The Calgary Flames today assigned Austin Czarnik to the Stockton Heat of the AHL on a conditioning stint, signaling that he is nearing a return from the lower-body injury that has kept him out for the last six weeks.
Czarnik, 26, was an important part of the Flames’ bottom-six last season when he was in the lineup, scoring 18 points in 54 games. With the team putting their entire forward group in a blender the last few days to see if they can turn their season around, his skill and speed would be an important addition.
The Flames have won two games in a row, but after two months of struggles and a scandal cost their head coach his job this season has been a disaster. The team that had the best record in the Western Conference a year ago now sits in sixth place in the Pacific Division with a -13 goal differential.
Czarnik is on the second season of a two-year deal that carries a cap hit of $1.25MM, meaning the second half will be just as important for him as it is the Flames. Originally put on long-term injured reserve in late October with a two-month timeline, he’ll have to get back into game shape in the minor leagues before he can help Calgary.