News and Notes – September 23 2014

We are about to get busy in a hurry, gang.

Following a handful of cuts, ending the NHL dreams of seven players for this season, the Flames are about to embark upon the busiest pre-season stretch that they’ll face: three games in three nights AND four games in five nights. We should be down to a more manageable group by that point, but for now, keep those roster sheets handy.

Remaining in camp:

  • G (5): Hiller, Ramo, Thiessen, Ortio, Carr
  • D (20): Russell, Giordano, Wideman, Brodie, Smid, Wotherspoon, Potter, Engelland, Brookbank, Diaz, Yonkman, Cundari, Stevenson, Sieloff, Acolatse, Ramage, Kulak, Culkin, Kanzig, Gedig
  • F (33): Colborne, Knight, Backlund, McGrattan, Bouma, Stajan, Jones, Glencross, Raymond, Setoguchi, Monahan, Hudler, Bollig, Baertschi, Byron, Gillies, Wolf, Arnold, Van Brabant, Agostino, Klimchuk, Gaudreau, Tousignant, Poirier, Hanowski, Reinhart, Granlund, Carroll, Bennett, Hathaway, Elson, Ferland, Jooris

There’s 58 bodies left in camp, so there are still 35 cuts, assignments, demotions or public floggings remaining until the team opens the season on October 8.

Tomorrow, the Flames play the Arizona Coyotes in Sylvan Lake (5pm MT, Sportsnet 360). Then they host Vancouver at home on Thursday (7pm MT, Sportsnet 360) and visit the Vancouver Canucks on Friday (7pm MT, Sportsnet One). And if they’re still standing, and even if they’re not, they play the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Sunday (6pm MT, no TV). At that point, they’ll have three pre-season games left and the real battles can begin. Adirondack’s camp opens on the 28th, so expect some cuts around that time, but likely nobody terribly noteworthy.

The game group for Sylvan Lake: (Updated with Flames site’s info; my guess is that Klimchuk and Ramage are your healthy scratches)

Baertschi – Colborne – Raymond
Gaudreau – Granlund – Ferland
Glencross – Reinhart – Jooris
Klimchuk – TousignantSetoguchi
McGrattan – Elson – Wolf

Russell – Engelland
Diaz – Kulak
Sieloff – Brookbank
Acolatse – Ramage

Ortio
Carr

Now, obviously there’s too many guys, so some guys will sit. A D-pairing and a forward line, to be specific. Heck if I can figure out who: each pairing or line contains either a body with a connection to Central Alberta, or sombody who didn’t play a game yet.

Karri Ramo worked out on the ice before Tuesday’s practice with Curtis Gedig, Trevor Gillies, Tyler Wotherspoon, Corey Potter and Emile Poirier. (That’s the group that Sam Bennett graduated from.) Mikael Backlund (abdominal) remains sidelined and was the only player that didn’t skate, which probably indicate he’s a ways behind the rest of the injured players. Ramo was well enough to practice with the game group, and Bob Hartley indicated he may play one of the later games of this back-to-back(-to-back) stretch.

Gotta imagine Gedig would’ve probably been cut by now if he’d been healthy. He’s the last amateur try-out player remaining from the group the Flames sent to Penticton.

In other news, Providence College – home of Flames picks Mark Jankowski, Jon Gillies and John Gilmour – was named as the top team in the Hockey East conference in a pre-season poll. That’s not worth much, but it does illustrate the sky-high expectations for that team for this year. I figure if the Friars have a great season, Gillies may think about turning pro. The Flames only have a pair of goalies (Hiller and Ortio) under contract for next season.

Reportedly Flames pick Rushan Rafikov is practicing with the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl club, rather than suiting up with the MHL junior club. He hasn’t gotten into a game yet at any rate, but it’s probably a good sign regarding his development. Adam Ollas Mattsson’s Djurgardens IF J20 club is on a roll, undefeated through their first 5 games (3-0-2). He leads his team in penalty minutes (14) and is second in shots on goal (17) through the first five games, in which he has a goal and an assist.

  • beloch

    Like the Sylvan Lake groupings. Some different combos and more guys getting a game, though surprising Bennet not in there. Also better to save the bigger guns for the Canucks… Looks like massive cuts and reassignments early next week.

      • McRib

        By the sounds of it Bennett wanted to play in Sylvan Lake, but the team is holding him out of this one for precautionary measures as not to rush his return. Lots of games to come where he will have plenty of opportunity to showcase skills.

  • McRib

    “In other news, Providence College – home of Flames picks Mark Jankowski, Jon Gillies and John Gilmour – was named as the top team in the Hockey East conference in a pre-season poll.”

