Galiardi at 3C? Flames Down the Middle


It’s pre-season and no injuries have struck the Calgary Flames, but the club is already pulling somewhat desperate moves to fill out their center position. As Kristen notes above, the club has made noises about TJ Galiardi skating as a pivot this season – not on the fourth line either, where one might actuall get away with converting a winger to a centerman some 5 seasons into his career.

Galiardi took about 5 faceoffs last year and has taken around 300-400 over the course of his NHL career (221 games). He was a C in junior, but he’s never done the job regularly at the NHL level and it’s a significant step up in terms of commitment and role to shift from the boards to the dot. As such, it doesn’t strike me as something destined to succeed.

What this also says is that the organization doesn’t really have much faith in any of the kids being able to fill that role this season. Sean Monahan, Corban Knight, Max Reinhart, Roman Horak, Lance Bouma and Markus Granlund are all natural centers, but it doesn’t seem like any of them are getting penciled into the top-9 by the coaching staff. And fair enough – all of them have something or other to prove.

So who is the 4th line C? Knight, Bouma and Horak should be the early favorites. Monahan might get a 9-game look out of the gates, but should probably go back to junior after that. Of course, any one of them could be the 3rd line C at some point if Galiardi can’t make the transition or one of the kids takes a big step forward.

Still, it’s clear the Flames are very susceptible to injury risk down the middle. if Backlund or Stajan goes down for any length of time, TJ Galiardi might suddenly be your second line C. I know the Flames aren’t counted on to win anything this year, but…yikes.

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  • RexLibris

    I’m reminded of MacTavish’s failed Smyth/Pisani center experiment.

    Galiardi in the middle. What is it with Alberta teams ignoring the middle forward?

    Has David Steckel signed anywhere? With Burke around I’ve been wondering if that is a 4C name that might come up.

  • beloch

    Converting Galiardi to play center on the third line might be preferable to converting Cammalleri to play center on the first line, although that might still happen! It’s also possible they’re preparing for when Cammy gets shipped out.

    I suspect Feaster, no matter what he says to the media to motivate the kids at camp, is perfectly okay with building some strategic points of failure into this year’s team. If Backlund goes down, as usual, then the team can move up a draft position or two without looking like it’s deliberately tanking.

    I honestly think this year’s team is going to be harder pressed to draft in the top 5 than most people think, but Feaster may be committed to seeing that they do!

  • Lordmork

    How long did we try and pretend Mike Cammalleri was a centre? I’d rather see one of the younger players given playtime over playing someone out of position, but nobody put me in charge of the Flames.

  • Derzie

    I’m with @beloch’s theory on tanking. Guys playing out of position smacks of beer league to me. Good way to tank without too much scrutiny. I hope Flames brass is “this smart” and not “that stupid.”

    • beloch


      Remember how skeptical we all were when David Moss was converted to center? It ended up working pretty well (granted, Moss is the sort of guy who can really play anywhere. Galiardi doesn’t drive possession, so he might have more inherent difficulty simply because of that.

      My money is on Horak centering line 3, to be perfectly honest with you all.

  • Demetric


    With just two returning centres under contract in Matt Stajan and Mikael Backlund, Hartley expects to try plenty of experiments down the middle.

    Among them include giving new face TJ Galiardi an opportunity to slot down the middle in a similar exercise that saw both Cammalleri and the now-departed Alex Tanguay play pivot a year ago.

    “Right now, we’re playing TJ Galiardi at centre,” Hartley said. “TJ played lots of center before being an NHL player.

    How long Galiardi stays at centre is on the younger players in camp. Whether or not the likes of Max Reinhart, Corban Knight and first round pick Sean Monahan continually adjust in the preseason will go a long way in deciding whether the team can slot Galiardi back on the wing.

    “The play of our young players will dictate where TJ Galiardi will play,” Hartley said. “That’s how much confidence I have in TJ. If the best youngsters are on the wing, most likely we’ll see TJ at centre. If the best prospects are at center, we will find either the left wing or the right wing for TJ. I have some nice options. We will experiment all this in intra-squad and in exhibition games.”

    ^ from the Flames site. Everyone is reading too much into this just like they are the hiring of Burke

    • Brownblazer

      I almost wonder if this is a way too show how no spot on the roster is guaranteed. A lot of people (and I feel it’s fair to include flames management) had Knight slotted in at 3rd line centre, but after the Pentiction tourney maybe they feel like they need to add a sense of competition to the training camp. So I agree it depends on how the young guys can adjust to the preseason.

