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Flames sign Bertuzzi

by Brian Compton

After losing veteran forward Owen Nolan to the Minnesota Wild Sunday night, Calgary Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter wasted little time in finding a replacement.

With the support of captain Jarome Iginla, the Flames signed power forward Todd Bertuzzi to a one-year contract Monday. Bertuzzi became a free agent on June 28 after his deal with the Anaheim Ducks was bought out by the club.

After speaking with Iginla and other members of the organization, Sutter moved forward with bringing in Bertuzzi, who was arguably the top power forward in the League just a few years ago. He had 14 goals and 26 assists in 68 games for the Ducks in 2007-08.

"He's a good player and he's a proven player. Todd wanted to play in Canada. I think his number speak for themselves."

-- Calgary Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter

"We had been talking since July 1," Sutter said. "Obviously, the players all know what's going on out there. I talk to our captain lots about a lot of players. The only player that he identified more than anybody if we were going to add a veteran forward was Bertuzzi."

Bertuzzi gives the Flames another option on what could be one of the strongest power plays in the NHL next season. He joins a man advantage that will likely also feature Iginla, newcomer Mike Cammalleri and Norris Trophy candidate Dion Phaneuf.

Sutter, though, is simply hopeful that Bertuzzi will replace the numbers that Nolan put up for the Flames in 2007-08. Nolan scored 16 goals and 16 assists in 77 games.

Bertuzzi, however, is three years younger than Nolan. In 793 career games over the course of 12 seasons, the 6-foot-3, 231-pound Bertuzzi has tallied 240 goals and 340 assists. His productive campaign came with the Vancouver Canucks in 2002-03, when he scored 46 goals and added 51 assists to go along with 144 penalty minutes -- all career highs.

"He's a big guy and we feel could put up numbers similar to what Owen did," Sutter said. "We just weren't sure where the market would be. At the end of the day, the money worked, so that's probably why it was a good fit.

"I think when we went through it in our pro meetings at the end of the year, we identified the guys we thought might be available in free agency. We looked at the older group, and Todd was one of the younger guys in that group."

Bertuzzi was slowed by a back injury in 2006-07, when he appeared in just 15 games combined between the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings. He was sidelined early last season due to a concussion, but missed only 14 games the entire campaign. He had two assists in six postseason contests.

Sutter is confident that the injury woes are behind his latest acquisition. His ability to score -- along with Bertuzzi's desire to play in his native Canada -- are what ultimately won over the Flames' GM.

"I think as players get older, you have to be able to resolve where they're at in those situations and what it's worth to bring them in," Sutter said. "I think if we thought he was an injury-prone player, we wouldn't have signed him. That's two things that had to work -- he had to be willing to fit into our financial structure, and he had to be committed to how he fit into our team. I think you have to stay away from players who have an injury history. I'm good with the way he played last year. I think if he can build on that, I think that's a good fit for us.

"He's a good player and he's a proven player. Todd wanted to play in Canada. I think his number speak for themselves. He was willing to come in here on a one-year deal and try to help us achieve what we want to achieve."
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