Maybe now Michael Stone can unclench the jaw and relax a little. Now that the defenceman has re-signed with the Calgary Flames, there is one less thing to worry about.
Stone said he was always stressed earlier in camp. He was probably only half joking. The 32-year-old was on yet another PTO in training camp. Hoping to sign his fifth deal with the only franchise he wants to play for.
Although the saying is that Stone in Calgary is inevitable, there were no guarantees coming his way with a deep defensive group only bolstered by the MacKenzie Weegar trade in the offseason.
But after leading the team in preseason goals, showing off his lethal slapshot and his willingness to use it, Stone turned his tryout into a fifth straight contract with the Calgary Flames — signing a one-year, two-way deal. He’ll get to be home in Calgary whether he’s playing for the Flames or the AHL Calgary Wranglers if the eventual return of Oliver Kylington and development of Connor Mackey push him from the NHL at some point this season.
It’s his fourth consecutive one-year deal.
“Happy to be done; happy to be here. This is what I wanted all along,” Stone told reporters on Tuesday after the deal was done.
“I think I did what I needed to do, but there’s always room for growth. That’s what we’re going to keep building towards. Never be satisfied.”
Not when there’s so much more to come for him.
This time, it’s possible Stone will get playing time right away.
Last season, the seventh man was on the sidelines for most of the season. Stone was the ultimate backup plan, and he never seemed to miss a bit when inserted. He played an important role in the playoffs when Chris Tanev went down with injury in the first round, too.
But with Kylington out indefinitely with a personal family issue and Connor Mackey as the lone contender for the sixth spot, opportunity is there for Stone to get into games early.
He has been practicing on the third pairing with Nikita Zadorov.
“Everybody wants to play. So if I can keep doing what I’m doing and building my game, I’ll look to be a regular. That’s the plan. For me, anyway.”
The Calgary Flames always seem to be the plan. But it’s more than just the comfort of his family with three school-aged children tugging at his desire to stick around here.
“I believe in this team; I think we have a great group here,” he said. “The obvious answer is my family’s here, but if it wasn’t going to work out here, then my family’s good wherever we end up.
“I love this city and love this team and wanted to be part of it. I think we can do some good things here.”