The Weekly Ignition: Talkin' Bout Playoffs

Ryan Pike
March 18 2014 11:30AM

Ignite

Bit of a change of format this week, as we focus on playoffs for many of the Calgary Flames prospects.

Who's playing when? And where? Against whom? Slow down there. We got you covered.

JUNIORS

2013 draft picks will collide in the WHL's first round as Morgan Klimchuk's Regina Pats face Eric Roy's Brandon Wheat Kings. That series kicks off on Saturday night. Regina is the higher seed. Klimchuk had 74 points this season, and probably would've led Regina in scoring had he not missed a bunch of games. Roy had 44 points in 66 games, so he did well, too. The Wheaties won the season series 5-3-0 (including 2 OT wins), sweeping two games against the Pats to close out the regular season.

Coda Gordon's Swift Current Broncos face the Medicine Hat Tigers. That series opens on Friday night in Medicine Hat. Gordon had 71 points this year, third on the team, but also benefited from being on a line with Graham Black (who had 97 points. The Broncos split their seasons series with the Tigers with two wins each.

Brett Kulak's Vancouver Giants face a tall order, as they play the powerhouse Portland Winterhawks in the first round. The series opens on Friday in Portland. Kulak was quite good for the Giants to start, then fell off a bit. He had 60 points in 69 games. Vancouver lost all four games against Portland this season.

Keegan Kanzig's Victoria Royals face the Spokane Chiefs in the first round. The series opens Saturday in Victoria. Kanzig had 8 points this season. The Royals went a dismal 1-3-0 against Spokane this season, but mostly played them at the beginning of the season.

Out in the Q, both Flames prospects made the playoffs!

Ryan Culkin's Drummondville Voltigeurs plays Victoriaville in the first round. First game is Friday in Drummondville. Drummondville won all four games this season against the Tigres. Culkin had 50 points this season.

Emile Poirier's Gatineau Olympiques play Cape Breton in their first round, opening Friday also. The two teams split a pair of games this season. Poirier had 87 points this year and was generally super-duper.

In the Russian MHL, Rushan Rafikov's team is in the second round. Loko beat Dynamo SPb (St. Petersburg) 3-0 in the first round. They're on the verge of elimination tonight, down 2-1 in the second round against SKA-1946. Rafikov had 20 points this season, but hasn't found the scoresheet yet these playoffs.

COLLEGE

Michigan State (Matt Deblouw) plays Ohio State on Thursday night to kick off the Big 10 Conference Tournament. Michigan State is fifth-place in a six-team conference, so they have their work cut out for them.

Providence College (Jon Gillies, John Gilmour & Mark Jankowski) made the semi-finals of the Hockey East Conference Tournament. They'll play New Hampshire on Friday, with the conference finals on Saturday.

Colgate (Tim Harrison) made the semi-finals of the ECAC Conference Tournament. They'll play Quinnipiac on Friday, with the conference finals on Saturday also.

In terms of the Frozen Four, we'll know who's in by Monday. It'll be the conference champions, plus a few at-large teams - almost definitely including Boston College, Providence College and perhaps Colgate. The regionals of the Frozen Four are March 28 & 29.

ABBOTSFORD

The bad news is that the Heat have one just once in their last 10 games. The good news is that they're still 9 points up on Oklahoma City and sit in 5th place. Oh, and they got Max Reinhart and Corban Knight back, and got reinforcements in the form of Calgary-born Kyle Ostrow (from Colorado of the ECHL), Garnet Hathaway (from the NCAA) and Tim Miller (from San Antonio of the AHL for futures).

With just a few weeks left in the NHL schedule, things are looking promising for a good Heat playoff run.

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Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's covered the Flames and the NHL since 2010. His work can also be found at The Hockey Writers and The Wrestling Observer.
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#1 Lordmork
March 18 2014, 11:53AM
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Great post.

There was some discussion yesterday about whether or not younger players (Ortio, Agostino, Gaudreau, Arnold, Hanowski,) might be available to be sent down to the Heat for a playoff run.

If you have a chance, I'd love to see a post about who out of the prospects might be eligible as reinforcements for the Heat and at what point they'd need to be sent down for that to happen. I'd also be interested in thoughts as to whether this could actually happen, and for who it might be beneficial. Thanks!

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#2 McRib
March 18 2014, 12:10PM
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"The bad news is that the Heat have one just once in their last 10 games. The good news is that they're still 9 points up on Oklahoma City and sit in 5th place.....got reinforcements in the form of Calgary-born Kyle Ostrow"

Grew up playing (Tyke, Novice & Atom for Crowchild) with Kyle Ostrow nice to see the Heat call up a local Calgary kid and give him a chance he deserves it. Unreal team guy and is currently third in ECHL scoring a former Denver University Captain where he played for two years with Tyler Bozak and the Flames own Joe Colborne(Coincidence?).

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#3 piscera.infada
March 18 2014, 12:18PM
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@Lordmork

Apparently not any of NCAA guys - some sort of stipulation that if you sign a player after the trade deadline they can't be sent to the AHL during that season. Weird, I know.

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#4 McRib
March 18 2014, 12:22PM
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@piscera.infada

Yes was the same with Ben Hanowski last year he could only play for the Flames. Sure they will give Agostino a game or two to show him the pace to work at getting there sooner than later starting this summer.

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#5 Bean-counting cowboy
March 18 2014, 12:34PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

Apparently not any of NCAA guys - some sort of stipulation that if you sign a player after the trade deadline they can't be sent to the AHL during that season. Weird, I know.

