Picking up again
I’ve now looked at eight different prospects and borderline NHLers
the Flames could use this season and largely concluded that only
three or four of them (Sven Baertschi, Johnny Gaudreau, and Ben
Hanowski are all probables, while I rank Markus Granlund as a call-up
simply because of the NHL club’s center depth) are really going to
get a serious shot in the coming season. That’s not a bad average,
either half or a little less than two-fifths.
that also means the bottom of this team’s roster is getting very
crowded, and doesn’t portend good things for the last four forward
prospects who I think seem at least somewhat likely to get a cup of
coffee or more this season. And yet, here they are anyway, four guys
who have little to no shot of making the team next season, but whose
merits will be discussed nonetheless.
is a guy like Granlund: He’s pretty good at the AHL level and he’s
crowded out of the picture because if there’s one thing the Calgary
Flames have, it’s a load of decent to pretty good NHL centers.
problem is that Granlund had almost as many points as he did in the A
last year, despite playing 18 fewer games, and that they play the
same position. Calgary needs extra centers like it needs extra
fighters at this point, and a guy like Knight seems more like a
second- or even third-choice call-up at best. He was used sparingly
in the NHL last season when he was up for those seven games, and put
in a huge position to succeed when he was. He didn’t do much with the
opportunity, which doesn’t say a lot for him.
other problem with this is that of the three sure-thing centers from
the AHL last season, Knight is the oldest. He’s currently 23 but will
be 24 by the time this current season starts. As we all know, the
age-24 and 25 seasons are usually about the peak of a hockey player’s
ability to produce, so it’s really getting to be now-or-never time
for Knight. This is the problem, to some extent, with getting older
college players (Knight, of course, having been acquired in a trade
after making it clear he wouldn’t sign with Florida): They’re pretty
close to “complete” and you have a limited window before their
value starts to drop off.
Knight doesn’t make it this year, then, I’m not sure there’s a time
at which he will. Positionally, the deck is just super-stacked
place the Flames don’t need much help is on Poirier’s side. The left
wing is a tough nut to crack for anyone, especially a first-year pro
like Poirier. There’s Hudler and Raymond and Glencross and Bollig and
Gaudreau and Baertschi all in his way, by my count.
good news is that, like the team’s other left wings, maybe he can be
shifted to the right if he really impresses. The additional good news
is that he’s a little older than Morgan Klimchuk and as such can be
stashed quite safely in the AHL, rather than being sent back to
junior. The latter, at this point, doesn’t seem like a path that
would benefit him.
that option in mind, Poirier is a guy who might get your usual eight-
or 10-game run-out with the big club at some point, because injuries
happen, but he can get a full year of pro hockey to make his case for
a bigger role next season. That has to be the goal, and because of
that aforementioned center depth, he’ll at least have someone pretty
good to get him the puck for Adirondack.
60th and final victim of Calgary’s center depth, Reinhart strikes on
as someone who’s probably too good at scoring in the AHL (63 points
in 66 games), but not enough of a difference-maker at the NHL level
to warrant more than a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, it’s tough to
say whether his numbers were due to luck or skill, because he took a
huge step forward in production, but the numbers when he was with
Calgary are, umm, underwhelming.
terms of how easy his minutes were, he didn’t get the treatment of
Monahan or Colborne, but he was close, and he didn’t produce like
either of those guys. With that said, the AHL numbers are a little too overwhelming to say that he’s not an NHLer or anything.
the question, then, becomes who of he or Granlund is the first call-up.
Do you go with Granlund, because he looks like the better actual-NHL
prospect and you want to give him the added look? Or do you go with
Reinhart because he’s maybe a little bit better at giving you scoring
pop right now, at least in theory? It’s an interesting question, and
were I making the call I’d err on the side of fostering better
prospects, but I certainly get the argument in Reinhart’s favor here.
Consequently, I’d say that he’s pretty solidly behind
Granlund but ahead of Knight when it comes to center call-ups, but
that’s all he is at this point. He just turned 22 a few months ago and has a few more
years before we should be screaming about the what-ifs of it all.
are a few reasons I include him here despite my conscience screaming
that I shouldn’t:
He’s been playing pro hockey for a while now and put up decent enough
numbers in the German league that I don’t think you can really act
like he’s little more than a fighter. I haven’t seen enough DEL games
in my life to know what 40 points in 48 games for a guy with 152
penalty minutes last year means.
Here’s his bio on Eliteprospects:
is a big winger who likes to play a physical game. Has alright speed
and hands for his size.” If that doesn’t scream Brian Burke/Bob
Hartley Guy, nothing does.
He’s a wing, so there are fewer players in his way.
official prediction is that he plays significantly more games than he
deserves based on his on-ice contributions. Gotta be hard to play