Random Thoughts - July 6 2013

Ryan Pike
July 08 2013 07:24AM

 

 

I was in Las Vegas during the annual NHL free agency frenzy and had these thoughts on the Flames moves from inside various casinos and sports bars.

THE ROSTER, AS IT STANDS

After the latest group of signings, the Flames have 37 players under contract for this coming season, with another eight guys (including T.J. Brodie and Mikael Backlund) being restricted free agents. Essentially, most of the roster work is done as that puts them at about 45 bodies under deals. We may see one or two tweaks, probably minor league guys to keep Abbotsford competitive, but this is what the team will be next year.

The Flames have, by my fuzzy math, 21 players on one-way pacts: goalies Karri Ramo and Joey MacDonald, defenders Dennis Wideman, Mark Giordano, Shane O'Brien, Kris Russell, Derek Smith, Chris Butler (and eventually T.J. Brodie), and forwards Mike Cammalleri, Jiri Hudler, Curtis Glencross, Blair Jones, David Jones, Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak, T.J. Galiardi, Brian McGrattan, Tim Jackman (and eventually Mikael Backlund).

The forward group lacks an elite centre - or elite anything for that matter. The top nine group shows some promise but has a couple holes, but that may allow guys like Sven Baertschi and Sean Monahan – or even Roman Horak – to step in without displacing anybody.

I'd expect McGrattan to be in and out of the line-up depending on the opposition, but that probably means there's going to be opportunities for the Boumas and Reinharts of the world to get a roster spot, particularly given that Blair Jones was sent down to the farm by this coaching staff already last year. One-way or not, I wouldn't expect him to be a lock.

On the back-end, it's actually pretty decent, although it lacks a top guy outside of (maybe?) T.J. Brodie. The remaining skaters are decent second and third-pairing options, although circumstances will dictate some of them eating top-pairing minutes, which has posed a problem in the past. And given it's seven guys under one-ways, you could expect some movement here – either to the farm or to another team – if Flames management decides it would like to see Mark Cundari or Chris Breen on the main roster.

The goaltending tandem is what it is – nobody's sure which two bodies will be there, but given that Ramo and MacDonald have one-ways, I'd give them the edge. That said, I doubt that would stop management from shelving somebody who doesn't belong on the NHL roster. Competition should be fierce at camp this fall.

THE FUTURE, AS IT LOOKS

We're coming up on my favourite time of the year: Calgary Flames development camp. While the tone of the coverage of the main roster may be all doom and gloom of late, development camp has become more of a spot for optimism.

The official roster and schedule have yet to be released by the club, but the camp will be July 10-15 at Winsport. Here's a list of players you can reasonably expect to see there, given that they're either unsigned draftees or on entry-level deals

Forwards: Corban Knight, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Ben Hanowski, Max Reinhart, Ryan Howse, Roman Horak, Michael Ferland, Ben Street, Turner Elson, David Eddy, Coda Gordon, Morgan Klimchuk, Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier, Kenny Agostino, Bill Arnold, Johnny Gaudreau, Tim Harrison, Mark Jankowski and Matt Deblouw

Defensemen: Tyler Wotherspoon, John Ramage, James Martin, Brett Kulak, Keegan Kanzig, Eric Roy, Ryan Culkin, Patrick Sieloff, Rushan Rafikov and John Gilmour

Goalies: Reto Berra, Laurent Brossoit, Joni Ortio and Jon Gillies

Granted, this isn't an exhaustive list of potential invites – the club usually has five or six college or junior free agents they invite on try-outs – but it's a pretty promising group of names. The forward group, in particular, reflects how much improvement the Flames' scouting and drafting has shown in the last few years. I'm sure we can all remember four or five years back and see the jump in offensive talent and creativity up front.

It'll also be fans' first chance to see a lot of guys on the ice. The FlamesNation crew should be at a good number of the sessions – I'm endeavouring to be there everyday – so if there's anybody you're jonesing for coverage of or merely want to know a bit more about, let us know in the comments.

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Now in his third full 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, the Wrestling Observer and Tough Talk MMA.
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#1 Burnward
July 08 2013, 09:14AM
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@JustMe

"...have been post..." - Olli Jokinen's epitaph.

