FGD: A Pre-Season Tilt With the Rangers

Ryan Pike
September 23 2013 10:03AM

(you can thank ESPN for the pic)

 

We're eight days prior to the start of the NHL's regular season and inching closer and closer to final cuts. With 38 guys left in camp, there are still roster decisions to be made at more or less every position.

The Flames face the New York Rangers tonight at the Saddledome in their sixth of seven pre-season outings. The Rangers are almost on the opposite trajectory as the Flames – they're coming off a playoff year, they're poised for a strong season, and they're playing the third of six pre-season games.

THE LINE-UP

Calgary is enjoying a fairly productive pre-season, having posted a 3-2-0 record over their first five games. Now that things are getting serious in terms of roster decisions, they're putting together a line-up that is getting closer to being their opening day roster.

Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
Galiardi – Monahan – Reinhart
Ferland – Backlund – Knight
Bouma – Horak – McGrattan
 
Russell – Wideman
Giordano – Brodie
Smith – O'Brien
 
Ramo
MacDonald

In terms of guys battling to stay on the big team, it's notable that Ferland, Knight and Reinhart are dressing, as they're probably on the outside looking in for final roster spots. With Reto Berra playing on Wednesday, we see Ramo tonight, as well as a defensive group devoid of young'uns. I'd expect we'll see two or three of Ramage, Sieloff and Wotherspoon on Wednesday, as well as perhaps Baertschi, David Jones and Jackman. Hudler and Cammalleri are nursing injuries, but should be ready for opening day.
 
In terms of battles, pay particular attention to how Derek Smith fares, as he may be competing with Chris Butler and the afroementioned kid trio, as well as the guys in the bottom two lines. Oh, and the guy in goal. But he should be noticeable either way.

The Flames complete their pre-season schedule on Wednesday at home against the Phoenix Coyotes.

THE OPPOSITION

The Rangers have 39 bodies in camp – they're without Derek Stepan, who is still embroiled in a contract dispute with the cap strapped Rags – and have been holding camp in Banff since last week. They lost to the Devils last Monday and beat the Flyers on Tuesday in their first two pre-season games.
 
Here are the Blueshirts line combos via Pat Steinberg:
 
Rick Nash - Brad Richards - Chris Kreider
Marek Hrivik - Brian Boyle - Danny Kristo
Taylor Pyatt - Oscar Lindberg - Jesper Fast
Brandon Mashinter - Darroll Powe - Arron Asham

Marc Staal - Michael Del Zotto
John Moore - Anton Stralman
Justin Falk - Stu Bickel

Martin Biron
Cam Talbot
 
The Rangers are beginning a span of four games in five days, including meetings with the Oilers, Canucks and Kings. So expect them to rotate through basically all of their available bodies in short order. Tonight they are boasting a fairly veteran laden roster, including Richards, Nash, Boyle, Del Zotto, Stralman and Staal. Going to be a stiff test for the Flames kids.

SUM IT UP

Five pre-season games down, two to go for the Flames. With 15 cuts left to make for the hometown team, tonight's game should prove very interesting, perhaps winning somebody a job – or banishing them to the minors.
 
Sometimes pre-season games are low-stakes. For some of the guys involved wearing red tonight, the stakes may never be higher this season.

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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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#51 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 07:42PM
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Pretty good period. Ice was tilted in favor of the Flames for sure.

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#52 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 07:44PM
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The more I see him, the more I like Monahan in the NHL this year contract and team direction be damned.

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#53 Kmp
September 23 2013, 07:47PM
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@Kent Wilson

Agree, they look quicker than the Rangers. This team is going to be a lot better than most people expect. Forwards playing a very nice 2 way game.

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#54 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 07:48PM
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Well there is some serious stream issues going on here. I want to here what Monahan is saying but the radio feed is still going.

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#55 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 07:50PM
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Kmp wrote:

Agree, they look quicker than the Rangers. This team is going to be a lot better than most people expect. Forwards playing a very nice 2 way game.

Of course, the Flames are at the end of their preseason schedule and the Rangers are just hitting the mid point tonight. The Flames are a lot closer to their NHL roster than the Rangers are.

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#56 redricardo
September 23 2013, 08:08PM
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exsanguinator wrote:

Of course, the Flames are at the end of their preseason schedule and the Rangers are just hitting the mid point tonight. The Flames are a lot closer to their NHL roster than the Rangers are.

