The Flames Cuts and Starting Roster


Max Reinhart
– pic via Jason Kurylo


The Calgary Flames announced their final 23 man roster Monday, sending four more to the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.

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The 31 players cut over the past few weeks will either head to Abbotsford for the beginning of training camp there, or return to their respective CHL junior clubs for the balance of that season. So what lays ahead for these 34 young men as their NHL dream is – for now – postponed?

We’ll also look at the Flames starting roster and discuss the potential line combos to open the season.

Junior Kids

Emile Poirier

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One of the pleasant surprises this year, Poirier played – by all accounts – consistently well throughout his time at camp and made a serious case to stay beyond this round of cuts. The fact of the matter is however, with no real chance to stick with the big club and the QMJHL season already underway, returning Poirier to Gatineau so he didn’t miss anymore action was good asset management. I’m sure Poirier didn’t really have an expectation of making the team (unlike guys who’s names start with Sean and end with Monahan).

Poirier returns to a Gatineau Olympiques team that could makes noise again this year following a second round exit at the hands of the powerhouse Halifax Mooseheads last year. Poirier will be a counted contributor in both the offensive and defensive departments in 2013/14 and – barring injury – look for him to improve on his 32 goal, 70 point performance last year. With a solid start, Poirier could see himself invited to the Canadian World Junior Selection Camp in December and could have a nice shot at stealing a bottom six role. He was also named an alternate captain.
Morgan Klimchuck

Didn’t get to hit the ice at camp due to an injury suffered at Regina Pats camp just prior to Flames camp, so no surprise he was sent back to junior. Even if he had partaken in training camp, his chances to crack the main roster – like Poirier’s – would’ve been slim to none.

The similarities to Poirier continue for Kilmchuck, as he too will be counted on heavily to both score and prevent goals against for his club. He’s one of the only pure goal scorers on a very thin Regina Pats team. An improvement on his 36 goal, 76 point 2012/13 season is not out of the question, but due to the calibre of his team, shouldn’t be expected.

Despite not garnering an invite to the Summer Evaluation Camp, Klimchuck could still see himself partaking in the final selection camp for Canada ahead of the 2014 World Juniors this December and possibly coming away with a spot on the team. He would need a strong start to the season as well as a good selection camp to do so, but it’s not out of the question.
Eric Roy

Same situation as Klimchuck in terms of his inability to participate in camp due to an injury, so no surprise he was on his way back to Brandon of the WHL with the first wave.

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Roy will be one of Brandon’s top defensemen again this year and could see himself reunited with Islanders draft pick and fellow offensive stud, Ryan Pulock. While the offense is likely to come along, it’s a significant improvement on the defensive side of the puck that will be looked for from Roy this coming year. Ironically, the rearguard struggles with the very concept his position is named after – defence – and strides in that area of the game would be a big stride in his development.
Ryan Culkin

Probably disappointed that he’ll need spend another year with Quebec in the QMJHL -being named captain will probably soften that blow, the AHL eligible Culkin just did not show enough in his time in camp to warrant an assignment to Abbotsford.
 Culkin will again be a big time contributor for Quebec on the blue line in ever facet of the game and could be among the highest scoring defensemen in the Q this year. He is not eligible for the World Junior’s this year.
Coda Gordon

The former 6th Round Pick’s chances of making the team were hovering around zero to begin with so getting him to junior in time for the start of that regular season was optimal.

Good thing they too, Gordon opened the year with a goal and two assists and is wearing a letter this year. Scoring lots of points could be a common theme for him this year and much like every single Flames prospect in junior this year, will be relied upon heavily to carry his team.
Brett Kulak

Wasn’t going to make the team, so shipping him back to junior with the first round of cuts in time for the start of the WHL year was rudimentary.

