February 10 2010 11:47PM
With the news that injured Calgary Flames forwards Rene Bourque, Nigel Dawes and David Moss all took part in an optional skate today at the 'Dome, the question now needs to be asked... where will all these forwards fit on this team?
17 is the number of forwards on the Calgary Flames roster right now, so lets go through it. New faces are Higgins, Kotalik, Stajan, Mayers and Hagman. 2 players started the season in the American Hockey League in Jamie Lundmark and Mikael Backlund. Brian McGrattan has found himself a healthy scratch lately, while Bourque, Dawes, Moss and Craig Conroy have missed games due to injury.
So lets brainstorm and think out loud here... is it automatic that both Lundmark and Backlund go back to Abbotsford, as they're both on two-way contracts? And if it is, should it be?
Backlund and Lundmark have presented themselves pretty good while on the big team. Taking Conroy (still injured) and Bourque (he's clearly not in danger of losing a spot) out of the equation, have Moss and/or Dawes done anything to prove they deserve a spot in the lineup over either Backlund or Lundmark? It's certainly tough to make that case.
David Moss has 6 goals and 13 points in 43 games, while Jamie Lundmark has 5 goals and 9 points in 20 games. And while Dawes does have 10 goals and 25 points, he's proven to be a streaky scorer, going on long droughts without potting one. Certainly, I think you can make passable arguments that one or both Lundmark and Backlund deserve to remain in this Flames lineup.
However, logistically, that may not be possible... it may come down to two-way and one-way contracts. So, Jamie and Mikael head back to BC, but Craig Conroy returns. You're still left with 15 forwards, 7 defencemen and 2 goalies…24 players with a 23 man limit. It means there are some decisions to make.
Here's what I can tell you. Daryl Sutter didn't seem too worried about all the extra forwards when he spoke to us media vultures following his 2 big trades. Dawes said today he's been medically cleared and feels good, but isn't sure if he'll get in before the Olympic break. Moss's comments were much the same, relaying if there was a game today, he felt he could play…but again, isn't sure when he'll return to the lineup.
I've said many times on The FAN 960 that I don't believe Daryl Sutter is done making deals, and the math I've just laid out is the big reason why I believe that. That doesn't mean a trade, necessarily, as you've always got waivers if you're willing to risk a player being picked up by another team.
But even if that does happen, there's one thing that can't be questioned. Ice time and roles on this team are going to be very, very hotly contested. Maybe that's a good thing, leading to intense practice sessions and guys pushing eachother to play their very best, with the threat of the press box looming if there's a lull in your play. Or maybe there's another huge trade looming from GM Sutter…at this point, you just don't really know, do ya?