Flames Make Some Moves

Ryan Pike
March 29 2014 08:57PM

The Calgary Flames made a trio of roster moves today. One signing, one assignment and one recall.

Most prominently, the club has signed LW Bryce Van Brabant, formerly of Qunnipiac University. Van Brabant is big, strong, and throws lots of hits. He's about 6-3, 220, and led the NCAA in penalty minutes. He's from the Edmonton area, playing for Spruce Grove of the AJHL before heading to college. He had 15 goals and 22 points in this, his junior year. If his name sounds familiar, he was a college invitee to July's development camp.

It's a rather low-risk proposition for the Flames; Van Brabant joins the Flames in Ottawa and the clock starts running on his two-year deal (with a $1.35 million annual value). So it's essentially a one-year deal to a guy with size and physicality but unsure offensive value at the pro level. If he's good, he's an RFA you can re-up. If he's not good, you can cut bait and the deal's not all that expensive. And you get a two-week try-out to get a head-start on checking his progress to close out the NHL season.

Next up, the Flames officially assigned defender Brett Kulak to Abbotsford. Kulak is turning pro after three seasons with the Vancouver Giants. He had 60 points in 69 games with the Giants this past year. By sheer coincidence, he's from Stony Plain, just outside of Edmonton. No word on when he'll play, but he's familiar with the coaching staff, having played four AHL games last season under similar circumstances.

Lastly, the Flames have recalled defender Chad Billins from Abbotsford, presumably to replace Ladislav Smid (who left the game with an upper-body injury last night). Billins played a pair of games earlier in the season and was adequate, but it's hard to tell what he is at the NHL level quite yet. He had 40 points in 62 games with the Heat this year, representing the team in the AHL All-Star Classic.

The Flames presently have a roster that looks like this:

  • G: Ramo & MacDonald
  • D: Giordano, Brodie, Butler, Russell, Wotherspoon & Billins
  • F: Backlund, Cammalleri, Byron, Hudler, Glencross, Stajan, Agostino, Bouma, Monahan, Colborne, Westgarth, McGrattan, Galiardi, Hanowski & Van Brabant
  • Injured: Smid, Wideman, Jones, Granlund

Wideman is likely shut down for the year, while Granlund and Jones are both skating. No word on the severity of Smid's injury as of yet.

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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 Parallex
March 29 2014, 09:03PM
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I wonder why Hanowski hasn't been sent back to Abbotsford? They could probably use him and the Flames don't lack for bodies up front.

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#2 cunning_linguist
March 29 2014, 10:29PM
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Calgary Sun mentioned Klimchuck is reporting to Abby on Sunday (in the last paragraph of this article):

http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/03/29/bryce-van-brabant-brings-grit-to-calgary-flames

Has this been confirmed by the Flames?

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#3 loudogYYC
March 29 2014, 11:10PM
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Hopefully Lambert can chime in on this, but I wonder if the Flames are in on the Christian Folin sweepstakes. If BC beats UMass tomorrow, which is probable, Folin will be able to sign with any team that can fit him under the 50 pro contract maximum.

6'4" and 214 lbs. RH two-way defenseman with a big shot. He would be able to gradually earn his way into our top 4 without getting hammered. Get it done Burke!

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#4 Flames15
March 29 2014, 11:29PM
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loudogYYC wrote:

Hopefully Lambert can chime in on this, but I wonder if the Flames are in on the Christian Folin sweepstakes. If BC beats UMass tomorrow, which is probable, Folin will be able to sign with any team that can fit him under the 50 pro contract maximum.

6'4" and 214 lbs. RH two-way defenseman with a big shot. He would be able to gradually earn his way into our top 4 without getting hammered. Get it done Burke!

I'm not sure Folin has any interest to play in Calgary, however. I've read that playoff teams may be in the hunt for him. And I'm sure he'd rather opt for a playoff bound team than Calgary.

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#5 T&A4Flames
March 30 2014, 12:15AM
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Flames15 wrote:

I'm not sure Folin has any interest to play in Calgary, however. I've read that playoff teams may be in the hunt for him. And I'm sure he'd rather opt for a playoff bound team than Calgary.

I read EDM was 1 of his final choices. Yeah, f'n EDM.

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#6 Colin.S
March 30 2014, 12:42AM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

I read EDM was 1 of his final choices. Yeah, f'n EDM.

Wonder how well that worked for J. Schultz.....

