The Next Ones: Five Future Flames

Ryan Pike
April 25 2013 11:51AM

 

 

The 2013 season is almost finished, so it's time to look towards the future. The benefit of the last dozen games and the audition process is that the Flames and their coaching staff knows which players fit and which don't. Here's a quick gander at five guys who, while they haven't locked themselves into full-time jobs in the NHL quite yet, are really close. (Well, okay, four that are close and one that's a bit of a stretch.) 

SVEN BAERTSCHI

Sven's the closest person on this list to being a full-timer already. Baertschi has spent roughly half this year in the bigs. His season can be split into two halves: the firrst part where he was a third/fourth liner and the second part where he was in the top six. The halves are separated by a stint in Abbotsford.

In the first chunk, he played 10 games (and missed some time due to injury). He had zero goals, one assist and was a minus-two and looked a bit out of his depth. In the second chunk, the last 9 games, he's had two goals, six assists and a plus-two rating. Moreover, he's looked more and more like the Sven Baertschi we saw last season.

LANCE BOUMA

Bouma's missed all but three games this year due to a major knee injury. But last season, Bouma was a force to be reckoned with in the bigs. He split his efforts between Calgary and the Heat in 2011-12, making a name for himself by blocking shots, hitting, fighting and generally being a wonderfully unpleasant person to play hockey against.

He was so good that his play likely led to Tom Kostopoulos leaving down via free agency. The Flames dreamt of a fourth line of big Blair Jones, mean Lance Bouma and the veteran presence of Tim Jackman. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out, but so long as Bouma's knee has fully healed by training camp, he'll be given every chance to factor into the line-up.

ROMAN HORAK

Roman Horak has had a good couple of years. He's made the Flames two years in a row out of camp – primarily due to injuries – and each year been one of the first call-ups after people got healthy again. Last year he looked a bit out of place. This year he's become one of the better three-zone forwards, particularly strong at being in the right place in the defensive zone.

Horak's also found his scoring touch this season, mostly in Abbotsford. If he can maintain his consistency, he'll be hard to send to the farm a third time.

Now we're getting into the riskier picks.

MAX REINHART

Okay, Max Power is a first-year pro. But would you know that looking at him on the ice? Not really. Reinhart is a smart three-zone player and a very good forechecker. You could say he fits Bob Hartley's high-tempo system likes a glove.

If Reinhart has a good training camp, he'll be able to make the team. Moreover, Flames management knows what he's capable of as a pro and, thus, may leave a contestable spot for him on the roster. He's just 21 and is still learning, but he's made a good impression thus far.

TYLER WOTHERSPOON

Obviously the most far-flung pick of this lot, my dark horse for 2013-14 is Tyler Wotherspoon. Wotherspoon didn't really skate at camp last year due to a shoulder injury and the Flames didn't really have a training camp this year due to the lockout.

But heck, Wotherspoon was flat-out great at Hockey Canada's World Junior camp prior to Christmas. He elevated his game all season and seemed to “get” how to play high-level hockey. Granted, the NHL is about as far removed from junior, but Wotherspoon has shown the ability to be a sponge and rapidly improve.

A couple years ago, Roman Horak came into training camp straight out of the WHL and made the team. If anybody does the same thing in 2013-14, it may be Tyler Wotherspoon.

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Now in his fourth season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers and the Wrestling Observer.
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#1 SeanCharles
April 25 2013, 01:07PM
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@McRib

Hmmm interesting you think Reinhart will make it over Horak. My hope is both make it.

In regards to Cervenka, I dunno he is an absolute sniper, he's at the top of the league in shooting %.

He has holes to his game that he needs to work on but I would much rather give him another year to prove himself then let him go to another team and possibly make us regret it. Depending on his demands I dont think resigning him will be difficult or risky. He's only 27 also so I would give him another year.

In all honesty I dont even really care what vets we trade. The only vets I would really be sad to trade are Gio and Glenny. Feaster said they were off the market so its all good. I like Hudler as a Tanguay replacement and Cammy maybe stick around as a legit scorer. Maybe Stempniak cause we dont have any right handed shooters haha.

