FGD: Final Exams

 

 

If the last few weeks have been a course on how to make an NHL roster, tonight’s the final exam. After two (or three, for the kids) weeks of camp, the Flames play their final pre-season contest this evening. It’s at 7pm and brought to you by our friends at Sportsnet 960 The Fan AND on TV via TSN.

Excitement abounds, as players on the NHL fringes will try to stay there or get there, depending on their perspective.

THE LINE-UP

Calgary is 4-2-0 in the pre-season and hoping to finish with a flourish. Courtesy the Flames, here’s their lines for this evening.
 

  • Glencross – Monahan – Stempniak
  • Backlund – Galiardi – David Jones
  • Baertschi – Stajan – Street
  • Bouma – Knight – Jackman
  • Brodie – Giordano
  • Wideman – Russell
  • Butler – O’Brien
  • Berra
  • MacDonald

The Flames site didn’t say MacDonald would be backing Berra up, I’m just assuming. Lots of storylines here. Can Ben Street impress? Can Corban Knight cement a spot? Can Chris Butler stay in the NHL? Can Reto Berra impress enough to supplant either of Ramo or MacDonald?
 
Most interesting are guys that aren’t dressing tonight: Cammalleri (injured), Hudler (injured), Granlund (injured), Begin (injured), Ferland (injured), Reinhart, Horak, Blair Jones, Jooris, Kanzig, Wotherspoon, Ramage and Sieloff. Just as this was about to be piublished, the Flames announced that Granlund, Billins, Jooris, Ramage, Wotherspoon and Begin have been assigned to the AHL. That leaves Monahan, Knight, Baertschi, Smith, Street, Ferland, Bouma, Kanzig and Berra as the notable remaining "bubble" players.

Some familiar combinations include the Stajan line and Giordano/Brodie on the back-end. It looks like Bob Hartley is prepared to start the year off with those combos in place. Lines updated! It’s pre-season for us too.

Interesting to see Monahan get a turn at the top of the rotation. I can only assume the Galiradi at center instead of Backlund is a mad hatter kind of experiment, because moving your best possession pivot to the wing so you can try out a career bottom-six winger there instead is, uh…
 
The Flames will likely bring cuts down more cuts on Thursday. Jay Feaster mentioned yesterday that some guys that will require waivers to go down will be sent later on, so expect an absolute flurry of roster moves between today and Monday afternoon, when rosters have to be finalized.

THE OPPOSITION

The Coyotes are down to 28 bodies on their roster now, but they have had an uneven four pre-season contests. In two of them, they were involved in close games. They were also lit up like a pinball machine in the other two games, so it’s hard to know what to expect from them. Pat Steinberg reports that the line-up will look something like this:

  • Boedker – Ribeiro – Doan
  • Korpikoski – Hanzal – Vrbata
  • Bissonnette – Chipchura – Szwarz
  • Lessio – Vermette – Brown
  • Ekman-Larsson – Rundblad
  • Yandle – Stone
  • Michalek – Summers

 
Tippett’s crew features all of their top-6 players. Goalies should be former Sharks netminder Thomas Greiss and incumbent Mike Smith, who’s pretty good, I guess.
 
After tonight, the Coyotes finish their pre-season at home against Vancouver.

SUM IT UP

Pre-season is almost over and the axe is about to fall on 13 prospective future Flames. Tonight’s the last chance for some of them to stake their claim to an NHL roster spots.

    • There’s nothing wrong with Baertschi. He’s a 21 year old dude with some rough edges to his game who is facing overly high expectations.

      Sven’s got great skill, but he still roams a bit too much and tries to make something happen a bit too often because he was so far ahead of the curve in junior so he got away with it. There’s a lot of growth that needs to occur.

      We shouldn’t take the pre-season too seriously. It’s a small amount of games in not at all normal circumstances. If Sven is 40 games in and still looking like a 19 year old rookie, then we can talk about what’s wrong with him I’d say.

    • piscera.infada

      I’m not sure there’s an answer to that, as far as a fan’s perspective. That said, I still think he sticks in the show this year.

      I’m not ready to give up on the kid as of yet – he still needs to grow and find his game. Is it that the acceptance of the rebuild has worn off already that is making people panic? For christ sake, he’s a kid. He’s shown flashes, and really, what more do you want? (Not ‘you’ directly, the royal ‘you’).

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Although giving Monahan the first 9 games is probably what is going to happen, I would like to see something different:

    -Give him some number of consecutive games (either 4 or 5) before the WJC camp and games (Yes, he plays in WJC regardless).

    -Give him the remainder of the 9 (5 or 4) after the WJC.

