Cundari adds physicality, grit to the Flames back-end
CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster has been looking to add more physicality to the team's defensive corps and on Monday evening, he was able to inject a bit more pugnacity with the acquisition of Mark Cundari.
A part of the package the St. Louis Blues shipped to Calgary in exchange for Jay Bouwmeester, Cundari is an aggressive, in-your-face blueliner that isn't afraid to mix things up with the opposition.
"He's a very physical, hard-nosed kind of player," Feaster told CalgaryFlames.com. "Our players in Abbotsford who play against him in the American League, to a man, they talk about how much they don't like playing against him."
The Toronto, ON native has spent the last three seasons with the Blues AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, and has become known for his unwavering work ethic. At 5-foot-10 and 200 lbs., he isn't the biggest player on the ice but his intensity and willingness to play a very physical game put him on the Flames radar when they were scoping out potential trade assets with St. Louis.
"He's tenacious. He never quits. He's a real battler, a competitor. He likes to hit. He's not a big man but he likes to play a big man's game. We don't have a lot of players like that on our blueline. We don't have a lot of players like that in our system. That's what was attractive about him."
Cundari is currently recovering from a wrist injury but the team was aware of that when they entered into negotiations. The Blues and Flames medical teams consulted on the severity of the malady and once Calgary got a handle on the situation, they began devising a plan as to how to utilize the rearguard this year.
If all goes to plan, Flames fans will have an opportunity to see what Cundari brings to the table later this month. The team has assigned the defenceman to the Abbotsford Heat where he will continue with his wrist rehab. The Flames medical staff hope that he should be back to 100 per cent within 7-10 days and after he is deemed healthy enough to play, Feaster said there is a strong possibility he will be recalled.
"Once he's cleared, I would imagine we'll probably see him in Calgary. We'll bring him up.
"As our pro guys and John Weisbrod said today, he's the kind of guy that Bob Hartley will love because of the way he plays, his tenaciousness. It's all about heart, will and never quitting."
Cundari is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.