But all in all as long as Sven, Brodie, Backlund, Gio and Glenny (can trade for great return if too good to refuse) and all the prospects don't get traded, I dont really care who else goes.

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#2 RexLibris
April 25 2013, 11:56AM
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A little off-topic, but still relevant. Ryan, I believe you had said you were going to the Hitmen games this week. Any impressions after watching the Hitmen/Oil Kings?

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#3 Jeff Lebowski
April 25 2013, 12:02PM
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I'm watching a kid on TSN right now who I hope Calgary is able to get in a few years. Connor McDavid.

The Flames should structure the rebuild so that they maximize the opportunity to draft him first overall.

Franchise changer.

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#4 Jeff Lebowski
April 25 2013, 12:05PM
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Now a hatter for McDavid.

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#5 JFK
April 25 2013, 12:17PM
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McDavid is the real deal and would love him to be a Flame.

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#6 JFK
April 25 2013, 12:17PM
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McDavid is the real deal and would love him to be a Flame.

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#7 TheRealPoc
April 25 2013, 12:19PM
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Meh, by 2014-15 - the season we'd have to tank to land McDavid - there's a good chance the Killer B's are all contributing at a rather high level (Backlund, Brodie & Baertschi, btw), we might have a MacKinnon/Barkov in our lineup as well and Gaudreau's most likely playing his rookie season. We might not be a playoff team, but we probably won't be bad enough to finish in the absolute cellar.

Actually, now I really want us to draft Barkov. I can see it now...the Killer B's. Barkov, Baertschi, Backlund, Brodie, Brossoit...oh yes. Much better vibe than Young Guns.

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#8 FireOnIce
April 25 2013, 12:23PM
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@RexLibris

I watched game 2 on TV and the Hitmen got demolished. They fell apart in the third period with some bad penalties and got the boots put to them.

From what I've read, the Oil Kings have been absolutely dominant. This Brossoit kid is pretty good.

Regarding the article, a Jones/Bouma/Jackman line would have been a true 4th line. Getting out there, throwing hits, blocking shots, throwing fists, and chipping in a couple goals. Return us to the old days, when it was hard to play in Alberta.

Iginla who? Jay Blowmeester?

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#9 beloch
April 25 2013, 12:24PM
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I was pleasantly surprised by Max Reinhart, although perhaps I shouldn't have been. He really does not look out of place in the NHL. His AHL stat-sheet is flat-out misleading.

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#10 SeanCharles
April 25 2013, 12:38PM
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The first 3 are probably a shoe in to make the opening day roster next season.

Its pretty interesting to think who will be here next year. Looking at the forwards, just cause Wotherspoon is a longshot, and assuming Cervenka and McGrattan have earned an extension our forward group looks like:

Sven, Backs, Cammy, Tanguay, Stajan, Glen, Stemp, Bouma, Jackman, Horak, Hudler, Cervenka and McGrattan.

Not much room for Reinhart and our top pick. It'll be interesting to see what vets get traded.

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#11 McRib
April 25 2013, 12:48PM
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@SeanCharles

Considering defensive fundamentals and ability to play Centre, I honestly think Reinhart makes it over Horak!! If they get one of the NHL ready prospects in the draft i.e. Mackinnon/Barkov I doubt we resign Chervenka.

If we are getting rid of someone please oh please let it be Stajan, his game has been elevated to a point of being worth mediocre value again lets move him while we can!!! Lets trade Butler as well, Cundari can step in and take his role.

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#12 Sincity1976
April 25 2013, 01:16PM
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I agree with the top 4. Wotherspoon is a stretch for me but who knows. I would put Breen, Cundari, Jones, and Byron over him. Breen would be a call up now if not for injury. Cundari is a bit older then the average prospect and is showing he can play in the NHL. Jones and Byron have been fringe guys and could make the leap full time next season.

