Flames sign Byron, Aliu
WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
|Calgary Flames Paul Byron at the Flames training camp inside the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary last year. (QMI Agency)
They won't swipe the lead spot on SportsCentre from the Minnesota Wild, but the Calgary Flames have also submitted a couple of signed contracts to the NHL's league offices.
Just hours after the Wild made the biggest splash of the off-season Wednesday by signing big fish Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Flames re-signed restricted free agents Akim Aliu and Paul Byron.
Both forwards had auditions with the Flames last season and will be trying to earn full-time employment at the Saddledome this winter.
Byron, who was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres as part of the Robyn Regehr-Chris Butler swap last summer, had three goals and two assists in 22 games with the big club in 2011-12. The 23-year-old pivot collected seven goals and 14 helpers in 39 regular-season outings with the AHL's Abbotsford Heat and added four points in eight post-season appearances.
Byron's new deal is a on-year, two-way pact with a cap-hit of US$585,000 if he's skating with the big-league club.
"Paul was a very valuable depth player for us last season and had a solid playoff run with Abbotsford," said Flames GM Jay Feaster in a statement. "Paul looked right at home during his various recalls to Calgary and he demonstrated that he can score goals at the NHL level. He continues to knock on the door of becoming a full-time NHL player and we are confident that given his commitment, dedication and solid work ethic he will take the steps necessary to make the jump to the next level."
Aliu was loaned to the AHL's Heat and eventually acquired from the Winnipeg Jets in a minor-league deal.
He was recalled for the final two games of the regular-season and made quite an impression on Flames fans with two goals and one assist.
The 23-year-old also signed a one-year, two-way contract. If he sticks around the Saddledome, he'll earn $695,000.
"Akim made tremendous strides in getting his career development path back on track this past season in Abbotsford, and he was rewarded for his hard work by receiving an end-of-season recall to Calgary," Feaster said. "In his two games with our Club he showed that he is a very good skater, is willing to play a strong physical game and can also score goals at the NHL level.
“We really like the tools Akim possesses and the passion he brings to his game. We are confident that, given Akim’s talent and ability, along with his solid work ethic, if he also continues to believe in his coaches and our organizational commitment to him, he will soon realize his dream of becoming a full-time player in the NHL."
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