The Calgary Flames continue to play spoiler for playoff-aspiring teams, and got a huge effort from one of their trade-deadline acquisitions in Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. Defenseman Mark Cundari, who came to the Flames in a trade that sent Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues, scored his first NHL goal and also added an assist in his first NHL game. While it was a tough blow for the Flames to have to trade away veterans like Bouwmeester and Jarome Iginla at the trade deadline, Cundari and Ben Hanowski (part of the Iginla trade) have already shown they can have an impact for their new team in the future.
Cundari was signed by the Blues as an undrafted free agent, and had spent the past three seasons in the AHL with the Peoria Rivermen without seeing any NHL time with the Blues. The Flames are playing for little more than pride right now, and that gave Cundari a chance to make an impression at the highest level. He wasted no time getting on the scoresheet and played nearly 25 minutes (only T.J. Brodie was on the ice more) while finishing the night with two hits and three blocked shots as well.
This continues to be a breakout season for Cundari, who had seven goals and 25 points through 56 games with the Rivermen, even with some time missed due to a wrist injury. He was the team’s lone representative at January’s AHL All-Star Classic, and looks to have a bright NHL future ahead of him. An injury to Dennis Wideman opened up a roster spot, and with nearly every other defensive prospect from the Abbotsford Heat already up with the Flames, Cundari was the next logical choice. The coaching staff has already shown a great deal of faith in him from a very small sample of his work, so don’t be surprised to see him finish the season by playing in Calgary’s final three games.