Five things: Who’s gonna make it?

1. Lots of decisions to come

The good thing about the Flames, almost regardless of how you choose to look at it, is that there’s now, finally, a lot of youth on the team that used to be so typified by its players being in their late-20s and 30s. What that means in the long run is that the team has a chance to build some success for down the road and will likely have a number of affordable and potentially good players under contract for a number of years.

What that means in the short term, though, is that Brad Treliving and Bob Hartley are going to have some interesting decisions to make throughout the lineup come late September, and further, there are almost certainly going to be more than a few such decisions to make. Given that it’s now almost August and there’s very little to talk about, I thought I’d take a look at the younger players who are probably borderline picks to make the roster for a decent amount of time, either on opening night or maybe some point in like December or January.

The problem with this is that, given the team’s lack of depth and the relatively comparable talent once you get past the two or three best kids overall, there’s probably not a lot to separate the chances of, say, Max Reinhart from getting a decent-sized look from Ben Hanowski, for example.

So anyway, here goes.

2. Kenny Agostino

Agostino got into eight games with the big club last year at the end of the season and was wholly unmemorable. He scored his first goal and he was fine but he doesn’t seem particularly likely to make the team out of camp, and I doubt he’d be the first call-up following an injury.

The fact is that he’s a left wing really isn’t on his side, as Calgary’s prospect depth down the middle seems substantial; in addition to having four NHLers on the left already (if you count Bollig, haha) there’s also Johnny Gaudreau, Sven Baertschi, Morgan Klimchuk, and — depending on whom you believe — Emile Poirier. Not to mention David Wolf, who might get a look before a lot of those guys because of all the punching.

I think Agostino is a decent enough player. I saw him play a time or three in NCAA this past season and he was always fairly impressive. But I think that of all the guys who might be considered, he’s also the one in most need of a season or two in the AHL to prepare himself for the rigors of professional hockey. I’d put his chances of making the team at any point as being “quite low.”

3. Bill Arnold

A guy I’m a little higher on is Arnold, and maybe that’s just because I’ve seen him play more games (40-50 in four years I’d guess), than most prospects for any team.

The reason I’m high on him, overall, is that I think he brings something to the table that not a lot of other centers in the Flames’ plans do: an established two-way game. For my money, he was the best two-way player in college hockey last season, scoring 53 points in 40 games (and let’s be honest, a lot of that was because he played with Gaudreau all year) but also really and truly locking down the defensive zone in a way that others couldn’t. It’s often said in college hockey circles that the reason Gaudreau and Kevin Hayes were so capable of going forward with impunity was because Arnold would be there to mop up if things went sour in transition.

With that being said, Arnold, too, is a little buried, though not as much as Agostino. He’s behind Matt Stajan, Mikael Backlund, Joe Colborne, and Sean Monahan at the NHL level, with Lance Bouma also mixed in there depending on where Colborne is used. But after that there’s Sam Bennett, who’s at least going to get a look somewhere for that eight-game trial period. And after that there’s Corban Knight. And Markus Granlund and probably even Max Reinhart. I’d venture that Arnold is lumped in pretty closely with Granlund and Reinhart overall, but they have seniority and pro hockey under their belts. Arnold does not.

4. Sven Baertschi

This is basically the make-or-break year for Baertschi, and I think that he’s very likely to get a long look and actual decent opportunity for once in his career. Things have gone sideways for him, no doubt about that, in the last few years. You have to wonder, though, how much of that is his doing, and how much was the Flames not knowing how to deal with him.

In theory this is one of the team’s absolute best prospects, but in actual practice, having 55 points in 73 career AHL games doesn’t exactly scream “quality.”

They have to give him a chance to make the club, either on the left or right side. Have to. If he’s on the right, he has more of a chance to succeed, because — and this is true — the team only has two natural right-side wings under contract. One of them is Brian McGrattan. Yeah, you can float wings from one side to the other without much incident, and that’s what the Flames clearly have to do. That’s where Baertschi is likely going to “make it” with this team. If he is at all. 

5. Sam Bennett

Finally this week we come to the Flames’ highest-ever draft pick. Given the team’s center depth and his relative youth, I’d find it pretty difficult to believe he makes the team after the eight-game junior tryout that comes standard (sell some jerseys, get everyone excited, etc.).

With that having been said, I would have guessed the same thing about Sean Monahan last season, and look how that ended up. If nothing else, keeping him in the OHL for another season floats his contract an extra year, and that’s not a bad move at all.

I think he’s great, but he shouldn’t be anywhere near pro hockey next season. We’ll see if the team feels the same way.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Regarding Sven; I’ve been thinking they need to try him on the right as well.

    A Gaudreau – Monhan – Baertschi line

    Have this line be super sheltered. Offensive zone starts wherever possible and playing against as soft as comp as possible.

    Have Englland on the ice for protection on D.

    Could be some magic with those three methinks.

    • piscera.infada

      I really liked the Monahan-Baertschi combo last year. It looked really good to my eye. However, I’m not putting Gaudreau on that wing, if he makes the big team. I’d put Gaudreau with Stajan or Backlund, and give him Hudler as well. Surround him with good players who are responsible. That way, you’ve given him good support on the ice, while at the same allowing him to flourish offensively (that is why he’s here right?). Playing him and Backlund maybe also allow Backs to further discover his offensive game. Just a thought though. I’m one of the few people that thinks we’ll see Gaudreau starting in the AHL this year (for a bit anyway).

