1. Still thinking about Cammalleri
With so little going on in Flames land these days, there’s been a lot of time to kick around some other sites and see what’s being said about Calgary’s club as well. As you might expect, there really isn’t a lot to be said, but one name that’s come up fairly often in the last week or so is Mike Cammalleri’s status as a free agent.
All indications are that he’s going to test the free agent market but is not averse to returning to Calgary, which is a nice thing to say but probably not what’s going to happen in reality. You have to imagine that unless the Flames really blow him away with money or term — and they really have no reason to do either — then he’s better off going to a team that will actually be competitive next season.
The team that comes up more and more often in connection with Cammalleri is, weirdly, Detroit. It’s not weird that the Red Wings would want Cammalleri, mind you, but rather that it’s the fans banging the drum for the acquisition as though they’ve learned nothing at all from the Stephen Weiss debacle, which might be one of the worst contracts in the salary cap era as of right now.
Weiss really did drop off a cliff, and one might have thought that would’ve been enough to put fans off getting 30-plus second-line forwards, which is all Cammalleri would be, but then again they (and a lot of other teams) probably can’t be choosers and beggars both. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes, but moreover what Calgary does to replace him. If they’re really committed to “rebuilding on the fly” — and they seem to be — then they can’t just replace him with nothing, and there’s really not a lot out there. But because of that latter fact, they might be forced to use a rookie or sophomore in his place, because the line to play for Calgary isn’t going to be deep, and why sign a middling free agent for too much money or too many years when you can put a kid who might have earned a bigger role last year there instead?
2. Sam Bennett’s pull-ups
When I read that thing about how Sam Bennett couldn’t complete a single pull-up at the draft combine this weekend, my first thought was, “Well Calgary’s definitely not drafting him now.”
It seems like there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be there at No. 4, and the good news is he only turns 18 a week before the draft, which might portend well for his future development; not a lot of people who spend their entire pre-draft season as a 17-year-old put up 91 points in 57 games for an only-okay team that scored its way to third in the conference. (Think the kid with 91 points helped there? I dunno.)
He’s only six feet tall, and he only weighs 180 pounds, and no he couldn’t do a pull-up that one day, but the arguments in his favor seem to me — as someone who couldn’t watch a ton of OHL games this season — to be about the same as those for Sean Monahan, other than “he’s big.” Bennett had 91 points in just 57 games, plus nine more in seven playoff games, and the next-closest guy on the team in scoring was 21 points behind him. He made that team go.
Not that I’m married to the idea of “The Flames Should Draft Him” because there’s so much chaos in the top 3 that any one of a few guys could be taken, and also because they probably won’t draft a kid that reedy under Burke. But teams are likely to pass on him because of that failed fitness test, and that’s a shame. Not fair to the kid at all.
3. Fare thee well to Coda Gordon
The Flames announced the other day that Coda Gordon, a person whose name you would swear was made up, will have his name go back into the draft this year. He was originally a sixth-round pick in 2012, and did pretty well as a 19-year-old in the WHL this season (26-45-71 in 59 games).
Now, I don’t know anything about this kid. Never saw his Swift Current team play a single game in his career. All I have are the stats and the stats say he was fine. No contract for him, which is fine because he doesn’t look very much like a future contributor at the NHL level, and those are decent enough numbers that he’ll catch on with an ECHL team or something.
But the reason I bring this up is that I don’t really recall seeing this kind of thing happen as much as it used to. Maybe I’m wrong about this, because it’s really hard to verify who has and hasn’t been drafted twice in any manner that’s quick or easy. Pension Plan Puppets did some work with it a few years back and there are a few decent enough names on the list (Craig Anderson, Tim Brent, Matt Lombardi, Jarret Stoll, and Nick Boynton — Boynton is interesting because he’s gotta be the only guy drafted in the first round twice in league history, at No. 9 overall by Washington and then No. 21 by Boston two years later). This was apparently a pretty big thing back in the late 90s and early 2000s. It really must not happen very much any more, huh? Maybe teams are more protective of their assets in general given the way the salary cap has changed things.
4. Quick goalie update (not Jonathan)
I was looking at some stuff about the ECHL championship and saw that Olivier Roy, the Flames prospect who came to the organization in the Ladislav Smid trade, was on the Alaska Aces, who I’d forgotten about (it’s hard to keep track of who’s on what team in the ECHL).
Seems he had a pretty good season for Alaska this year, with a .922 save percentage in 20 games. He’s probably done for the playoffs, having suffered a lower-body injury after just seven appearances, but his EC numbers have always been very good over the last three seasons. Of course, when he’s been called up to the AHL, he has mostly been bad (about .900 this year between Abbotsford and OKC, and .902 in 22 appearances last season), but it’s interesting to me that he’s a little better than Laurent Brossoit at least.
Calgary really does have a pretty decent collection of goaltending prospects in Roy, Jon Gillies, and Joni Ortio. It doesn’t seem all that long ago it was a wasteland.
5. Interesting from Bettman
Finally, as I was writing this, Gary Bettman was holding his annual state of the league press conference with reporters ahead of Game 1 of the Cup Final. All the usual stuff was said: “Season like no other,” “most successful in NHL history,” etc. etc. but when the subject of head injuries came up, things actually got interesting.
Bettman said that the number of man-games lost to concussions was down double-digits in terms of percentage, meaning that the league might indeed be doing a better job of policing things. It’s pretty easy to be skeptical of that kind of thing, though. Obviously, teams fudge the protocols a lot (see: The Habs in the playoffs), BUT WAIT: Bettman also says the NHL actually came down on players and teams who tried that kind of thing. Retroactively, of course, and unspecified, but it’s not nothing. Weird to see the league actually take concussion rules seriously after only paying them lip service, but encouraging.