CALGARY – With just one pre-game skate under their belts, the four newest members of the Calgary Flames will suit up against the Philadelphia Flyers Monday night (7:30 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West).
Forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and defenceman Ian White will make their debuts in front of a sold-out crowd at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
“I’m excited,” said Stajan, who was shipped to Calgary in Sunday’s blockbuster trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’ll centre a line between Jarome Iginla and Dustin Boyd.
“It’s a great opportunity for all of us to come to a team like Calgary that’s right in the mix. I’m going to do everything I can … to help this team be better and just try and get Iggy the puck.”
Iginla has high hopes that the Flames can build upon the momentum they’ve gained going 1-0-2 in their past three games.
“You look at the acquisitions and I think up front there’s definitely goals and some creativity added to our group and I think we needed that,” said Iginla, who snapped out of an 11-game scoring slump with three goals and four assists in his past three games.
With the departure of Dion Phaneuf to the Leafs, White will now step in to wear No. 3 and pair with Robyn Regehr on defence.
“We’ll have to see if I’m not tripping all over myself,” said White of making his Flames debut.
“Just from what I was told, I’m going to be playing with Robyn and we’re going to try to shut down some of the other team’s players. Any position, any role they want to put me in, I’m happy to oblige and I’ll give it my 100 per cent and more.”
Meanwhile, Hagman practised on a line with fellow Finnish forward Olli Jokinen and Jamie Lundmark.
“We’re both Finnish, so maybe the communication is a little bit easier,” said Hagman of playing alongside Jokinen.
“I want to show my teammates that I can play hockey and show that I’ll try to give everything I have for the team.”
Neither Jokinen nor Brandon Prust were made available to the media to discuss reports that the Flames are working on a deal to trade the pair of forwards to the New York Rangers for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins.
“I’m not talking about rumours at all and neither is our team,” said coach Brent Sutter. “We’re focused on that game tonight and the guys in that dressing room and that’s our team.”
Iginla said dealing with trade rumours is tough, but it’s part of the business.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen, so it’s important for us to stay relaxed and be focused and take care of what we can take care of,” Iginla said.
“We look at it as this is our group and we don’t know what’s going to happen. We can’t control that and it’s our focus to come together and be the best that we can.”
As for Mayers, he’s looking at Sunday’s trade as a kick-start to his career, following a difficult start to the season with the Maple Leafs. He played a limited role in Toronto with just two goals and six assists in 44 games.
“This is obviously a fresh start and a new opportunity,” he said. “I’m excited about coming here and most importantly helping the team win and getting in there and doing my part, playing my role.”
If Monday’s game-day skate is any indication, Mayers will play on a checking line with Eric Nystrom and Prust.
“I don’t know much about them, but I know that they’re good players,” Mayers said.
“Obviously we’re going to have to get in there and be physical and hopefully make it miserable on the other team’s D and perhaps even chip in here or there.”
While the four new players only had one quick skate prior to their first game with the Flames, Sutter said he’s not worried and that they’ll fit in just fine.
“Obviously we don’t have any time for practices or anything,” Sutter said. “It’s just get in here and let’s get going. They’re a big part of our team and they’ll adjust really quickly. We’ll be fine. I’m not even too concerned about it. We know where we’re at and how we need to play.”