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#2 everton fc
July 08 2013, 07:41AM
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I wonder if Howse will ever come alive again?

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#3 ChinookArch
July 08 2013, 07:44AM
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Hey Ryan,

Is the camp open to the public?

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#4 T&A4Flames
July 08 2013, 07:51AM
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Obviously impressions of the new guys. In particular, the less known ones like Harrison.

With the new guys, and in particular the 1st rounders, how do they look with guys they are lined up with? Do they improve the players with them or vies versa.

How are Ferland and Howse looking conditioning wise? Are they still....uhm... Chubby?

How about Janko. I heard he bulked up a bit. Is it noticeable and how does it affect his performance.

Does Rafikov speak English?

Just a few of my inquiries. Thanks.

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#5 Craig
July 08 2013, 08:04AM
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My biggest question would be Jankowski, as T&A said he supposedly bulked up, and that was his biggest question mark. So I'm really curious to see how he performs against our new first rounders, as well as Sven and Johnny. There's still time for our new guys to get adjusted, and for them to develop more, but we need to see some improvement in Janko.

It would be amazing if we could get some interviews with the players as well. Hopefully get some candid answers.

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#6 Demetric
July 08 2013, 08:09AM
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I would love to get more details on Keegan.

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#7 BurningSensation
July 08 2013, 08:09AM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Obviously impressions of the new guys. In particular, the less known ones like Harrison.

With the new guys, and in particular the 1st rounders, how do they look with guys they are lined up with? Do they improve the players with them or vies versa.

How are Ferland and Howse looking conditioning wise? Are they still....uhm... Chubby?

How about Janko. I heard he bulked up a bit. Is it noticeable and how does it affect his performance.

Does Rafikov speak English?

Just a few of my inquiries. Thanks.

Excellent questions!!

I'm really interested in our three firsties, Janko and Corban Knight. They represent our top three pivots in the future and I'm dying to know how they are developing.

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#8 Parallex
July 08 2013, 08:18AM
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everton fc wrote:

I wonder if Howse will ever come alive again?

When was he alive to begin with? I remember after he was drafted I made a point to watch chilliwack the first opportunities I could and boy oh boy was I ever unimpressed. Really nice shot, but everything else looked average or below average... and that was against junior level competition.

Hate to judge a guy after only a few viewings but I thought it was readily apparent just from the eye test that he wasn't NHL level talent.

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#9 Parallex
July 08 2013, 08:29AM
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"so if there's anybody you're jonesing for coverage of or merely want to know a bit more about, let us know in the comments."

I'd like more insight into the following players: Jankowski, Poirier, Knight, Kanzig, Roy, Harrison, Gilmour.

Basically all the lesser known newly drafted guys (I'm presuming that Rafikov won't be there), Poirier because he was probably the most contentious pick, Knight because he's new to the org, and Jankowski because I want to see if there's been the physical maturation that we've heard about and if there's been significant skill development since this time last year.

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#10 Bezer
July 08 2013, 08:42AM
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I'm very excited to see how Sieloff has developed after a year with Windsor. I like what he brings with his physical game. Something I think the Flames are missing on D other than maybe SOB.

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#11 Bezer
July 08 2013, 08:42AM
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I'm very excited to see how Sieloff has developed after a year with Windsor. I like what he brings with his physical game. Something I think the Flames are missing on D other than maybe SOB.

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#12 Scary Gary
July 08 2013, 08:58AM
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"and forwards Mike Cammalleri, Jiri Hudler, Blair Jones, David Jones, Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak, T.J. Galiardi, Brian McGrattan, Tim Jackman (and eventually Mikael Backlund)."

Glencross?

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#13 JustMe
July 08 2013, 09:08AM
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The camp is at COP. The rosters for each group have been post on the Flames' web site.

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#14 JustMe
July 08 2013, 09:11AM
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Nevermind. Oops. I wasvlooking at last years webpage. Disregard my last post.

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#15 JustMe
July 08 2013, 09:11AM
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Nevermind. Oops. I wasvlooking at last years webpage. Disregard my last post.