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#8 Nick24
March 30 2014, 02:26AM
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I know there was some talk of whether or not Gordon would get a contract in addition to Kulak and Culkin earlier in the year. Are we betting on Gordon getting signed? He's had a good year with the Broncos, right?

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#9 beloch
March 30 2014, 02:41AM
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@T&A4Flames

Edmonton was also rumored to be a' courtin' Kenney Morrison, but no deal has been announced so far.

There are several unsigned college defenders that could crack either the Flames or Oilers' lineups immediately. There are two big differences between these two destinations for a college graduate:

1. The Oilers have more young high-end prospects who will be nipping at the heals of a 22-year old college graduate in a year or so. The Oilers have very little in the tank for forward prospects, but defenders are a strength in their farm system. The Flames, on the other hand, have pretty much everything but defenders. They have a couple, but not nearly as many as the Oilers. If a college prospect can stick with the Flames this year his job is probably secure. Not so much with the Oilers. The Flames do have a harder to crack blueline than the hot mess they have up in Edmonton, but the third pairing has a huge hole waiting to be filled now that Smid has been injured.

2. Edmonton is where high-end prospect careers go to die. Almost no players are exceeding, or even meeting expectations in Edmonton. Something is seriously dysfunctional in how they develop talent. Multiple players have had dreadful tenures in Edmonton only to rebound substantially after being traded. Meanwhile, in Calgary 4th round (or later) picks are carrying the mail on a daily basis. Exceeding expectations is routine. Undrafted players with two brain cells to rub together shouldn't have a hard time making a decision between these two teams. Even if the plan is to move on after a couple years, the Flames' system is clearly the better one to develop in.

The Flames' prospect system has incredible depth at left wing and great depth at center and in net. Right wing is really weak, but centers can be converted to RW pretty easily. Defence is the Flames' biggest need. It's great that Burke signed a forward college enforcer, but signing a quality blueline prospect is the clear priority right now. I sincerely hope Burke is in the mix on both Morrison and Folin.

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#10 SydScout
March 30 2014, 05:13AM
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@beloch

Agree with the need to be in the mix with Morrison and Folin. Burke has shown a clear willingness to trawl NCAA for undrafted talent, particularly in his Leafs days. He got a few right, but they appeared to be on a different trajectory (read: Bozak) than today's acquisition.

Of concern is just that - he is following a similar path to his Leaf days. His first season here is starting to look familiar. Beefing up the farm team with NCAA talent, surprising on the up- and down-sides on trade deadlines and attracting attention with comments about wanting good character players, not just good players in his organisation.

Toronto still smoulders.

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#11 amaninvan
March 30 2014, 05:33AM
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Im excited to see what Chad Billins can bring to the table. Ive personally been surprised and pleased with the play of Wortherspoon, and now we get a chance to see another exciting defensive prospect play with the big team. However, this leaves me wondering about a couple of pending UFA's place in this organization. With Billins getting the call to the big team and Kulak joining Abby, I thinking its pretty clear Derek Smith's days are done n Flame colors, and they most certainly let him walk at the end of the year. I personally don't think his loss will be mourned over, but it has me wondering about the future of Chris Breen now also. Due to the number of dmen on the farm, I don't see him as high on the radar as he was to start the year, yet will his size be enough to save him in a Brian Burke envisioned future?

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#12 amaninvan
March 30 2014, 05:54AM
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It will be interesting to see what number Van Brabant will be sporting when he gets into the lineup. Looking at his photo, he has a very familiar, yet undesignated #12.

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#13 amaninvan
March 30 2014, 05:54AM
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Will we see a starting lineup of Van Brabant, Westgarth and McGratten start against the Canucks to finish the season? Truculence!!

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#14 ChinookArch
March 30 2014, 08:40AM
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@amaninvan

The Flames have been very careful to not expose Breen to waivers this year, out of fear of losing him. If he has run out of time for the Flames, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw him moved. I also wouldn't expect much back, maybe some other teams misfit that still has potential, but has run out of time. I doubt Burkie looks for a draft pick, and would likely prefer a prospect back.

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#15 ChinookArch
March 30 2014, 08:50AM
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amaninvan wrote:

It will be interesting to see what number Van Brabant will be sporting when he gets into the lineup. Looking at his photo, he has a very familiar, yet undesignated #12.

