Adirondack Might Be Really Good This Season

Friends, to this point of the off-season, your buddies here at FlamesNation have broken down what’s likely going to happen for your Calgary Flames in 2014-15. And it’s been a bit depressing, because more than likely the Flames are going to miss out on participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth straight season. And perhaps things have been a bit doom and gloom around here because we’ve been talking about how bad this team is going to be – and they will be – all summer.

But chin up, folks. Because the Flames do have a lot of prospects in their system. And a lot of them range from good to excellent in several aspects of their games. And a lot of those good prospects will be on the same team this year – Calgary’s new AHL affiliate in Adirondack.

A GUESSWORK LINE-UP

Let’s presume, as the smart money is right now, that the Calgary Flames break camp with a mostly veteran roster. Sheldon Brookbank is your #7 defender and the club rolls with basically veterans and Sean Monahan. So what’s left for the Adirondack fans to get stoked about?

Here’s my stab at a line-up based on who has contracts right now.

Sven Baertschi – Max Reinhart – Emile Poirier
Johnny Gaudreau – Markus Granlund – Kenny Agostino
Michael Ferland – Corban Knight – David Wolf
Bryce van Brabant – Bill Arnold – Ben Hanowski
Extras: Turner Elson; Josh Jooris; Mathieu Tousignant; Garnet Hathaway

Tyler Wotherspoon – Sena Acolatse
Mark Cundari – Patrick Sieloff
Ryan Culkin – Brett Kulak
Extra: John Ramage

Joni Ortio
Brad Thiessen
Extra: Doug Carr

SO WHAT?

The Baby Flames look to have nine forwards, two defensemen and a goalie who spent time in the NHL last year. If you say that “significant” time is your barometer, then you have Baertschi, Wotherspoon, Hanowski and Ortio are considered.

If you go, okay, which of these players are guys the NHL club hopes turns into something? Ortio will probably be an NHL back-up in 2015-16 based on his contract. He was also really good last year in the AHL. Wotherspoon is a borderline NHL defenseman right now, while Sieloff could become one if he can stay healthy for a full season. Up front, the entire top nine are guys that the NHL club has plans for.

(As excited as some people are about Johnny Gaudreau, I’m pretty excited to see how Emile Poirier can do given a full pro season.)

And this line-up isn’t just exciting on paper, it also seems deep. The Heat got absolutely massacred with injuries last season (and seemingly every one before that) because of their stupid-crazy travel schedule. This year’s Baby Flames are a deeper team, and then when you consider that the travel will be a lot easier, that should be a sign of relief. Oh, and even if the (NHL) Flames get destroyed by injuries and a bunch of players get recalled – last year Calgary had Abbotsford’s #1 goalie, their top two defensemen and top 5 forwards up at the same time – this line-up can probably handle it.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Oh, probably a lot of things. Injuries. Regression. A good chunk of these guys have played together, but chemistry is a tricky thing and the locker room could get disrupted.

Heck, I was excited for the physical Sieloff and Ferland to have good seasons last year, figuring at least one of ’em would translate to the NHL given Brian Burke’s involvement with the club. Both of them got hurt and missed most of the season. And John Ramage’s hockey bloodlines meant very little when he was struggling and dispatched to the ECHL.

There are many things to get excited about regarding the AHL’s Adirondack Flames. None of ’em are sure things, but when the NHL club is struggling, remember that the Baby Flames are probably doing just fine.

  • BurningSensation

    Nice article Ryan

    I have a trouble (ok, A LOT of trouble) seeing Gaudreau being sent back to the farm.

    I’m going out on a limb and projecting him to be Calgary’s top point producer.

    As for the Heat, it’s nice to see some actual scoring depth on the farm!

    Your projected top line is an absolute monster.

  • Gaudfather

    It could be a tale of two cities this year where the Calgary Flames are still a sub .500 team while the Adirondack Flames are lighting up the AHL. This could be why BB/BT still want to keep most of the kids in the AHL under the tutelage of Ryan Huska, gaining experience while winning too.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Yup, I said as much yesterday on Lambert’s post. While the Flames are in tank mode, they are looking to shelter all the prospects in the AHL.

      I know this comment won’t be popular, but all the moves since BT started all look toward using short term vets for this season.

      • PrairieStew

        The problem with that is next season. You can’t bring in six rookies at once. Baertschi, Gaudreau, Granlund, Reinhart – that’s four right there. Plus, Bennett, maybe Arnold, Knight, Wolf. What if we draft McDavid or Eichel? Nice problem to have, sure, but where does everyone fit? It would make more sense to work in two rookies up front this year, and two or three next year, IMO. Unless a whack load of trades are coming, it seems as though the Flames are painting themselves into a bit of a rebuild corner.

        • ChinookArchYYC

          I agree, And I think we see a repeat of last year. One kid makes the show from day one and another one or two earn a spot when they seize an opportunity coming from an injury.

          There have been a lot of comments here and elsewhere to play the kids, but we’ve seen this movie before. This year the Oilers will likely push Draistl to be the saviour of this rebuild, just like Hall and RNH as well as the Russian kid before him. I’m no fortune teller, but this is a mistake. And so would elevating 4 – 5 rookies to be full time NHLers on the Flames.