Hey... exsanguinator...

The last thing anyone needs is you putting cold water on the theory that the Flames will be dominant, based on one good pre-season period, with your facts and logic!!

How dare you ruin dreaming with reality!!

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#57 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 08:10PM
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That was an excellent play.

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#58 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 08:10PM
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Brodie leads a clean entry to the Rangers end and would have a had a clear shot had Stempniak completed the give-and-go. Instead, the play goes the other way and Nash creates a chance...that Brodie breaks up after coming back up the ice.

And there's a Wideman PP marker.

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#59 McRib
September 23 2013, 08:15PM
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@exsanguinator

I don't know both teams have 39 players left at camp and I count 11 starters on both rosters (including Brian McGratten). Not to mention they have the supposed best players Nash, Staal, Richards, etc. I think the Flames will surprise this year as well. Our goaltending has improved (Ramo, Berra) if we get the same or more scoring via committee, people forget we lost a lot of games last year because of crappy goaltending!!!

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#60 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 08:18PM
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McRib wrote:

I don't know both teams have 39 players left at camp and I count 11 starters on both rosters (including Brian McGratten). Not to mention they have the supposed best players Nash, Staal, Richards, etc. I think the Flames will surprise this year as well. Our goaltending has improved (Ramo, Berra) if we get the same or more scoring via committee, people forget we lost a lot of games last year because of crappy goaltending!!!

With actual goaltending last year the Flames were a bubble team at best. I think tanking last year was a good idea, kind of a blessing in disguise. Hopefully Feaster has better asset management than Sutter did.

I don't think that the Flames will have as bad a year as most people are thinking but making the playoffs is still a dream in my opinion.

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#61 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 08:19PM
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So I joined the stream just in time for Galiardi to carry the puck into the zone, leading to Wideman's goal. Crazy.

Good game so far? I haven't taken the time to read all the comments.

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#62 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 08:20PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Brodie leads a clean entry to the Rangers end and would have a had a clear shot had Stempniak completed the give-and-go. Instead, the play goes the other way and Nash creates a chance...that Brodie breaks up after coming back up the ice.

And there's a Wideman PP marker.

I have a feeling my previous comment was denied due to profanity.

I have no problem with Brodie being in the top 2 for D. He has a really solid game.

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#63 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 08:23PM
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Kris Russell can skate, but he gets pushed around a lot.

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#64 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 08:23PM
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Ramo is looking pretty solid.

I'm really liking the CAL/MTL trade so far.

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#65 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 08:25PM
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@exsanguinator

Yeah he's looked good by eye so far.

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#66 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 08:27PM
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Brodie and Giordano seem to work pretty well together.

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#67 mattyc
September 23 2013, 08:29PM
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@Kent Wilson

Yeah - he always seems to make a good first pass

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#68 mattyc
September 23 2013, 08:29PM
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What's the deal with Baertschi? I haven't seen/heard much of him in preseason...

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#69 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 08:32PM
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I cannot believe that Galiardi has been such an unremarkable third line forward to this point in his career. He seems like so much more than that.

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#70 EugeneV
September 23 2013, 08:32PM
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Monahan looks to be over thinking, putting him a fraction away from where he should be.

Seems to shy away from being physical as he is thinking about where he needs to be next, rather than finishing what he is doing.

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#71 mattyc
September 23 2013, 08:33PM
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@Baalzamon

I agree. I really like him. I liked him last year couple years too though.

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#72 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 08:34PM
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Has Mickis had like any ice time at all? I saw him all of twice in that period.

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#73 clyde
September 23 2013, 08:37PM
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EugeneV wrote:

Monahan looks to be over thinking, putting him a fraction away from where he should be.

Seems to shy away from being physical as he is thinking about where he needs to be next, rather than finishing what he is doing.

Yes, he is not reacting or letting the game come to him as he is trying to be very safe.He looks bigger than I expected out there.

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#74 EugeneV
September 23 2013, 08:51PM
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clyde wrote:

Yes, he is not reacting or letting the game come to him as he is trying to be very safe.He looks bigger than I expected out there.

Safe is exactly right. But that never works.

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#75 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 08:57PM
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I'm liking Ramo's mask.

