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Long list of Calgary Flames connections at Beijing Olympics

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Calgary Flames Michael Frolik

Calgary Flames stars Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk gave the hockey world a sense of what they’re missing out on at the Olympics.

With NHLers not making the trip to China next month, the Flames duo will miss a chance to represent Team USA. If Monday’s win over the St. Louis Blues was any indication, the two would have done some serious damage overseas. Tkachuk had five assists and Gaudreau had a goal and four points on Saddledome ice to beat the Blues 7-1 this week.

They’ve been dominant at times all season long and it’s a shame we don’t get to see them competing at the Winter Games together.

Imagine the two of them teaming with Tkachuk’s brother Brady on the powerplay.

The league pulled its players out of the Olympics due to COVID fears and the COVID postponements that disrupted the NHL season.

Because the Olympic rosters don’t have much NHL talent, there is great upset and fun to watch. If you’re looking for Calgary Flames content, here’s who to watch:

Team Canada

Tyler Wotherspoon: A tall defender taken by the Flames in the second round, 57th overall, of the 2011 NHL Draft, Wotherspoon played 30 games over parts of four seasons with the Flames. The stay-at-home defenceman earned just five points, all assists, from 2013-2017. He’s played the last five years in the AHL but also has international experience, representing Canada as a member of Team Pacific at the 2009 World Under-17 Challenge and the 2013 World Juniors.

Corban Knight: A bottom-six utility man, Knight came to the Calgary Flames via trade in 2013. He suited up for nine games with Calgary and scored once. He spent most of his time with the Flames franchise in the minors and had 26 goals in 92 games in the American Hockey League with the Abbotsford Heat. He’s currently playing for former Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley in the KHL.

Ben Street: The Flames signed the undrafted free agent out of NCAA Wisconsin, but he played in just 19 games for the Flames. Like Knight, Street was overmatched in the NHL, with two assists in two seasons, but was a stellar player in the AHL. With Abbotsford, he was a point-per-game player in 2013-14 with 60 points in 58 games for the Heat. He suited up a few times with the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils, as well as their AHL teams, but is with Munich in the German League this year.

Adam Cracknell: Blessed with an NHL shot but an overall ability more impactful at the AHL level, Cracknell never actually suited up for the Calgary Flames. They scooped him up in the ninth round of the 2004 NHL Draft but ended up a journeyman with the St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, New York Rangers, and Anaheim Ducks. His best NHL year was in 2016-17 when he scored 10 goals in 69 games with the Stars. He dabbled in the KHL but has been with the AHL Bakersfield Condors, the Edmonton Oilers affiliate. He was on Team Canada at the 2018 Spengler Cup.

Team USA

Kenny Agostino: The Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2010 fifth-round pick (140th overall) from Yale was part of the Penguins package for Hall-of-Fame Calgary Flames winger Jarome Iginla at the 2013 NHL trade deadline. Agostino made his NHL debut in 2013-14 and played eight games for the Flames. Not exactly the return they were looking for. But the 29-year-old has found his fit in the KHL, with 40 points (20-20-40) in 46 games with the Nizhny Novgorod.

Nick Shore: Shore joined the Flames in a deal with the Ottawa Senators midseason in 2018. He only played nine games and was often confused for brother Drew …

Czechia

Roman Cervenka: Cervenka was considered one of best players not in the NHL when he joined the Calgary Flames as a coveted free agent in 2012-13. Unfortunately, his 39-game season didn’t amount to much. He had nine goals and 17 points and the Flames missed the playoffs. Cervenka was considered a bust but didn’t enjoy life in North America. He returned to the KHL and now toils in the Swiss-A league as a 36-year-old. He’s doing well there with 43 points (12 goals, 31 assists) in 35 games with SC Rapperswil-Jona.

Michael Frolik: Michael Frolik is probably the most notable former Calgary Flames player to suit up in Beijing. The 33-year-old played 13 NHL seasons split between six teams — including five years and 319 games with the Flames. Despite racking up 145 points (63 goals, 82 assists) and making a huge two-way impact, particularly as a member of the 3M line with Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund.

He left during a disagreement about his usage and was traded from Calgary to the Buffalo Sabres last January in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

Frolik was on the 2014 Sochi Olympics team, the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and three World Championships. A hellish last season with the Montreal Canadiens saw him healthy scratched for all but eight games with the Stanley Cup runner-up. He has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 16 games with Lausanne HC in Switzerland this year.

