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Flames Miss on Rodrigues, Bring Eakin in on PTO

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Coveted forward Evan Rodrigues signed a one-year deal worth $2 million. But it wasn’t with the Calgary Flames.

Less than 24 hours after the Flames signed journeyman Cody Eakin to a professional tryout contract (PTO), the Colorado Avalanche swooped in on Rodrigues.

With a current lack of competition in the bottom six, the Flames have been exploring additions up front. One of them was Rodrigues. The 29-year-old had career highs in every offensive category with 19 goals and 43 points in 82 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In the end, the Flames didn’t have the salary cap flexibility after signing Nazem Kadri to a seven-year, $49-million deal this summer. They currently have 10 defencemen on one-way deals, and Adam Ruzicka remains as an unsigned restricted free agent. A move may still come via the NHL trade route.

With prospect Jakob Pelletier the most likely internal candidate to fill one of the starting 12 forward spots, the Calgary Flames needed more options.

On Sunday, they brought in some competition in the 32-year-old Eakin – a lefty centre who can also play the wing.

Last year, Eakin scored four goals and eight assists to hit 12 points in 69 games with the Buffalo Sabres. His best offensive year was with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018-19 when he scored 22 goals and 41 points.

His presence in Calgary will put the pressure on the likes of Pelletier and any other prospects hoping to crack the opening day lineup. It will also keep veterans like Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis on their toes, along with newcomer Kevin Rooney.

Rooney is the de facto fourth-line centre now with Ruzicka yet to sign a new deal.

When Ruzicka signs, the battle will be for the wings on the bottom six. Although it’s hard to imagine Dillon Dube not being locked into one of those spots.

With the Kadri acquisition this summer, the Calgary Flames boast incredible depth down the middle. Elias Lindholm, Kadri and Mikael Backlund offer elite two-way play from the pivot position.

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