The Vancouver Giants sucked last year. Big time. They got – as reward for sucking – the first overall pick and selected Edmonton phenom Tyler Benson who promises to be a stud. While he won’t be with the team this year, they did make some good young pickups last year as they were selling off everything they had of value – except Kulak – and those pieces will probably take a step forward this year, propelling the Giants out of the WHL’s basement. How good they’ll be is yet to be seen, but they shouldn’t suck as bad as they last year and Kulak will oversee the whole thing as the teams best defensemen. He played a ton last year and not much should change this time around.
Keegan Kanzig

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Kanzig, otherwise known as teachers pet, became a management favourite at camp and although it was obvious he didn’t belong and had no real shot at the final roster, was kept around nonetheless so that the coaching and athletic staff could work with him and set training goals for the upcoming season. His skating obviously needs work and will be a focus point no doubt for him this year in Victoria (WHL). One interesting note, Kanzig was apparently tasked to add on more fat (he’s currently at a staggering 7%) to his already monstrous 240 pound frame for in game energy purposes.

He’ll be a leader on what should be a decent Royals club but expecting good offensive numbers would be foolish. He’ll break some faces though. Is there an NHLE for fights?

Farm Boys

Carter Bancks

I thought he had a shot at a fourth line role, but so did a bunch of others and he just got outplayed. He’ll go back to Abby, wear a letter, score some goals with that wicked shot of his, and maybe earn an NHL deal and a call up later in the season (he’s on an AHL only deal at the moment).
Laurent Brossoit

Wasn’t given a shot to even strut his stuff at the NHL level so this no surprise. He’ll head to Heat training camp and battle Ortio and whoever else comes down next for the starting job. More likely than not, he’ll be in Alaska (ECHL) to start the year.
Joni Ortio

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Unlike Brossoit, he got some quantifiable minutes but proved he’s nowhere near ready for the show. Like Brossoit, he’ll partake in Heat camp and try and battle for one of the two jobs available there. Chances are, he’ll stick but there’s always the possibility he gets outdueled and finds himself either in Alaska, or back in Finland.
Paul Byron

Looked awful when I saw him play early in camp so good riddance. I have no personal beef with Byron but the fact that he and Butler were all the Flames got for Regher – who netted the Sabres two (!!!) second rounder’s this past trade deadline – makes me sour. His time his running out with the Flames organization and he’ll need a solid year in the AHL to warrant a contract extension at the end of the year.
Tyler Wotherspoon

Wasn’t given much of a chance at camp but no matter because starting off in the AHL is undoubtedly the right move for the 20 year old. For a guy who’s known as more of a shutdown defenseman, I’m interested in seeing how he does against men, this year.
Patrick Sieloff

For guy that wasn’t cracking the opening day roster they did keep him around mighty long time. Like Kanzig, the Flames probably wanted him around the NHL team for a little longer. Like Wotherspoon, I’m curious to see how he does defending against men this year in Abbotsford and by the sounds of it, we’ll be seeing him in Calgary at some point. Sieloff is a lock to make the USA’s World Junior team and could even captain the squad.

John Ramage

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Unlike the two guys above, Ramage hasn’t been defending against teenagers the past few years, so the jump to the AHL shouldn’t be quite as big for him; playing in college gave him the benefit of skating against bigger and stronger competition. (Note to Kent: did I used the ";" right?) He showed well at both prospect camp and main camp so we could possibly see him in Calgary this season if he performs well with the Heat.

Mark Cundari

He can be considered something of vet in the AHL by now but Mark Cundari will at least start the year with Abbotsford. I personally thought he had a good shot at cracking the opening day roster but by all accounts was not good in his preseason appearances, so being in the first round of cuts I suppose wasn’t a huge surprise. Hopefully he’s approaching Heat camp with a positive attitude and will be one of the first players called up.

Blair Jones

I really like Jones as a fourth line center, he’s big, fast, can win face-offs and his hands aren’t completely of stone. I was surprised when they sent him down last year but obviously management has their reasons. It looks like he was beat out by Ben Street at camp and I don’t know if he’ll get a call up this year.

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Roman Horak

I liked him at camp and I think he was squeezed out simply by the numbers game. He’ll be back, there’s little doubt in my mind about that. Horak has decent puck skills and is a smooth skater – he just needs to have a bit more impact more conistently to make the jump.