Germany

Tobias Rieder: It wasn’t that long ago that Rieder suited up for the Calgary Flames. He dressed for 55 games in 2019–20 before the pandemic. He showed a lot of potential, flirting with 20 goals a couple of times early in his career with the Arizona Coyotes.

But he became a depth player by the time he got to the Flames He teased in the pre-season but ultimately couldn’t contribute in his only season in the Flaming C.

David Wolf: The Flames hoped Wolf would be the power forward they lost in Jarome Iginla. But his one season on this side of the pond didn’t lead to much time in the NHL. Wolf finished with 2 PIMs in four games played – one in the playoffs – and went back to the German League the next year.

He did look great in the AHL. Wolf scored 20 goals and 38 points in 59 games with the Adirondack Flames in that 2014-15 season.

Russia

Nikita Nesterov: Nikita Nesterov played 38 games for the Flames last year but might have been even less popular than the team’s current Nikita (Zadorov). Nesterov looked to be carving out a decent career with the Tampa Bay Lightning. But the blueliner left for the KHL after a trade to the Montreal Canadiens in 2016-17. After three successful years in the KHL, he joined the Calgary Flames for the pandemic-shortened season. It didn’t go well and after posting four assists, he’s back in the KHL with CSKA Moscow. He has five goals and 33 points in 41 games, so things are going pretty well.

Alexander Yelesin: The Flames brought defenceman Alexander Yelesin in from the KHL and he was a solid piece of the Stockton Heat back end for most of the last two seasons before hopping back over to Yaroslavl Lokomotiv this year. He played just four games in the NHL in 2019-20 and never got called back up the following year.

Pavel Karnaukhov: A fifth-round draft pick of the Flames in 2015, Karnaukhov never played for the Calgary Flames organization in any capacity – instead heading to the KHL with CSKA Moscow. The winger is only 24 and on pace for a career year.

Switzerland

Reto Berra: Berra showed some promise with the Flames, playing 29 games in 2013–14 and posting a 9–17–2 record with a 2.95 GAA and .897 save percentage. The organization turned those numbers into a second-round pick at the NHL trade deadline courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche. Berra was never able to carve out a niche even as a regular backup in the NHL. But he has been a starter in the Swiss-A league the past four seasons. Keep an eye on the Swiss.

Raphael Diaz: Diaz had a lot of upside but bounced around with the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers before being signed to a one-year deal in training camp in 2014. He played in 56 contests for the Flames that season, netting two goals and two assists as fringe defenceman.  He never played another NHL contest. Diaz has been a staple in the Swiss League with solid production the past six seasons.

Finland

Markus Granlund: The Flames drafted Granlund in the second round of the 2011 NHL draft and he played three seasons in Calgary. Because of the success his brother, Mikael Granlund, was having, expectations were high for the less flashy Markus. He did have more success with the Vancouver Canucks, including a 19-goal, 32-point season (in 69 games) in 2016-17. Granlund has been a point-per-game player the last two seasons with Ufa Salavat Yulayev in the KHL.

Sweden

Oscar Fantenberg: Fantenberg has a great hockey name but played just 15 games for the Flames in 2018–19. He had one assist. He’s been fairly forgettable with the Los Angeles Kings, Flames, and Vancouver Canucks. A defence-first defenceman, he’s got no goals and 12 points in 70 games in the KHL the past two seasons.

Joakim Nordstrom: Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the third round, the big centre never got his NHL career going. His last NHL shot came with the Flames last season. He played 44 contests with a goal and six assists. Nordstrom was solid in the AHL but it never translated at the top level. Although he did put together 444 NHL contests with four franchises, he signed with CSKA Moscow for this season.

Slovakia

Marek Hrivik: Hrivik played in just three games for the Calgary Flames and spent most of his time in Calgary in the injured list. It’s too bad. The 30-year-old was a good AHL player. He had nearly a point per game with the Stockton Heat in 2017-18. Hrivik has been in the KHL and Swedish leagues for the last four years.

Milos Roman: Roman is a fourth-round pick from the 2018 draft but took his game to the Czech league after finishing his junior career with the Vancouver Giants during the pandemic. He has seven goals and 18 points in 38 games this season with Trinec Ocelari HC.

China

Spencer Foo: Foo was an intriguing prospect out of Union College and the Flames took a shot on him in 2017. He played the 2017-18 season in Stockton and produced 20 goals there, with two more in four games in the NHL. Interestingly, he never got back into the NHL and after a second decent season, he went to the KHL and plays for Kunlun now. He and Adam Cracknell were teammates for one messy year as the pandemic set in in 2019-20.

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