Three key members of the Abbotsford Heat were retained by the NHL parent Calgary Flames on the first day of the unrestricted free agent signing period.
The Flames announced Friday that forward Carter Bancks and defenceman Joe Piskula had been signed to two-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) contracts. Both players were on AHL-only contracts in Abbotsford last season.
Additionally, Heat captain Quintin Laing inked a two-year AHL contract.
Bancks, an undrafted rookie, distinguished himself in 2010-11 despite being limited to 29 games due to a concussion. The gritty forward notched 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) and posted a +4 rating, and was an effective presence on the Heat penalty kill.
“When we signed Carter to an AHL deal last season, we told him if he went to Abbotsford and did everything that was asked of him, we would look to convert his AHL deal to an NHL contract,” Flames general manager Jay Feaster said in a press release.
“Carter did everything we asked and then some, and he really has earned this new deal. We really like his work ethic and versatility and we consider him one of our bright young prospects who will play for us in Calgary one day.”
Piskula, a former Los Angeles Kings farmhand, signed with the Heat on Oct. 6, just two days before the team’s regular season opener. The stay-at-home defenceman was a steadying presence on the Abbotsford blue line, and posted 12 points (one goal, 11 assists), 73 penalty minutes and a +1 rating in 71 games.
“Joe had a very strong year in Abbotsford last season and we actually discussed putting him on an NHL two-way prior to the trade deadline as we were confident he could come up and fill-in for us on defense,” Feaster said.
“He adds to our depth on the blue line and provides solid leadership in Abbotsford. We are very pleased to have him in the organization and look forward to him making a push for a spot in training camp.”
Laing signed with the Heat last November, and was named team captain on New Year’s Eve. The 32-year-old forward recorded seven goals and 19 assists in 59 games.
“Quintin is the consummate professional and a tremendous leader,” Feaster said. “As our captain in Abbotsford last year he demonstrated a ‘team-first’ mentality at all times, and he helped our young prospects grow and develop both on and off the ice. His character, grit, determination and professionalism are qualities we want our prospects to emulate. Getting Quintin back in the fold for Abbotsford was a top priority for us and we are very pleased he has chosen to return to our organization.”
Joe Piskula provided a calming presence on the Heat blueline last season.