Flames Training Camp Primer

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.

THE SCHEDULE

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 ROSTER

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.

THE LOCKS

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.

LOOKING AHEAD

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.

    • Franko J

      First rounders aren’t the Flames forte. Rarely do the Flames have a first round pick who lives up to expectation. Ken you might as well place Irving in the same category. Maybe things will change with Baertschi, but things looked promising with Phaneuf as well.

    • Begin and Winchester yes…McCarthy is a little dude on the blueline, so not so much in his case.

      I hope the Flames don’t move assest to “get tougher”. The last time they did that it was a 5th rounder for P3L. What a waste.

  • RKD

    Tanguay-Cammalleri-Iginla
    Glencross-Cervenka-Hudler
    Baertschi-Backlund-Stempniak
    Comeau-Stajan-Jones

    Bouwmeester-Wideman/Butler
    Giordano-Butler/Wideman
    Brodie-Sarich/Smith

    is how I think the lineup will shape up.

  • Lines today:

    Glencross-Tanguay-Comeau, Baertschi-Backlund- Cammalleri, Hudler-Stajan-Stempniak, Horak-Jones-Jackman, Begin-Winchester-Byron, Street

    Giordano-Bouwmeester, Butler-Wideman, Smith-Sarich, Brodie-Carson, Breen- McCarthy

    Looks like Babchuk still isn’t in town.

    • they really seem to like the Baertschi – Backlund combination, don’t they?

      Honestly, I like the idea of a Giordano – Bouwmeester unit on the back end. It actually looks something like a top pair. If they’re going to do the “bury 1 unit” thing again, that would be the best way to do it. Sure, the Butler – Wideman unit would be a bit of an adventure in their own end, but would it be any worse than Giordano – Hannan? At least considering that the first unit had Butler on it?

      How does Tanguay look in the middle?

  • Franko J

    With a shorten training camp with no exhibition games, I’m interested in how long it will take for one of the Flames players to be injured. While injuries are never mentioned as an excuse for not making the playoffs, they really hampered the Flames with the ability to play consistent on a game to game basis.

  • Reidja

    I think Brodie will get a chance to crack the top 4 but I see him starting on the 3rd pair. There is no question that the team sees something in Babchuk that a lot of people don’t.

    Sarich looked feisty out there. He had more contact than anyone else that I noticed (second place to Jones). Maybe because they are bubble guys.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    My money is n the Flames putting Babchuk through the same waiver process that they did with Hagman last year. There are simply better options than him and for less money.

    • Willi P

      What would be the point of that? Babchuk’s contract is up at the end of the season, and it’s not like the Flames are in a desperate cap situation right now.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        I already stated the reason: there are better options than Babchuck in the organization now. At least last year, he was perceived to be a PP threat, but Wideman clearly has that role. Maybe it’s just hope, but I believe he’ll be gone.

  • T&A4Flames

    Notes from visiting practice:

    – Stajan has a snarl as opposed to being a deer in headlights.
    – Begin is lightning fast.
    – Baertchi is the elite talent on the squad until Johnny hockey arrives.
    – Cervenka big, strong, hands of gold. Very confident. Shucked Winchester to the ice with authority.
    – Wideman, great first pass, strong on puck, good stick, slow but uptempo type player.
    – Backlund is more confident and agressive. He’s not merely flipping the puck at the net anymore.
    Hudler hands of gold but no speed.
    Smith looks like an 7th or 8th defenceman, meaning the rest are done for.
    Breen looks 90% there.
    Kioper looked like he was drunk.

    Overall… meh. Rusty,. failed to click, moved the puck like an AHL club with no hands or creativity. Hope the rest of the league looks like this otherwise we’re in deep trouble or gaining assets via trades and lottery pick.

    • Willi P

      Cervenka? I thought that he was out still?

      First ice time together in almost a year, so I wouldn’t put to much into the sloppiness just yet.

      Nice to here Stajan has found some snarl!

      • jeremywilhelm

        Cervenka. He’s the real deal. I can’t believe Calgary got him. He looks like a slick red wing not a Calgary flame. Unlike Jokinen he can shoot and PASS. He has me giddy.

        The line featuring cammo, & baertchi was clicking ahead of schedule. Barring injury, this combo could have the most points on the team. That is unless the ageless Iginla decides a contract year and a shortnened season is a good reason to show up when the season begins.

        Stajan, no longer the whipping boy? Stay tuned.

        • jeremywilhelm

          Cervenka hasn’t been cleared to skate with the team yet…. I’m having a hard time deciding who you could have mistaken him for, though. Pretty sure there’s only 1 #10 on the roster.

          @JF

          We don’t know that for sure, yet. I’d rather Gio and Bouw took on the heavies, but I’m not as low on Butler as some.

          I’d like to ask sincity if he’d rather see either Butler or Wideman playing shutdown minutes, since those are the only alternatives to pairing them up (unless Brodie steps up big time, but putting him with Wideman would have the same problem).

          • jeremywilhelm

            Unfortunately there aren’t any great options for the Flames. Too many players they want to or need to shelter. But I don’t have to like it.

            Personally I am hoping they aren’t stuck with liabilities like Babchuk on the third pair letting them balance the D a bit better rather then bury two offensively capable D in situations where they can’t produce.

            If you do that you can put Wideman with either Gio or Bouw. He carried a reasonable load on Boston and still produced.

            If you are forced to run Giordano with Bouwmeester I would prefer to see Wideman paired with Brodie. Brodie can act like Schultz and the two can provide dedicated offense. Butler Sarich can carry the leftovers in a dedicated defensive role.

            Wideman-Butler does nothing for me. They compliment each other like crap, neither is going to drive the line, and both will likely handicap each other’s strength leaving a gaping hole on that pairing. Don’t like it at all.

          • I stand corrected. It was Comeau wearing 17 on his lid and looked like a man set on fire out there. Did he go into a strict work out regime? He looked absolutely possessed while poised. I think he may have gotten lazy in NY, fell out of favor and realizes this could be his last contract. Comeback player of the year no question.

  • jeremywilhelm

    I always liked the Comeau pickup as well. He always seemed like a solid, versitile forward to me. Plus, he has that grit people are always hankering for.

    I just can’t figure out what his role is going to be with this team, since they signed Stempniak for 2 years. Why did they do that again?

    • jeremywilhelm

      That was the exact same discussion I had with a buddy last night at our hockey pool. Why in heaven did we sign Stempniak when we have some kids that most would really really like to see get a fair shot, Horak, Street, Comeau. Any of these guys could play the 3rd line.

      • supra steve

        At worst, Stemp is a tradable asset (no NTC). Knowing the Flames, a guy like this could be about as much as this org. may be willing to part with come trade deadline time. Sadly.

  • Im okay with the Stempniak signing. It wasn’t for much, he was one of the few guys on the right side of possession last year and he can play top-six minutes and on the PP in a pinch. None of Street, Horak or any of the kids can say that.

    The dude out of step up front more than anyone is Stajan.

  • McRib

    Did anyone attending the skates think that Backlund looked like a much more confident player, finally looks like a player that deserved the hype he got from one good World Junior performance. I know he was playing in the Second Tier Allsvenskan in Sweden but his points per game were better than some serious NHL talent. I’m not writing him off yet thats for sure.

    Comeau also looked great but he was so snake bitten last season outside of his offensive production, still liked his play away from the puck. Looks like most agree.