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Pribyl built strong relationship with Flames before signing

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Communication, they say, is key.

Daniel Pribyl would agree.

It was, after all, the biggest factor in the unrestricted free agent signing a two-year, entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames in late April.

“I had the best feeling for Calgary, because the communication … they were talking with me a lot,” said Pribyl from the Czech Republic. “It was just a feeling. It was about the communication. I talked to (Flames GM) Brad Treliving and met with (pro scout) Derek MacKinnon and they were all great. I don’t know the first reason, but I think it was just about the guys, about the communication and the relationship we’ve built.

"Now I’m really glad that I’ve done this because Calgary’s a really great city and a really good, young team. I think it’s going to be great."

There were other factors, too.

The 23-year-old Pribyl, who had 16 goals and 45 points in 45 regular season games with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga this year, knows the opportunity the Flames present in his quest to play in the NHL.

Opportunities are to be had.

“It’s great. It’s my dream and goal to play in the NHL,” he said. “I’m feeling like I’m pretty close to doing it, so it’s great. There will be an opportunity. That’s one of the reasons. I know it’s a young team. There’s maybe going to be some chance to be in the NHL.”

Pribyl has tempered some of that expectation, though.

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound forward underwent surgery recently in Calgary to repair a season-ending knee injury.

“It was kind of difficult when I have to go for surgery first, and then I sign it, but it’s really exciting to be in Calgary with the Flames and trying to get to the NHL right now,” he said. “I think that’s all I want. I think it’s really important for me. The surgery was really positive. I think it’s better than everyone expected … better than I expected. It’s going really good.”

Pribyl, originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the sixth round (No. 168) of the 2011 NHL Draft, has spent his entire career in the Czech Republic.

Treliving is curious to know what his latest addition can do in North America.

“We look at it as adding to a need, which is skilled forwards with size, a right-handed shot, the ability to play centre and the right wing, bring skill in a 6-3 frame. Now you’ve got that in your system,” Treliving said after the signing. “Whether he’s ready for NHL play in October or whether that’s November or December or a year from now, those are all things that will be determined.

“We want to manage the expectations with this player. We’re not putting any pressure on him to come in here and be a top player by any stretch. He’s going to have to feel his way here. We think he’s a guy that’s going to add skill to our reserve list. At the end of the day, training camp and where he’s at will determine what he’s ready for and when.”

Pribyl, predictably, is on the same page.

Communication, after all.

“I kind of feel like there was some progress in my career, so maybe now it’s time to try something else and try to reach my goal,” he said.

“We’ll see what happens in August and September. We’ll see. I really want to play in the NHL, but we’ll see how it’s going to look, how my knee’s going to look and how everything with the team will be. I’m not thinking about it right now, but I’ll try my best to be with the NHL team in Calgary.”

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