Bit of a surprisingly slow Wednesday thus far, but there’s still some topics of conversation after the jump.
- Carter Bancks – LW
- Laurent Brossoit – G
- Paul Byron – C
- Mark Cundari – D
- David Eddy – RW
- Turner Elson – LW
- Ben Hanowski – LW
- Braden Lamb – D
- James Martin – D
- Zach McKelvie – D
- Greg Nemisz – RW
- Brett Olson – C
- Joni Ortio – G
Returning to their respective junior teams:
- Ryan Culkin – D (Quebec/WHL)
- Coda Gordon – RW (Swift Current/WHL)
- Morgan Klimchuk – LW (Regina/WHL)
- Brett Kulak – D (Vancouver/WHL)
- Emile Poirier – RW (Gatineau/QMJHL)
- Eric Roy – D (Brandon/WHL)
I’m a little surprised about Ortio going down this quickly but I can see why they did it. I’m pretty sure Monahan is the only junior-aged forward left in camp now as the CHL season starts to ramp up. Poirier performed pretty well, so I don’t think the cut is indicitave of anything except for his team needing him back and the determination of HOPS that he wasn’t making it this year.
Hanowski sucks, which is why he’s been snipped. Of the guys left at camp, Reinhart, Kanzig, Ferland, Granlund and Jooris are probably safe bets to be cut next. It seems to me the Flames are still trying to fill out two practice rosters, which is why some of these guys have been kept around.
Preseason thus Far
The Flames have played 5 games and are currently 3-2, with split-squad wins against the Isles (twice) and Oilers. They’re currently +2 in goal differential and no one has had a major injury (yet). Although they’ve struggled at times, the Flames still look like an NHL team out there.
The players that have impressed me the most thus far (i.e., played beyond my expectations) are Josh Jooris, Emile Poirier and Reto Berra. I don’t think there’s a real possibility that Poirier or Berra make the team simply because of the roster numbers – but Jooris could with the lack of a 4C right now. Do I think that to be the best result? Probably not, but good for him regardless.
I’ve actually been intrigued by the fact that three of the oddest moves Jay Feaster made in the past year or so have shown the early returns they have. I don’t feel any different than I did prior to camp about the moves themselves, but still.
Looking at the Lines
In my estimation, the Flames have enough NHL-level talent up front that they shouldn’t need any bottom-end players to fill out the roster, but let’s take a look quickly.
- Mike Cammalleri – Matt Stajan – Curtis Glencross
- Jiri Hudler – Mikael Backlund – Lee Stempniak
- David Jones – T.J. Galiardi
Those 8 players are likely guaranteed to make the team. You’d have to think Baertschi, McGrattan and Jackman stay up, though, so really that only leaves one or two extra spots up front. In terms of players who are and might be available, there isn’t much. Damien Brunner, Brad Boyes and Mason Raymond are the three names that jump out to me as being better than those three, but all of them are in other camps right now on PTOs. If they get cut, the Flames should take a run at them but I find it hard to see any of them getting snipped.
The only names that really intrigued me on this list other than the three above are Dave Steckel and Simon Gagne. Certainly, Steckel’s not a fantastic player by any means but he can win face offs and the Flames will need another centreman if the front office determines none of the prospects at camp can fill out the 4C position. Personally, I think I’d rather have Steckel than Corbin Knight right now.
Gagne has had some injury troubles and is a solid bet to miss about 25% of the season each year but he is still producing shots at a good rate (2 SPG last year) even though his TOI was only about 14:30 per night. His SH% was pretty damn low last year too, so maybe he has a bit of a bounce back in terms of percentages. I feel as though he’s better than anyone the Flames want to put in there at the 3W position except for Baertschi.
There’s a pretty solid stable of mid- to bottom-tier defenseman on the Flames, so signing another guy to add to the 8-man 2-spot logjam doesn’t make much sense to me. On top of that, aside from one guy (who we’ll get to in a minute), there’s nothing of note on the free agent market. Thus, if the Flames are going to make a contract worthwhile, it’ll have to be on a guy who will play top-4 minutes.
- Dennis Wideman – Mark Giordano
- T.J. Brodie – Kris Russell
- Shane O’Brien – Chris Butler
There’s room for one more guy here. More than likely, it’ll be Derek Smith – he’s on a one-way contract and has played in about half of the games Calgary’s had since he got here two years ago. However, if it’s not Derek Smith or one of the youngins (Mark Cundari is my pick), Tom Gilbert is the only name out there that makes any sense at all. He’s at Panthers camp, though, so he’ll likely play top-4 minutes in Sunrise this year.
- Karri Ramo
- Joey MacDonald
There’s just no more room for any PTO washouts or free agents here. The Flames have three goaltenders who they likely think are NHL-calibre and they can’t have Joni Ortio and Laurent Brossoit splitting time in Alaska.
There never really seems to be training camp battles that really mean anything. What you see above is a roster that’s about 95% done and there’s only room for 2 or 3 more guys. The issue for the Flames is high-end talent, and that’s just not found at this point.
Fighting in the Preseason
I think it’s absurd how many times the gloves have been dropped so far. It doesn’t really make sense why people are fighting at this point, and it’s made even more odd by who is fighting. McGrattan and Jackman are expected to fight, sure, but they should know their spots on the roster are pretty much chiselled in stone. Matt Stajan is fighting for some reason, marking the first time in history that a team’s number one centre has bloodied his opponent in preseason fisticuffs. (Man, that was an absurd sentence.) Lastly, Pat Sieloff broke his damn cheekbone getting punched in the face, which helped literally no one accomplish anything significant except break another person’s cheekbone.
Don’t fight, kids.