Flames acquire goalie from Sharks

STEVE MacFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 PM ET

The one guy the Calgary Flames acquired at the draft who has the best chance to play next season wasn't even drafted.

Trading their sixth-round pick to the San Jose Sharks, Flames GM Darryl Sutter picked up 26-year-old Swedish goaltender Henrik Karlsson and quickly suggested he'd be in camp battling for the backup job behind Finnish starter Miikka Kiprusoff -- who also came from the Sharks a few years back.

"They have more than enough (goalies)," Sutter joked.

But he's serious about Karlsson's potential to back Kiprusoff.

Loaned by the Sharks to the Swedish Elite league's Farjestad squad last year, Karlsson put up a 2.45 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 34 games.

Reached at home overseas late Saturday night, the massive 6-foot-5 netminder was too engrossed in his new opportunity to mind the intrusive phonecall.

"That's no problem. I'm really excited," said Karlsson, who shares the same goalie coach as Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Jonas (The Monster) Gustavsson. "I won't get much sleep tonight, I think."

Signing with the Dinamo Riga earlier this month, Karlsson's entry-level NHL contract inked with the Sharks last year would take precedence assuming he indeed becomes the Flames backup.

With his massive frame and butterfly style making scoring difficult when he's positionally sound and on his game athletically, the Flames and their fans are hoping this deal with the Sharks works out even a fraction as well as the last one that landed Kiprusoff.

So is Karlsson, who had no idea Saturday when he'd be coming to Calgary but already has plans to get in his best off-season of training ever.

"I'm going to work hard here and try to get in as good of shape as I can and be on the ice as much as I can here in Sweden," Karlsson said, sounding even more excited than most of the kids who were drafted this weekend.

"The NHL's always been my dream since I was young. I can't really believe it. I'm really happy."

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


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