July 25 2012 11:31AM
Image by Resolute via Wikimedia Commons
As we tumble head-long towards the month of August, there are a handful of moving parts to bear in mind as training camp gradually approaches. Here's a brief look at them, sorted by position.
The Flames have three goaltenders under contract, although even that number is a bit misleading. Really, all that's for-sure is that Miikka Kiprusoff is Calgary's goaltender. Beyond that, many expect the club to be exploring European options for Henrik Karlsson after he was out-played by Leland Irving last season. Joni Ortio, the third goalie “under contract,” is expected to spend next season on loan to HIFK Helsinki in SM-Liiga.
That leaves two rather large question marks: Leland Irving and Danny Taylor. Irving and the Flames are reportedly negotiating, but it's what's happened elsewhere that may signal some progress. Austria's EC Red Bull Salzburg was reportedly courting Irving last summer and may have maintained interest in the netminder. However, they signed Alex Auld this week, which either signals that they liked Auld more or that Irving came off the market. Or a third, less interesting thing.
Danny Taylor likely impressed Flames brass with his play during the AHL playoffs, but he's not likely to be given more than an AHL deal, considering the Flames are at 47 contracts right now, excluding Irving.
Well, let's presume that the Flames carry 23 NHL bodies all year and the Heat do similarly. That's 14 spots on the blueline. Between NHL and AHL deals, they have 17 guys signed.
On one-way NHL deals are Brett Carson, Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, Cory Sarich, Clay Wilson, Dennis Sideman, Derek Smith, Anton Babchuk and Chris Butler. T.J. Brodie has a two-way deal, but was mentioned by Jay Feaster as a guy he considers to have made the NHL roster. Right there, that's 10 bodies for seven NHL spots.
Again, presuming seven NHL spots, that means that three of the aforementioned guys are joining Joe Piskula, Chris Breen, James Martin, Brady Lamb and AHL signees Nick Tuzzolino, Zach McKelvie and Joe Callahan in Abbotsford. This likely means that some one-way contracts are getting buried in the AHL, some defenders are going to spend time in the ECHL, and/or the Flames are probably making more roster moves involving defenders. Possibly all three.
Looking at NHL and AHL contracts, there are 30 forwards slated to play in the Flames organization next season. Again, looking at things, let's assume the Flames carry 14 forwards among their roster all season.
Well, they better, because that's what they have. There are 11 forwards on one-way contracts: Jarome Iginla, Mike Cammalleri, Jiri Hudler, Alex Tanguay, Matt Stajan, Curtis Glencross, Lee Stempniak, Blake Comeau, Mikael Backlund, Blair Jones and Tim Jackman. In addition, newcomers Sven Baertschi and Roman Cervenka have two-way contracts but will most likely be in Calgary. Oh, and Lance Bouma is a member of the same club as T.J. Brodie, in terms of being singled out by the Flames GM as being guys who've made the Flames roster. That's 14 guys right there.
And that leaves 16 forwards fighting for a dozen (or so) regular spots in Abbotsford. And presuming that the above roster log-jam happens in Calgary, that means that the Heat will have a bunch of pretty good forwards. Heck, there's a significant chance that competent hockey players will be shuffled to the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies due to there being too many good players in Abbotsford.
Examples? Paul Byron, Ben Walter, Greg Nemisz and Roman Horak will return and see regular duty. Add to them newcomers David Eddy, Max Reinhart, Turner Elson, Ben Street and Michael Ferland, all of whom could add to the Heat's offensive punch. That's nine guys right there, leaving out interesting projects like Carter Bancks, Dustin Sylvester and Ryan Howse. I wouldn't expect Mitch Wahl to displace anyone in Abbotsford, so there's a chance the Flames may try to find another AHL option for him. Similar things could be in the cards for Bryan Cameron and Gaelan Patterson, as could stints for them with the Utah Grizzlies.
It's nearly August and the Flames have 47 players under NHL contract, not including restricted free agent Leland Irving. Despite having so many guys locked down, don't expect things to be quiet between now and training camp, whenever that turns out to be.
There's still a lot of work left for Flames management.