Flames first NHL club to face Tavares

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

The Calgary Flames will get an early taste of the John Tavares era in the NHL.

In releasing the team's pre-season schedule yesterday, the clear highlight will be a back-to-back set against the New York Islanders and the No. 1-overall pick from this summer's draft.

Tavares will be trying to win a job with the Isles starting Sept. 17 against the Flames in Calgary. The two clubs hook up again two nights later in Saskatoon.

In starring twice for the world junior gold medal teams, the 18-year-old Tavares made a huge splash with his outstanding stickhandling and soft hands.

He broke Wayne Gretzky's 16-year-old record for goals with 72 while playing with the Oshawa Generals.

Flames fans waited three seasons to see Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby in Calgary, but they will get to witness Tavares skills before he ever plays a regular-season game.

This is the third straight year the Flames will play in another Western Canadian city.

A year ago, the Flames played the Phoenix Coyotes in Winnipeg after playing the Florida Panthers in Saskatoon.

The exhibition schedule opens Sept. 15 against the Edmonton Oilers at the Saddledome. The Flames also have a pair each with the Vancouver Canucks and the Oilers. The Panthers also make what seems to be their annual visit to the Dome.

FLAMES ADD BLUELINER

The Flames have dipped into the free-agent market to add some depth on defence.

The team signed Swedish blueliner Staffan Kronwall yesterday.

The younger brother of Detroit Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall, Staffan led the Hershey Bears in scoring among blueliners during their Calder Cup run.

Kronwall is a veteran of 55 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals. The 6-foot-4, 209-pounder will be 26 when the season starts.

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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