News and Notes – January 19 2014

As we all decompress from the wild show that was last night’s 3-2 shootout loss in Vancouver, and prepare for the Flames to clash with a very impressive San Jose Sharks club, why not take a quick glance at what’s going on around these parts.

FLAMES ROSTER MOVES

The Flames are gradually getting healthier, albeit slowly. Blair Jones made his triumphant return to the line-up after a meniscal tear (and surgery) with a two-second performance last night. To make room for Jones, David Jones was placed on the injured reserve with an eye infection that just won’t go away.

The club also announced today that Derek Smith is returning to the AHL. Smith cleared waivers way back on December 9, but because he spent "only" 29 days in the NHL since then (and didn’t play in 10 games), he can head back to the farm without waivers. Smith’s assignment leaves the big club with 22 "active" bodies (2 goalies, 6 defensemen and 14 forwards), although that’s counting Mike Cammalleri, who’s recovering from a concussion. But that also probably indicates that Kris Russell, who was injured last month in Pittsburgh, is probably due back imminently.

Curtis Glencross, David Jones and Kris Russell remain on the IR officially as of this writing.

HEAT ROSTER MOVES

Smith’s return comes at a great time for the Abbotsford Heat, as they got some bad injury news this week.

First off, former Flames veteran Steve Begin announced his retirement. Originally signed to an AHL deal for this season after a surprisingly good comeback season with the Flames last year, Begin suffered a recurrance of an old hip injury. Yes, the same injury that cost him an entire season just two years ago. It’s not surprising that Begin is retiring, but it’s definitely disappointing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s kept on by the organization in some capacity (coaching, perhaps), as he’s whip-smart and a good mentor for the younger players.

Second, the Flames also announced that second-year pro Michael Ferland will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Ferland had some legal troubles last year, and also got caught in the lockout’s roster shuffle – spending time in Abbotsford and Utah before getting sent back to the WHL. He had a pretty good training camp, was reportedly in great shape and got off to a great start. So naturally, because the hockey gods are fickle, his season is cut short. Here’s hoping he has a full recovery and has better luck in 2014-15, because with his size and playing style, he could do well in the Burke regime.

With these losses and other injuries, the Heat forward ranks are a bit thin, but at least they’re getting defensive help with the return of Smith and Patrick Sieloff soon to be back from his lengthy injury.

CAN THE FLAMES FALL TO THE BOTTOM?

The Flames sit third-last in the NHL heading into the week. They have 39 points and have 33 games to go. The Edmonton Oilers are 3 points behind Calgary and have 31 games left. The Buffalo Sabres are 6 points behind Calgary and have 35 games left.

The Flames have the deck stacked a bit against being caught by the teams "chasing" them, though. The Flames’ remaining schedule is against teams with a combined .564 points percentage – the Oilers face .579 opposition while Buffalo faces at .592 points percentage – so they face the weakest competition, on-paper. The Sabres also have seven sets of back-to-back games left, while Calgary and Edmonton have just four apiece.

That’s not to say things won’t get worse for the Flames. Calgary’s the only one of the three teams that may embark upon a wholesale fire-sale at the deadline, although Buffalo trading Ryan Miller may drag them down further into the cellar, if they do it.

If these numbers bear out, and that’s no guarantee, they may have to settle for drafting third overall in June and missing out on Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad.

  • Lordmork

    Always disappointing to see a player, especially a younger player, impacted by injury. Here’s hoping Ferland recovers well and is ready to go next year, and that Begin finds a place that suits his talents.

  • Burnward

    Hopefully Ferland recovers as well from his injury/surgery as Bouma has. Sieloff’s health and lack of development because of it is a major concern for this organization and why they may need to keep some of their AHL defencemen around longer than management may want, it may also create a need to draft for position not BPA in the later rounds. The other alternative will be adding from the UFA list. There is still a chance that we could get either Rhino or Ekblad at three as there does seem to be an overall agreement on who is the top prospect. However I doubt that the Oilers would pass on Ekbald if he is still available. Who are the top ranked defensemen in this draft and how do they stack up against the draft or 2 years ago that if I recall was loaded with NHL type defencemen.

  • RexLibris

    Not certain about that last point – that the Flames are likely to sell off more than either Edmonton or Buffalo.

    The Flames have Cammalleri, Stajan, Stempniak, Westgarth, B. Jones, Butler and Russell as expiring UFAs. Seven, leaving aside Reto Berra.

    The Oilers have Hemsky, Smyth, R. Jones, N. Schultz, Belov, Potter, Bryzgalov as expiring UFAs. Seven as well, leaving aside Ben Scrivens.

    The Sabres have Moulson, Ott, Konopka, McCormick, Scott, Omark, D’Agostini, Porter, Tallinder, Sulzer and Miller as expiring UFAs. Eleven in all.

    The Flames and Oilers have what I would call comparable levels of player impact likely to move at the deadline.

    The Flames can expect to see Glencross return to the lineup sometime around the deadline.

    The Sabres could potentially gut their roster by early March leaving them with the worst roster since the ’09-’10 Oilers.

    By April, the Flames could well have the 3rd overall selection, giving them a 14.2% chance of winning the lottery and moving up to 1st overall, a 43.8% chance of remaining where they are, and a 42% chance of drafting 4th overall.

    My money is in the Flames finishing the year where they are now in the standings.

  • T&A4Flames

    It’s funny how everyone still thinks in order to grab Ekblad or Reinhart we have to pick top 2. NHL central scouting dropped them down to #3and #4 respectively. Although ISS still ranks them 1&2. I guess we don’t put much worth into the NHLCS.

    That said, beyond getting 1 of those 2, I would not mind at all trading down. The quality of player seems pretty balanced throughout; no real superstars but some good quality. Heck, I don’t think I would even be too upset if the pick was used as a trade chip depending on the return.

  • beloch

    Wideman’s been fantastic this season. Trading him now would definitely be selling high, but the Flames are going to have real problems without him on their blue-line. The return would likely be very high impact.

  • Burnward

    Anyone else think it’s hilarious that people legitimately believe that McGratton would have jumped a Sedin a la John Scott on Kessel?

    They have no clue about that man. If there’s someone that owns the “code” it is him.

    • RedMan

      I know… how often have we all just wished for once he would pummel some idiot for taking liberties with our guys, but he won’t touch em, cause they aren’t in his weight class. grrrrr