          Am I anxious to see these guys in Calgary, absolutely I am, but they need to be handled right. In my view, bring them up when they’re ready.

          • ChinookArchYYC

            Is that really what happened last year? Maybe my memory is a bit different but did not Monahan, Sven, Bouma and Colborne all play a lot last year and even most of the year. with 9 established forwards and 4 who played a lot last year there is not much room in the inn. However in saying this it means, Byron, Bouma, Colborne, Djones and others will have to step up their game.

          • Gaudfather

            It looks like most of the kids will start in Abby this year. Bennett may get his 9 games in. Baertschi or Gaudreau (likely only 1) will stick from the beginning.

            However ya gotta think BT will be working the phones from Day 1 to trade about half of the over-26 Forwards including DJones, Hudler, Glencross, Setoguchi, Stajan, McGrattan, Byron, Raymond.

            Freeing up 3-4 spots while adding some picks and short-term salary dump in return to then open up space for prospects to get more NHL learning time while the team is not under any great pressure to win could be a thing of beauty.

        • Gaudfather

          I agree completely, however it was pointed out a few days ago that Tampa Bay brought up 6 rookies last year (and did great) as well as a couple other teams earlier. So, it can be done. Hopefully it’s a great problem to have, ie too any great young talented players busting the doors done to get into the NHL!

          • Gaudfather

            One could argue that the Flames brought up 4 unproven forwards last year, Monahan a true rookie, Colborne(a pro but with limited NHL experience), Bouma(a pro who missed most of the previous injury and little NHL experience) and Byron a tweener who many had given up on. As well as two Euro goalies early in the season all without a Stampkos(yes he was injured for a good chunk of time) and a StL to help carry them and BB playing great.

            At some point this year we will hopefully see some of our more skilled prospects get some real looks and ultimately stay up and be more established next year.(Johnnny,Sven, Granlund and Spoon) this year. Bennett. Poirier and Sieloff next year.

  • BurningSensation

    Ironically the biggest weakness right now from both a development and play perspective is the lack of veterans. But chances are that will be rectified.

    • Burnward

      I think Thiessen, Acolatse, Cundari, and (by this time) Reinhart qualify. And Granlund has been playing pro hockey since he was drafted.

      Wolf is the same age as Backlund and has been playing pro hockey for seven years now.

  • PrairieStew

    I think Poirier starts on the IR doesn’t he ?

    Ramage did get sent down to the ECHL – but then played lots – and deep into the playoffs. Hoping he takes regular AHL turn all year.

    Wild cards Sieloff and Ferland most interesting – along with große böse Wolf.

    • Gaudfather

      According to BT, Poirier was ahead of schedule and was targeting Flames training camp. He may not be ready for that, but if he is…vets look out.

      He’s still a smallish guy that plays a similar grittish game as Bennett, so I can see him starting the year in Addy.

      Granlund belongs in the NHL over Byron, but Byron seems to be able to play any line and multiple positions. Bouma will need to work hard to keep from being replaced by Wolf. Setoguchi will need to work his butt off to keep from being replaced by Ferland.

      Gaudreau most likely starts in the NHL. Sven likely is the first call-up if he doesn’t make the opening night roster. Yes, I know there are only so many spots, but some of the guys on ELC make more than guys on the team (Seto, Bouma, Byron) and could be sent down.

  • PrairieStew

    I love the way this team looks and I’ll watch them every chance I get, BUT…Geez, the D is young. Too young for Addy to be dominant this year is my guess. (Spoon and Sieloff will really have to step up…and, hey, maybe they can) But either way the experience will be great for the kids.

  • PrairieStew

    Poirier won’t be playing a full season…I thought he was out until November-December. Hope he recovers fully and does not come back early. Flames could use his scoring down the right wing. Flames seriously lacking on that side.

  • PrairieStew

    The biggest problem I have with your line combinations is the move of Rhino back to center after the organization spending a year and a half converting him to LW, he may indeed play some center when call ups occur or injuries but I suspect he starts at LW with Granlund; the chemistry they had last season was great and while Granlund will be the most talented center on the AHL team playing him with Johnny means to slight guys playing in a league that is physical. It would not surprise me to see Johnny if he is in the AHL play with Arnold to start and Sven with Knight as they also had some good chemistry at the end of the season. I also think it is more likely they move Ferland to RW than Agostino. I like the pairings of an AHL vet Cundari and Sena with Spoon and Sieloff but don’t be surprised to see Rmage a the partner and the younger guys sharing time.

  • Gaudfather

    Quite frankly I think the Flames are sitting in a perfect position; a lot of question mark veterans with lots to prove, being pushed hard by good young talented prospects that are hungry and bring a lot to the table.
    The biggest problem for years with Calgary was the complacent, country club mentality.
    There was no great urgency once you had contract in hand, because the farm was barren.
    That’s not the case anymore; the veterans we have are going to have to bring it, because there is a LOT of talent waiting in the wings.
    Win/win from what I can see…..