News and Notes – September 8 2014

It’s beginning to look like time for hockey, both in terms of the calendar and in terms of Calgary’s weather! The European pro hockey schedule has begun and pretty soon we’ll be underway in North America, as well!

Here’s a quick Monday morning primer for your perusal.


The Calgary Flames have their golf tournament on Tuesday – weather permitting – and following that, the team’s youngest players all gather in town for rookie camp. The Flames had to Penticton on the weekend, and we’ll have coverage – granted, from a distance – for the annual YoungStars Classic tournament!

In terms of games…

  • Friday, September 12: Flames vs. Jets – 5pm MT
  • Saturday, September 13: Flames vs. Oilers – 8:30pm MT
  • Sunday, September 14: No Flames games, enjoy your Sunday!
  • Monday, September 15: Flames vs. Canucks – 6:30pm MT

I am of the understanding that our pals at Sportsnet 960 The Fan will be calling all three games, featuring the radio debut of the Derek Wills/Peter Loubardias tandem. I suspect that the Flames site will be streaming the games, but I am not in any way sure yet.

My expectation is Calgary’s roster for the tournament should be available Tuesday or Wednesday.


Our pal Darren Haynes did a really cool feature on Derek Wills on his blog, Flames from 80 Feet.

The Claude Julien story is gold.


Our pal Peter Loubardias is on Twitter @Fan960Lou. You should follow him, although his patented soliloquies about junior hockey probably won’t translate to 140 characters well.


Sunday was the 3rd anniversary of the tragic crash of Yak-Service Flight 9633, which resulted in the deaths of basically the entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey club. It took more than a year to conclude the investigation into the crash, where it was concluded that the pilots falsified their training documents.

Former Flames captain and assistant coach Brad McCrimmon was one of the passengers on that plane, and was en route to Minsk to begin his KHL head coaching career. The Flames honoured McCrimmon’s memory with a permanent display on the concourse, which I believe is adjacent to the display honouring former Flames head coach “Badger” Bob Johnson.


Flames 2013 seventh-rounder Rushan Rafikov represented Russia at the end of August in the Four Nations Cup. Russia beat the Czech Republic but lost to Sweden and Finland, so they finished third. Rafikov played in all three games and didn’t get any points. He was paired with his junior teammate Nikita Cherepanov.

Rafikov’s junior team, Loko Yaroslavl, won both of their games thus far to open their season. Rafikov had a goal over the weekend.


Flames 2014 sixth rounder Adam Ollas Mattsson represented Sweden at the same Four Nations Cup. Sweden won two of three, losing to Finland, finishing first overall. Ollas Mattsson had no points, and was paired primarily with 2014 Canucks fifth rounder Gustav Forsling, who was chosen 126th overall (49 spots before Ollas Mattsson).

Ollas Mattsson joined his pro team, Djurgardens IF, for their final Champions League round robin game, a 4-3 shootout loss to Eisbaren Berlin. The SHL regular season begins on Saturday.


Stick-tap to Roger Millions for the heads-up via Twitter. Diaz, 28, has 45 points in 145 NHL games split between Montreal, Vancouver and the NY Rangers. He’s (only) 5’11” and 195 pounds, but he’s an underrated passer and could be a low-risk addition. Last season in 63 games his CorsiRel was +4.1, his QualComp was -1.00 and he had 50.5% offensive zone starts. In short: he did decent possession-wise, but he was both sheltered (in terms of starts) and shielded (in terms of competition). But hey, if he’s a third pairing guy, that’s not terrible.

The Flames have 48 players under contract for 2014-15, but four of those deals (Sam Bennett, Keegan Kanzig, Morgan Klimchuk and Emile Poirier) can slide, so up to six more players could be signed. But if Diaz and/or Sheldon Brookbank impress, expect an established defender to be moved out.

I mean, one would have to be, right?

    • TheRealPoc

      Potter is on a two-way, however, and I’m sure that move was made with Adirondack’s roster in mind. If Diaz can’t make a club in the bigs, I doubt he has much interest in riding the bus for the rest of the year – he could probably make decent money back home in Switzerland.

    • JMK

      That would be because Harry Potter signed a two way ticket to play Quiddage in Glen Falls. Based on the strength of Diaz’s NHL numbs i doubt he is interested in a two way… dont you?