    Noticed on Mark Jankowski’s Twitter that he has put on 10-15+ Pounds this offseason, now he is up to a more respectable 200+ Lbs. This is the year we find out what player he will become considering factors like his late (regular) birthday, the average age of the NCAA these days and the fact that he was a late bloomer offset this +3 season slightly for me (to a +1.5-2). Heres to hoping for a big jump in production. Anything near Chris Kreider’s Jr. Season production of 1.03 PPG should be a good guide to seeing Top. 9 Potential.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    I think jankowski is going to be a beast this year and he will prove he belongs…..maybe not the best player from the draft but i hope he proves it. Didnt feaster say he had 10 year or something to become the best from the draft? This is only my personal hopes not a realistic view with statistical data…go flames

    • beloch

      By the late first round where Jankowski was picked, the odds of a player being a NHL regular, let alone an impact player, are less than 50/50. To my uneducated eyes the Flames have been drafting very well as of late, but not every prospect is going to beat the odds. Jankowski looks like a probable miss to me at present, but there’s still room for him to surprise (and I certainly hope he does). Even if he doesn’t evolve into a top 6 player, he’s got the size to be an enforcer (who can hopefully play hockey).

      Patrick Sieloff has a shot too and trading down to pick Jankowski was what gave the Flames the extra pick to acquire Sieloff. We really should lump Sieloff and Jankowski together when consider how that pick turned out.

  • RedMan

    is it just me, or does this year hold a lot more excitement and interest than any other year in recent history?

    And no, I am not expecting playoffs or even anything above 25th in the league. I don’t even care if they finish bottom 2 or 3… there is a lot to be excited about.

    • beloch

      I think it’s less exciting to follow a known quantity than a mystery. For a very long time the Flames were a veteran heavy team with a hollowed out shell of a farm system. Flames fans didn’t have many surprises to look forward to because new players were usually thoroughly known quantities from other NHL teams. This year, there are multiple rookies who are poised to establish themselves in the NHL. Where the Flames finish in the standings may be fairly predictable, but how they do it is going to be exciting to see!

      Personally, I’m looking forward to watching a full season of Gaudreau play. He was insanely inventive and endlessly entertaining during the World Cup this spring. Even if he doesn’t make as big of a dent in the league as we’re hoping for, I’m sure he’ll be a treat to watch.

  • RedMan

    when Engelland and Bollig were introduced to McGratton:

    “Hi, I’m Brian Mcgatton” as he reaches his hand out to shake.

    as the hand extends, both Bollig and Engallend flinch involuntarily, while Bollig whispers, “yes sir, I knew that. I’d recognize those knuckles anywhere”.

    McGratton actually pummelled them both thoroughly last year.

  • RedMan

    I can’t imagine anything short of riots if the Oilers dont finish closer to the 8th spot then they do the 16th spot in the west. if this year doesn’t see marked improvement things will get ugly real fast.

    I don’t wish it on them but I won’t lie; I’d enjoy it (privately of course out of respect fot my oiler fan friends, at least a little).

    😉

    • mk

      I’m constantly confused at how a franchise can be so awful for so long. Terrible choices in many, many areas. Drafting, signings, trades, management, etc.

      I really hope this isn’t the preview of the next few season for the Flames. Every year they should improve, but find ways to wallow in the basement.

      • mk

        You seem very confused??? Is it not the Oilers that you just described?

        9 years of rebuild, roster full of 1st overalls, yearly expectations for improvement with results of chronic losing and basement finishes….I think you should go for a walk and get some fresh air!

        • Bob Cobb

          I realize its fun to say the Coilers have been rebuilding for 9 years, but the reality is they were floundering, chasing big fish, signing Khabibulin, Penner, chasing Heatley, Hossa etc until a rebuild was basically their only option.

          In reality the Coilers are entering year 4 of a methodical rebuild. It was forced on them in 2010, culminating in the Taylor Hall pick. Subsequently, they committed to it for 2011, 2012, 2013 and now 2014. I assume they expected to make the playoffs this year. The fact they have basically zero chance of making it this year is certainly a kick in the teeth.

          We had our rebuild forced on us in a different but similar way they did. Years of futility, post apex failure. Our involuntary reality check came in 2012 when Jbo/Iggy left. That gives us 2013 & now 2014 as methodical rebuild years. So we are entering year 2.

          So really we are 2 years behind the Oilers.

          It’s perhaps a cautionary tale for us on tempering expectations for how quickly we will return to the hunt. I have no doubt JG, Benette etc will be impact players, but reality is they are skinny kids and nothing but time fixes that.

          • spx03

            I would say in reality that the oilers started their methodical rebuild in 2007, when they traded Smythe and Pronger both for first round picks.

            Ours you could say the same when we traded Iggy and Bouwmeester in 2013.

            Oilers are probably closer to year 8 of their rebuild than 4.

          • spx03

            Kurt,
            I agree we need to temper expectations, and be aware that our top prospects are likely going to take a couple years, at least to become the force we hope them to be. I’m fine with that and am enjoying the rifde so far.

