July 21 2016 02:00PM
Every year we hear some derivative of "skilled, but is he too small to play professionally?" or "has the tools, but can he make it work in the NHL at his size?"
These types of statements portray that short players almost never make the NHL and the ones that do must be very special. However, what's actually happening tells a different story from this common misconception.
July 21 2016 11:00AM
For the past three seasons in a row, the Flames have debuted star rookie after star rookie. First, it was Sean Monahan posting a then-exciting 34 points in 75 games as the rebuild officially got underway. Then, it was Johnny Gaudreau doing Johnny Gaudreau things, including scoring 64 points through 80 games.
Sam Bennett's following season may have seemed like something of a letdown in comparison. The Flames were ramping up, but it was going to be difficult for anybody else to match Gaudreau's level, let alone exceed it. In Bennett started, with 36 points in 77 games: roughly on Monahan's level.
Up next, it could be Matthew Tkachuk's turn. Bennett may be a centre, but he spent significant time on the left wing through his rookie season (as Markus Granlund took control of his spot as centre in the lineup, for some reason).
Maybe looking at just who Bennett got to play with as a rookie will help determine what line Tkachuk will be on, should he make the NHL this year.
July 21 2016 08:00AM
Matthew Tkachuk isn't on the Flames yet. He could be an NHL player this upcoming season; he could also have to wait a year. It's unclear at this point in time - but it's definitely still up to him.
For the time being, though? He got the number 19 in development camp. The number 7 he wore (still wears?) with the London Knights is unavailable in Calgary, but 19 is a good, solid forward number - and it looks like that'll be the number he'll have with the Flames.
July 20 2016 02:00PM
Brad Treliving has accomplished a lot this summer, but the one thing left on the to-do list (aside from sign the wonder kids) is get some bad money off the roster. Specifically the blueline, where the bottom of the rotation is cluttered with expensive, aging NHLers Deryk Engelland, Dennis Wideman and Ladislav Smid.
Smid might be destined for LTIR, but that still leaves Wideman and Engelland as the probable third pairing. That's bad news: both are RH shots, neither is particularly fleet of foot and both tend to give up a lot of shots and scoring chances against.
Engelland isn't going anywhere with his deal (plus the team still seems to like him), but is it possible to trade Wideman? If the Flames agree to eat some salary, there might be a few teams willing to take the plunge: the Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders.
July 20 2016 11:00AM
We're into mid-July around the hockey world and the Calgary Flames still have four restricted free agents left to re-sign. The most prominent names are forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan (along with Freddie Hamilton), but blueliner Tyler Wotherspoon hasn't signed yet either. (Also on the market: unrestricted free agent Jakub Nakladal).
Given the quiet marketplace for blueliners, I've heard the question on Twitter (and elsewhere): why haven't Wotherspoon and/or Nakladal re-signed yet?
If you want a short answer, here it is: Ladislav Smid.