      He will be in camp fighting for a one way.

  • everton fc

    A 28 year old that needs to be ‘sheltered’ and ‘shielded’? Good grief.. I would rather have Tyler wotherspoon fill that role than a marginal veteran player!!

  • mk

    I have a hard time seeing how Diaz or Spoon would be worse than Engelland – still don’t understand that signing. Let’s hope these guys a) outplay him (probable) and b) that fact is recognized by Hartley.

    Maybe play Engelland when you want to start another brawl in Vancouver.

  • mk

    Wow – I didn’t realize how important that 6th ; 7th D guy is on the flames team. All these over paid, and older age players to try and fill the spots?? Or maybe Spoon needs all these older guys to help develop him to be a bubble 7th D like them. — I sure hope that is not the case???

  • mk

    I just want whatever roster gives us the best chance at getting the best draft pick. We need to fill our team with players that pass the eye test but fail the advanced stats test, that way nobody thinks we’re tanking and Connor McEichel will be ours…

  • beloch

    Diaz has played the most NHL games with Montreal, and they did weird things with him. In 2011-2012 he was second pairing and struggled in that role. In 2012-2013 they inexplicably threw him out against tougher competition and worse zone starts than any other Montreal defender and he was absolutely destroyed. However, he has some offensive upside. He’s produced 0.31 ppg over his career.

    The best comparison in the Flames org is Kris Russel. Like Diaz, he’s not quite good enough to be second pairing on a good team, but he’s produced 0.29 ppg over his career.

    I like Diaz on the Flames third pairing. Signing him would also put one more warm body between the Flames blueline and Potter, which is surely a good thing!

    • PrairieStew

      “Not quite good enough for the second pairing”

      How many guys have we said that about now ? Smid, Russell, Wotherspoon, Potter, Engelland now Diaz; WELL at least they can push each other !!

  • PrairieStew

    Diaz had some pretty good seasons in Montreal, but he’s fallen off a bit. If he could get back to that level that would really help us out Potter has had some injury issues, he’s better off in the AHL. Engelland and Brookbank will probably rotate in the last spot. I would have like to have seen the Flames sign Jamie McBain, he’s 26 another right handed shot gives you some offense. Hope to see Wotherspoon in the lineup soon so that he is ready in the next couple of years. Tyler is hungry to make the team, guys like Diaz, Potter, Brookbank might have incentive to reprove themselves again. If they unload Wideman, they would have to retain some salary or take some on. Either they trade him for picks or bring back a roster player.

  • Tommynotsohuge

    I think the Diaz “signing” paves the way for the flames to offload Wideman to the Stars. They have no right handed d and seem to be going for it this year. Wideman is a perfect fit. I think we could at least get a good prospect and a decent draft pick for him.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    I agree with Friedman (on radio today) and others who say given Diaz invite that a trade is afoot bringing Leddy here for Wotherspoon and a 2nd rounder but conditional Leddy extends to after this season with Flames in next 4 months. Otherwise just a 3rd rounder and Wotherspoon.

    • That… doesn’t make sense. What would Diaz have to do with trading a prospect for another roster player?

      It would be different if you had said the Diaz tryout implies the Flames are trying to move Wideman, or perhaps Russell. But Woz?

      I don’t see it.

      • RealMcHockeyReturns

        Veteran D-men to Hawks are not going to help Chicago with salary cap issues but Wotherspoon would so that so why him while Leddy comes in to play 2nd pair in Calgary with Wideman likely. And you need a lower-tier (bottom pair) guy like Diaz in camp to give some competition there (instead of Brookbank please) to Smid and Engelland since Woz is gone. Perfect sense! And don’t forget the mid-season acquisition of Malkin that will happen.

        • RealMcHockeyReturns

          Totes… and once we acquire Malkin the acquisitions of Griffin and Sam will complete a TRIFECTA of amazingness that will catapult the Flames to Andromeda and beyond

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    What gets that done. Baertshi Backlund and our 2015 first? A steep price… is it worth it. Malkin is 28 already… does he have the shelf life of a Fedorov or a Yashin… those Russians can be a little flaky sometimes…