            Not that it makes any difference, but the argument/discussion over the Oilers “rebuild” is an interesting one. I agree that they completely tore it down and started over with Hall, but seem to recall that after 2006 when they lost Pronger and etc… they have multiple 1st round picks (including Gagner) and at that time were “rebuilding” and looking to those kids as the bright hope for the future. Just because it didn’t work out, and subsequently had to undertake and even deeper, more drastic rebuild doesn’t change anything in my eyes. Their trading Pronger was like our trading Iginla, the rest is semantics.

          • RexLibris

            Ownership refused to commit to a rebuilding process following the Pronger trade.

            Lowe went to the EIG and asked them if he could trade players for picks and start over.

            They said “no”, and thus Cogliano, Gagner, Nilsson, Smid and Gilbert were put into the lineup and the team tried to trade for Dany Heatley, sign Michael Nylander, signed Sheldon Souray, and submitted offer sheets on Tomas Vanek and Dustin Penner.

            Management was told to use draft picks and creative trades to acquire players to make the team competitive immediately, which the Oilers did in acquiring Erik Cole, Patrick O’Sullivan, and Ales Kotalik.

            If we suggest that the Flames are in year 2 of a rebuild, and I believe they are, then you could very easily find comparisons between the two.

            Trading Regehr and Kotalik for a pick in order to free up cap space to pursue Brad Richards in free agency.

            Ownership refusing to trade Jarome Iginla when there were rumours that Dean Lombardi had offered a 1st round pick and Brayden Schenn in return.

            Signing Dennis Wideman to a five-year deal.

            The narrative that the Oilers have been rebuilding since 2007 is false.

            Citing events to justify that narrative while simultaneously ignoring that many of those events have direct comparisons to the Flames in recent years is hypocrisy.

            This isn’t directed necessarily at you, and I apologize if it seems so. Rather, I wanted to make a point regarding the general direction of this discussion.

          • EugeneV

            Rex,
            Competitive ribbing aside, its all semantics. In my view the 2 best Oilers in 2006 were Pronger and Smyth, who I believe were both traded in the 2006-2007 season. To me this is the most significant action the team undertook at the time and signalled a major rebuild. I also equate this to the Flames trading their two best players Iginla and Bouwmeester in 2013. Whether management termed it that, or how they approached the task, and what was demanded i.e. trying to make the playoffs is secondary. Therefore to me their rebuild started then.

            If we look at it differently, i.e. change the term rebuild to the point where we accept we’re going young and will not make the playoffs for several years then, yes the Oilers started with Hall, while the Flames, realistically (but not officially) stay the same.

            No matter how you look at it, both are building to the future that they expect will be significantly better than where they are currently. It would be nice if the Oilers did make a jump this year, they’ve had enough top picks for a lifetime… (though Pittsburg has them beat out there…with an intentional tanking to get Lemieux…)

          • Kevin R

            Rex, I believe you & want to stand with you on that point. But……. always a but eh. Yes the Oilers were forced into trading Pronger & Smyth was just a typical Kevin Lowe fiasco, & the thought of Ryan Smyth crying at the podium makes me wanna go hurl. Anyway, those were two pretty major pieces that I would categorize them to closer to rebuild than to retool. The Flames when in that denial phase still had their franchise pieces of Iggy, JBO & Kipper when the Iggy trade offer from LA came about. & who in their rightful mind would give up on those players at the ages of 31-32? Maximize value yes but not if you thought they still had a shot at winning the Cup & they were a playoff team up to that point.

            So I say lets make the distinction here once & for all. Oilers have been rebuilding since 2010 but since 2007 they were rebuilding but management made decisions that were based on retooling.

            Flames have been retooling since 2010 & some will debate they should have just maxed out value & start the rebuild but Management made decisions based on retooling & kept the major franchise pieces in place. The rebuild started in March of 2013.

            Enough said on this topic. Next thing we’ll be discussing is whose dump is bigger & smellier than the others.

    • RedMan

      …finish closer to the 8th spot then they do the 16th spot in the west.

      That would be a feat in and of itself, considering there are only 14 teams in the West.

  • Bob Cobb

    Wow Kurt, a Flames fan that actually uses common sense before making a comment.

    You are one 100% right about the Oilers, they are only in year 4 of the rebuild. The plan was get top picks and than bring in veterans to surround them, which is easier said than done. Until the Fall for Hall year they were chasing the playoffs. All Oiler fans knew it would be at least 5 years before they would start to be competitive again.

    One more thing, by Kurt’s math Chambers reasoning the Flames are going into year 6 of a rebuild if they are 2 years behind the Oilers, so yeah Flames fans that’s something to be proud of, worry about your own dumpster fire of a team and us Oiler fans will worry about our team

  • EugeneV

    Let’s all get real. Forget the runs to the finals the Flames and Oilers had in 2004 & 2006, as they were flukes.
    The fact is both teams have been rebuilding since about 1994. 20 years of rebuilding now.

  • EugeneV

    Wondering where Diaz fits in the Flames’ defensive picture. Apparently Red Wings, and couple more teams were interested in his services. Chose Calgary, of course.