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#16 Avalain
July 08 2013, 09:15AM
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My top interests are basically our 1st round picks from the last 2 years. I'm dying to see how Jankowski has improved, and how he compares to our other 1st round picks this year. After all, he was only a couple weeks from being in this years draft. Poirier will also be very interesting since we haven't really seen anything on him and I'd really love to see how his speed compares to our other prospects instead of unknown (to me) defensemen in his highlights package.

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#17 McRib
July 08 2013, 09:36AM
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@Avalain

Mark Jankowski was not a couple weeks from being in this years draft he was two days (Sept 15), Haha.

Everyone is looking at his stats from last year and saying they don't reflect that of a future NHLer, but considering most were thinking he would be unable to even play in the NCAA he accomplished more than I was expecting from such an underdeveloped player.

He had 0.53 PPG as a freshman playing on a very low scoring team compare that with another late developer Chris Kreider 0.60 PPG and you get the picture of what was expect for this late bloomer. Last year everyone I talked to out east said he has all the offensive tools to put it together and always looked to be one big game from breaking out.

They say a minor mid-season injury prevented that and once he gains weight he will start to dominate in the next couple of years. Watching him in camp last year I could not get over how someone who just grew five-six inches had such a long rangy natural looking stride. He reminds me of a more toolsy Adam Lowry to be honest, once he gains the necessary leg strength he is just go to take it to another level. It’s also apparent that everyone out east wants to play with this kid, because when was the last time Providence College had back-to-back seasons of two incoming recruits drafted into the NHL?

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#18 SmellOfVictory
July 08 2013, 09:41AM
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Avalain wrote:

My top interests are basically our 1st round picks from the last 2 years. I'm dying to see how Jankowski has improved, and how he compares to our other 1st round picks this year. After all, he was only a couple weeks from being in this years draft. Poirier will also be very interesting since we haven't really seen anything on him and I'd really love to see how his speed compares to our other prospects instead of unknown (to me) defensemen in his highlights package.

Jankowski vs Monahan would be very interesting, given that they're only about a month apart in terms of birthdate.

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#19 Kmp
July 08 2013, 09:47AM
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Mostly interested in how the dmen look, Ramage, Sieloff and Wotherspoon especially.

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#20 McRib
July 08 2013, 09:48AM
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@SmellOfVictory

Its funny some people wanted us to take Ryan Hartman this year in the first... He is only seven days younger than Jankowski, Haha. Considering Hartman probably had his growth spurt two years before Jankowski it puts it into perspective that’s for sure.

I love how everyone is down on Mark Jankowski and loves Corban Knight who only had 13 points his Freshman Season or 0.35 PPG, compare that to Mark Jankowski's 18 points last season in three less games and you would think Jankowski would get more slack for a growth year.

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#21 Baalzamon
July 08 2013, 09:54AM
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So. The Ducks signed Zach Stortini. You know, because grit chart.

I'm very curious to see how much Jankowski has progressed. It's impossible to not be intrigued by a player with that much talent. Really hope it all works out for him.

I'm also interested in other players who have been mentioned, but also in Brett Kulak, who doesn't get anywhere near enough publicity around... well, anywhere.

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#22 McRib
July 08 2013, 10:01AM
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@Baalzamon

Oh, Brett Kulak is easily the most underrated prospect in our system possibly even in the WHL for that matter. He would have been in my Top. 10 Flames Prospects.

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#23 KetchupKid
July 08 2013, 10:02AM
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@McRib

Tough to compare a 1st rounder and an ostensible 4th though. Jankowski and Knight had much different prices.

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#24 everton fc
July 08 2013, 10:09AM
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Parallex wrote:

When was he alive to begin with? I remember after he was drafted I made a point to watch chilliwack the first opportunities I could and boy oh boy was I ever unimpressed. Really nice shot, but everything else looked average or below average... and that was against junior level competition.

Hate to judge a guy after only a few viewings but I thought it was readily apparent just from the eye test that he wasn't NHL level talent.

Meaning when he was at Chilliwack. Where he did have some nice linemates, if my memory serves me.

