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Erik Gudbranson delighted to join longtime friend Markstrom in Calgary

By on September 11, 2021 0

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Calgary Flames free agent Erik Gudbranson arrived at his new rink and was immediately greeted by an old pal.

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“I was greeted with a big Swedish hug this morning from Jacob Markstrom which was awesome,” said Gudbranson. “He’s probably my best friend in the NHL. “

Indeed, these two are tight. The goalie was actually a best man at Gudbranson’s wedding.

They are now reunited as teammates at the Saddledome after the rugged rearguard joined the Calgary-based crew on a one-year contract with a salary cap of US $ 1.95 million.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving finished building his blue line on Friday, not only signing Gudbranson but also bringing back Michael Stone. This one-year pact is worth US $ 750,000.

With Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and business acquisition Nikita Zadorov slated to feature in the top four roles, Gudbranson, 29 – a tall, 6-foot-5, 220-pound hunk – will likely be paired with younger Juuso Valimaki. on Calgary’s third pair. (Connor Mackey, who stepped down earlier this week as a restricted free agent, will also try to fit into that mix.)

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Stone, 31, is still set to be Calgary’s seventh defenseman.

“I’ve been in the league, this will be my 11th year,” said Gudbranson, who has totaled nearly 600 appearances at the highest level in hockey. “I certainly don’t know everything and far from it and I’ll never know it, but it’s good to have just that little bit of presence, that age gap so that these young people feel comfortable. I think that was part of it. “

Gudbranson was the third overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft – he first met Markstrom when the two were sought-after Florida Panthers prospects and they were later together as the Canucks. Vancouver – and comes up with a reputation as a popular teammate, a respected leader and a pain to play against.

With his combination of size, growl and veteran craftsmanship, it’s no surprise that Flames skipper Darryl Sutter appreciated this addition.

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Sutter was working as an advisor for the Anaheim Ducks when Gudbranson adjusted for 44 games with the Quack Pack in 2019-20.

“This is my first time going through a free agency period and I’ve spoken with Darryl Sutter early and quite often,” Gudbranson said after signing with his seventh NHL organization. “I had spent time with him in Anaheim while he was consulting there and I really enjoyed being with him and I liked the way he saw the game and the way he approached to talk about my game. So having him as a head coach is, above all, really exciting for me.

“At the same time, I have been very good friends with Chris Tanev and Jacob Markstrom for several years. I spoke with them throughout the process and once we got that phone call we never really looked back. It looked like this was going to be the case until the deal was finally signed.

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Gudbranson actually went to Calgary to formalize it.

Shortly after scribbling his signature on the one-year contract, he joined a group of his new teammates for tune-up skating. While looking for a house, he crashes into a guest room at Tanev’s.

This brutal right-hander has never scored more than four goals in an NHL campaign, so don’t expect a lot of offensive punch from the new guy. (He split last season between the Ottawa Senators and the Nashville Predators, scoring four points in 45 games.)

Gudbranson is there to provide a constant, sometimes brooding presence on the back-end. And it’s good to know that his puck-stopping buddy can help him out if he needs to.

“Marky is a very good goalkeeper. Really good, ”congratulated Gudbranson. “It’s exciting to watch and exciting to play with. For a guy who walks around with a big smile on his face all day all over the place, once you put that helmet on, he looks like a different human in there. I am very excited to be playing in front of him again.

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Twitter.com/WesGilbertson

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