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The latest addition to the Calgary Flames’ payroll, right-winger Josh Leivo had just scrawled his signature on a one-year contract worth US$875,000.
At the NHL level, that sort of deal screams depth dude.
But hang on just a minute …
“They want me to come in and be a scorer and help contribute offensively,” Leivo said shortly after Saturday’s announcement.
The 27-year-old forward, despite missing the second half of the 2019-20 campaign (and the summer restart) due to a fractured knee-cap, figures he is up to that challenge.
Leivo had put up seven goals and 19 points in 36 outings for the Vancouver Canucks before that painful injury. He reported that his right leg is nearly back to full strength, and he made a quick trip to Calgary so the Flames’ medical staff could take a look.
“I’m ready to go,” said Leivo, who was busting his tail to be available for the Stanley Cup final, if the Canucks had been able to advance that far. “I’ve felt great. I’ve obviously had second opinions. Everyone has looked at it, and everyone has said it’s good. It feels good. The leg is strong. That was the issue that I was scared of — if I wasn’t able to build up my muscle back. But I’m almost equal leg size again. And anyone who’s had a leg injury, they know it takes a while to get the actual muscle size back up.
“It’s been a slow journey, but very rewarding at the end. I’m just excited to get back going.”
Flames general manager Brad Treliving has been bargain-hunting all week, adding three other guys — left-wingers Joakim Nordstrom and Dominik Simon and defenceman Nikita Nesterov — at the NHL’s minimum salary of US$700,000.
If Leivo, however, can stay healthy and provide some offensive bang for less than a million bucks, Saturday’s signing might be turn out to be the savviest of them all.
The Flames currently have only two other right-handers — Elias Lindholm and Derek Ryan — among their lineup locks at forward, and the versatile Leivo has some experience on both the power play and penalty kill in his 169 career contests at the NHL level.
He’s a fairly big body at 6-foot-2 and 192 lb. (Not big enough, mind you, to wrestle No. 17 away from Milan Lucic.)
He can really fire a puck, with an especially impressive release.
A couple of his past training partners, Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan, can vouch for his work ethic.
“This year, right from the git-go when free-agency opened up, they seemed very interested,” Leivo said of the fit with the Flames. “A lot of the guys were messaging me. They really sold it.
“They made it seem like they really wanted me, and it felt good to feel like that.”
Leivo, his fiancée and their two boys — including one born last month — have stayed put in Vancouver this off-season.
When it comes time to hire movers for their relocation to Calgary, perhaps he can arrange a group rate. The Flames, after all, have been collecting ex-Canucks.
There’s Jacob Markstrom, the puck-stopping stalwart who inked a six-year, US$36 million mega-deal.
“Marky, he stands on his head every game,” Leivo said. “The guy battles, not only in-game but in practice, he never wants you to score on him. He plays for the logo on the front and he just wants to win. And such a fun guy in the room, as well.”
There’s Chris Tanev, a stay-at-home defenceman and gutsy shot-blocker who will spend the next four winters at the Saddledome, earning an annual salary of US$4 million.
“He doesn’t get a lot of credit, but in the defensive zone, he is one of the best, I think, in the game,” Leivo praised.
There’s also Louis Domingue, who was signed to be third on the Flames’ goaltending depth chart. Domingue briefly had that same role in Vancouver, although he was arguably best-known for his baking during the Canucks’ run to the second round this summer.
“I never got into the bubble, but I heard all about the pie and the cookies,” Leivo said.
Now on the third stop of his NHL career, this newest new guy is hoping to be a sweet signing for the Flames.
“I think I’ll fit right in,” Leivo said. “I’ll be a nice two-way winger — offensive-minded but still smart in the defensive zone. Be heavy on pucks down low, help get the skill guys the puck. And I think I have a good hockey sense around the net to score. I just like to be an all-around player.
“And I’m all about winning. I like to win.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020