      • RedMan

        Agree the focus should be on pairs, and Monahan with Baertchi looked great last year. Add in a bigger, stronger Colbourne and I think that could be a great line.

        Put Gaudreau with Backlund and Wolf/Jones/Ferland(later?) which also could be solid. I like what I saw of Wolf and would like to see if he can keep up and contribute in that setting. He certainly can crash and bang and dig pucks loose, as well as protect which could go well with JohnnyH.

        Third pair Stajan and Glencross, with Reinhart/Bollig?

        Fourth Granlund/Knight with Agostino/Bouma/Byron and McGratton/Van Brabant/Hanowski…

        Roll all four lines.

    • BitGeek

      Don’t think that Johnny Hockey belongs on a all-rookie line.

      Play him with a possession monster like Backlund and have Jones on his other wing; watch the goals come fast and furious. Backs gets a needed offensive boost and Jones gets back to scoring 20 goals. Sort of mimics the BC Eagles line (Arnold = Backs, Hayes = Jones).
      The only difference is that Jones is a RHS.

    • RexLibris

      Sheltering a Gaudreau – Monahan – Baertschi line would be fine for home games, but having Engelland on the ice would be counter-productive to that end.

      If you really want them to have a chance for success you’d want to get at least 60% of their shifts on the ice with Giordano and Brodie, so that when they lose possession it is less likely to end up in the net, and more likely to be regained and passed back to them for an offensive push.

      If they are being targeted, deploy Westgarth and McGrattan to target either the offenders or the other teams’ younger/skilled players in retaliation. However, I would advise that the Flames, with their younger players now, would be best suited to avoiding escalation in that area.

      • If Giordano and Brodie are on with Moneyhands and co. who’s taking on the toughs with (presumably) Backlund? Smid?

        That just wouldn’t work. Brodie and Gio are the guys who are taking on the heaviest minutes on the team, possibly in the entire league. Monahan and Gaudreau shouldn’t catch even a whiff of consistent defensive starts against the likes of Getzlaf, Thornton, and Kopitar.

        • RexLibris

          That’s true, but with the caveat that a line of Gaudreau, Monahan and Baertschi not likely to see more than 15 minutes a night, and Giordano and Brodie probably close to 20+ minutes a night, and the advantage of home matchups, I think defaulting to Engelland would be a mistake.

          On the road, you shelter as best you can and there is very little chance that Giordano and Brodie get much time with a younger group.

          Also, don’t forget that Stajan and Backlund will be put out against tough competition so that, depending on their wingers, there is some room for Hartley to fall back to other defensive options.

          All this limits offense and virtually puts the Flames on their heels before the puck is even dropped, but such is the case with a young roster this early in a rebuild.

          • I’d be perfectly fine if Engelland never saw the ice at all. He can sit in the pressbox sharing a tub of popcorn with David Jones for all of me.

            Though I’d honestly rather watch Engelland than Jones. As the rest of you no doubt have noticed by now.

          • RexLibris

            If Engelland can’t see the ice from the pressbox I’d worried about his eyesight. 😉

            I’ll say this, if Engelland were a short-term, bottom pairing defenseman who would be relied upon to provide the coach with between 8 and 10 relatively quiet minutes a night and help a younger defenseman ease into the league, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

            But last season on the Penguins Engelland played some of the weakest competition Bylsma could find for him alongside Simon Despres, provided virtually no offense and bled chances against while being, unsurprisingly, buried in the defensive zone.

            So Engelland and Smid are going to be the Flames’ 3rd pairing sacrificial scapegoats that get the worst ZS, easy matchups and will probably struggle to move the puck out of the zone.

            Last season Engelland’s penalty differential (not a great stat, but something to keep in mind) was +12/-16. He took four more penalties than he drew. If Hartley relies on him as a shutdown guy I would expect that differential to polarize even more.

            Smid’s btw, was +7/-29 for a -22 differential.


          • RexLibris

            Rex, what was Smid’s penalty differential when he was the Oiler’s 2 or 3 defenceman?

            Others have speculated Smid was hurt or bothered by something most of last season as his numbers were worse (noticeably, I think) from when he was an Oiler and the thought was he shouldn’t have declined as much as he did last year.

            Where I’m going with this is maybe Smid bounces back a little this season. I still wouldn’t put him and Engelland on the same defensive pairing but I would reconsider that if he recovers to a prior, better, form.

          • RexLibris

            Jones adds some toughness to the line of Johnny Hockey and Backlund, is fairly gritty, and can stand in front of the net picking up garbage goals. If he can pick up his offence, he becomes a trade asset. If Johnny can turn Hayes into a scoring winger, why not Jones?

            Jones holds the spot until Poirier or Ferland or Granlund makes the jump, whoever shows the best scoring abilities. Granlund may be a bit small to be on a line with Johnny, though. Poirier would be the ideal winger.

    • mattyc

      I think the problem with trying to shelter a line that hard is you can only really do it for your home games. (plus it’s just not going to happen that they put 3 kids on a line).

