CALGARY — The only thing faster than the pace the Calgary Flames set to open camp was the speed of tweets detailing Day 1 line combinations.
And the only thing that stood out more than Jonathan Huberdeau revealing that he is selling his smurf blue Lamborghini, was the hair that was put on display in the team’s second row.
As a fairly clean-cut Nazem Kadri gazed at his wings, the bearded veteran might have wondered if he was part of an ’80s metal band, given Cody Eakin’s ginger flow to his left, and Sonny’s glowing bird’s nest. . Milan on the right.
“I don’t know,” smiled Milano, when told he had the best tapa in camp.
“Eakin has some pretty cool hair too.”
In addition to Tyler Toffoli filling the right flank alongside Elias Lindholm and Huberdeau, the pair of PTO wingers flanking Kadri made up the most notable trio of the day.
The ever-versatile Eakin is no doubt acting as a placeholder for Andrew Mangiapane, who skates solo as he recovers from something of a pinch earlier in the summer.
He puts Milano in the driver’s seat to fill the obvious void in a top nine that is clearly one player short in the eyes of management.
“I talked to (head coach Darryl Sutter) the day before I got here (Sunday) and they seemed happy for me to come, telling me there’s a spot available and I have to get it,” the 26-year-old said. old man who converted “The Dishigan” last year with Trevor Zegras, en route to scoring 14 goals and 34 points in 66 games as the Anaheim Duck.
“I had a very good season last year. I was definitely hoping for a contract, but it is what it is and I’m definitely excited about this opportunity. If I do my best and play my game, I think I’ll be good.”
After a torrid start last year, Milano only managed to score three goals in his last 27 games, leading to a surprising farewell with the Ducks.
As difficult as it was for him to accept a PTO offer, he chose Calgary because of the opportunity he could see him play alongside top players.
“I’m with Kadri, who had an amazing year, and Eakins, who’s also a veteran, so it’s a good spot,” he said.
“I think I have a lot to prove. I thought he was worthy of a contract after last season. So I just have to show that I can do it again.”
Insisting that he wants to evaluate those in camp first, general manager Brad Treliving didn’t deny that he was still open to the possibility of adding another winger if, say, Milano isn’t the answer.
“In all honesty, that top nine is still a work in progress for us,” Treliving admitted, speaking largely about the right-side position in the second row.
“I want to get an idea of what we have here, but you’re always poking around. I don’t think anyone is done playing.”
“This camp is really important to decide where everyone fits in.”
As he joked, “we all probably put our lines together on a napkin, usually that’s 10 minutes. You don’t know where the chemistry is going to come from.”
Jakob Pelletier may be the people’s choice to break through, but when asked if he expected the AHL star to do something special, Sutter said, “No.”
“I think we’ve got guys that can play both sides, so we’re lucky with Blake (Coleman), Mangs, Dubs (Dillon Dube), Cody. It’s not ‘who’, it’s more like ‘how?’”
Sutter won a Stanley Cup with Toffoli and has long praised how natural he is as a scorer, making him a favorite to use his right shot up the top line with a setup ace like Huberdeau.
When asked about the different abilities between him and the man he replaces, Matthew Tkachuk, Sutter was terse.
“A guy won the Stanley Cup and he was a big part of long playoff runs,” he said.
Mikael Backlund, Dube and Coleman formed a familiar third row.
At the back, the plan seems clear: MacKenzie Weegar will play opposite him with Chris Tanev as the club’s close partner.
“Weegar can play big minutes,” Sutter said of the rookie defender, who is close to signing an extension with the team.
“Tanny can handle, his shoulder can handle… whoever you put with him.”
Last year, Tanev helped make Oliver Kylington a top four defender.
Kylington is not currently in the mix in camp as he is dealing with a personal issue, leaving Nikita Zadorov and Nicolas Meloche as the third couple.
Greeted by the kind of media crowd he’s never seen in Florida, Huberdeau said he’s already making other adjustments to his new surroundings, including selling his Tesla and Lamborghini.
“It would have been a little cool,” he said of the convertible, one of “three or four” vehicles owned by the man who signed an $85 million extension with the Flames this summer.
“I am selling everything. Start again.”
“I already have a truck. That’s off the list. So I’m not sure. If you put a convertible on snow tires, maybe it could work.”
On-The-Fly Tweaks: The camp story for these Llamas.
*Mangiapane out due to injury and Kylington out for personal reasons.
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