Brayden Pachal has his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
That was just part of the appeal for the Calgary Flames when his name popped up on the NHL’s waiver wire.
The Flames submitted a successful claim Sunday on Pachal, originally from Estevan, Sask., and ex of the Vegas Golden Knights. He’ll join the team Monday in Boston.
“Brayden is a big, strong right-shot defensive defenceman who increases our team’s physicality and will be an asset to our penalty-kill,” said Flames general manager Craig Conroy. “At 24 years old, he has been the captain of his AHL team and is a character player joining us from a winning program.”
Pachal was along for the ride in 2023 as the Golden Knights rolled to a Stanley Cup title.
While this 6-foot-2, 202 lb. rearguard suited up for just one playoff date, the opening-round clincher against the Winnipeg Jets, the organization pushed for his name to be inscribed on the historic hardware.
“That’s something that meant the world to myself and my family,” Pachal said. “Just being a part of that run was something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. To be a part of that and see the process that it takes to get to that end goal and how hard those guys worked and the discipline that they had to make it through that playoff run, I think that will be the most beneficial thing that I’ll take out of that.
“To see what it takes to reach the pinnacle moment in hockey, that’s something I’ll take on as a learning experience and hopefully take that to the new team that I’m joining now.”
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While the Flames aren’t on any list of Stanley Cup favourites in 2024, Pachal has an opportunity to achieve another dream in Calgary — establishing himself as an NHL every-nighter.
He’s so far appeared in 29 games at the highest level, including 17 this season. He scored his first career goal in October, although the more telling stat is that he has been credited with 42 hits in limited action in 2023-24.
Pachal, who previously captained the Prince Albert Raiders to a WHL championship in 2019, provides valuable blue-line depth as the Flames ponder trade offers for pending free agents Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev.
The new guy is signed for this season and next at an annual cap hit of US$775,000.
“What I pride myself on is being solid and sound defensively,” Pachal said. “I can move the puck, but I think what separates me from maybe other guys is my physicality. I like to play with an edge and like to make my presence known when I’m on the ice.”
As he digested the news of Sunday’s waiver claim, packed his bags and prepared for a red-eye flight to Boston, Pachal admitted there was a wide range of emotions.
“Anytime this stuff happens, it’s a shock to the system,” he said. “I’ve been with the Vegas organization since I’ve turned pro and it’s been nothing but great things here. They have done a lot for myself and my family. So it’s definitely bittersweet. Obviously, being here and being with the team for that run, you get to view this organization and the people in it as family. So when something like this happens, you’re leaving your second family behind.
“But I’m definitely looking forward to a fresh start and making a new second family there in Calgary.”
Welcome back, Pelts
The Flames recalled a hat-trick of forwards Sunday, summoning left-winger Jakob Pelletier and centres Kevin Rooney and Cole Schwindt to beetle to Boston.
Pelletier would have been a lineup lock this season, but the 22-year-old buzzsaw required surgery after suffering a shoulder injury in an exhibition contest in late September. He just recently returned to action with the Wranglers, collecting two goals and one assist in a four-game rust-reducer.
Rooney, 30, is freshly recovered from a shoulder surgery of his own. He also logged four appearances with the farm club, scoring once.
Matt Coronato wasn’t among those recalled from the minors, which allows him to skate Monday in the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic in San Jose. The Wranglers are also represented by rising-star netminder Dustin Wolf and head coach Trent Cull, who will be at the helm for the Pacific Division squad.
“It’s a good time just to be around the best players in the league that you play in,” said the 22-year-old Wolf of his second consecutive trip to the AHL All-Star Classic. “It’s fun to meet the people that you hate so much on the ice. You come to realize they’re all good people and they all have the same intentions as you, which is to reach the next level.”