    That may mean at the start of season he goes to junior, then plays his pre tournament NHL games leading into WJC (hope that makes sense).

    You get to assess him as he plays NHL games in the beginning (how does he do) in an elite junior tournament (how does he do) and in post tournament NHL games (how does he do)

    This way you can see where (junior or NHL) his game elevates the most. And it’s relative ie compared to the competition he’s facing in those three different scenarios.

    If for example he does OK in the pre WJC NHL games, then his game skyrockets during WJC and finally he’s able to sustain that lift in post tournament NHL games (compared to pre WJC- he improves) keep him in the show.

    If he is just night and day better against juniors (He’s making plays he’s never made before and never in all the scrimmages, preseason etc) then obviously send him back.

    You give him the pre WJC NHL games to force an increase in tempo leading into camp and to baseline against post WJC NHL games.

    Honestly, I don’t think his game will look that much different. He just plays effective and direct.

    I think some people need to see the obvious speed, or end to end rush. The ‘transcendental’ talent. Why is that required to play (and play really well) in the show as a rookie? Can’t you just be a really effective 2-way pivot? I hate to drone on but Monahan makes plays that 3 passes later turn into goals. He gets no credit, but the goal wouldn’t have happened without him. He makes them in his zone, the neutral zone or offensive zone.

    I could say a lot more about him but I’ve already said it. I’m really rooting for him to prove he belongs with the Flames now and in the future. But I do want what’s best for his growth.

    To me, this year the Flames are an incubator (not for premature kids either). The vets are going to play hard and surprise, etc and all the public comments, yada yada yada. I think their REAL job is to make sure the young guys are feeling comfortable on the ice. Yeah, that means scrap if someone pushes the kids around. Also take on the heavy lifting minutes. Just look at the contracts.

    It’s not, how will the kids help the Flames. It’s more, how will the Flames (the NHL team -Gio, Cammy etc, not the organization – Ron Sutter, Ward etc) help the young kids. Completely different paradigm.

  • SoCalFlamesFan

    @BurningSensation

    I don’t believe Kanzig’s actually “still in the mix”. He hasn’t played in the last two preseason games. I would assume he goes back to Victoria this year, but seeing as their season’s already started, why not keep him in the pro environment (training, practicing, system work) while they can? It will only help him further his development.

    I agree but I have read in some early reports (that I can’t remember where now) that Kanzig might not be getting top quality coaching (being used exclusively as a goon) and the flames are making a special case to give their “project” all the teaching and experience he can get. I have been impressed with Kanzig and if his skating progresses with a good skating coach and some technical, positional etc coaching he may make the NHL in a few.

    • McRib

      I agree with almost everything you said other than the rumoured reports of Kanzig not receiving top coaching… That seems like major hearsay!!

      Because I don’t think the Flames draft Kanzig if Dave Lowry (former Flames Captain) wasn’t his coach in Victoria. They would never have drafted him that high I can guarantee you without a doubt if it wasn’t for Lowry’s recommendation. I just think its more of a “what better way to help a weak skater improve than practicing agaisnt the speed of the pros” type situation.

  • icedawg_42

    Just so everyone is aware those lines up there aren’t proper. These are the lines. Glencross stajan stempniak. Backlund monahan d jones. Baertschi knight street. Bouma galliardi jackman

  • BurningSensation

    @ Kent

    Hockey Writers has posted a case for Monahan to stay up;

    http://thehockeywriters.com/case-sean-monahan/

    The upshot of which is; ‘development in a pro atmosphere will develop a pro’

    Not a bad argument all things considered. I’ve said all along that the best place for Monahan is where he can play and have success. If that place is the NHL, then ELC be damned he should stay. If he can’t play at the NHL level, then he should go back.

    I think there is a not insignificant possibility that he makes the team as a top 6 forward. I say this because I think he could be that good, and because the team is that thin at center, and for the other skills he possesses; face offs, defensive play, etc.

    As a side note, how awesome is that Killdozer Kanzig is still in the mix?!

    • Eh, that doesn’t strike me as all that cogent an argument. It’s more of a theory which can’t really be checked against facts. For every Sam Gagner, which she cites (and I would argue Sam Gagner was needlessly rushed to the league, frankly) there’s probably two Gilbert Brule’s or Alex Burmistrov’s.

      That said, there are so few players who make the show at 18 that we’re mostly just awash in anecdotes. From a psychological/skills building perspective, the action in the NHL has to be a degree or two above Monahan’s head, but not too difficult, for it to be a worthwhile experience. Judging whether that’s true or not is difficult in a pre-season setting.

