss, in asking around, has heard glowing references.
“When you do your player evaluation, you always do your homework on the type of person and the type of teammate he is,” Treliving said. “And everybody that I checked with, it’s not just, ‘Yeah, he’s a good guy.’ It’s, ‘He is a great teammate.’ He is very, very well respected.”
The Flames want ‘Big Snag Zag’ to stay sharp until play resumes in the NHL and AHL for the 2020-21 campaign. The club has loaned goalie Artyom Zagidulin to Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. Zagidulin, 25, posted a 16-7-4 record, a 3.07 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage last winter with the AHL’s Stockton Heat.
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