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#25 Baalzamon
July 08 2013, 10:16AM
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everton fc wrote:

Meaning when he was at Chilliwack. Where he did have some nice linemates, if my memory serves me.

Roman Horak was his center, haha.

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#26 McRib
July 08 2013, 10:20AM
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@KetchupKid

I understand the pressure people place on first's, but Corbin Kngiht's results in College following a mediocre freshman season are encouraging to say the least. Ditto for Chris Kreider. That's actually where College and Major Junior really differ for me. Underdeveloped kids in Major Junior tend to get away with more then in College because of the age separation they have a harder time even if the skill level is similar.

Back in 2008-2009 I was able to watch Knight when he played with Okotoks, as I had friends on the team and Jankowski has much more impressive raw tools of the two at the same age. So the first is justified for me to say the least, but lets hope The Big Jank has a 31 point increase like Knight did next his second year. If he has gained weight like most are saying its not out of the question at all for me. The Kid seems like a really stellar person hope he has a big jump in production to silence the critics and alleviate some pressure.

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#27 DoubleDIon
July 08 2013, 10:22AM
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Ryan you forgot our best player...

Also, in what world is TJ Brodie a top option and Giordano a decent 2nd pairing guy? TJ had a nice 12 game run playing as a top 4 guy, but he played bottom pairing most of the season. Giordano had a bad year, but I'd lay dollars to donuts he's a better player than Brodie next year.

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#28 KetchupKid
July 08 2013, 10:22AM
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@McRib

Amen to that.

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#29 Kent Wilson
July 08 2013, 10:26AM
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@McRib

Im willing to more or less throw out Janko's first college season for the reasons you suggest. This season is where we'll really start to see if the Flames have something. I expect him to score 0.7 PPG at the very least and would be much more encouraged if he was at or above 1.0 PPG.

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#30 Baalzamon
July 08 2013, 10:31AM
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@DoubleDIon

"but he played bottom pairing most of the season"

That's... not at all true. Brodie spent most of the season on the 2nd pair with Wideman, and spent a fair amount of time with Bouwmeester too. He replaced Butler in the top 4 about a week into the season.

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#31 everton fc
July 08 2013, 10:37AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Roman Horak was his center, haha.

Yep!

As for Brodie, I see him in the 1/2 pairing this season. Why not?

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#32 thymebalm
July 08 2013, 10:38AM
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I read a couple of things online this weekend (nothing "credible" but what the hell, its a rumor and most rumors stay as simply that) that the Flames and Philly were talking about a possible Couturier for 1st + prospect. This turned into a salary dump trade for Philly that included Mezaros and by the end people were summing it up like this:

Couturier + Mezaros

1st round pick + Giordano + prospect (I'd guess one from FNs top 10 list earlier this summer. My preference being Bouma or Reinhart)

Any interest in this trade? Does it seem like a feasible deal for both sides involved? What do you think Philly will do with its cap situation?

A lot of guys have argued we don't need Couturier because he's "like Monahan" but I think its more like Monahan "could be like Couturier in 5 years".

Monahan isn't going to help us in the short term, high pick as he was, he's going to take 3 seasons to shine. Look at our last blue-chipper.

Sven will likely only start making NHL waves this year.

So I think adding some "pre-apex" talent in the middle without losing Backlund/Bartschi/Brodie would be a great idea. Gio seems to have hit a wall and could be good trade fodder while he still has the appearance of our top flight D.

I tried to start this conversation elsewhere but it's frickin' lockdown on the fansites when it comes to rumors.

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#33 Parallex
July 08 2013, 10:43AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Im willing to more or less throw out Janko's first college season for the reasons you suggest. This season is where we'll really start to see if the Flames have something. I expect him to score 0.7 PPG at the very least and would be much more encouraged if he was at or above 1.0 PPG.

That seems a fair expectation to me. I just hope that he gets to play center this year... out of the Flames hands on that but one would hope that he's not put on wing again next year.

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#34 piscera.infada
July 08 2013, 10:49AM
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@thymebalm

That trade was conceivable, but only insofar as it was made in reference to THIS year's draft. The #22 pick would have made sense. At this point, it likely doesn't. Why trade our first rounder this year (assuming - barring any unbelievable break outs from multiple young guys - it will be in the top 3-5)?

