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Does Adam Ruzicka’s Emergence Take Flames Out of Trade Market?

Adam Ruzicka didn’t look much like he’d make it as a winger in training camp. The Calgary Flames centre was shoved to the outside because he wasn’t expected to make the cut down th



Adam Ruzicka didn’t look much like he’d make it as a winger in training camp. The Calgary Flames centre was shoved to the outside because he wasn’t expected to make the cut down the middle after the team added a couple of new pivots over the summer.

Nazem Kadri and Kevin Rooney were brought in, with Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm already established. Oh, and Dillon Dube could fill in down the middle in a pinch, too.

So Ruzicka hit the flank alongside prospect Connor Zary and PTO body Sonny Milano.

It didn’t go well.

Fast forward to Monday night. Ruzicka had just finished his fourth straight game.

On the left side.

Of the top line.

The plum assignment came out of necessity, with Jonathan Huberdeau hurt and head coach Darryl Sutter not wanting to mess around much with his lines after the team played one of its better games amid their seven-game losing streak.

Ruzicka has taken full advantage of the opportunity. He had an assist in that first game — which was just his second of the entire season — and has added two consecutive two-point games to run his top-line audition totals to two goals and five points in four games there.

Not bad for a 23-year-old who was a healthy scratch in 10 of the first 11 Calgary Flames games this season.

“I think we’ve got a good thing going on right now,” Ruzicka told Flames TV on Wednesday as the team practiced in Tampa ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Lightning. It’s the first of six games on the road.

“We’re still finding our chemistry right now. It’s going to take a couple more games. Every practice, every shift that we play together, it’s more and more.

“It’s awesome.”

But does Ruzicka’s emergence mean Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving can call off his search for another scoring winger?

We’re probably not quite there yet. The sample size is small. But it’s encouraging. Perhaps it dilutes the urgency a bit.

The Flames have long been connected to the NHL trade market. Talk about their desire to land someone (like Montreal Canadiens power forward Josh Anderson) has been rampant since August and isn’t really dying down. Elliotte Friedman talked about it again in a recent 32 Thoughts segment, and teams like the St. Louis Blues who are looking to shake things up are being mentioned in the same breath.

But what Ruzicka’s impressive play — simple, but skilled — has given the Flames is more balance. Huberdeau returned from his injuries and performed well with Mikael Backlund and Trevor Lewis, netting his 200th NHL goal.

The Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Ruzicka trio posted eight combined points in that 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

And goals from the Milan Lucic, Kadri, Mangiapane line, and Dube, Blake Coleman, Brett Ritchie combination came too.

Maybe there are no truly elite top lines to be found in this setup, but Ruzicka and Co. sure looked like a 1a.

“I thought they moved the puck around well, the three of them together,”Calgary Flames assistant coach Ryan Huska said post-game, addressing the media instead of Sutter. “Adam did a good job of using his size tonight and going to the net.

“Over the last couple games, certain guys have raised their level, and we needed to find a way to win games, and Elias has been one of them and so has Tyler. So, that was a good line for us tonight, for sure.”

And after two consecutive wins following up seven straight losses, the team is feeling a lot more confident.

“Those two wins kind of bumped us up,” Ruzicka said. “Gave us a little boost for this road trip.”