    • EugeneV

      You can’t play 2 smurfs on the same line.

      NO, NO, No!

      Wouldn’t be good for either of them, and not good for Sean either.

      On the PP? Yes, then you could be up for some magic.

  • MonsterPod

    I really hope Gaudreau does not play a minute in the A.

    Watching him play for USA in the WC, he was almost the go-to guy. The D would throw him the puck and Abdelkater would charge the net. Johnny would work behind the goal and all eyes were on him. He gets open so well and defenders seem a bit spooked to try to steal the puck.

    I agree that he should be playing with vets. The youngsters should be mixed into the top 9, not lumped together on line 3. Gaudreau could probably learn a lot from a guy like Hudler, though that would be a tiny line.

    I don’t know what to say about Sven. He needs to please Hartley somehow. Maybe they can grab a few pops and reminisce about Zurich and find some common ground. Sven needs to work on not being discouraged. Perhaps he can talk to Backlund about working through that.

    • RexLibris

      Totally agree about Gaudreau. I just don’t get what he learns from the AHL. It’s basically a given that he would dominate down there point-s-wise, it’s not like he needs to ‘develop his game’ down there and he basically is what he is physically and stands almost more chance of injury in the AHL than the NHL. Also, he’s very mature mentally. He either makes it in the NHL or doesn’t make it all, IMO.

      I’m buying into the ‘tough love’ theory with Sven. If he shows up prepared for camp and demonstrates consistency of effort and 2-way play, then I don’t see Hartley holding any sort of grudge. I’m sure the Flames desparately want to see Sven succeed. That said, if he falters again, sending him back to the AHL is pointless; instead, I see him getting moved for a prospect on the back end.

    • piscera.infada

      Let me clarify, I don’t want him to play in the A either, I just think he will at some point this season. If anyone heard the Hanowski interview on the Fan about two-ish weeks ago, the one thing that really stood out to me was his discussion of the “extreme difference between pro and the NCAA”. He spoke to the rigours of the travel and the schedule, the amount of practice time, and most interestingly the routine of it all (playing on any given night, instead of just Friday nights or Saturday). Hanowski also talked about the “wall” he hit in the mid-season, and how difficult it was to work through that. I’m not sure how big a deal that is to a player like Gaudreau, but it is an aspect you need to think about – it could be more or less important in the decision by Treliving/Hartley to keep him up, but I’m not sure they’d be “wrong” either way.

      But I do largely agree with your post. I would say more than Backlund, maybe Sven should talk to Stajan about not being discouraged.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        You just cannot compare the pedigree between Gaudreau & Hanowski. Of course Hanowski was hitting walls in the NHL Level, most of us noted his foot speed was not really that fast. Gaudreau will not see the AHL & will be in the Calder voting. He’s that good.

        Good discussion Lambert.

        • piscera.infada

          I was never arguing pedigree. In fact, I wasn’t arguing much at all. I was simply stating there’s a massive adjustment between the NCAA and the AHL (let alone the NHL). The only reason I ever brought up Hanowski was because his experience with that transition made me think directly about what Gaudreau and Arnold would be experiencing this year. That’s all.

          I even point to the fact that maybe it would be the case the Gaudreau is better equipped to handle the transition smoothly. However, the points I list as being difficult to deal with apply to both players equally. Thus, if Treliving and Hartley truly feel it’s better to see how he adjusts in the AHL, I’m not sure you can fault them on it. Again, I’m not saying that happens, nor am I saying it’s in the best interest of either party (outside of this ‘adjustment period’).

  • RexLibris

    Agree on pretty much everything in the article.

    There certainly doesn’t seem like much point in Sven going back to the AHL. He needs a long look with good players this year and some 2nd unit pp time. No way that he plays opposite Gaudreau though; two small wingers out at the same time is not something I’m expecting to see in Calgary this season.

    I’m thinking Sven opposite Glencross and Gaudreau opposite Colborne provides a nice mix of size and different abilities. Who centers them will probably be experimented with, but Backlund does make sense in that he can keep up with Johnny’s speed and cover for his mistakes. Monahan’s game would seem to play well between Glencross and Baertschi, IMO. Overall though, I think we’ll see a ton of line juggling this season.

    Bennett is both younger and nowhere near as physically mature as Monahan was. I actually doubt he gets an 8 game look, but I may well be wrong on that one. It obviously depends on his training camp and exhibition games performance, but I sort of think he just goes in the last round of cuts.

    • BitGeek

      Nice one Jeff…….

      Your contributions to this blog remind me of the 2 crusty old guys on the Muppets balcony………Statler and Waldorf………there is a strong physical resemblance to the one with the moustache, Waldorf I think.

      You shall go by the name of: “Waldorf from Lethbridge” from now on……


      • RedMan

        for a man who is smart enough to mask his IP address to avoid a ban, and dumb enough to do it when he mostly isn’t wanted for being so annoying and confrontational, I would suggest you use some of your amazing tech-savvy and put YOUR OWN picture on your profile (at least on your “WW” profile; you can leave the other profiles under their current alias’ for the few here who don’t realize they are you… shhhhh our secret)

        Then, feel free to comment on others looks.

        Ya, didn’t think so.