As much as I love Couts, and it would be great to see him in Flames silks, I just see it as a prohibitive trade this year.

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#35 McRib
July 08 2013, 10:51AM
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@Kent Wilson

Absolutely, no more excuses this is the year we see what we got. If we are looking at a future first/second line centre it should be closer to 1.0 PPG. In retrospect Mark Jankowski should have gone to the USHL for a season, but at least if he pans out we may have shaved a year or two off his arrival time to the NHL.

It's interesting how close in age Mark Jankowski (Sept. 13), Sean Monahan (Oct. 12) & Émile Poirier (Dec. 14), all 1994s are, if they work out they will have grown up together which is encouraging.

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#36 Parallex
July 08 2013, 10:55AM
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@thymebalm

No interest from me. I like Couturier as much as the next guy but the team should be looking to add young talent not exchange it (and certainly not in greater numbers going the other way). There are to many question marks regarding the teams probable final placement for me to be interested in moving a 1st. If I thought there was a high probability of the team being at least a bubble team I'd make that trade but I think there is at least as much a chance that the team ends up drafting a Reinhart/Ekblad/Nylander.

Besides which Gio is basically the next captain of the team I don't see why the team would want to exchange him for Mezaros (nor why the Flyers would consider that a salary dump considering the small difference in cost between the two).

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#37 Trevor
July 08 2013, 10:56AM
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I want as much info as possible about: - Janko (is he progressing as hoped/expected) - Poirer (is picking him 'off the board' justified?) - Johnny Hockey (How does he compare to the rest of the prospects)

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#38 Parallex
July 08 2013, 11:00AM
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McRib wrote:

Absolutely, no more excuses this is the year we see what we got. If we are looking at a future first/second line centre it should be closer to 1.0 PPG. In retrospect Mark Jankowski should have gone to the USHL for a season, but at least if he pans out we may have shaved a year or two off his arrival time to the NHL.

It's interesting how close in age Mark Jankowski (Sept. 13), Sean Monahan (Oct. 12) & Émile Poirier (Dec. 14), all 1994s are, if they work out they will have grown up together which is encouraging.

I'm glad he didn't go to the USHL for a season. Seriously, can you imagine how annoying the mewling hand-wringing would be around this place from the nervious nellie set if he (Jankowski) had the Junior Year exit option that Wheeler and Schultz had? It'd make my brain bleed.

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#39 kittensandcookies
July 08 2013, 11:26AM
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Wow, that development camp doesn't look nearly as horrible as past years.

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#40 BurningSensation
July 08 2013, 11:27AM
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@thymebalm

The Holy Grail (Cuoturier) might be available for the package you suggest, and if he is I would seriously consider it.

The upside is that our center position would be excellent moving forward. Couturier, Monahan, Jankowski, Knight, Reinhart, Horak, is a nice, deep set of developing pivots.

The downside is that our D is noticeably weakened, and while Meszaros is a very nice player, he would be asked to do a lot.

The real issue as I see it is that there is no good reason for Philly to move Couturier. He's EXACTLY the kind of player teams look for to build around.

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#41 Baalzamon
July 08 2013, 11:33AM
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@thymebalm

No, for a multitude of reasons. Philly is over the cap. That trade doesn't cut anywhere near enough salary for them to become comfortably compliant (ie. more than $6 between them and the cap).

In that situation, teams typically get taken to the cleaners. I doubt anyone would give them a 1st rounder if they had to take on Meszaros. Especially if they're shipping out their best defenseman in exchange as well. You're more likely looking at Couturier for a 1st and maybe Reinhart.

It's more likely they move Schenn, since he currently costs 3 times as much against the cap and provides less value to the team.

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#42 Kevin R
July 08 2013, 12:04PM
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You pretty well nailed it on where the Flames are at now & going into next year. The cap space we have really means diddly squat. There are no magical trades or offer sheets we are going to be able to do to get the players we covet without being totally counterproductive to our rebuild. This is the first year of a good old fashioned long painful rebuild. The Cap space & post apex players is nothing but a nice little mirror show by Feaster & King to distract & keep the season ticket renewals as high as possible. Edwards agreed to a rebuild & his silver lining is that his payroll is going to be way less during the rebuild until this team becomes relevant again.