My dark horse is Granlund. He has been playing with men and has been respectable doing it. I think he starts in Abby (if they don't send him home for one more year). But he could be a call-up that sticks.

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#13 RexLibris
April 25 2013, 01:20PM
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@FireOnIce

The Hitmen also came back and took it to the Oil Kings in game three.

When I speak to NHL-regular friends about the WHL, or any junior level hockey for that matter, the one thing I try to impress on them is that with youth comes inconsistency.

The OKs have dominated in areas, and they are an absurdly deep team. They had a WHL-favourite roster to start the season while still having two empty 20-year old roster spots!

Brossoit had a bad game three (pulled in the 2nd, I believe) but rebounded well in game 4. Gernat is having an awesome post-season, above 1.0 ppg and +16 as a blueliner who missed most of the season with shoulder surgery.

The series looks like a rightful heir to the old 80s Battles of Alberta. High scoring, up-tempo and lots of penalties. Good old-fashioned prairie hockey.

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#14 Baalzamon
April 25 2013, 01:24PM
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If the Flames use a buyout it'll be on Tanguay.

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#15 Baalzamon
April 25 2013, 01:27PM
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@Sincity1976

I wouldn't expect too much from young Markus just yet. Mikael (who is better in every way except skating) played the season in the NHL (after a long AHL stint because of the lockout) and mostly sucked.

And anyway, wasn't Granlund's contract with HIFK extended 1 year not too long ago?

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#16 Sincity1976
April 25 2013, 01:38PM
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@Baalzamon

He did. But I think there is an NHL out clause. The Flames signed him to a contract so he is obligated to report if they want him. Plus, Feaster said they are going to give him a serious look. That was a week ago.

I agree we should manage our expectations. He is a dark horse. But we aren't expecting him to be a Calder candidate and we probably aren't expecting to make the playoffs. Different situation then with Minny.

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#17 RKD
April 25 2013, 02:08PM
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It doesn't matter to me if Sven takes the leap next season or the year after but I expect him to a high end point producer. Nazem Kadri played 119 game in the AHL playing under Dallas Eakins before the Leafs finally made him a regular. Sven's only played 32 games in the AHL, but I would love to see him do great things for the Flames in the near future.

I think Horak is a regular NHL player, he's still pretty young but playing well for his age. He may not have the offensive upside but he would be a valuable guy to this team.

I think Reinhart could be a regular too, I can't comment on Wotherspoon I haven't seen him play.

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#18 Baalzamon
April 25 2013, 02:14PM
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@Sincity1976

Ah interesting. I hadn't heard any of that. Does that mean if he doesn't make the Flames he goes back to europe?

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#19 Baalzamon
April 25 2013, 02:20PM
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@RKD

I take it you didn't watch the WJC? Wotherspoon was a top 3 defender on a team that included Hamilton, Ouelett, Reinhart, Rielly etc. He won't wow anyone in any way, he's just very reliable and solid. He's a guy who you don't really notice unless you're specifically watching for him.

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#20 Parallex
April 25 2013, 02:39PM
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Baerschi & Bouma yes, Maybe Horak... the rest are hopefully going to Abbotsford. We should be aiming to be more like the Red Wings and less like the Oilers.

That means thinking longterm and not using youth for just youths sake. If they're the last best option then sure but I see no advantage to cutting their minor-pro development short so the Flames brass can sell us some magic beans ala Edmonton.

We have the Cap space and willingness to spend to sign UFA's to 1 year deals to fill out the NHL roster... why not let the young ones develop their game in the AHL while we accumulate short-term moveable assets of roughly equivalent on ice value? If they work and we end up in the playoffs then great, if we're out of the playoffs again then we can flip them with no long term loss to the franchise.

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#21 Sincity1976
April 25 2013, 02:44PM
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@Baalzamon

I am not sure. I believe the Flames have the option to play him with the Heat. It wouldn't surprise me to see him in Europe or with the Heat.

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#22 dotfras
April 25 2013, 02:50PM
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We need to draft some SCORERS.