          • RedMan

            you ‘liked’ your own post??? hahahaha

            like i said…

            where’s your pic…

            before you start your 2nd grade attempt at insulting others.

            ps. i really do hope you’re getting help. your odd attempts at interpersonal interactions are really telling. good luck.

        • RexLibris

          What other profiles are you giving me credit for??

          If you choose to post a picture of yourself, you should not be offended if someone comments on it……

          For example: I think that Mattyc has a striking resemblance to Phil Laak……….(having said that: Phil’s girlfriend Is Jennifer Tilly, so Mattyc may be ok with that…..)

          BTW: I have never propped or trashed any post, not even my own.

          Oh yes: Max Reinhart sucks……….


          • RedMan

            “…If you choose to post a picture of yourself, you should not be offended if someone comments on it……”

            thats what life has taught you? You must have been picked on a lot during your school years.

            your comments and behaviour say a lot about you… please get help.

            sometimes when someone is continually such a jerk, it is a cry for help, sometimes it just means they really are jerks… others are molded into their negative, confrontational, ignorant self by life experiences.

            Which of these are the root of your awkward, anti-social “border-line” behaviours?

            Like I said, I hope you are getting help and taking your meds id so needed.

            my biggest mistake is giving you the attention you seek… won’t happen again. nothing but pitty for you.

  • piscera.infada

    Why is there no mention of Granlund? He was the best center on the Heat last year and clearly made the transition from Europe to NA hockey. He made whomever he payed with better at the AHL level and looked fine in his NHL debut.

    As for Johnny play him with a veteran center he is capable of playing the complete game.There would be nothing wrong with him and Backs and say DJones(this might help him refind his game)or a Bouma or Hudler on the RW.

    This organization needs to rethink how it deploys players if it wants to develop their young guys and playing 2 scoring lines ,1 checking line and 1 energy line is not the way to go.

    • EugeneV

      I never look at who the poster is until I have read the post and made a guess as to who it is.

      A little game I like to play.

      Yours are the easiest to pick because 70% of the time it will reference “rolling 4 lines”, which don’t get me wrong, I also advocate.

      Just not often I miss guessing who wrote the post.

      Keep going, maybe it will become a reality one day.

      Maybe something like this?


      JohnnyH Bennett Poirier

      Baertschi Monahan 2016 1st

      Klimchuk Backlund Granlund

      Ferland Janko Smith

      Brodie Hanifin (3rd overall 2015)

      TSpoon Sieloff

      Gio ?



      I don’t look at the “4th” line above as being a goon line. I have high hopes that Ferland’s skill shows out and that Smith keeps developing as well. I also have very high hopes for Jankowski. If he was a baseball prospect he would be a 5 tool guy, so I hope he shows out this year.

      I expect that we might be trading high on Gio, in the next 18 months for a stud D prospect and a 1st rounder so hopefully we can end up with Hanifin if we don’t get one of the top 2 next draft.

          • EugeneV

            Sweet as.

            It’s not that I don’t appreciate the fancy stats, it’s just that I prefer the eye test. I’m old fashioned that way.

            same for “normal” stats. They tell us that Ovi is a top player. What do your eyes tell you about him?

            Context, context, context.

            I believe ANY type of stat is a tool to help you understand what your eyes are seeing.

          • EugeneV

            All stats can be useful if you know what you want from them but the truth is you need stats, eye test, and context and on this I think we agree.

            I was looking at your proposed team for 2018 and was wonder how the progression from this team to your vision for 2018 would go down.

          • EugeneV

            I just have visions of some genius in a basement somewhere making the decisions about who we draft without ever even laying eyes on a player. ok, it’s more of a nightmare really.

            Baseball is different than hockey, in that each pitch is an event which can be measured by stats.
            type of pitch, inning, pitch count, pitch location, hitters BA on type and location, situational BA and on and on and on.

            Hockey is different in that it is free flowing and reactionary, yet on a 3 on 1 we are all taught to do the same things and take the best option available. Baseball events ALL start from 60’6″ though, so are measurable on so many levels.

            Advanced stats are advancing, but I still prefer the context of my eyes to what the stats tell me.

            I’ll get to my 2018 team at some point soon, sorry.

  • The key for Hartley is developing tandems and then sliding in the third player depending on the offensive/defensive needs for each game. In this way you always retain longer-term familiarity and chemistry on each line, while making slight game-focused adjustments.

    Possible examples:

    Interchangeable wingers: Baertschi, Gaudreau, DJones, Bollig, Byron, Ferland, McGrattan

    • So we’re forgetting about Mason Raymond already?

      I like the idea of putting Gaudreau back with Moneyhands and Colborne (because why not?) and Sven with Mickis. Makes one wonder who takes on the heavies, though. Maybe Glencross – Stajan – Raymond?

      This is such a weird team.

      • Parallex

        re weird …agree!

        Reinhart, Knight, Poirier, Arnold and Wolf were also not listed along with Raymond either.

        Just way too many prospects needing development time, and many “old guard” needing to be traded to free up time.

        While most teams’ rosters are pretty well set with perhaps 1-2 positions/players awaiting an exceptional training camp performance to finalize their lines…the Flames have upwards of a dozen extra Forward prospects alone not counting Defencemen.