Feaster should only target UFA's with the type of contracts that can be flipped at the TDL so we can accumulate & try to have another multi 1st round picks draft in 2014. Gonna be a tough year & we need to let a lot of these young guys play & build their NHL value. Cant see much happening the rest of the summer. Really looking forward to the reports of our young guys, be ni8ce if you can get an interview with Gaudreau & see if he has a timeline to when he wants to play pro.

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#43 icedawg_42
July 08 2013, 12:14PM
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Anyone know if there's a prospect camp schedule posted anywhere? Or when the camp is?

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#44 aloudoun
July 08 2013, 12:18PM
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Cap space is valuable right now and I would be all for taking a "crappy" contract expiring in 1-2 years in order to get some first round picks or a young player in return.

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#45 Kent Wilson
July 08 2013, 12:21PM
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@icedawg_42

Haha. The answer is in the very article you're commenting on!

July 10-15 at Winsport (COP).

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#46 icedawg_42
July 08 2013, 12:48PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Haha. The answer is in the very article you're commenting on!

July 10-15 at Winsport (COP).

argh. I KNEW I read it somewhere, just couldnt remember where.

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#47 the forgotten man
July 08 2013, 01:09PM
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Kevin R wrote:

You pretty well nailed it on where the Flames are at now & going into next year. The cap space we have really means diddly squat. There are no magical trades or offer sheets we are going to be able to do to get the players we covet without being totally counterproductive to our rebuild. This is the first year of a good old fashioned long painful rebuild. The Cap space & post apex players is nothing but a nice little mirror show by Feaster & King to distract & keep the season ticket renewals as high as possible. Edwards agreed to a rebuild & his silver lining is that his payroll is going to be way less during the rebuild until this team becomes relevant again.

Feaster should only target UFA's with the type of contracts that can be flipped at the TDL so we can accumulate & try to have another multi 1st round picks draft in 2014. Gonna be a tough year & we need to let a lot of these young guys play & build their NHL value. Cant see much happening the rest of the summer. Really looking forward to the reports of our young guys, be ni8ce if you can get an interview with Gaudreau & see if he has a timeline to when he wants to play pro.

Have to agree with KevinR again...it is going to be a lot of "bread & circus" jive from Flames Management/Ownership while we go through the pangs of rebuilding - I am fine with this as long as I see the building blocks in place (ie light at the end of the tunnel). That said, I could do less with these inane "post-apex" terms - I guess it plays well with the LIF (low information fan).

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#48 loudogYYC
July 08 2013, 02:11PM
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@Kevin R

Amen brother!

Cap space is only useful if used correctly. I've been saying this for months, take on a crappy contract or 2 through trade that is entering its final year - trade that player at the deadline for picks in the 2014 draft.

For UFA's, sign a player you think teams will covet at the deadline to a 1 year deal at higher than average money (Hainsey, Penner, Boyes, Morrow)

In the end, we'll need veterans to lead the team and for the kids to learn from. At the deadline, you can trade 3 or 4 players for picks without having to move Giordano and Glencross.

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#49 DoubleDIon
July 08 2013, 03:21PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

"but he played bottom pairing most of the season"

That's... not at all true. Brodie spent most of the season on the 2nd pair with Wideman, and spent a fair amount of time with Bouwmeester too. He replaced Butler in the top 4 about a week into the season.

That is true. Check his game log. It changes completely march 11th. He was seeing softer minutes than Sarich before that. I realize everyone loves Brodie now, but I think we still need to look at things accurately. It's why I like this site.

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#50 Justin Azevedo
July 08 2013, 04:32PM
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DoubleDIon wrote:

That is true. Check his game log. It changes completely march 11th. He was seeing softer minutes than Sarich before that. I realize everyone loves Brodie now, but I think we still need to look at things accurately. It's why I like this site.

yeah, his wowy reflected that for the most part as well: http://flamesnation.ca/2013/5/3/tj-brodie-wowy

we should probably temper our expectations a little bit.

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