Love that we have a bunch of "two way guys" but who's gonna put the biscuit in the net!?

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#23 Baalzamon
April 25 2013, 03:08PM
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@dotfras

The Flames have quietly accumulated a stable of scoring forwards of vaious skill levels and upsides. Jankowski, Gaudreau, Hanowski, and Granlund all gravitate to the scorer side of the spectrum (Granlund in particular has a heck of a release).

As for the current roster, Cammalleri and (yes) Cervenka are definitely scorers with the shots they have. Glencross was onpace for a career season (prorated over a full year: 30ish goals, 50ish points.

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#24 Willi P
April 25 2013, 03:19PM
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RexLibris wrote:

The Hitmen also came back and took it to the Oil Kings in game three.

When I speak to NHL-regular friends about the WHL, or any junior level hockey for that matter, the one thing I try to impress on them is that with youth comes inconsistency.

The OKs have dominated in areas, and they are an absurdly deep team. They had a WHL-favourite roster to start the season while still having two empty 20-year old roster spots!

Brossoit had a bad game three (pulled in the 2nd, I believe) but rebounded well in game 4. Gernat is having an awesome post-season, above 1.0 ppg and +16 as a blueliner who missed most of the season with shoulder surgery.

The series looks like a rightful heir to the old 80s Battles of Alberta. High scoring, up-tempo and lots of penalties. Good old-fashioned prairie hockey.

Went to both games at the 'dome. Hitmen physically punished the OK's in game 3. Brossoit played great in the first but crapped the bed in the second and got yanked. Also, Griffin Reinhart (Max's giant baby brother) was hurt in the game and didn't play in game 4. OK's skill took over in game 4. If it is a skill game moving forward, OK's take the series, if it goes to a physical hard forecheck game, Hitmen will take it. Hard to say as it has been a Jeykll and Hyde series for both teams IMO.

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#25 ChinookArch
April 25 2013, 03:55PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

If the Flames use a buyout it'll be on Tanguay.

That's what I thought, but it occurred to me that Calgary's Buyout option may be their most valuable trade asset. Imagine what Nashville would cough up, if the Flames bought out Webber's contract? A player, and 3 first rounders maybe? (BTW I am not advocating this, just providing an example).

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#26 Sincity1976
April 25 2013, 04:20PM
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@ChinookArch

Huh? I agree there might be a market to trade for crappy players and then buy them out. But not for Weber.

He is still one of the top D in the NHL. Teams would give up huge assets for him even with his contract.

Plus, it was a front loaded contract with huge signing bonus'. Nashville has already paid 67 million of that contract.

There is almost no chance he is traded after they have invested that much money into him. And there is absolutely no chance he is traded for the purpose of a buy-out.

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#27 ChinookArch
April 25 2013, 06:17PM
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Yes, yes. Now you have made me look up how to spell Bryzgalov, which is the contract I had in mind.

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#28 Subversive
April 25 2013, 07:49PM
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I haven't seen any evidence of the Flames being willing to eat money, so I'm not getting my hopes up about anything so creative as that.

Encouraged by the play of the young ones, and it appears they won't be pulling any miracles out tonight against St. Louis, so that's good too.

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#29 Tommynotsohuge
April 25 2013, 10:29PM
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My guess is Reinhart, Hanowski, Horak, Baertschi, Cundari, Bouma, and our 1rd pick will all be on the opening roster.

Definitely resign Cervenka. Buy out Stajan, trade Tangs and make either Cammy or Gio captain. We will definitely be able to sign a good free agent and trade for some good rfas that other teams can't afford. Let's show those Coilers how to do a proper, fast retool instead of a pathetic, decade long rebuild

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#30 JFK
April 26 2013, 08:37AM
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Remember, Marcus Grandlund still has to complete his one year military service for his country. At least to the best of my knowledge, therefore I don't expect him in the AHL next year. Hope I'm wrong though. My be they have a summer session. Want to see what he can do in the A but don't I (IMO) don't expect him over other than training camp and possibly pre-season.

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