        This morning I was thinking how great it would be if the Flames signed Hayes, enticing him with a 10 game minimum reuniting him with his BC linemates Gaudreau and Arnold..could be a storybook opportunity.

        However there are so many prospects needing NHL ice time his chances are likely worse here, notwithstanding a weak team and weak RW competition.

        • PrairieStew

          Poirier starts the season on the injury list, Ferland spent all of last year on it, so there is not as much pressure. I know they don’t want to jettison the veterans too fast and leave a leadership vacuum. Wise management would not do that unless and until the young guys show significant progress and ability. If the AHL group had managed to win a playoff round or two and dominant performances had come out of Reinhart, Granlund, Knight et al; then the pressure would be higher.

          Glencross and Mcgrattan are the only expiring veteran contracts and it is not outside the realm of possibility that both might be resigned. I think what we have to hope for is a dominant AHL team with multiple guys knocking on the door forcing management to give them roster spots and then moving the veterans for more assets.

      • RexLibris

        Good point about Raymond. In my previous post I also missed him and Hudler, not to mention Bennett and Klimchuk both of whom I think will go back to Junior.

        I hear that management is focusing players on the upcoming training camp, and the meritocracy concept tat virtually every spot is up for grabs, but I really wonder if the team will be prepared to waive/trade existing vets right out of the gate if some of the prospects excel? Guess Salary Floor would be an issue to start the season, but I guess major changes COULD happen pretty quick once games get going.

        QUESTION: What are the Salary Floor rule for
        A/ season start
        B/ season itself
        C/ season end?

        • RexLibris

          The cap floor is the cap floor. No exceptions IIRC.

          Fortunately (for the Flames, right now) contracts can only be buried up to ~900k or something. Which means if they sent David Jones (to pick a name out of the air at random) to Glens Falls he’d still count a bit more than 3 million against the cap.

    • PrairieStew

      I like the duos idea and rotating guys through that. Considering management and coaching you can just about book the fact that one of your duos is Bollig and McGrattan. I don’t want Granlund centreing that line. Bouma – OK, Knight, Reinhart and Arnold – OK, but not Granlund at this point. Would rather see him get top line and PP time in AHL. He has potential for more elite scoring than any of those other guys.

      I think Ferland is a ways off too, though you might have Wolf on that rotating list. So it looks like this:

      Glencross – Stajan -xxxx

      xxx-Backlund- Hudler

      xxx–Monahan – Colborne


      Interchangable – Raymond – Jones – Byron – Gaudreau – Baertschi – Wolf

  • Because there are only so many roster spots and I think Gralund would still benefit from more AHL time. He and Reinhart are more likely, IMO, to make the roster by the end of the year than at the start of the year.

  • Parallex

    The Flames currently have 10 forwards on 1-way contracts, once Bouma signs that is likely to be 11 add Monahan and you’re at 12. Math says that there is only 1 spot left for a young forward to claim this year out of camp (barring injury).

    So then the only question is… who get’s that spot? For me I think the answer has to be Baertschi. He needs the long look and decent opportunity more then Gaudreau does right now and Gaudreau can be eased into life as a pro playing closer to home in Glen Falls until after the trade deadline when a few spots open up.

    We are starting to get a glut of prospects at various positions and a derth at others… we may want to start looking into prospect for prospect trades (I’m eye’ing the Islanders young blueliners right now).

    • RexLibris

      There’s nothing to say that they can’t bury a guy in the minors.

      They have the cap space, and the players likely to be on the bubble are almost certainly not going to be a concern over losing them on the waiver-wire.

      • Parallex

        No. That’s what the 13th forward (Probably Byron) is for. Besides which McGrattan played 76 games last year… what’s to say Hartley won’t roll him out for another 76? You don’t want someone just sitting around doing nothing (and in all likelihood the wrong someone) when they could be playing.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    My opinion is obvious fan affection but I believe it all the same:

    Gaudreau has top 10 scoring potential within 3 years (health). I think he is the only prospect who stays past 9 games.

    He and SM will be counted on big time for offensive contributions (offset Cammy). I think trades like Bollig for 83rd overall indicate BT determination of 3RW (Bollig) as equal value – so he’s gonna put JG there to balance fight with finesse or the other way ’round.

    I think we’ll see a two man game with JG-SM that will be sure to dazzle with crazy skill.

    SM, although alright with Sven, will flourish and really grow his offensive game (making plays) with JG.

    JG will learn the controlled 2way game of SM and both will benefit massively to each other’s development.

    I think everyone else plays and develops well in Addy. The wildcard is Granlund. Oh and Ferland – I think the other kids put him under radar, and his play will make a statement.

    Granlund has a chance to make and stick for 82 (health – he could not be physically developed enough to handle the rigors, since injury interrupted summer training).

    This might be old tactics but I like the idea of developing duos for NHL/AHL:


    Bennett, without question goes back to OHL. Although it matters not in the long run, failing to do a pull up 2 months ago does not indicate that his body is ready – anywhere close to ready – CGY needs to protect its assets (hence again Bollig, Wolf, etc)

    The other wildcard on defense is this Acolatse kid. I think he is going to play up here and play a lot (injuries – lack of depth) unless another trade comes down. We’ll see.