      • RexLibris

        I would also add that Sam Gagner has succeeded in spite of the Oilers’ development plans for him between 2007 and 2010.

        He was in the final year of his ELC when Pat Quinn demoted him to the 4th line arguing that he was less of a player than Rob Schremp.

      • SmellOfVictory

        That’s why I consider the whole argument over “rushing” or “under-challenging” prospects from the outside to be incredibly masturbatory. There’s no way for us to properly assess where a player is actually sitting in terms of how they handle things, and no way for us to properly assess how they’d develop in any given environment. We can make post hoc assessments that are probably more correct than incorrect, but even those are generally weak, overall. It’s a whole lot of supposition and conjecture. Conjecture is fun, but people have these ridiculously strong opinions on it with zero real empirical evidence.

        Which I guess is sort of the keystone of sports fandom in a lot of cases, but still…

      • McRib

        But one would argue Gilbert Brule was a bust not because of being rushed into the league, but due to significant family issues back home…. It is my understanding that he and his father no longer communicate the problems were so major. Alex Burmistrov is a Russian who wasn’t willing to put in the effort to be a Top. 6 NHLer and left for the easy money back home.

        Anyway the point I’m getting to is kids like Sean Monahan are too smart and grounded to become busts! Kids that are rushed become busts for a number of reasons (immaturity, undeveloped frames, lopsided skill set, other life focuses, etc). Sean Monahan has none of those issues in my opinion, he can go back and tear up the OHL, but I just don’t see what difference it will make, as he has no red flags like most other prospects. Honestly I would look at someone like Jonathan Drouin needing another year much more than a Sean Monahan. Drouin’s ceiling might be higher, but his game needs more work to adjust to next level.

    • piscera.infada

      I don’t believe Kanzig’s actually “still in the mix”. He hasn’t played in the last two preseason games. I would assume he goes back to Victoria this year, but seeing as their season’s already started, why not keep him in the pro environment (training, practicing, system work) while they can? It will only help him further his development.

      • McRib

        I agree, I think the Flames recognize Kanzig’s potential and by keeping him up for longer they have more time to work on the “elephant in the room” with him first hand…. Major Skating issues, which is smart if they can improve his skating there is something there with him for sure, as he has shown during this camp.

        But by no means do I think the Flames or anyone else expects him to make the club this season. He is not being evaluated he is being groomed in a pro situation. Because lets face it he has pro size and toughness, but nothing else as of yet. I actually like how the Flames are handling Sieloff & Kanzig they are thinking outside of the box which would be refreshing from any NHL team the Flames especially.

  • Sanintarious

    @REX

    I think after the draft/rookie camp/penticton that was just everyones assumption the way they have been talking about him. And now with more conversations during training camp it seems pretty set in stone. He’s been playing really well as well, so it’s not like he doesn’t deserve it.

  • icedawg_42

    The lines you have down are way off. As per Flames website:

    GlenX – Monahan – Stemps
    Backs – Gali – D. Jones
    Baer – Stajan – Street
    Bouma – Knight – Jackman

    Russell – Wideman
    Gio – Brodie
    SOB – Butler

    Berra
    Macdonald

  • Sanintarious

    Just a small update on the lines:

    Glencross Monahan Stemp/
    Backlund Galiardi D.Jones/
    Baertschi Stajan Street/
    Bouma Knight Jackman

    Monahan is getting a chance with the top guys tonight, which is great to see!

    D pairings:

    Brodie Giordano
    Russell Wideman
    O’Brien Butler

    I really hope this is the coaching staff testing Butler….

    Kanzig, and Sieloff are still with the team after today’s cuts…so they must be waiting to see what Butler does before sending these 2 down/back to Juniors….

    Thoughts??

    • mattyc

      I’d guess the D we see tonight is what we’ll see opening night. Interesting someone mentioned Baertschi. I’m also not convinced he’s a lock for the team…

      • icedawg_42

        Re:Sven – the general sentiment on the radio at least, was unless he’s spectacular tonight, his play hasn’t warranted a spot on the big club. I don’t know, like I mentioned I haven’t seen any first hand…but that’s the gist.

          • EugeneV

            So then what IS Baertschi?

            Everyone complains because he played on the 3rd or 4th line last year.

            If Monahan projects as a 2nd line center going forward, where does this leave Baertschi?

            He will never be a 3rd line type player, so he needs to be thrown to the wolves to see exactly what he is, doesn’t he?

            It is now or never for him.

  • RexLibris

    Shall we start the clock on Monahan now?

    Nine games or eight days (season opener)?

    At this rate I wonder if he doesn’t get a few games until Hudler and/or Cammalleri come back, just to test him at the NHL level.