Setoguchi relieved to finally have a team take a chance on him

 

Flames signed former 30-goal scorer nearly two months into unrestricted free agency period

 
 
 
 
Devin Setoguchi squares off against the S. Louis Blues during a game last season as a member of the Winnipeg Jets.
 

Devin Setoguchi squares off against the S. Louis Blues during a game last season as a member of the Winnipeg Jets.

Photograph by: Mark Buckner, NHLI via Getty Images

Devin Setoguchi had one of those tough off-seasons that no free agent wants to have.

After the Winnipeg Jets turned him loose at the deadline on July 1, the 27-year-old right winger sat by his phone and waited for someone to take a chance.

And waited.

And waited.

Until last week when discussions sparked up with Brad Treliving and the Calgary Flames and he drove up to the city to meet with the new general manager.

Which explains Setoguchi’s gratitude towards Saturday’s one-year $750,000 deal with the Flames and why he plans on taking full advantage of the opportunity in front of him.

“It’s been a long summer,” sighed the six-foot, 200-pounder calling from California, where he spent parts of four seasons with the San Jose Sharks. “It’s not easy sitting there and being one of the only free agents out there. I’m just thankful I got it done. It’s going to give me a chance to prove a lot to myself and to the team I’m joining that I can still play and be a leader.

“If I can do that and be effective, and we’ll look back at this and say it was a great decision.”

A former first round pick (who went eighth overall to the Sharks in the 2005 NHL entry draft), Setoguchi is in need of a fresh start.

The 2013-14 campaign with the Winnipeg Jets was a struggle for the Taber, Alta., native. He finished the season with 11 goals and 27 points in 75 games before taking a personal leave during the final two games.

Before that, Setoguchi had been with the Minnesota Wild after being dealt during the 2011 NHL entry draft along with Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick in exchange for Brent Burns and a second-round pick in 2012 — days after signing a three-year $9-million contract.

He’s a seven season NHL veteran of almost 500 games and understands the criticism from his 2013-14 campaign.

“It was a long year,” said Setoguchi, who was a healthy scratch during the last portion of the season. “It’s never fun going through a year and not having the year you want. You almost feel like you disappointed a lot of people, fans, teammates. For me, it was tough but what happened is the past, is the past.

“Now, it’s a new start for me and a chance to kick start my career again in the right way.”

Calgary, it seems, is the perfect place for him to be re-energized.

With a young team sporting a pile of high draft picks, free agent signings like Mason Raymond and Brandon Bollig, and replacing the scoring talent of Mike Cammalleri, there is potential for Setoguchi — a one-time 30-goal scorer — to fit in should he bounce back.

He enjoyed his career best season in 2008-09 playing on a line mostly with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau where he scored 31 goals and had 34 assists in 81 games.

Needing depth at right-winger, he’ll be competing with Jiri Hudler, David Jones, and Brian McGrattan.

Prior to Saturday’s signing of Setoguchi, a relatively low-risk move, the Flames had the lowest payroll and sat $17,288,333 under the NHL salary cap (and still with no Lance Bouma signing yet).

For the player — who was impressed by the blue-collar effort of the Flames last season — the situation is perfect.

“The work ethic of these guys, it’s amazing to watch,” Setoguchi said. “Even when we played them last year, you know against Calgary, you were going to have a tough game. Now they have a year under their belt, they’re only going to learn and grow from there. (The situation) will definitely re-energize myself but I’ll also be able to help out in areas.

“This is a chance for me to come in and prove I can still play and be a very effective player . . . just excitement overall.”

kodland@calgaryherald.com

Follow on Twitter/KristenOdlandCH

 
 
 
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Devin Setoguchi squares off against the S. Louis Blues during a game last season as a member of the Winnipeg Jets.
 

Devin Setoguchi squares off against the S. Louis Blues during a game last season as a member of the Winnipeg Jets.

Photograph by: Mark Buckner, NHLI via Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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