    In any event, yes the youth is on the precipice but they really great news is the vets are not ready to be overtaken just yet. Vets with 8-10 years have an enormous advantage and still a lot of utility. Have to use it.

    This internal competition is precisely what will develop prospects into NHL regulars.

    I hope all the prospects are in a gym right this second …

    Fan fantasy and pure conjecture but I just see it.

  • RexLibris

    I think very few guys are a lock, a lot will be decided by their play at training camp. If I had to pick I would say Gaudreau and Baertschi are on the roster, Bennett might get 9 games in before going down because if his compete level is very high they may give him a look. Maybe Agostino and Arnold are given a small shot to see what they can do. Let most of the kids play in the pre-season and maybe they can weed themselves out.

  • Derzie

    How long will the Iggy Effect be present in the roster depth? A quick look at the depth chart on Cap Geek is an eye opener. Although players can move around, the native positions are used for the depth chart. It is actually hilariously lopsided. 13 players who call LW home. 12 Centers (looking good so far right?), and 3(!!!) RW. And one of them used to be Iggy. Now? Big Ern (Facepuncher extraordinaire). Ben “They Skate in the NHL?” Hanowski. David “Invisible” Jones. This is the reddest of red flags. Obviously their plan is to convert some of the left side and center to the right but that is way less than ideal. What is Big Ern gets hurt? Do we forfeit? Kidding aside, throwing prospects away from their native position serves to amplify the amount of change and stress they have to work through. Also probably has a low degree of actually working in the long term. This is a GM-101 problem in my opinion. Besides signing the core assets long term, job 1.

    • RexLibris


      And something else to consider: those RWs (or lack thereof) will be the one of the players responsible for controlling play down low in the zone to prevent the opposing team’s LW from collecting the puck, making a pass, or skating out of the zone.

      The lack of depth isn’t entirely on the offensive side of the puck.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Having been roundly trashed for my line combo suggestion and thinking more on the matter, I can understand the thought behind keeping Gaudreau and Beartschi separate. This makes a lot of sense. That is why I come to this sight (I never played hockey competitively) – to gain insight from people with better hockey brains. Thanks folks!

  • RexLibris

    Wow. Baertschi, Monahan, Gaudreau, Bennett…this team almost has as much young talent as the Oilers. And to think, Flames fans made fun of Oiler fans for having hope for the future…(*snicker*).

    Quite frankly, and I have to say this – after years of chasing the dream and not quite making it, the story with Calgary is sounding a lot like the story in Edmonton: chase 8th for a while, then sell it off and rebuild. It’s been 5 seasons out of the playoffs, and this year will be 6. Given that this year will be a bottom of the barrel type season…I have a hard time believing they’ll make it back for year 7 even. Year 8 there may be a chance, but not a strong one, and then year 9…well that’s where the Oilers are.

    I truly hate that Alberta teams are sucking so bad, but remembering all the trash talk years ago about Edmonton’s rebuild, maybe now Flames fans will understand how long it takes to build through the draft, and how fruitless it is to build in any other way.

    • EugeneV

      Difference #1 – Calgary is only in year 2 of said rebuild and are positioned for the future.

      Difference #2 – Calgary has a decent amount of good prospects without having anything better than a 4th overall, so there is no “tank” mentality.

      Difference #3 – Calgary has support players up and down the lineup. These guys want to win, not just make some serious cash.

      Not suggesting that we make a jump to respectability overnight, but we are making the right types of moves now vs. what the previous group(pre-Feaster) did. The Oilers have begun making some of those types of moves, but it will take a long time to get past the $6m club and the KLowe “I know a bit about winning”. Our teams will be fighting for the 8th spot at the same time.

  • beloch

    Gaudreau played heavy minutes for Team USA at the World Cup. He certainly played more (and accomplished more) than many proven NHL’ers did in that tournament. He’s more likely to be the Flames point leader and a Calder finalist than he is to play a single game in the AHL next season.

    Baertschi was badly mishandled last season. Burke started publically critisizing his play before the season even started. Monahan and Colborne required too much shelter for Hartley to give Baertschi deployment suitable to a rookie once the injuries started piling up. Despite posting good offensive numbers and struggling defensively no more than most rookies normally do, Baertschi was sent down because he was the only guy they could send down. Unfortunately, he took it the wrong way, possibly thanks to what Burke was saying.

    Treliving has the opportunity to undo a lot of damage this season, provided Burke keeps his mouth shut. However, depending on where he’s at mentally, Baertschi might be better off starting out in the AHL before coming up even if he’s clearly NHL ready, in terms of ability, at camp. Baertschi is not an emotionless scoring machine and he really needs to be handled with a bit of care this season. Gaining confidence in the AHL for the first part of the season may serve him well in the long-term. Certainly, it would do him no good to play a handful of games in the early season only to be sent down again.

    Kevin Hayes:

    Gaudreau tore up the NCAA last season. He was the #1 scorer and won the Hobey Baker award. After Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes was second in the NCAA for scoring and has a NHLE of 54.6, which is pretty freakin’ great. However, the previous season his NHLE was only 31.1, which is still good, but not nearly as impressive. Why the big jump? He started playing on Gaudreau’s line last season. Still, it’s clear that Hayes is a very good hockey player, and likely NHL ready. He’s listed as being 6’3″, 205 lbs too, which helps.

