2013 Flames Training Camp Primer


For the first time since 1995, the Calgary Flames open main training camp without Jarome Iginla. For the first time since 2003, they don’t have a bonafide number-one goalie. Or a number-one center, but that’s not really a “new” issue with this group. They also don’t have a captain and the team is finally starting their long-awaited rebuild.
Anyhoo, camp’s on-ice portion begins today over at Winsport. (On two rinks!)
Looking down the roster, the knee-jerk reaction is to conclude that “These guys don’t look so good.” That may be true, but many of them are quite motivated – hometown boy T.J. Galiardi was reportedly quite displeased with the notions that the Flames will be lousy this year. That’s probably not a rare sentiment in the locker room – much like the rag-tag group in Major League, these guys probably don’t care that they’re "supposed" to be not that good.
The first steps toward providing the critics wrong – or tanking hard – take place this week at the kick-off of main training camp. We’ve already seen the prospects shake off the cobwebs, but now things are amped up and they introduce, for lack of a better term, “live ammo” to the proceedings.


The Flames have split 54 guys into three groups, named after Flames legends – Lanny McDonald, Brad McCrimmon and Jim Peplinski. They’ll have what’s essentially a bunch of short scrimmages in a mini-tournament format. While two teams are scrimmages, the other will be practicing. Pretty cool idea, if you ask me.
On-ice begins on Thursday. Team McDonald plays Team McCrimmon at 10am (along with a concurrent Team Peplinski practice), followed by an 11:05 scrimmage pitting Team McDonald against Peplinski (with McCrimmon practices). The timings make me think that scrimmages will be about 45-50 minutes in length.
Friday at 10am, we have Team McCrimmon against Team Peplinski (and a McDonald practice). At 11:05 it’s McCrimmon against McDonald (and a Peplinski practice).
After that, it’s into even liver-fire exercises, as the Flames split into two groups for a pair of games with Edmonton (one here and one there) on Saturday night, a game in Saskatoon against Ottawa in Saskatoon on Monday and another set of split-squad games against the Islanders, this time in Regina and Calgary.
And on days that there aren’t games, expect the three-group mini-tournament format to continue until cuts are made to bring things down to a more manageable number.



G: Reto Berra and Joni Ortio
D: Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, Derek Smith, Brett Kulak (junior), Zach McKelvie (try-out) and James Martin
F: Tim Jackman, Matt Stajan, Blair Jones, Curtis Glencross, Roman Horak, Lee Stempniak, Carter Bancks (AHLer), Greg Nemisz, Ben Hanowski and Max Reinhart
The team bearing the name of Lanny McDonald has a pretty strong roster, including Ortio, who’s got a lot of momentum going into main camp. The blueline features McKelvie, a US Army veteran who played with the Heat last year, as well as three NHL regulars. (Smith may be in tough to keep his spot with the youngsters pushing for roster spots.)


G: Laurent Brossoit and Karri Ramo
D: Mark Giordano, Patrick Sieloff, Shane O’Brien, Tyler Wotherspoon, Keegan Kanzig (junior) and Brady Lamb (try-out)
F: Corban Knight, Mikael Backlund, Mike Cammalleri, Sean Monahan, Steve Begin (AHLer), Paul Byron, David Eddy, David Jones, Coda Gordon (junior) and Michael Ferland
This team is named after the late, great Brad McCrimmon. Ramo gets arguably the least blueline help, with Giordano and O’Brien being the only established NHLers. But hey, there is Sieloff, Wotherspoon, the towering Keegan Kanzig and Brady Lamb, back on a try-out. Up-front, it’s youngsters (Knight, Backlund, Monahan, Byron, Ferland) and Cammalleri, Begin and David Jones.


G: Joey MacDonald
D: Kris Russell, Chad Billins, Mark Cundari, Chris Butler, John Ramage and Ryan Culkin
F: Brian McGrattan, Lance Bouma, Jiri Hudler, Ben Street, T.J. Galiardi, Sven Baertschi, Emile Poirier (junior), Markus Granlund, Turner Elson, Brett Olson (AHLer) and Josh Jooris
Finally, the team bearing the name of Jim Peplinski features the only returning NHL goalie (MacBackup), two NHL regular blueliners (Russell and Butler) and three NHL forwards (Hudler, McGrattan and Galiardi). After that, a lot of interesting wild cards: How will Cundari and Ramage look? Is Culkin ready for the pros? Is Bouma recovered from his injury? Can Granlund continue his momentum? Can Elson? Can Baertschi create some momentum?
Eric Roy, Morgan Klimchuk and Chris Breen are all in town but aren’t participating in camp quite yet due to injury. It sucks the most arguably for Breen, who was great at last year’s truncated camp and likely would’ve been up in the NHL at season’s end if not for a shoulder injury.