Josh Jooris

What a pleasant surprise this kid was at camp. Hard worker, great shot and good all around game. He’ll head to Abby to start his pro career (played college the last three years) and could secure a bottom six spot there. If there ever opens up a spot on the energy line in Calgary, Jooris will be knocking on the door for a call up.

Chad Billins

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Was by all accounts pretty solid at camp and he’ll be relied on to contribute on what promises to be a very young blue line in Abbotsford. Could see a call up later in the year.

Corban Knight

Everyone guaranteed Knight’s spot on the team when he was acquired in June, but after seeing him play it became clear he needs some time to adjust to the pro game. He’ll jostle for a top 9 spot in Abbotsford and it likely we’ll see him in Calgary this year – unless he struggles majorly to kick off the year.

Michael Ferland

Jay Feaster loved Ferland’s camp and progression, saying he’s "leaps and bounds" from where he was even at the Memorial Cup this summer, let alone where he was at the start of last year. Feaster also said Ferland is a guy we could see in Calgary this year but for a guy who had a false start to his pro career the first time around (spent some time in the AHL and ECHL last year before being returned to junior), I’d just be happy with a full pro season from Ferland.

Max Reinhart

Had an OK camp, but apparently his defensive zone play needs work (which surprised me because I thought being responsible defensively was a staple of Reinhart’s). A good start to the year in Abby could see him earn a call up this year – but with three other solid prospects at center in Abbotsford (Knight, Horak, Granlund), Max will have to stand out in a big way to separate himself from the group.

Markus Granlund

A great rookie tournament led to speculation Granlund could push for an opening day roster spot, but it became clear early in camp that some time in the AHL to acclimate to the North American game would be good for him. I’m curious to see what he does with a young supporting cast this year with the Heat.

Ben Hanowski

Hanowski is still too slow and hopefully a full season in Abbotsford will go along way in addressing that issue. Like most of the guys heading to the AHL, Hanowski has a shot at a call up sometime during the season but at this point there are number of guys I have ahead of him in that respect.

Zach McKelvie, James Martin, Brady Lamb, Steve Begin, David Eddy, Brett Olson, Greg Nemisz

I grouped them all together because they all fall into the "There were much better players ahead of them on the depth chart and they’ll probably end up as AHLers" category. Interesting note though, McKelvie apparently came into camp in excellent shape which is great because the young guys in Abbotsford this year can maybe rub off on his training and commitment to fitness.

Greg Nemisz didn’t even survive the first round of cuts. He’s on his second contract with the club and at 23 years old isn’t really a prospect of note anymore.

Final Roster

The final 23 man roster looks like this:

 Joey MacDonald
 Karri Ramo

 T.J. Brodie
 Chris Butler
 Mark Giordano
 Shane O’Brien
 Kris Russell
 Derek Smith
 Dennis Wideman

 Mikael Backlund
 Sven Baertschi
 Lance Bouma
 Joe Colborne
 TJ Galiardi
 Curtis Glencross
 Jiri Hudler
 Tim Jackman
 David Jones
 Brian McGrattan
 Sean Monahan
 Matt Stajan
 Lee Stempniak
 Ben Street
Chris Breen
Michael Cammalleri

Note – Chris Breen might hang around as a 8th defenseman once he heals up, in part because he would have to pass through waivers to be re-assigned to the AHL. He’ll get a conditioning stint in the AHL when he’s 100%, but then management will have to make a decision, mostly based on whether they think he’ll be scooped by another team on the waiver wire or not.

Potential Lines

Here’ show things may shape up to start the season:

  • Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
  • Baertschi – Backlund – Hudler
  • Galiardi – Monahan – Jones
  • Bouma – Colborne – Jackman
  • Brodie – Giordano
  • Wideman – Russell
  • Butler – O’ Brien
  • Ramo
  • MacDonald

Share your own observations and line combos in the comments.

Recently Around FlamesNation

      • RexLibris

        This courtesy of LTs blog and Gerta Rauss, frequent commenter there, as per the CBA

        When a Club claims a Player on Regular or Unconditional Waivers, and, subsequently,
        in the same season it requests Waivers on the same Player and the original owning Club is the successful and only Club making a Waiver claim, then the original owning Club shall be entitled to Loan such Player to a club in another league within thirty days without further Waivers being asked; provided that such Player has not participated in ten or more NHL Games (cumulative) and remained on an NHL roster more than thirty days (cumulative) following such successful claim.”