Would that be just until the Flames season ends? (i.e. could Johnny Gaudreau join the calder playoffs in mid April?)

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#6 RexLibris
March 18 2014, 12:47PM
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A player has to register a certain number of games in the AHL prior to the trade deadline otherwise they are ineligible for the league for the remainder of the season with the exception of AHL free-agent signings and ECHL call-ups.

This is designed with bottom-feeding NHL teams in mind so that they can't dump their best players on ELCs into the AHL for a Calder run and also gut the NHL roster to drive further down the standings.

It is a way to ensure fair play for AHL players and preserve the integrity of the league as a development system AND professional league in its own right.

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#7 Lordmork
March 18 2014, 12:50PM
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@piscera.infada

Great to know. A bit disappointing, but I guess it makes sense.

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#8 RexLibris
March 18 2014, 12:53PM
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Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

Would that be just until the Flames season ends? (i.e. could Johnny Gaudreau join the calder playoffs in mid April?)

I'm not entirely certain if he could.

Junior players can sign and play for AHL teams, but unless Gaudreau is willing to forfeit any further NCAA eligibility and turn pro, then no.

He could sign with the Heat, leave college, and then play in Abbotsford (and also the Flames, if he were called up) but would then have to play for either the Heat or Flames next season.

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#9 RexLibris
March 18 2014, 12:58PM
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Noticed Kulak signed his ELC today.

Going to be a longshot to become an NHL player, but he's put up some points and some penalty minutes in the WHL.

His junior numbers were 216 gp - 35-93-128 with 107 PIMs and overall -14 on a rebuilding team. Not bad, but he's got a long road ahead.

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#10 piscera.infada
March 18 2014, 01:18PM
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@RexLibris

The Gaudreau signing thing at the end of this season seems very likely with several people reporting that. As I understand it, he would be subject to the same contract situation Agostino is in right now. I wonder however, if he can sign an AHL deal once his season's over (because the Flames likely wont be playing), and then sign his NHL deal in the summer? I don't know, I just I'm going a bit "out there" (and it probably doesn't matter all that much), just interested to know if that's a possibility.

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#11 T&A4Flames
March 18 2014, 02:09PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

Apparently not any of NCAA guys - some sort of stipulation that if you sign a player after the trade deadline they can't be sent to the AHL during that season. Weird, I know.

I think they are available to go down when the Flames season ends. Don't quote me on that, though.

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#12 T&A4Flames
March 18 2014, 02:13PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Noticed Kulak signed his ELC today.

Going to be a longshot to become an NHL player, but he's put up some points and some penalty minutes in the WHL.

His junior numbers were 216 gp - 35-93-128 with 107 PIMs and overall -14 on a rebuilding team. Not bad, but he's got a long road ahead.

Yea, I was also interested to see that he is now listed at 6'1" and 190lbs. That should help his cause a bit.

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#13 piscera.infada
March 18 2014, 02:17PM
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@T&A4Flames

No, only at the "start" of the 2014-15 season per the new CBA. Weird.

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#14 BobbyO
March 18 2014, 03:31PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Noticed Kulak signed his ELC today.

Going to be a longshot to become an NHL player, but he's put up some points and some penalty minutes in the WHL.

His junior numbers were 216 gp - 35-93-128 with 107 PIMs and overall -14 on a rebuilding team. Not bad, but he's got a long road ahead.

Rex..it's amazing how you have already prejudged and even determined Kulak's fate! That's an awesome skill. Perhaps the Flames should hire you and avoid wasting there time with 19 year olds and player development.

Awesome skill!

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#15 SmellOfVictory
March 18 2014, 03:33PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Noticed Kulak signed his ELC today.

Going to be a longshot to become an NHL player, but he's put up some points and some penalty minutes in the WHL.

His junior numbers were 216 gp - 35-93-128 with 107 PIMs and overall -14 on a rebuilding team. Not bad, but he's got a long road ahead.

Why do you say that? I'd guess he's probably the Flames' best bet at an NHL defenceman after Wotherspoon.

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#16 Primo
March 18 2014, 04:09PM
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@SmellOfVictory

I think Patrick Seiloff, when healthy, is there next best defenseman. Both him and Kulak looked great in the development camps and in particular the Penticton young stars tournament. As well the future really is looking bright with Wotherspoon and some of the others!

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#17 McRib
March 18 2014, 04:24PM
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@RexLibris

Brett Kulak has work to do that is for certain to make the NHL (everyone does), but a "long shot" doesn't quite paint a proper picture, IMO. He finished tied for 8th in defense scoring in the WHL this season of the defenders ahead of him four were first rounder’s and another was a second that was also recently the last cut from the Canadian World Junior Team. Cody Corbett just signed with Colorado.... Reid Gow is the only non legitimate prospect (but should be drafted this year). This guy is easily a Top. 10 defender in the WHL this season and was +29 when he played on a decent Team two years ago.

Only Theodore, Morrissey, Pouliot (all first rounder’s) scored significantly more points than him this season having seen most WHL clubs Live or on TV I got to say he has had two of the most impressive performances to date for me, period. If he was two inches taller he would have been a first rounder his draft year (Still don't understand how we got him in the fourth almost everyone I saw had him as a second rounder, pre-draft) and it looks like he has improved to 6'1" this season which makes sense considering he was like 5'8" his Bantam Draft year. The guy is a late bloomer that is already tracking as a Top. 10 WHL Defender... I would put his probability of making the NHL at a conservative 60%.

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