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Ruzicka, Ritchie, Back in Flames Fold As Camp Opens

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One signing started the day. The second ended it. On the day Calgary Flames camp began with fitness testing, the team added to the roster.

Their last remaining unsigned restricted free agent Adam Ruzicka signed a two-year deal with an AAV of $762,000 in the morning. Negotiations went the distance and they agreed on a two-way contract for this season and a one-way deal next year.

It makes no difference in terms of reassignment — if the Calgary Flames decide to send Ruzicka to the AHL Wranglers they’ll risk losing the 23-year-old to waivers. But the one-way deal is a show of faith from the Flames, and guarantees his NHL salary regardless of where he ends up playing.

Taken in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, Ruzicka has shown a lot of potential. Consistency isn’t always there with younger players but the Slovakian prospect has a nice combination of size and skill and seems like a good bet for a bottom-six NHL career at centre. Maybe there’s more upside there to be unlocked, too.

Last year was a big one for Ruzicka. He played 28 games with the Flames and had five goals and 10 points in that span despite playing primarily on the fourth line. Ruzicka also played in the Olympic qualifiers and established himself as a productive AHLer with 11 goals and 20 points in 16 games with the Stockton Heat in the regular season.

He’s a player on the cusp of an NHL career.

Later on Wednesday, the Calgary Flames locked up a veteran.

Winger Brett Ritchie signed for a third straight season with the Flames, inking a one-year deal worth $750,000.

Not a PTO. A guaranteed contract.

But the fourth-line grinder isn’t an anchor to future moves. And he’s a pretty decent presence out there, too. He can’t seem to capitalize offensively but owns strong underlying possession numbers.

Worst case scenario, if a young player makes more sense, he’ll find a spot.

“I want to make it really clear. Whether you’re 18 or you’re 28 — play well, and there’ll be a spot,” Treliving said, pointing to Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki previously making the team for opening day despite no obvious openings.

“It’s like a club. An exclusive club is hard to get into. This is the NHL. Nothing is given. We’re looking to dress the best lineup; we’re trying to win. If you can help us win, you’re on the team.”

To free up cap space to sign one of their PTO players — Michael Stone, Sonny Milano or Cody Eakin — Treliving is still believed to be heavily involved in the NHL trade market. A right-shot right-winger is still something that could be added in the future.

For now, though, he’s eager to see what this group looks like on the ice.

The wait for that is over.

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