        “ARTICLE 13 13.14-13.16

        (b) A Player who is placed on Waivers by his Club may request permission from his Club to contact other Clubs during the applicable Waiver period to discuss such other Clubs’ level of potential interest in the Player’s services. The Club may decline such request in its sole discretion. If such permission is granted, it must be evidenced in writing from the Club, with a copy to Central Registry and the NHLPA, all in accordance with Exhibit 3 hereof. ”

      • EugeneV

        A player may be loaned to a club of another league if (a) he’s already been through waivers during the current waiver period and (b) the Player has not played in 10 or more NHL Games since the last time he went through waivers, and (c) more than 30 days have not passed since the last time he went through waivers.

  • everton fc

    I’m slightly surprised Smith cleared waivers. Ditto B. Jones.

    This is a good report. Well done. I think Begin is eitehr going to get a call-up at some point, or be molded into a coach, down in Abby.

    I’d like to see Breen get a shot, over Butler. Perhaps Butler goes, and we hold onto Smith and Breen. But that looks unlikely at this point.

    If Monahan is sent back to Junior, which I’m beginning to doubt these days, Horak would slot into that 3rd line nicely, me thinks. And I think we’ll get more out of D. Jones than many here expect.

    All that said, the opening day roster lies on the cusp of expansion-level. To me, Russell’s a 5/6 d-man, at best. Butler and O’Brien scare me a bit.

  • CDB

    Interesting note on Cundari. I also expected him to challenge for a spot, especially with the strong finish he had last year. Figured he must have had a poor camp or something to get cut so quickly.

  • RexLibris

    Russell is playing way too high in that rotation.

    The first line is one in name only, but it is well-manned with sacrificial lambs and those who can give and take a proverbial punch in the face in the NHL. Out of this roster I can’t think of any three I’d be more likely to put there. God bless them, it is going to be a long year.

    The second line of Baertschi, Backlund and Hudler looks like it is where it ought to be (once Baertschi gets those sideburns trimmed). Solid second line and perhaps one of the more effective ones when Hartley gets his preferred matchups.

    The third line is interesting. Were Cammalleri healthy this is where I’d slot him so that Monahan had a veteran voice on his wing, but at least with Galiardi he has some muscle and faceoff backup. Not great, and after nine games we’ll reassess, but it would be best for him if Cammalleri could get back in sooner rather than later.

    The fourth line looks like it will be where the Flames scoring chances go to die. Colborne is an unknown factor in the equation so he could surprise but he’s had a serious injury at a young age and those things don’t usually play out well. While I like Jackman’s effort and edge he isn’t enough to raise this group above the average. Bouma has a chance here and we’ll see what he can do, but he’s going to have to keep things simple and communicate otherwise desperation and willingness to impress could result in a lot of chances against.

    Brodie and Giordano are a good pairing.

    Wideman and Russell together seems like pairing like with like, not sure there is a strong defensive option there, but it could also help with the breakouts and keep the puck on Flames sticks.

    Butler and O’Brien. Interesting.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    A few things:

    – I personally find it hard to believe a second line of Baertschi, Backlund, Hudler will play together with the comments coming from hockey ops. There is no ‘bite’ on that line. My own view is it’s worth a shot to try that skill together but I think the team wants a size element on each line. To that end, I think Baertschi likes Galiardi’s game and can read off TJ’s down low, board game. This may sound crazy but Sven reminds me of a younger Joe Sakic. I’m not saying they the same, or have same ceilings. Sven just moves on the ice like Sakic. They both are adept at shooting and playmaking (to differing degrees). Sven could learn a lot watching how Joe played and carried himself.