    So why are we talking about the Blackhawks’ 2010 1st round pick (#24 overall) anyways? He’s not going to sign with them. His agent has stated that Hayes doesn’t think he’s good enough to make Chicago’s NHL team and wants to sign with a team where he won’t have to play in the AHL. Unless he signs with Chicago before Aug. 15th, he becomes a UFA.

    Hayes played right wing with Gaudreau. His NHLE, pumped up by Johnny Hockey or not, suggests he’s very good, and he’s NHL sized. The Flames need right wingers badly and they need size badly too, so Arnold can almost certainly make it in cowtown. He can also probably make the Panthers, which is where his brother is playing. It’s unclear if Hayes would prefer to play with his brother or the line he dominated the NCAA with, but both Calgary and Florida have a good shot at landing a quality rookie for nothing more than being willing to pay his salary. Considering that Calgary has a clear cap-space advantage over Florida, the Flames have a very good chance of landing this kid.

    • piscera.infada

      Re: Baertschi: Couldn’t agree more. Your post sums the entire situation up perfectly (especially about him being the only guy they could send down). I firmly believe the franchise has not and will not give up on him as early as a lot of people think. He is a damn good prospect, and even Burke has to know that selling him “low” would be a huge mistake.

      Gaudreau: I agree in part – everything you said is true. However, if there’s one thing we know about Burke, he’s reluctant to bring players up just because. As for Treliving, we know (via his many interviews) that he believes players cutting their teeth in the AHL is a requisite step in development for most players. To me (again) this simple comes down to the reasonable decision between Treliving and Hartley; is he ready to adapt to the rigors of a full pro season, and is it best he does that adaptation in the AHL or NHL? Personally, I would think the NHL is without a doubt the place for him, but I wont be surprised if he is in the AHL for a while.

      Hayes: I get that his numbers are good, I get that his draft pedigree says “do whatever you can to get him”, but in my (limited and layman-esque) viewings of him I can’t help but think the only thing that is NHL ready about him is his shot and his size. His skating needs work, his defensive play needs work, his back-checking is almost non-existant. That all said, it’s still very much a good idea to take a run at him as a UFA. I also believe the Flames will firmly be in the thick of it too. He checks of many of the boxes this team says they need – I’d be excited if he’s signed by the Flames. I have a sneaking suspicion though (and it’s completely unfounded), that Hayes will want to play in an American city – not dissimilar to J. Schultz wanting to play only in Canada.

      • beloch

        Re: Hayes preferring to play in the U.S.

        It’s really hard to say. Florida and Calgary are two clear front-runners, but there will likely be other teams in on the action. Still, those two teams represent a choice between unpleasantly cold and unpleasantly warm (with hurricanes). It’s also a choice between playing in a hockey market where he might be recognized on the street and a market that, on average, managed to fill it’s arena only 3/4 full last season. Calgary has a lot more cap-space though, and they could probably afford to give him a one-way contract with a couple of years on it.

        • RexLibris

          Any contract Hayes signs would be an Entry Level deal (I would guess 2 years, but I’m not sure). That means the salary is capped, and it has to be 2-way.

          Even Roman Cervenka’s contract was an ELC when he signed with the Flames, and he was 27 at the time.

    • RedMan

      please correct me if I’m wrong, but it appeared to me that Baertschi’s troubles started when he zhowed up for the prospects camp and tournament wih a bad attitude and questionable fitness???

  • RexLibris

    The frontrunner for Kevin Hayes has got to be Boston. Without Iginla, Eriksson is pretty much their only right winger. They’ve got cap issues, so they really need an ELC in the lineup right now. And it’s not just the city where Hayes went to college – it’s his hometown.

  • RexLibris

    Gaudreau with Backlund and Jones? With a centre and right winger like that, who will put the puck in the net? Gaudreau will elect to return to Boston College. Give him someone with finesse and skill and someone who can bury the puck.

    • beloch

      If you compare Backlund to Arnold (in the NCAA), you see a very similar type of center.
      Johnny made Arnold a better player, while Arnold prvided the defensive responsibilities to allow Johnny to toe-drag his way through the opposition.

      Hayes is probably a reasonable comparison to Jones, in that he is big and has some abilities to score (based on his stats in COL). Jones would be on Johnny’s line to add some grit. If Poirier can beat out Jones in camp, all the better. Poirier is looking like he will be ready for camp, so it’s not out of the question he can win a spot on the Flames.

      • Byron Bader

        Gaudreau with Backlund would be terrific, without a doubt. They will have the puck on their stick the majority of the game. If the duo plays together for a significant period of the season, I see Backlund shattering his previous highest season point total,by 20% – 40%.

        • EugeneV

          Shatter his (Backlund) previous high point total of 39!!! Wow. Sign him for 5 years and $5 million. On another note, with all of the issues between Subban and the Habs what are your thoughts about the Flames seizing the moment and making a strong pitch consisting of draft pick(s) and young talent. Might be a once in a lifetime opportunity and while Subban isn’t my kind of d-man or teammate, Burke just might chance it to land a future star.