Oh, and his game too.

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#76 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 09:05PM
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Whoa nice try by Ferland.

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#77 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 09:11PM
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Wideman likes running people over. Hopefully that doesn't apply to his driving..

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#78 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 09:13PM
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Oof. Where has that shot been all these years?

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#79 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 09:13PM
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Nice finish by Stajan. Read that again.

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#80 SoCalFlamesFan
September 23 2013, 09:26PM
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Hmm at this rate Stajan is due to get 246 points this year. So much for finishing in the bottom 5.

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#81 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 09:26PM
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Nash seems to be highly talented at painting himself into a corner. Or, more specifically, finessing himself into a washing machine. Or... something.

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#82 seve927
September 23 2013, 09:30PM
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Karri Ramo hasn't given up an ES goal in two games. I don't have my calculator, but that's got to be a pretty high ES Sv Pct.

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#83 Jeff In Lethbridge
September 23 2013, 09:35PM
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I am starting to think we are just one or two pieces away from being a legit contender...

:P

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#84 coachedpotatoe
September 23 2013, 09:35PM
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It was great they won, looks like Ramo might be an NHL goalie. The only time the Rangers put real concentrated pressure on was when the kids were out there. What I liked best was the work ethic. note to Phil Kessel, it's okay to fight; you don't need to swing your stick like a baby.

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#85 Bezer
September 23 2013, 09:43PM
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I really enjoyed that game. The PP looked pretty good. It was no more than 2 seconds on the stick before a pass or shot. The Rangers PK looked like the Flames of old, slow. chasing and out of position.

I really doubt we win a lot of games this year but if it is that entertaining I am (somewhat) OK with it.

I am really torn about Monohan. Originally I was in the "Send him to junior no matter what" camp but he sure hasn't looked out of place. He hasn't been perfect but does sending him back to junior even help him develop much more? He might learn and develop more with the big team this year.

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#86 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 09:43PM
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Ramo has looked good. One thing, though, is that Henrik Karlsson looked pretty good in his first training camp and... yeesh.

But I believe in Ramo. I think he could be a league-average goalie for a few years.

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#87 RexLibris
September 23 2013, 09:46PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

I am starting to think we are just one or two pieces away from being a legit contender...

:P

Jeff, be warned, your FN account has been hacked by Jay Feaster.

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#88 everton fc
September 23 2013, 09:57PM
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How did Ferland look? All this talk about Monahan is great, but how does Ferland look against the pros?

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#89 everton fc
September 23 2013, 10:01PM
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Also, Bouma seems to be quietly staking his place on the long-term roster.

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#90 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 10:15PM
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This is the first training camp I can remember where the Flames don't play against the Panthers.

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#91 Victoria Flames Fan
September 23 2013, 10:40PM
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everton fc wrote:

How did Ferland look? All this talk about Monahan is great, but how does Ferland look against the pros?

I thought Ferland looked the best of all the bubble players. He had a couple nice chances, had 3 SOGs, finished all his hits. Don't know about advanced stats. I don't know what his ceiling is buthe has impressed me the most of all the U22's.

As much as an old guy like me loves to see a Russell manning the point (think Phil Russell) I am not at all impressed with Kris. Loved him as a Jr. for the Giants and Team Canada but I don't think he's matured into much of an NhLer. If it is him vs. Butler or Derek Smith, I'm not sure. I'd love to see Ramage up his game.

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#92 Kypreos
September 24 2013, 06:07AM
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Victoria Flames Fan wrote:

I thought Ferland looked the best of all the bubble players. He had a couple nice chances, had 3 SOGs, finished all his hits. Don't know about advanced stats. I don't know what his ceiling is buthe has impressed me the most of all the U22's.

As much as an old guy like me loves to see a Russell manning the point (think Phil Russell) I am not at all impressed with Kris. Loved him as a Jr. for the Giants and Team Canada but I don't think he's matured into much of an NhLer. If it is him vs. Butler or Derek Smith, I'm not sure. I'd love to see Ramage up his game.

Get out of the past.

Kris has a different game. He is a good skater makes better decisions than Butler or smith. He is not going to run over anyone with his size but he is a reliable 5 or 6 pairing. Glad he is on the team.

He is a good Caroline Alberta boy!

