Flames' longshot is a right shot

Brady Lamb could be a great fit for the Flames in the future. He's showing right now during the...

Brady Lamb could be a great fit for the Flames in the future. He's showing right now during the team's development camp that he has promise. (JIM WELLS/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:01 PM ET

CALGARY - Brady Lamb’s decision to sign with the Calgary Flames goes beyond the fact it’s his hometown team.

The Calgary product had options after finishing his four years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, but his choice to ink with the Flames wasn’t because he grew up cheering for them.

It was a much more pragmatic move made by him and his agent, Steve Bartlett.

“We talked to a couple of teams, but after we looked at some depth charts, we realized there was a hole for right-handed defencemen my age with the Flames,” Lamb said. “And when we approached them, they showed some interest and went from there.”

Lamb, who’ll celebrate his 24th birthday next month, has a point. Of the d-men on the Flames roster, the only ones younger than age 27 are Chris Butler and T.J. Brodie, and both are left-handed shots. Hulking Chris Breen is the only blueliner in the system who is basically the same age.

At the same time, the Flames depth chart is pretty loaded.

Right now, the Flames have nine blueliners on one-way contracts — counting Brett Carson and Clay Wilson, who spent almost all of last season in the minors — plus Brodie is expected to be a full-time Flames player this season.

Granted, the club could deal away one or more of those defencemen in the near future, but opportunities to play in Calgary won’t likely be easy to grab.

“Yeah, there are a lot of guys here, and I know I have a long way to go to compete for a spot,” Lamb said. “But whether there’s five guys ahead of me, one guy ahead of me or 12 guys ahead of me, I’ve got to just do what I can do.”

All that being said, it’s not like the 6-foot-1, 215-lb. former Calgary Junior A Royals star didn’t receive extra satisfaction inking with the Flames in March, after he collected nine goals and 31 points in 41 NCAA games.

“It’s exciting when you get the shot with your hometown team. I grew up watching the Flames, cheering for them all the time since I was a little kid,” said Lamb, who signed a one-year deal with an NHL salary-cap hit of US$925,000 and an AHL salary of $70,000. “To have the chance to be at camp with them and in the organization is pretty incredible.”

Now comes the next step.

This week’s Flames development camp at the WinSport facility at Canada Olympic Park is the appetizer for the future.

It may be July, but Lamb is itching to start writing the first chapter of his pro career.

“It’s been a long summer already,” Lamb said. “We didn’t make it as far as we wanted to in my season, and in Abbotsford, I got to learn a lot but wasn’t playing a ton.

“I’m definitely looking forward to full-season mode.”

He did receive a small taste of pro action with one game for the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat, the Flames’ affiliate.

“It’s an eye-opener. It’s a quick pace and a different style than college. Positioning is one thing — everybody’s in the right spot taking care of their job, it’s more structured, so it was a good opportunity,” Lamb said of the differences he had to deal with.

“In college, we were good with systems, but you never back off. You’re always chasing guys, not backing up into the neutral zone … and once you get chasing, you get out of position.”

But if he can quickly grasp the differences and climb the depth chart, maybe Lamb will be skating at the Saddledome sometime soon.

You can bet he has friends and family looking forward to that day and asking when he’ll be skating in the NHL.

“I’m getting a little bit of that — questions like, ‘What number are you going to be so I need to get a Lamb jersey made?’ I’ve told them to let me worry about camp, and we’ll go from there.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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