  • beloch

    I think Baertschi will be given every opportunity. He’s on his last year on his ELC. And he does have a near .5 PPG pace in the NHL. But you don’t want to give him a 4th line role. I thunk he’ll battle with Gaudreau and Granlund for a second line spot. But even though I want Baertschi I think Gaudreau will be just too impressive for them to send him down. Although I believe that Baertschi will be up and an everyday NHLer at some point in the year.

    Arnold will really compete for a job I think. He lost weight and got a lot faster. It’ll be interesting to see what he does at camp. I think the battle for a 4th line role is Knight vs Reinhart vs Arnold. I don’t think BVB or Wolf will make it. Knight played well last year in his callup. But Reinhart should get it IMO. There’s nothing he can learn from the AHL anymore. We need to see if he can make the jump.

    Bennett’s too weak for the NHL right now. And he’s not gonna play a 4th line role and neither is Stajan.

    for a 7th defenceman it’ll probably be Cundari. Acolatse has a chance. Just not Wotherspoon. He needs to play 60+ games and like it or not Engelland will start as an everyday NHLer. Wotherspoon played great and will probably earn a spot later in the year.

  • Byron Bader

    If we focus just on the 4 names in this article then I would suggest the following: Bennett may get his 9 games at the start of the season but that is not a given based upon the centers ahead of him.

    Sven as you say is in a different position and really needs to be given a chance to play at the NHL this year to determine if he is an NHL player. He faces stiff competition on the LW with Glenx. Hudler, Raymond and fellow prospect Johnny being the new kid in town. The Flames could and possible should move Hudler to the RW where he has played before and roll 4 lines giving Sven a chance.

    Agostino is buried pretty far down the depth chart on LW and will need a season at the AHL to develop and might he not be one to experiment with as a RW. If he plays at the NHL level it should be late in the season as a call up.

    Arnold is also buried on the depth chart of this organization at center with Backs, Stajan, Monahan, Granlund,and Knight all ahead of him based upon their experiences from last year.As a RH shot might he or Knight be moved to RW this year. He will play the majority of the season in the AHL but I see him as a likely replacement for Stajan in the next couple of years.

    All one can hope for is that Hartley has been given permission to experiment with his roster and not be stuck with his 8 established NHL vets and his 4 emerging forwards; some of the prospects need NHL now to determine if they are NHL ready, others need time in the AHL to adjust to pro hockey and others need to go back to junior. From this list of 4 it is clear that Sven fits the first category and Arnold and Agostino the second category and IMO Bennett the third category.(only because it’s NHL or CHL only for him)

  • beloch

    Would one of our collective agreement experts please answer a few questions for me?

    1. With 45 players under contract(46 once the Bouma deal is signed) and I believe 3 of them will be returned to junior at some point(Klimchuk, Kanzig and Bennett) do they still count against the 50 when they are playing junior?

    2. Is there a limit to the number of AHL only contracts a team can have?

    3. Does anyone know where I can find a list for teh Baby Flames AHL only contacts?

    4.Do the Flames still have an agreement with the ECHL team in Alaska?

    • piscera.infada

      No, they count towards your 80-man reserve list – in the same way unsigned draft choices (including NCAA prospects) or draft choices playing in Europe do (defected players). They count as “any signed Junior player who has played less than 11 professional games”. Read about roster eligibility here – “Reserve Lists” section.

      I’m not sure on 2 or 3. Although, I would assume AHL-only contract would apply to AHL roster limits only. Remember, that league would have it’s own set of guidelines.

      As far as I can tell, the Flames-Aces agreement still stands. Although, for the life of me, I can find the length of the agreement anywhere.

    • piscera.infada

      WRT point 3, the best I can do is give you the whole roster listing

      Anyone on that list who isn’t on the Flames’ capgeek page would be on an AHL-only deal.

      Anyone heard anything about Doug Carr? The Flames organization seemed to like what they saw out of him last year (at least in relative terms, since he was recalled to the Heat ahead of Olivier Roy at one point) and they invited him to rookie camp… any possibility they send a contract his way? Maybe even AHL-only?

  • EugeneV

    The thing about stats is they can’t measure the intangibles. Based upon stats alone McG should never dress, yet he played the most games ever last year. Yes there were many nights when he failed the eye test as well. This year I find it difficult to believe that with the skill that the prospects have that McG will play as many games despite the intangibles he brings.

    • EugeneV

      Probably they will look to use McG as a professional influence in the dressing room and on the ice at practice and just dress him at away games where they worry about the other teams intentions for our young guys, and also at home when the visitors have to hand in their lineup first and choose to dress the John Scotts etc of the world.

      So they will need to balance some size with the skill to allow the young guys to learn without being pushed around. They will also be looking at how JohnnyG goes playing against players taking liberties with him. Gauging his “NHL” compete levels so to speak.

      We also know that McG plays by the old time hockey code and won’t fight anyone outside his weight class, so I believe this is why they have signed The Wolf of Dusseldorf, who may just be a loose enough cannon with enough skating ability to go after anyone taking liberties.

      • Derzie

        McG dressed for 76 games last year and there were many a night when his ice time was less than 5 minutes although near the end of the season he was playing more. I agree he is a situational player and should be used as such, 20-30 games max.