    -In almost all preseason games, I think Knight didn’t feature much at his natural centre (he perhaps did at scrimmages) position. In the last preseason game against PHX he was great, scored, created with Sven (right handed centre + Sven = lots of touches for 47) and was strong on draws. Essentially, Corban was awesome so I kind of disagree with it being apparent he needs a lot of seasoning. He needs to play his best position and he will be a very good player. I had been unimpressed with Knight until he played with good players at centre.

    -My money is actually on Kanzig making the show for his hockey abilities. He’ll fight but it will be an added bonus. This is a farm boy who knows what hard work really is (witnessed by his bodyfat and working out). I think he’s going to do the work and improve.

    -The college guys like Arnold, Gillies, Gaudreau, Agostino and Jankowski(?) are even more legit prospect talent. They were outstanding and stood out against the guys in dev camp who eventually stood out at Penticton, and preseason who have been listed above. Burke didn’t see those guys. How flush is Calgary?!? Big strong centres, goalie depth, high skill on the wing and some nastiness.

    -A Ferland and Gaudreau combo would be sweet to see (hopefully one can play the right side).

    Calgary is going to be good. Sooner rather than later. I just see it. However, if the results are hard to come by for 2 years the draft picks might bring the elite dimension to the team.

    Calgary’s needs from a prospect pov are the d corp and RW. However, I really hope we draft those spots rather than trade a kid for another kid. I really, really like the prospects.

    If Ferland and Bouma can become essentially the McGrattan and Jackman (meaning bring the enforcer element to their already good games) the Flames have a lot of prospects to make a team with 4 lines that can score. Throw in Kanzig on the backend (again I think he becomes a legit player who can also fight) and this team could be dangerous…Obviously best case scenarios and not everyone turns out.

    No Crosbys but maybe just good players. A lot of them. That won’t cost $8M/yr.

    To cop a phrase the hockey ops guys use, I’m very bullish on the Flames’ future.

    • piscera.infada

      Sven just doesn’t have the compete to come near to Sakic, at least at this early point in his career. I think this is what Burke was trying to get through to him – and by extension to us, the fans. I really like what Feaster had to say regarding his comments regarding Burke on Baertschi. I firmly believe the organization sees something great in the kid, but it’s up to him to become more than a one dimensional player.

      That, I think is the Flames plan in this rebuild – create a team with multidimensional talent – and it’s something I’m entirely behind. While you need players to score to win in this league, I’m constantly weary about teams that hang their hat on a few offensive guys, and then try and round out the rest of their team game with additions down the road. So, while I agree with gathering elite skill, the ownness should be on all our prospects to develop offensive skill coupled with compete, drive, defensive responsibility, and a good transition game.

      Regarding Knight: he’ll be back sooner than later, I think they just want to see if his trajectory in the AHL is more similar to what we saw at the end of training camp, instead of what we saw at the beginning. I said it then, but I think it was an adjustment thing with Corban – he’ll be back soon.

      • Jeff Lebowski

        Yeah I’m not meaning to equate Sven and Joe as finished products. He just looks like Sakic on the ice to me. Sakic was quick and stealthy AND consistently a hard worker. Sven is quick and stealthy right now.

        Burke’s comments about Sven were really good I think. He wasn’t here when Sven had the emergency call up. He hasn’t been influenced by that…the internal expectations Feaster talked about.

        Feaster-Weisbrod-Conroy-Button are the ‘we love you’ guys. Burke is the ‘you aint $hit yet’ guy. I kind of like that dynamic to balance things out and push the kids.

        • piscera.infada

          I agree. But, I also agree with Feaster’s assessment that he wishes he wouldn’t have called Sven up at that point. After that undue expectations abound, from everywhere, including himself. I think it’s positive that the organization has someone to “tell it like it is” – especially in a case where everyone fell head-over-heels in love with the guy so early.

