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Cole Schwindt Is Now One To Watch in Calgary

Cole Schwindt might have been an afterthought in the Matthew Tkachuk trade. But his value to the Calgary Flames could be extremely important moving forward.
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Late at night on Friday, July 22, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving sent shockwaves through the dog days of the NHL offseason with the announcement that he'd traded Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers.

Coming back to Calgary: a first-round draft pick, forward Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, and prospect Cole Schwindt.

The 21-year-old right-shot forward didn't learn about the shakeup until the next day.

"I was up north with my buddy Cole MacKay in the Soo, kind of back in the bush, no service," Schwindt recalled in his Flames debut at the 2022 Young Stars Classic in Penticton earlier this month. "There's one weekend of the year we don't have service and it just happened to fall on that weekend. 

"The generator went off at 9:00 on Friday (night). The trade went through at 10:30 on Friday and I had no idea. 

"I woke up Saturday to a text message that came through saying I got traded, so I quickly headed back in to get some service. Made some calls and, you know, got an outpouring of support."

Drafted in the third round by Florida in 2019, 88th overall, Schwindt is coming off his first full pro season. With good size at 6'2" and 182 pounds, he put up 19 goals and 40 points with the AHL's Charlotte Checkers and saw three games of NHL action with the Panthers.

"Being up there for the short period of time that I was opened my eyes big time," he said. "I know now that hockey is what I want to do for a job and what I want to do for the rest of my life. 

"Getting a taste of it, getting to go up there and play with those guys and kind of see what they do on a day-to-day basis, how they take care of their body, how they play the game — it kind of gives me an insight to what I need to do to better myself. I definitely took that back to Charlotte and tried to implement it in my game."

Huberdeau and Weegar have rightfully earned the lion's share of attention since arriving in Calgary. Schwindt is focused on showing coach Darryl Sutter what he can do. 

"Those two players are unbelievable, and they're the centerpiece of the trade," Schwindt said. "No better feeling than to come over with them ... and kind of be etched in history with a blockbuster trade such as that. 

"For me, there's still a ton of work that needs to be done so I can say I'm a major piece in this trade. It's an exciting time for me, and it's one that I won't forget."

Schwindt dressed for two of the Flames' first three preseason games but has yet to hit the scoresheet.

With associate coach Kirk Muller manning the bench in Calgary's 3-2 overtime road win over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, Schwindt logged 15:32 of ice time. He skated as the third-line center and logged significant time on the power play and the penalty kill.

In Tuesday's 3-0 loss in Seattle, Schwindt started as Calgary's fourth-line center. By the third period, he had impressed Sutter enough to earn a promotion onto the wing of an offense-oriented line with 2020 first-round pick Connor Zary and PTO candidate Sonny Milano.

"Moved Cole to wing basically because he was really good on face-offs all night," Sutter said. "Trying to cover in for Connor, to be quite honest." 

Zary, a left shot, was 4-for-11 on draws on Tuesday. Schwindt finished the night with a 7-for-9 record on the dot, playing 13:31 in all situations. He also hit the crossbar with a long bomb on a third-period power play — one of Calgary's better offensive chances of the night.

Sutter dished some praise on Wednesday when asked who he thought stood out in Seattle. "I liked Cole Schwindt's game," he said.

There could be a forward spot up for grabs on Calgary's opening-night roster. Zary and 2019 first-rounder Jakob Pelletier looked to have the inside track coming into camp, with 24-year-old Adam Ruzicka also in the mix. And at 6'8", hulking 22-year-old Czech rookie Adam Klapka has been hard to miss at Young Stars and in two preseason outings. 

By all indications, Schwindt has earned the opportunity to continue make his case. He'll get the night off on Wednesday as the Flames host the Edmonton Oilers. 

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