We recently discussed the TJ Brodie issue, but there’s no question that Matt Pelech is probably an even more pressing situation due to his age and waiver eligibility. Whats more, his performance in training camp has further muddied the waters.
It’s no secret that I wasn’t a fan of Pelech’s play against the Islanders in Saskatoon. To reiterate, Pelech played a limited role and was nevertheless shakey at times despite being relatively sheltered. At 23 and with several pro seasons under his belt, my expectations were higher for Pelech. I’ve been hopeful all summer that the kid would have progressed enough to convince the decision makers to waive and demote Stevet Staios, but if Wednesday night is a true indication of his current abilities, then Pelech is actually further away from that goal than I thought.
It’s entirely possible, of course, that his most recent performance was not actually indicative of his level of abilities. After all, players have bad games all the time. The primary inherent flaw in trying to judge guys during preseason is not just the lackluster AHL-esque competition, but the size of the sample, which is fairly tiny.
If the injuries to Langkow and Stajan truly grants the team a stay of execution in regards to their cap problems, there’s a chance they could in fact enter the regular season with eight defenders (as mentioned by Sutter recently) with the goal of swapping in Pelech now and then to see how he fares over a longer period against better opponents. If he continues to struggle, the club can try to waive or trade him. If he finds his feet and usurps Staios, the Flames can demote Steady Steve when one of Stajan or Langkow is ready to return.