October 01 2013 08:54AM
The Calgary Flames announced their final 23 man roster Monday, sending four more to the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.
The 31 players cut over the past few weeks will either head to Abbotsford for the beginning of training camp there, or return to their respective CHL junior clubs for the balance of that season. So what lays ahead for these 34 young men as their NHL dream is - for now - postponed?
We'll also look at the Flames starting roster and discuss the potential line combos to open the season.
One of the pleasant surprises this year, Poirier played - by all accounts - consistently well throughout his time at camp and made a serious case to stay beyond this round of cuts. The fact of the matter is however, with no real chance to stick with the big club and the QMJHL season already underway, returning Poirier to Gatineau so he didn't miss anymore action was good asset management. I'm sure Poirier didn't really have an expectation of making the team (unlike guys who's names start with Sean and end with Monahan).
Poirier returns to a Gatineau Olympiques team that could makes noise again this year following a second round exit at the hands of the powerhouse Halifax Mooseheads last year. Poirier will be a counted contributor in both the offensive and defensive departments in 2013/14 and - barring injury - look for him to improve on his 32 goal, 70 point performance last year. With a solid start, Poirier could see himself invited to the Canadian World Junior Selection Camp in December and could have a nice shot at stealing a bottom six role. He was also named an alternate captain.
Didn't get to hit the ice at camp due to an injury suffered at Regina Pats camp just prior to Flames camp, so no surprise he was sent back to junior. Even if he had partaken in training camp, his chances to crack the main roster - like Poirier's - would've been slim to none.
The similarities to Poirier continue for Kilmchuck, as he too will be counted on heavily to both score and prevent goals against for his club. He's one of the only pure goal scorers on a very thin Regina Pats team. An improvement on his 36 goal, 76 point 2012/13 season is not out of the question, but due to the calibre of his team, shouldn't be expected.
Despite not garnering an invite to the Summer Evaluation Camp, Klimchuck could still see himself partaking in the final selection camp for Canada ahead of the 2014 World Juniors this December and possibly coming away with a spot on the team. He would need a strong start to the season as well as a good selection camp to do so, but it's not out of the question.
Same situation as Klimchuck in terms of his inability to participate in camp due to an injury, so no surprise he was on his way back to Brandon of the WHL with the first wave.
Roy will be one of Brandon's top defensemen again this year and could see himself reunited with Islanders draft pick and fellow offensive stud, Ryan Pulock. While the offense is likely to come along, it's a significant improvement on the defensive side of the puck that will be looked for from Roy this coming year. Ironically, the rearguard struggles with the very concept his position is named after - defence - and strides in that area of the game would be a big stride in his development.
Probably disappointed that he'll need spend another year with Quebec in the QMJHL -being named captain will probably soften that blow, the AHL eligible Culkin just did not show enough in his time in camp to warrant an assignment to Abbotsford.
Culkin will again be a big time contributor for Quebec on the blue line in ever facet of the game and could be among the highest scoring defensemen in the Q this year. He is not eligible for the World Junior's this year.
The former 6th Round Pick's chances of making the team were hovering around zero to begin with so getting him to junior in time for the start of that regular season was optimal.
Good thing they too, Gordon opened the year with a goal and two assists and is wearing a letter this year. Scoring lots of points could be a common theme for him this year and much like every single Flames prospect in junior this year, will be relied upon heavily to carry his team.
Wasn't going to make the team, so shipping him back to junior with the first round of cuts in time for the start of the WHL year was rudimentary.
The Vancouver Giants sucked last year. Big time. They got - as reward for sucking - the first overall pick and selected Edmonton phenom Tyler Benson who promises to be a stud. While he won't be with the team this year, they did make some good young pickups last year as they were selling off everything they had of value - except Kulak - and those pieces will probably take a step forward this year, propelling the Giants out of the WHL's basement. How good they'll be is yet to be seen, but they shouldn't suck as bad as they last year and Kulak will oversee the whole thing as the teams best defensemen. He played a ton last year and not much should change this time around.
Kanzig, otherwise known as teachers pet, became a management favourite at camp and although it was obvious he didn't belong and had no real shot at the final roster, was kept around nonetheless so that the coaching and athletic staff could work with him and set training goals for the upcoming season. His skating obviously needs work and will be a focus point no doubt for him this year in Victoria (WHL). One interesting note, Kanzig was apparently tasked to add on more fat (he's currently at a staggering 7%) to his already monstrous 240 pound frame for in game energy purposes.
He'll be a leader on what should be a decent Royals club but expecting good offensive numbers would be foolish. He'll break some faces though. Is there an NHLE for fights?
I thought he had a shot at a fourth line role, but so did a bunch of others and he just got outplayed. He'll go back to Abby, wear a letter, score some goals with that wicked shot of his, and maybe earn an NHL deal and a call up later in the season (he's on an AHL only deal at the moment).
Wasn't given a shot to even strut his stuff at the NHL level so this no surprise. He'll head to Heat training camp and battle Ortio and whoever else comes down next for the starting job. More likely than not, he'll be in Alaska (ECHL) to start the year.
Unlike Brossoit, he got some quantifiable minutes but proved he's nowhere near ready for the show. Like Brossoit, he'll partake in Heat camp and try and battle for one of the two jobs available there. Chances are, he'll stick but there's always the possibility he gets outdueled and finds himself either in Alaska, or back in Finland.
