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.
— Derek Wills (@Fan960Wills) September 4, 2014
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
Extra: Doug Carr
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.