Stajan may be Flames' missing piece

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:28 PM ET

It’s the revolving door at the Saddledome.

For the better part of a decade, the Calgary Flames have been shopping for a set-up man for skilled sniper and fan favourite Jarome Iginla.

Marc Savard was gonna be the guy. Then Chris Drury. Alex Tanguay, Michael Cammalleri, Olli Jokinen...

Matt Stajan is next in line. And Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice, Stajan’s skipper for two seasons with the Maple Leafs, figures the Flames might’ve finally found their man.

“He can handle it,” Maurice said. “Lord knows he’s been front and centre in some pretty tough situations in Toronto, so he can handle all that.

“And the good part about him is it’ll be an even-keel to it. It’s not going to throw him off his game. He does a real good job now separating the outside pressures from the puck drop.”

Stajan, acquired from the Maple Leafs in Sunday’s seven-player blockbuster that sent Dion Phaneuf the other direction, has been paired with the Flames’ highest-paid forward on what immediately becomes Calgary’s top line. They’ll be together again when the Flames host the Hurricanes Wednesday night.

Switching hockey homes is a tall enough task, let alone being counted on to play best supporting actor for the star attraction, but Stajan isn’t shirking away from the challenge of skating alongside Iginla.

“If your a hockey player, you want nothing more than to have an opportunity like that, and especially with a guy like (Iginla) who is respected throughout the hockey world. He’s one of the best,” Stajan said. “I’ll do my best to compliment him and, you know, make the most of it.

“I’ve just gotta play my own game and hopefully that compliments Jarome’s game.”

Maurice served up a glowing assessment of Stajan, who arrived in the Stampede City with former Maple Leafs Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Ian White in exchange for Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and defensive prospect Keith Aulie.

The Hurricanes coach described Stajan as a jack-of-all-trades and ultimate team guy.

“Matt Stajan was just a versatile player for us. He played everywhere — the wing, centre, played all different lines, powerplay, killed penalties,” Maurice said. “He’s a great team player. He fit into our locker-room — he’s a veteran now, but he was awfully young (then) — and he’s been through difficult times and some good times. He’s just going to be a real good player in the room.”

Iginla was also impressed with his new linemate. The Flames captain skated alongside Stajan and Hagman in Tuesday’s practice session and figures they could become a dangerous unit.

“You can see they’ve played together before,” Iginla said. “They’re quick. Hags has got a really good shot and Stajan seems like he does a little bit of everything. He can dish, shoot. You can see the offensive side of it, so I’m excited about it.”


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