Looked awful when I saw him play early in camp so good riddance. I have no personal beef with Byron but the fact that he and Butler were all the Flames got for Regher - who netted the Sabres two (!!!) second rounder's this past trade deadline - makes me sour. His time his running out with the Flames organization and he'll need a solid year in the AHL to warrant a contract extension at the end of the year.
Wasn't given much of a chance at camp but no matter because starting off in the AHL is undoubtedly the right move for the 20 year old. For a guy who's known as more of a shutdown defenseman, I'm interested in seeing how he does against men, this year.
For guy that wasn't cracking the opening day roster they did keep him around mighty long time. Like Kanzig, the Flames probably wanted him around the NHL team for a little longer. Like Wotherspoon, I'm curious to see how he does defending against men this year in Abbotsford and by the sounds of it, we'll be seeing him in Calgary at some point. Sieloff is a lock to make the USA's World Junior team and could even captain the squad.
Unlike the two guys above, Ramage hasn't been defending against teenagers the past few years, so the jump to the AHL shouldn't be quite as big for him; playing in college gave him the benefit of skating against bigger and stronger competition. (Note to Kent: did I used the ";" right?) He showed well at both prospect camp and main camp so we could possibly see him in Calgary this season if he performs well with the Heat.
He can be considered something of vet in the AHL by now but Mark Cundari will at least start the year with Abbotsford. I personally thought he had a good shot at cracking the opening day roster but by all accounts was not good in his preseason appearances, so being in the first round of cuts I suppose wasn't a huge surprise. Hopefully he's approaching Heat camp with a positive attitude and will be one of the first players called up.
I really like Jones as a fourth line center, he's big, fast, can win face-offs and his hands aren't completely of stone. I was surprised when they sent him down last year but obviously management has their reasons. It looks like he was beat out by Ben Street at camp and I don't know if he'll get a call up this year.
I liked him at camp and I think he was squeezed out simply by the numbers game. He'll be back, there's little doubt in my mind about that. Horak has decent puck skills and is a smooth skater - he just needs to have a bit more impact more conistently to make the jump.
What a pleasant surprise this kid was at camp. Hard worker, great shot and good all around game. He'll head to Abby to start his pro career (played college the last three years) and could secure a bottom six spot there. If there ever opens up a spot on the energy line in Calgary, Jooris will be knocking on the door for a call up.
Was by all accounts pretty solid at camp and he'll be relied on to contribute on what promises to be a very young blue line in Abbotsford. Could see a call up later in the year.
Everyone guaranteed Knight's spot on the team when he was acquired in June, but after seeing him play it became clear he needs some time to adjust to the pro game. He'll jostle for a top 9 spot in Abbotsford and it likely we'll see him in Calgary this year - unless he struggles majorly to kick off the year.
Jay Feaster loved Ferland's camp and progression, saying he's "leaps and bounds" from where he was even at the Memorial Cup this summer, let alone where he was at the start of last year. Feaster also said Ferland is a guy we could see in Calgary this year but for a guy who had a false start to his pro career the first time around (spent some time in the AHL and ECHL last year before being returned to junior), I'd just be happy with a full pro season from Ferland.
Had an OK camp, but apparently his defensive zone play needs work (which surprised me because I thought being responsible defensively was a staple of Reinhart's). A good start to the year in Abby could see him earn a call up this year - but with three other solid prospects at center in Abbotsford (Knight, Horak, Granlund), Max will have to stand out in a big way to separate himself from the group.
A great rookie tournament led to speculation Granlund could push for an opening day roster spot, but it became clear early in camp that some time in the AHL to acclimate to the North American game would be good for him. I'm curious to see what he does with a young supporting cast this year with the Heat.
Hanowski is still too slow and hopefully a full season in Abbotsford will go along way in addressing that issue. Like most of the guys heading to the AHL, Hanowski has a shot at a call up sometime during the season but at this point there are number of guys I have ahead of him in that respect.
Zach McKelvie, James Martin, Brady Lamb, Steve Begin, David Eddy, Brett Olson, Greg Nemisz
I grouped them all together because they all fall into the "There were much better players ahead of them on the depth chart and they'll probably end up as AHLers" category. Interesting note though, McKelvie apparently came into camp in excellent shape which is great because the young guys in Abbotsford this year can maybe rub off on his training and commitment to fitness.
Greg Nemisz didn't even survive the first round of cuts. He's on his second contract with the club and at 23 years old isn't really a prospect of note anymore.
The final 23 man roster looks like this:
Note - Chris Breen might hang around as a 8th defenseman once he heals up, in part because he would have to pass through waivers to be re-assigned to the AHL. He'll get a conditioning stint in the AHL when he's 100%, but then management will have to make a decision, mostly based on whether they think he'll be scooped by another team on the waiver wire or not.
Here' show things may shape up to start the season:
- Glencross - Stajan - Stempniak
- Baertschi - Backlund - Hudler
- Galiardi - Monahan - Jones
- Bouma - Colborne - Jackman
- Brodie - Giordano
- Wideman - Russell
- Butler - O' Brien
Share your own observations and line combos in the comments.