      Or I might be reading too much into it, but we are fans. That’s what makes sites like this fun.

  • Skuehler

    Isn’t Granlund a center? I know he might not be ready yet but don’t count him out long run. There is no need to push the panic button and make TJG a center, but as fans we should not over react as well. Horak is a better bet for a number 3 center. Some people like Joris too.At the end of the year there are likely others coming from college. Knight might get it by they and maybe Monahan sticks.

  • Brownblazer

    In a couple years time I bet we have one of the best, young and upcoming, centre groups in the league..

    By then Stajan will be gone and Galiardi will be back on the wing.

  • Brownblazer

    I was really hoping Knight could show more. I had great expectations ’cause of his high f/o % etc.. I saw in at the youngstars in Pen. and was dissapointed overall. I had pencilled him in a 3rd or 4th (or maybe even high end 2nd) c role.

  • McRib

    Reinhart, Horak, Granlund and Knight all have the chance at seizing the fourth line centre role. That said, as much as most people don’t like to hear it, I have a hard time believing Monahan doesn’t end up winning that spot. He is just too smart, physically developed and his junior team is going through a rebuilding phase.

    I don’t think we should rush players like Poirier, Jankowski, Gaudreau, Klimchuk and burn entry level years left, right and centre, but getting Monahan one-two-three full NHL seasons under his belt. So that we stagger our young talent and prevent them all from showing up at the same time, might prevent against a loosing culture throughout when they all start together. I hope someone beats him out… I just don’t see it. Haha.

  • One can only hope that this situation causes the Flames management to panic, and end up trading next year’s 1st + Cammy for Olli Jokinen round 3.

    Why does no one ever mention Blair Jones? I know Hartley hates him, but seriously. The talking heads in Calgary never bring him up, but he wasn’t half bad when he was first picked off waivers. Hartley dug his own grave on this one.

    Stajan – Backlund – Knight/Jones – Bouma/Reinhart

    The concept of 1C, 2C, etc. is moot with this team though. There’s no definitive 1st/2nd/3rd/4th line as far as I’m concerned. I really feel that this is going to be a “win by committee” season – no superstars, no 50-goal guys, just a bunch of 10-20G players sharing the ice time.

  • Also, this may have been made clear in previous articles, but is Monahan old enough to play in the AHL?

    He seems to be done with the CHL, so I’m wondering where the Flames can stick him if he isn’t ready for the NHL.

  • beloch

    No, he’s not old enough. Either he plays on the big team or it’s back to the OHL with him. He’s probably more than ready for fourth line duty, but is 5min a game in the NHL better for his development than 25+min per game in the OHL? He really needs to beat Galiardi out and show he can play on the third line with decent ice time if he wants to stay in Calgary.

  • piscera.infada

    I would like everyone to give Knight a little bit of a break. I understand he’s underwhelmed up to this point, but I think people tend to over look the fact that this is his first crack at all these rookie tournaments and pro training camps – sure he probably had a few rookie camps with the Isles, but how far down on the centre depth chart would he have been at those?

    He’s an older player, yes. That said however, there has to be an adjustment to coming out of 4 years of college, playing with the same group of guys, with the same coaches, in the same system, to taking steps in your first NHL (or NHL-esque, in the case of the youngstars) action.

    I’m not making excuses, but I doubt someone getting their first shot at the NHL would be “disinterested” at that prospect. Perhaps he just needs to settle in and catch up mentally to the speed of the game. I wouldn’t write him off just yet.

  • From Scott Cruickshank on Twitter:


    #Flames scrimmage goals today — Monahan (2), Hudler, McGrattan, Ferland, Cammalleri, Jooris, D.Jones. And? Glencross and B.Jones fought.

    Good to see Monahan scoring. And David Jones. And perhaps this GlenX + B.Jones fight gives some indication as to why B.Jones is stuck in Abby.

  • Parallex

    Random Question To Throw into this thread… what if the rebuild is “over” after this year?

    Think about it… the Flames are just 2M over the Cap floor this year and have just 30M committed to next year…

    … If we project the cap to be 70M that’s 40M the Flames can spend. I repeat 40M. With Phaneaf and Kessel (Burke guys) as the premium free Agents. Doesn’t that sound like something that could happen? Suck this year, dump Cammy/ Stempniak/Stajan at the deadline for picks, Draft Reinhart or Ekblad, Use the Giant Cap Space and Burkes rolodex to go whale hunting.

    I mean the Flames will almost have to overspend just to get cap compliant. Not a stretch to think that they may just go “eff it” and try to compete is it?