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#93 SydScout
September 24 2013, 06:09AM
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Thanks for all the commentary guys. Stream didn't work in this part of the world.

As always great job

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#94 seve927
September 24 2013, 07:37AM
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everton fc wrote:

How did Ferland look? All this talk about Monahan is great, but how does Ferland look against the pros?

I think Ferland looks good. I'd like to see him spend the year, or at least a few months in Abby, but it looks like he's back on track. His line, with Backlund and Knight, looked to be keeping the play on the Rangers side of the ice for the most part.

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#95 coachedpotatoe
September 24 2013, 07:46AM
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After watching most of last nights game I can see why Hartley wants to play Stajin, Stemp and Glencross; they create offensively, they create offensive zone time for the next line and are defensively responsible and while I am generally opposed to playing three vets together in a rebuild year I have come around to seeing the value of this line. Now comes the hard part how do you create three sound other lines with the remaining forwards. Assuming everyone is healthy here is how I would go; Monahan/Cammi/TJG, Backs/Sven( I'm still a believer that it would be better for him to start the season here even if he has not earned it)/one of DJones,Jackman, Bouma or Ferland, and finally Horak/Hudler and one of the above other the forwards with the other two being the extra. I doubt they will all get to stay as I think Hartley,Feaster and Burke are all McGrattan supporters. Again my goal would be to roll 4 lines as much as possible.

I suspect the 6 dmen we saw last night will be the starters at the beginning of the season which begs the question who would be the 7 dman. In many ways I would prefer it to be one of Ramage,Spoon or Sieloff but sitting as the 7 at the start of the season will not be good for their development (although Ramage as an older kid might be suited for this)I suspect the coaches will go with a vet like Butler to start the season as the 7th.

In net I believe that Ramo won the starting job to begin the season with his performance last night and his play in Regina. I think the back up position will decided by how Berra plays Wednesday; if he plays well he is the back up if not then it's McBackup.

What I was most impressed with last night was how hard the whole team worked. No parades it's only exhibition but at least it was interesting to watch.

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#96 McRib
September 24 2013, 09:08AM
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@Victoria Flames Fan

Come On Man, Kris Russell was a Medicine Hat Tiger!!!

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#97 Baalzamon
September 24 2013, 09:15AM
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@Victoria Flames Fan

I've had no problems with Russell's play so far (aside from his game against the Oilers..) He was great against the Islanders, and passable last night (he was playing second pair with Wideman and looked better than Smith who was playing third).

Russell is a better player than Butler. Full stop. One of Russell, Butler, Smith, and O'Brien is going to be starting the season in the top four, and Russell is the best of the bunch.

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#98 Kent Wilson
September 24 2013, 10:35AM
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I liked Monahan for the first 10 minutes last night, but he was skating against the tide for much of the remainder of the game.

I like the way he plays overall - he's strong for a teen and he plays a well developed game. A lot of the time when you see kids taking their first few steps in the show they are either completely overwhelmed or frenetic and chaotic (trying to do too much). Monahan looked mostly calm and controlled.

That said, he certainly wasn't dominant, which should be the bar he needs to clear to stick around the whole year. The worst thing that could happen is a Roman Horak - where he plays about 40 games into the year before everyone realizes he isn't quite there and needs to spend some time developing elsewhere.

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#99 McRib
September 24 2013, 10:53AM
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Interesting reports out of Windsor say that Pat Sieloff is not expected back there this season, which means it’s either Calgary or Abbotsford for him, no surprise for me a physical mature shutdown defender is better suited developing with the pros, rather than in the much less structured Major Junior ranks.

Frankly all three of Sieloff, Wotherspoon and Ramage have looked more than ready for some pro duty or even NHL Duty. I wish the Flames would trade a Chirs Butler and even a Derek Smith to open up a spot for some of these young defenders on the back end. It is one thing to say "we are getting younger", it's another thing to start clearing out dead space so that these kids actually get into games and we do get younger.

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#100 exsanguinator
September 24 2013, 06:38PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Ramo has looked good. One thing, though, is that Henrik Karlsson looked pretty good in his first training camp and... yeesh.

But I believe in Ramo. I think he could be a league-average goalie for a few years.

Ramo has a lot more playing experience at a much higher level than Karlsson did so my hopes aren't dashed quite yet.

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