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Good gracious, Gudbranson: Flames d-man making a difference

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Calgary Flames Erik Gudbranson celebrate a goal

If odds dropped on the most likely Calgary Flames defenceman to make an offensive impact, they would not have favoured free-agent signing Erik Gudbranson.

Yet, after two games, he’s become a small-sample advanced statistics darling.

With two assists in the opening period against Detroit, he’s the league leader in expected goals for.

He was talking about defence after the Calgary Flames morning skate. In particular, answering questions about the fact the Flames have been good at limiting high danger chances against in spite of the fact they haven’t won yet.

“It’s by committee,” Gudbranson said. “Unfortunately that’s kind of a tough question because the ones we have given up have ended up in our net and not allowed us to win games.

“Yes, we’ve done some good things but there’s a ton of room for improvement there.”

Summer signing paying off for Calgary Flames so far

After the team lost captain and top offensive defenceman Mark Giordano to the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, many fans were curious about why the Flames signed Gudbranson AND Nikita Zadorov this summer. Both are known for their playing heavy. Not their puck movement.

While one of them, Zadorov, has struggled to start the season, Gudbranson has proven worthy of his $1.95-million one-year deal so far.

Don’t expect him to continue to lead the league in possession or offensive numbers. But he sure looks like a solid anchor on that third pairing on the back end alongside Juuso Valimaki – who at 23 is one of a few young defencemen the team needs to take a leap forward in his development.

Gudbranson, 29, has been a good NHL mentor so far

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