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Calgary Flames sign Raymond, Hiller, Engelland on first day of NHL free agency

CALGARY — New Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving said last week he was in the market for a defenceman with a right-handed shot. He got one Tuesday, along with added insurance in net and some offence up front to replace the departing Mike Cammalleri.

Calgary came to terms with tough defenceman Deryk Engelland, who received a significant pay raise in a three-year deal worth US$2.9 million per year. Engelland’s salary with Pittsburgh last season was $575,000.

The Flames also signed local winger Mason Raymond to a three-year, $9.5-million deal and Swiss goaltender Jonas Hiller to a two-year, $9-million contract.

“The term was very important for us,” Treliving said Tuesday. “We wanted to keep things three years and under, which we’ve done on all these contracts.

“Term in a cap system is what strangles you. You see a lot of long-term deals bought out.”

Calgary has money to spend under the salary cap and closed in on the cap floor of $51 million Tuesday. The maximum is set at $69 million. The Flames have missed the playoffs five straight seasons.

The 32-year-old Cammalleri didn’t re-sign with the Flames, despite Calgary’s efforts to keep him in the flaming ’C’. Treliving said the Flames offered the forward “significant dollars”, but the term “was probably not going to work.”

Cammalleri entered the free agent market Tuesday and quickly emerged with a five-year, $25-million deal with the New Jersey Devils.

Cammalleri had a team-high 26 goals as well as 19 assists in 63 games for the Flames in 2013-14. He’ll provide much needed scoring punch to the Devils, who had a winning record despite being one of three NHL teams to score less than 200 goals.

“The real decision-making was, the hard decision was leaving Calgary the way I had been treated there and their efforts to keep me around,” Cammalleri said during a conference call.

“Some of my closest friends are in management in Calgary. They made every effort to try and make it work. It was more a decision for me, a decision on where I wanted to be playing and where I wanted to have a chance to compete and win.”

Raymond posted 19 goals, 26 assists and 22 penalty minutes in 82 games for Toronto. The 28-year-old grew up in nearby Cochrane, Alta.

The six-foot, 185-pound left-winger also received a sizable raise from the Flames after making $1 million on a one-year deal with the Maple Leafs.

Raymond was drafted in the second round by the Vancouver Canucks in 2005 and has a career 99 goals and 124 assists in 456 games.

“When Mike went away, we felt we needed an NHL player in there,” Treliving said. “I liked the term Mason came in at, I like the versatility. I think he can do a bunch of different jobs and we thought he just fit for us.”

Hiller posted a 29-13-7 record and five shutouts for Anaheim in 2013-14. The 32-year-old’s goals-against average was 2.47 and his save percentage .911.

He spent the previous seven seasons with the Ducks and has twice represented Switzerland at the Winter Olympics. Current Flames hockey operations president Brian Burke was Anaheim’s GM when he signed Hiller in 2007.

But Hiller’s time in Anaheim appeared to be winding down with the emergence of John Gibson and Frederik Andersen this spring.

“Obviously Brian has a familiarity. He signed Jonas to Anaheim when he came over from Switzerland,” Treliving said. “You look at Anaheim’s situation last year and at periods of time obviously there were some struggles if you will for Jonas. But there were some periods of brilliance as he’s had over his career.

“This is a good NHL goaltender. It is the most important position on the team. Without goaltending you have no chance.”

Hiller’s salary with the Flames remains the same with a cap hit of $4.5 million annually.

The Flames currently have 28-year-old Karri Ramo, with a year remaining on his contract, and prospect Joni Ortio in net. Ramo went 17-15 for Calgary last season.

 
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