Instead of “only” drills and work outs, the Flames are mixing things up this year with a three-group mini-tournament. There are 54 guys in camp (57 if you include the injured guys). There are 23 NHL roster spots, and arguably 16 of them are already spoken for. There are probably spots for two goalies, one defenseman and four forwards.
The next couple weeks will decide which guys get those seven spots. And which guys get shuffled off to juniors, Abbotsford or Alaska to wait their turn.

  • 24% body fat

    I’m liking the tournament idea.. Winsport sure is a great resource for the Flames to use. It would have been great to see Breen and Klimchuk as well.. too bad..

  • Jeff Lebowski

    There are a lot of really good things about this format from a coaching perspective: you get to see who can carry forward your team concepts into a competitive situation in a hurry, your players still get to compete,and you get to see who understands your expectations when they are tired. There may be some drawbacks to this as there may be an increased chance of injuries, there may be a lack of chemistry built as many of the forward combinations are unlikely to be what we will see in the exhibition and regular season (hockey may be more dependent on chemistry than many other sports)and this might hinder some players. I wonder about some of the line combinations for each of the squads. But has been said by others this is rather exciting and should be fun.

    I will be interested to see if Sven can raise his game, how Ramage fairs against NHL men, is Grandlund as good against NHL D, whether Knight can rebound and step up. Lots of questions, lots of opportunities

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I just finished watching A (red) win 3-2 vs B (white).
    A couple of changes to the lineups:
    -Reinhart didn’t play for A, instead Jooris drew in.
    -The goalies were MacDonald for A and Ortio for B
    Also, the scrimmage was one 50 minute period. The ice got worse.

    Team A had more guys with NHL time and early on exerted their will against B. The play was mostly in B’s end as A ran out to a 3-0 lead. However B responded with 2 late goals to make it respectable.

    You can really tell the veteran guys by their intensity. There is no easing in with them and since they are used to being evaluated all the time they know they have to show they are truly professionals.

    Also, at this time of year all these guys are coming in, in the best shape of their lives (I assume 18-35 year olds will improv their fitness year after year). It was easy to see the improved strength and power in Stempniak. He played his game but in battles with d (one in particular with Gio on end boards) he jolted guy’s off the puck or off their skates.

    Team A
    MacDonald – pretty solid but he wasn’t worked as hard and stayed on far side of ice. The last goal was a tip I think from Ferland.
    Wideman- content to move the puck quickly he made only one rush up ice but he did it well. He is a good on skates but not fast. If caught flat footed he gets beat easily.
    Brodie-TJ continues to be poised and controls the play. Quiet for the most part he made some great reads and smart passes.
    Glencross- Scored two goals (I think) one a slapper from top of right circle. Skated hard and looked good. Example of a pro looking and acting like a pro.
    Horak- Showed flashes a real good puck protection. Also made a great turn off boards to get to middle of the ice. He was immediately closed upon, dished smartly to a guy who should have shot right away but skated himself out of the middle of the ice.
    Bancks-Kid skates hard.
    Hanowski-Smooth and used his body to protect the puck well. Was good early then kind of disappeared. Then was noticeable at very end on wrap around attempt (failed, but showed good skills) If he fights, he will make room for himself.
    Jooris-Played quite well. Good energy and positioning. He makes smart passes and skates well. As I mentioned in earlier post, I think he’s playing better than Knight and it showed again.

    Team B
    Ortio-NHL shooters are different from rookie camp shooters. Also, Ortio was mouse quiet and could have helped his d on retrievals if he would direct traffic even just a little. He made saves but none of the spectacular variety.
    Gio-was solid in his end, hard on everyone and was moving better than I recall of him last year. Quicker.
    Knight-He scored on a nice wrister but was invisible for rest of game.
    Backlund-Not at level he ended at last year. However he finished checks and made a nice assist on one of the goals (Knight I think).
    Cammi-usual stealth like in offensive zone. Good awareness of when to reverse a play in his own end. Solid, nothing great.
    Monahan-Although he didn’t get on score sheet, he again looked like one of the better players on the ice. Moved puck quickly and smartly. One rush he anticipated the play (a turnover about to happen along side boards near blueline), accelerated past the unaware guy skating with him, picked up the puck, settled his speed and then cut into the middle of the ice (circles) and fired a shot (saved). He is really good. People think he doesn’t skate well or hard. They don’t know what they are talking about. He skates hard when he needs to. His anticipation is top notch. Also he just is a great puck distributor on breakouts, always putting on the tape of he headman with speed. Any doubters that think he should not play in NHL this year are wrong if they think he can’t handle it. MONAHAN IS A SPECIAL PLAYER.
    Seiloff-quiet but moved the puck quickly. He and Bancks pushed and shoved each other but no other hits to speak of.
    Jones-He has a good shot. Up and down his wing and played it well at both ends. Solid pro with savvy.
    Wotherspoon-he was noticeable for not being quick and decisive out there. As a D, against legit NHLers, you don’t get a lot of time. He held on too long a few times, got his stick smartly tied up (Stempniak and Glencross got him)then driven to end boards where he turned over the puck.
    Kanzig-No gaffes and he went up against Jackman a few times in board battles and did very well.
    Ferland-Good on the wall, shot it hard and also showed good iq/awareness by passing it smartly in the different zones.
    Lamb-I don’t know who he is but he seems like an average size d (I’m guessing 6′ 190) but he plays hard. Really staples guys along boards and shows good power. I can’t really say he’s fast but he never got beat and didn’t look slow footed. Just does everything hard.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      Monahan has added about 11 pounds (IIRC) since Dev camp. That’s likely where the improved skating (more accurately, speed/power) came from.