      • the forgotten man

        See, I am OK with 2-3 one dimensional forwards who actually are naturally gifted and have a sniper mentality…on teams who have actual good coaching, they play their best defenceman when the snipers are out scoring to balance things out.
        This team has not had a true sniper in their lineup since Fleury bolted town – Joe Mullen and Hakan Loob were not “multi-dimensional” – they just put puck in the nets – contrary to some popular belief, that is how championships are won and an added bonus is that fans pay $100+ a ticket per game to see snipers score…not to watch Mikael Backlund backcheck or support the defensive zone.
        We as a Flames fanbase have been so bereft/starved of Offensive Talent in this city for so long that we have actually forgotten how good it is to have it.
        Multi dimensional player is BS code for “we have no gifted offensive talent”

        • piscera.infada

          I’m not saying we need to convert Baertschi into Cal Clutterbuck. However, asking for players to develop in more than one zone is not BS code for anything. It’s difficult to score with regularity if you’re constantly hemmed in your own zone, or hemorrhaging goals at the other end when you’re on the ice. Again, I’m not saying make Sven a defensive dynamo, but I’ve yet to see him do much in terms of transition ability (yes, the Flames have been bad in transition for years – so maybe it’s part and parcel of that).

          I just don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect or want more from a hopeful “franchise-guy” than 25 goals and 65-70 points.

          Look at the names that are signed for similar money as Kessel, with his shiney new contract. They all bring something more than what Kessel does – which is just offense. So I guess we differ in opinion, but I just don’t see the point of having a guy who takes shifts off, unless he has an opportunity to score.

          I’m not saying Baertschi is a lost cause by any means – I think he’ll get it. It’s just not ludicrous to ask for more.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Lines are basically as i would have them with Cammy out of the lineup, although I would tinker with the 2nd and 3rd forward lines a bit. I think the 2nd line you have there is too small/soft, and therefore would adjust it as follows:


    Baer-Backs-D. Jones



  • everton fc

    @Jeff Lebowski

    Ferland’s much more than a face-puncher. He’s a power forward in the making. In fact, at the AHL level, he probably is a power forward already, though time will tell. Sooner than later.

    I see Ferland’s ceiling as 2nd/3rd line. I mean it. He has wheels, he’s big, good hands, moves well without the puch, will go to areas others won’t. Unafraid. Remember, he took up the game much later than our other prospects. Look how far he’s come on raw talent and determination alone. And he’ll forever stick up for his teammates.

    • SmellOfVictory

      My hope for Ferland is Lucic 2.0 (maybe faster?). I don’t think that’s an unrealistic ceiling, although I don’t know what his chances are of reaching it.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      I totally agree. I wasn’t inferring Ferland will top out like a Jackman or McGrattan. I meant with the game you aptly described he has, he will play top minutes while at the same time filling out the stand up for teammates requirements. To give Gaudreau that security will be HUGE.

      The result is 4 lines that can score without sacrificing the toughness/intimidation.

  • everton fc

    1) BOTH were better than expected. Given their games, you want Sieloff against men and Kanzig as well if it wasn’t for junior rules.
    2) Given where Kanzig was drafted and the gap in draft picks on either side he SHOULD BE A PROJECT. (Teacher’s pet was flippant). Physical attributes and body fat and attitude last few weeks – if the Flames weren’t spending time keeping him up longer I would be OUTRAGED. Who says he couldn’t be the next Chara?!
    3) NOW we see player development strategies post Sutter.

  • ChinookArchYYC


    Thanks for the update. With all of the changes, and number of actual prospects in the pipeline, I was getting confused.

    Any idea what the Heat’s likelihood for success is this season?

    • Christian Roatis

      To me, it comes down to how they mesh as a team. It’s a very young and inexperienced squad no doubt, but there is skill and talent there. If they can buy into a system and mesh as a team, I think they could be decent. They’ll be one of the biggest wild cards this year no doubt – very difficult to predict.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    With regards to Hanowski. He improved immensely over 1 summer. I’m not saying he’s a lock to make it to the show but he’s not terrible.

    With him, whichever league he ultimately has a career in, I think he will be a relatively productive player. It’s his shot and size that are his ticket. I mean how much faster can a guy get?

    If he has the IQ he can get to right area at right time and fire his laser of a shot. He doesn’t need to be blazing fast to even have a chance. Experience plus fighting to give him space would benefit him IMO. Not sure if the fighting part is in him and I don’t mean be a goon. Just drop em from time to time so guys think twice about engaging him around the net.