I always refer to it as the non-playing season. There’s not too much offseason in this business. That’s part of it. You get to this time of the year and it’s when contract work gets done. - Brad Treliving
CALGARY, AB -- The offseason has been anything but quiet for Brad Treliving.
Between prepping for the NHL Combine in May, hiring front office staff while finalizing lists for the NHL Draft in June and the opening of free agency in July, the Calgary Flames general manager has yet to have an opportunity to pause since being hired in late April.
“I always refer to it as the non-playing season,” Treliving said. “There’s not too much offseason in this business. That’s part of it. You get to this time of the year and it’s when contract work gets done. A little bit with me being new here too just familiarizing myself with the players and going through the process here has been a good positive and constructive process. July and the first part of August is a lot of the time we get the off-ice work done.
“It’s been a good week.”
In the dog days of summer, Treliving hasn’t had much of an opportunity to put down the phone.
After signing unrestricted free agents Jonas Hiller, Deryk Engelland and Mason Raymond on July 1st, he went to work on restricted free agents this week, signing forward Joe Colborne on Tuesday and goaltender Joni Ortio on Thursday, both to two-year contracts.
He’s happy to have both deals done.
“We like the player,” Treliving said of Colborne. “We still think there’s growth there. Now the challenge for Joe is to just continue to improve. He spent the year in the league last year, now he’s got to continue to grow and develop and take a step forward.”
As for Ortio, signing the 23-year-old has allowed for plenty of competition in the crease heading into training camp.
And it’s just how Treliving likes to see it.
“I think we’ve got three good goaltenders here who all want a bite of the apple,” he said. “That only makes us better and that, to me in this business, it’s a competitive business and when you have competition, it brings out the best in everyone. That’s the goal. Bringing Joni into the mix now, it really just makes us deeper and stronger at the position.
“One of the things that help you improve is creating internal competition at all positions. You look at our team right now. We’ve got some young forwards that are going to push for spots at camp. That internal competition makes us better.
“We’ve still got some work to do on the blue line before we get to training camp, but it’ll be the same situation there where we have guys fighting to be in the lineup, fighting to be on the team.”
Adding to that competition is Sam Bennett.
On top of signing Colborne and Ortio, Treliving inked Calgary’s top pick (No. 4) in 2014 to a three-year, entry-level contract Friday.
Alongside re-upping restricted free agent defenceman Mark Cundari on Saturday, Bennett's signing capped a busy week for the Flames.
“We’ve got some business done,” Treliving said. That’s always a good thing. To get guys under contract has been the goal. There’s a process to it, but the fact that we’ve got some business done is a good thing.”
Business isn’t about to slow down, either.
After signing Cundari on Saturday, the Flames have another remaining in Lance Bouma.
And while it's expected that Bouma will sign, there's still no break for the GM.
“You’re continuing to look at how to get better,” said Treliving, who also tendered a qualifying offer to Chad Billins in late June. “That’s the job. How do we get better? Sometimes those are little steps you’re taking.
“By getting these contracts done, it makes us better but we’ve got lots of work to do. This isn’t something we close the book on and say ‘we’re done’. We’ll continue to work here. We’ve got lots of time before training camp.
"Those days will be spent on finding ways to see if we can get better and see what is out there.”