1. So Sieloff’s going pro
It was announced earlier this week that Patrick Sieloff would not return to juniors as some might have expected, and that the club will instead exercise its option to either keep him in Calgary or send him down to the AHL.
This is something I generally think is a good idea, and one that will be very conducive to the continual growing of Sieloff’s game. My suspicion, based on nothing but what I’ve seen in the preseason and historical precedent, is that Sieloff will indeed be one of the young players to get several games in the big league to assess where he’s at against full-on NHL talent when games matter at least a little bit, and then he’ll be shipped to the AHL where he can get bigger minutes.
The reason I think it’s a good idea is basically two-fold: First, he’s 19, but won’t be 20 until May, long after the Flames and probably the Heat will have been eliminated from the postseason, but his style of game isn’t necessarily conducive to being any more successful in junior hockey than it already is. He, like Sean Monahan, was on a not-good team last year, but still only managed 11 points. He’s not going to score a lot ever, is basically the point, no matter how many minutes he’s given. What he does, instead, is hit, and hit hard, and hit often.
Lighting up 16-year-olds in the OHL is something with which Sieloff has proven exceptionally adept, and thus does not require any additional training at. Lighting up men? Playing sound positional defensive hockey? These are skills that must be honed against adults for him to have much success at the NHL level and, given the blue line depth in Abbotsford, I’d say that he’ll be getting pretty hefty minutes there. I mean, how many of these guys are even Flames property with a chance of being in the NHL? Mark Cundari and that’s it? They can prioritize Sieloff’s development there, and that’s for the better, for all involved.
2. The fundamental difference between this and Monahan
Now I know what you’re thinking, if you’re particularly opposed to my point of view on the prospect of keeping Sean Monahan with the big club — which by the way the Flames seem remarkably inclined to do despite it being a terrible idea. "Why is keeping this guy in the pros a good idea and doing the same with Monahan a bad one?"
Again, Sieloff can be sent to the AHL, where he can get big minutes against pros. My understanding is that Monahan cannot. If he could get anything approximating the kind of minutes he would get in the OHL in the AHL, then I think it would be worth starting his ELC clock. I honestly do. Again, it’s the difference between getting 20 minutes a night in a lower league or between 12 and 15 in the world’s best. The point some of you have made about his being able to dominate kids in the OHL, and thus having little else to prove, is not an invalid, but it also doesn’t overwhelm the fact that he needs minutes more than stiffer competition. If he could find a medium between the two in the AHL, that would be the best possible situation for all involved. But he can’t, so why bother paying him and keeping him on the bench for 75-80 percent of a game?
3. Mike Cammalleri’s status
I don’t know if it’s just fodder or based on anything in particular he’s heard — and given the author, I’d be inclined to suspect it’s the former — but Eric Francis had a pretty good piece on what the future holds for Mike Cammalleri, in which it is said, point blank, that it’s "extremely unlikely" that he’s around at the end of the season.
That makes a lot of sense, obviously. Big-money player, bad team, post-apex as Jay Feaster likes to say, and someone who can theoretically help a contender looking for top-six(ish) help. Cammalleri also seemed cagey on the issue, and the article suggested he’s loath to talk about it going forward, but it’s going to come up a lot this season. A lot lot. Especially if he’s good, and even if he’s not. He’s as good as gone as far as I’m concerned, and that’s how it should be.
4. The Flames and the NHL crackdown on thugs
One thing that I took from this latest run at the ability of the "Supergoon" to do his job was that this comes at a not-very-good time for the Flames. They recently hired Brian Burke, and there was a decent amount of chatter in the last week about the importance of this kind of player. Brian McGrattan training Keegan Kanzig in the fistic arts, etc.
Then yesterday morning, there was a note from ESPN’s Craig Custance that it’s believed a majority of NHL GMs are opposed to this kind of player’s existence in the league, and that there will likely be a move to ban most fighting from the game. I’m for that, on general principal, because the only fights that will happen will be those that "need to" happen. When guys are willing to eat a game suspension to defend a teammate from a particularly injurious hit, or whatever, the game will be better because there will be fewer useless players in the league and thus on Calgary’s roster, or that of any other teams. Of course, that’s bad news for the Flames, philosophically, in the short-term.
5. The goaltending situation
I saw something about how Reto Berra is now about to make his final push for a roster spot in the stretch run of training camp and it makes sense to me on a logical level: How much is there, really, separating Karri Ramo, who looks for all the world to be the presumptive No. 1 in Calgary despite not having been in the NHL for a few years, and Laurent Brossoit, who’s currently the backup in Abbotsford and awaiting a demotion to the ECHL when Berra’s final fate is figured out?
There’s really not a lot of stratification here. The drop between Ramo and Joey MacDonald has to be relatively minor in the team’s eyes (hence the latter’s one-way deal signed as a kind of insurance policy late last season), but if Berra’s still trying out for a job, he can’t be that far behind MacDonald. Joni Ortio and Brossoit, meanwhile, both seem promising enough to warrant consideration for at least splitting time at the AHL level, but the rookie seems the more likely ECHL starter.
I don’t know if this says the team’s organizational goaltending depth is really solid or really mediocre, though.