The CBA is officially ratified and hockey fans can rest assured that we won’t ever see another lockout. Well, at least until 2022. In the mean-time, the NHL has released its schedule and the Calgary Flames will begin camp for the shortened 2013 season on Sunday.
The Flames released their camp roster and schedule late Saturday. Here’s a quick-and-dirty primer.
Camp opens Sunday (today) at noon at the Saddledome for a full-practice. There are also practices at the ‘Dome every day Monday to Friday at 10:30am. Scrimmages will be part of the practices on Monday and Wednesday, so these are likely the best days to come to see practices. The last day of camp is Saturday at Winsport, with practice starting at 11am.
All on-ice sessions are open to the public.
The Flames will have 32 players in camp.
3 goaltenders: Henrik Karlsson, Miikka Kiprusoff and Leland Irving
11 defensemen: Anton Babchuk, Jay Bouwmeester, Chris Breen, T.J. Brodie, Chris Butler, Brett Carson, Mark Giordano, Steve McCarthy, Cory Sarich, Derek Smith and Dennis Wideman
18 forwards: Mikael Backlund, Sven Baertschi, Steve Begin, Paul Byron, Mike Cammalleri, Roman Cevenka, Blake Comeau, Curtis Glencross, Roman Horak, Jiri Hudler, Jarome Iginla, Tim Jackman, Blair Jones, Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak, Ben Street, Alex Tanguay and Brad Winchester
Three of these names should seem unfamiliar, as they are the three try-out players: Steve McCarthy, Steve Begin and Brad Winchester.
McCarthy is signed to an American League deal in Abbotsford and has a long history with new Flames coach Bob Hartley. He played under Hartley both with the Atlanta Thrashers (for parts of three seasons) and last year with the ZSC Lions.
Begin is a former Flame with a fairly long pro resume. He won a Calder Cup with the vaunted Saint John Flames back in 2001 and was the playoff MVP. He has 488 NHL games under his belt with Calgary, Montreal, Dallas, Boston and Nashville. He hasn’t played since the 2010-11 season due to a hip injury.
Winchester is a veteran of 390 NHL contests. He’s played with Edmonton, Dallas, St. Louis, Anaheim and San Jose. Hardly a massive offensive threat, Winchester is big (6’5, 225) and would bring a physical presence generally missing from the Flames current line-up, outside of maybe Tim Jackman.
There are 23 NHL roster spots. Most of them are already spoken for.
The 21 players locked in are Miikka Kiprusoff, Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, Cory Sarich, T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman, Derek Smith, Chris Butler, Roman Cervenka, Mikael Backlund, Jarome Iginla, Mike Cammalleri, Blake Comeau, Matt Stajan, Blair Jones, Curtis Glencross, Lee Stempniak, Jiri Hudler, Alex Tanguay and Sven Baertschi.
That leaves two spots open: the back-up goaltender and the potential 14th forward spot.
ON THE BUBBLE
If 21 of the players in camp are heading in with jobs probably sewn up, that means another 11 guys have to fight for jobs.
Four defensemen will probably get cut, unless the Flames carry 8 blueliners – in which case there is no open forward roster spot. The four defensemen on the bubble are likely Brett Carson, Anton Babchuk, Steve McCarthy and Chris Breen. Breen has impressed for the Heat, but likely has a bit of improvement left to make before he challenges for NHL jobs.
For the back-up goalie position, Henrik Karlsson will try to fend off Leland Irving. Irving impressed in a handful of appearances last season but has struggled this year on the farm. Karlsson had an iffy presence last season and hasn’t played at all this year.
And for the prospective last forward position, and the right to sit in the pressbox quite a bit, we’ll see five forwards duke it out. Those five are the two try-out veterans, Steve Begin and Brad Winchester, and the two Heat veterans, Ben Street, Paul Byron and sophomore Roman Horak. If you want the winner of this mini-sweepstakes to actually play regularly, Street, Byron or Horak is probably the best bet. If you’re fine with them sitting most of the time, you won’t harm the development of Begin or Winchester by parking them in the press box.
In a week, we’ll know the Flames opening night roster. From there, the club plays four games in the first seven days of the regular season.
We had no NHL hockey for awhile, but we’re about to get a whole lot of it in a hurry.