      He was never a bad skater, just didn’t get around as fast as he could have. Seemingly, my hypothesis that he would gain speed as he got bigger (ie. less skinny for his height) seems to be correct.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, JL.

    • Jeff,

      I would agree with most of your comments. I watched both games and here is my two cents..

      Standouts- Vet line of Stempniak, GlenX and Stajan— Multiple goals, always controlled puck and played with smarts. By far the best line today. Thought Glen was best player on ice. Also showed some “truculence” after a Sieloff hit that he didn’t much care for.

      Gio- Strong and played with an edge.

      Jooris- Great puck possession, strong skater, broke puck out of his own end well.

      Horak- Skated hard, strong on puck showed offensive creativity.

      Blair Jones- I was surprised by his compete level and energy. Working hard to earn a spot. (though unlikely)

      Hanowski- took puck to the net and scored a nice goal. Had moments though his lateral skating is questionable. He is fast in a straight line though and was good on the forecheck.

      Poirier- Wasn’t real good but still managed some scoring chances. Just seems to have a good nose for the net and gets open. Seemed a bit overmatched with physical aspect.

      Ferland- Threw some hits. Strong on offensive boards, wins puck battles. Hard to believe that this is the same guy as last year.

      Russell- I thought he had a steady game and makes good passes. Not afraid to jump into play. Good skater.

      Kanzig- I hate to keep drumming this guy up but he was noticeable for strong outlet passes, physical presence and willingness to carry the puck. Got a puck through traffic with an accurate wrister that created a chance on rebound. Gets turned around in his own end and his skating/ mobility is not quick enough yet. I did think that he stood out though as a player with potential. (assuming that mobility improves)

      Underwhelming- Knight. He did score on a nice snap shot but just didn’t show much of anything. Almost a little disinterested.

      Granlund- Was hoping that he would ride momentum but I didn’t notice much of him.

      Sven- had flashes when he handled puck well and showed creativity but pretty quiet.

      McGratton- Well I know his role is to fight but yikes. Costly turnovers in his own end, took a slashing penalty and was just bad…

      goalies- Berra looked good though didn’t see much action. I think that McDonald let in three in half a period of work. Ortio relieved and was solid. (can’t say for certain as numbers/ teams were mixed up for goalies.)

      • seve927

        Comments on your comments:
        I have not said a thing about Kanzig yet – so let me take this opportunity. I assumed he would look completely overmatched against pros. Not the case at all. I thought he looked extremely solid.

        I like Knight. I know what you mean by disinterested, but when I watch him and only him for an entire shift, he is always in good defensive position. His goal was at the far end, so I didn’t have a good view, but it looked stoppable to me. I’m not sure who was in goal, Berra?

        Hanowski’s goal – not a good one for Ramo. Wrister from the bottom of the circle. I did think Hanowski was very noticeable (in a good way) in both games. His skating is improving

        Brossoit made an outstanding save on Jackman. Jackman had good speed, and got completely by him and looked like he was just going to sweep it into the empty net when LB somehow got his pad over. He put himself in a bad position, but showed some real athleticism. Also would appear to need some work on rebound control.

        The top line did look very good, but I thought Stajan was really dragging it down. He had chances to create offense, and just made bad passes into traffic. Stemp and Glennie were excellent.

  • DoubleDIon

    I think our “top line” this year needs to be Glencross Backlund and Stempniak. I really thought Knight would be a better version of Reinhart. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. To me, the two of them are redundant. 4th line centers with 3rd line upside.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Some other observations from both games…

    Agree Stempniak and GlenX by far the best of the tournament, excellent compete level and good on rushes and working give and go to the net. Other players not noted above: Liked both Cundari and Billins, strong positional play and calm getting out of zone. Kanzig definitely holding his own, keeping position (with reach) and battling along the boards. Thought both Monahan and Knight looked very good, aware of defensive responsibilities and making good passes. Feraland also effective driving play and battling on offensive boards. Hanowski definitely improved from end of last year. Ortio best of goalies but not really tested. Overall the pros demonstrated why they are, being generally more effective than prospects. Cammaleri a bit disappointing but perhaps he suffered along with many others from line-mates on the day…