Preseason Notes and Roster Moves

 

 

Bit of a surprisingly slow Wednesday thus far, but there’s still some topics of conversation after the jump.

The Cuts

  • 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.

  • everton fc

    Horak has to be the 4th line centre. Doesn’t he? How can they trap him in the AHL? Give him a chance.

    I’d love to see Ferland over Jackman. I know I’ll get pole-axed for that statement. So be it. I also know he’d do better getting more minutes every evening in Abby, whilst racking up a major a week, which will be part of his role when he does get a call to the NHL. Inevitable, in my mind…

    If Horak’s turned into a wing, he’s coming from the left, correct? Or is it the right. Can’t remember. A 4th line of Horak/Bouma/Jackman might actually put some points on the board. Bouma’s played centre and wing. Jackman and McGrattan will make the team for “grit”. We all know this…

    We still haven’t considered moving assets for picks… Could still happen to free up space for some of the youngsters. Funny more than one here thought Hanowski wasn’t very good. Could this be a sign all these prospects are potential busts? Byron included?? Not to be negative…

  • everton fc

    I can understand the opposition to any free agent signings as I don’t think it really makes us better and is a futile waste of money in that sense – however there is a good case for signing a guy like a Gagne or a Mueller:

    1. It allows Knight and Horak to play top six minutes in the AHL and further their development. We all know there will be injuries – Knight and Horak can get NHL games in as call ups. Might as well take advantage of their two way contracts while we have them. Easier to justify sending Monahan to junior as well.

    2. Potential to flip a player that raises their stock at the deadline. At the deadline when teams are shopping it is best to have as many chips as possible.

    Really I would prefer to find a younger player with more upside than Gagne – a third potential benefit could be to sign that player if they can play their way into the teams future plans.

    Although this would run against the whole meritocracy idea that the best players will play. There is the argument that if Monahan, Knight, and Horak are good enough then they should be on the team. Meritocracy is a fair way to run a team as it sends the message to young players that if they work hard they will be rewarded and it also works against the “culture of entitlement” that gets ingrained in teams over time.

    • everton fc

      I’m sure the remaining FAs aren’t really looking for one year deals if they can help it, which means are you okay with keeping a guy like Gagne around for 2-3 years?

      • Jeff Lebowski

        yeah…..No…. I was musing about one year contracts only. As far as i am concerned the remaining UFAs need to suck it up until the cap goes up.

        IMO it makes more sense for Gagne to sign a one year this year in hopes that he can get the deal he wants next year.

  • RedMan

    what the heck happened to our right wing position? looks like we have only FOUR left in camp, which includes Jackman and McGratton… you list Jones as a LW but he is a RW…

    Am I safe to assume will have one of the dozen listed as centers playing right wing to spell off MacGratton?

    RW still in camp:
    Stempniak,
    David Jones,
    Tim Jackman,
    Brian McGrattan

    • everton fc

      Blair Jones plays from the right-side, as well. With Galiardi being slotted at centre, that final fourth line RW spot is up for grabs between Jackman (front-runner) McGrattan and Blair Jones.

      Unless I’m missing something??

  • everton fc

    I don’t understand how you can say “Hanowski was cut because he sucks”. I thought he has looked really good so far. Actually, looking it up, he has had 3 assists in 3 games. He hasn’t been a – in a game so far and IMO has been very effective on the forecheck and looks like he has improved his skating and mobility alot from last year (apparently lost ~20 lbs or something in the offseason).

    I think that both him and Cundari should still be with the team. If they got sent down because management already knows what they have with them then thats fine. I just hope it wasn’t for other reasons.

      • everton fc

        Just because his skating technique is bad really doesn’t mean he “sucks”. That’s one aspect of his game, and something that can be worked on. I like alot of other tools that he has, and could see him developing into a good 3rd line checking winger if not more. I think a year in the AHL will be good for him, but woulda preferred to see him stay up for a few more pre season games, given his performance up till now.

        • everton fc

          if he can’t move around the ice efficiently – and nothing i’ve seen has proved he can – then it doesn’t matter what else he can do because it’s all negated by his poor skating.

  • everton fc

    I am amazed that we can’t seem to understand that doing business as usual ie lines 1-4 just won’t work in a rebuilding year and the top line you propose are just that. We don’t have the talent level at the top end to do so, we have enough talent and depth to roll 4 roughly equal lines and allow or vets still be successful ad at the same time allowing our young players to develop playing with these vets.

    • everton fc

      what? in the article i say the team lacks top end talent. just because the players aren’t good doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to field a competitive team

      • Jeff Lebowski

        The point I was trying to make is that you have basically lumped the veteran talent we have into two lines which on this team comes across as first and second (although you go say we lack top end skills) you imply these would be top two lines. I don’t get how you think playing your two lines together would make this team any more competitive than rolling for roughly equal lines allowing young players to develop along side vets and giving vets a chance to still shine. Your two groupings might be the best powerplay options for this team but would do little to encourage development of our younger skilled kids. Also I was talking about how often through out this commentary (not just yours) we get stuck thinking about free agents as if we are going to be a contender, about first and second lines etc. What we and the Flames coaching and management should be talking about is how to best develop the kids we have. Playing them 5-7 minutes a game in a solely checking role will not help them Playing them along side veterans will encourage their skill development, work ethic, defensive accountability and if done correctly help them adapt to the more physical nature of the NHL. it will also make it easier to bring call ups in during the season. Thinking in the traditional manner will not serve this team well and if we don’t think differently lead to excessive frustration for us fans and the team.

        • Jeff Lebowski

          Totes agree… every line shoulbe be a mix of kids and pappas…. that is the best way to develop these players. roll 4 lines and the ice time goes to the hardest workers and most effective players….

          • Jeff Lebowski

            It’s great to see that someone gets my message; my line combinations might not work but the idea of vets and kids playing together and rolling four lines makes way more sense in a rebuilding year.