Nobody has worn #14 except Fleury, since he retired. In Fleury's case, I don't know if they will hang his sweater in the rafters for a very long time. He has just burned too many bridges here and at the highest levels of the NHL. I'd put a big money bet that nobody wears #12 again and that Iginla is signed for a 1 day contract to retire here. So, Van Brabant will never sport a Flames #12 jersey and neither will anyone else.

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#16 Stubblejumper
March 30 2014, 09:53AM
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The next couple months are going to be pivotal as we finally see Burke make decisions to chart the path of the Flames.

Burke has been quiet, almost too quiet, as he takes his time to deliberate but he has had the benefit of his hand not being forced as yet.

Well time's about up as he is required in a compressed time period to sign new drafted and undrafted prospects, determine which of the 50 contracts he will not renew in order to make room for the new talent, decide which NHL UFAs not to renew, try to trade those not making the cut, do a cost/benefit on any potential buy-outs (last chance), prepare for the upcoming entry draft (and any related trades), followed quickly by UFA season.

Oh yeah...and signing up a new GM...after he does all the above and charts the teams path for the next couple years.....?

No place to hide anymore...should be an interesting ride.

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#17 Kent Wilson
March 30 2014, 10:20AM
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@Nick24

If I had to guess, I don't think they'll sign Gordon.

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#18 Kevin R
March 30 2014, 12:21PM
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Stubblejumper wrote:

The next couple months are going to be pivotal as we finally see Burke make decisions to chart the path of the Flames.

Burke has been quiet, almost too quiet, as he takes his time to deliberate but he has had the benefit of his hand not being forced as yet.

Well time's about up as he is required in a compressed time period to sign new drafted and undrafted prospects, determine which of the 50 contracts he will not renew in order to make room for the new talent, decide which NHL UFAs not to renew, try to trade those not making the cut, do a cost/benefit on any potential buy-outs (last chance), prepare for the upcoming entry draft (and any related trades), followed quickly by UFA season.

Oh yeah...and signing up a new GM...after he does all the above and charts the teams path for the next couple years.....?

No place to hide anymore...should be an interesting ride.

I don't think it's that big of a deal. The ones that will in all likelihood be cut loose & really, no one will care we get a prospect back are : Smith-gone, Breen-gone, Eddy-gone, B Jones (too bad but I think he walks) & depending what Gilles does with all the talk he wants to go pro, I see Abby going with Ortio & Gilles next year, I see Roy not getting re-upped. Eddy, Breen & Roy may be offered AHL contracts & they probably will take them. Billings future is probably determined by this call up & the decision on him will probably be based on how he does here & one has to wonder about Cundari. What a disappointment, the guy didn't even get a whiff this year & that was probably because he didn't play well enough to get one. Sure hope Poirier is a stud, he'll be all we have left from the JBO deal. We also could free up contract space by releasing Ramage & Elson.

I really don't think we need to go on a prospect binge anymore, we seem to be getting a dearth of real decent prospects & you can only give so many of them a decent chance. I think other teams are starting to realize Flames have some decent youth in our system & they may be open to trading depth for some of our depth to fill each others needs. Florida & Islanders have to be tired of picks & want some NHL ready young players to fill their needs we may have to offer. Maybe a 2nd top 5 pick can be had. I cant see Islanders walking away from this one & would gamble on being better next year. Would a Sven & Wideman get that pick? The decision to blow it all up last year at the TDL was a huge crossroad. This year seems to be another one. We have to have to find a way to see Knight, Reinhart, Gaudreau, Sven,Granlund & Wetherspoon in the lineup next year. Do we go all in next year for the rebuild? If so, the decision in that case may be to let Cammi walk & same with Butler in the name of the rebuild. Possibly moving Hudler & even Glencross. Otherwise, some of these young promising talents we have need to be moved for immediate top 4 D men & established younger right winger if this team is even going to have a chance to challenge for playoffs. I think that would be a mistake. I like the all in to the rebuild for next year. Also remember in 2 years, we have to give a decent opportunity to Poirier, Klimchuk, Kanzig, Agostino & few others & possibly this years 1st rounder. You just don't put a ship in the water & sail wherever, you have to look at the map & chart a course. Decisions made in the next 3-4 months are going to be huge. Cant wait.

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#19 Rockmorton65
March 30 2014, 01:25PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

I read EDM was 1 of his final choices. Yeah, f'n EDM.

So...thats a positive. He doesnt mind playing for an AHL team. lol

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