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Swedish boyhood trio excited to be united for Flames run

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Calgary Flames starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom

You have to wonder if Jacob Markstrom’s sniper scouting report is having an impact on the Calgary Flames’ acquisitions ahead of the NHL trade deadline.

Like Tyler Toffoli in the deal with Montreal Canadiens, the addition of Calle Jarnkrok eliminated an opponent who had lots of success scoring against the Flames netminder.

“I think the last six, seven games I’ve played against him, he’s probably scored,” Markstrom said Thursday. “Him and Toffoli were the two most successful against me, so it’s nice to have him on the team.”

Giving up three draft picks for the 30-year-old forward included the retention of half of Jarnkrok’s salary for the rest of this season before he becomes a UFA. The move ahead of the NHL trade deadline gives Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter even more flexibility for his lines, including another centre.

Jarnkrok can play all three forward positions. And while GM Brad Treliving is still seeking some depth on the back end, his early work has made an impact on the ice and in the room.

“Make the playoffs. Pretty clear. Make the playoffs,” Sutter said of the message sent by the NHL trades. “It’s not a tough, cloudy answer at all.

“Make the playoffs.”

Jarnkrok could cut into Sean Monahan’s ice time, and creates competition among the likes of Brett Ritchie, Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis and Dillon Dube. It also means rookie Adam Ruzicka gets more seasoning in the AHL before bouncing back for the post-season.

On top of what the on-ice shuffling could look like with an increasingly impressive top nine, the dressing room gets another player with established relationships in the Calgary Flames locker-room.

One is familial. Jarnkrok is Elias Lindholm’s cousin. He’s also been a lifelong friend to Markstrom. The three of them grew up in the same Swedish town of Gavle. They’re not taking for granted the rare situation they’re in now, chasing the Stanley Cup with the same NHL team.

“We talked about this not too long ago,” Markstrom said with a laugh. “When you retire and (get) old, you can buy a low-division team in Sweden and get all your friends together.

“But we figured we’d do it here instead.”

Lindholm does believe the familiarity Toffoli and Jarnkrok had with so many current Calgary Flames makes a difference at this time of year.

“Obviously it’s a key to bring in players who are quick to adjust and who are good people,” said Lindholm. “Toff and Jarny are really good people, and that helps to make good chemistry.

On the ice, the cousins played together in 2010-11 on their hometown Brynas club in the Swedish Hockey League.

“We played on the same line there; we had some success,” said Lindholm, who is three years younger than Jarnkrok. “He was a super talent when we grew up. I always looked up to him because he was so good. It was a dream come true to play with him.

“And now to be able to do it in the NHL is pretty cool.”

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