Who’s Left?

The axe fell this morning at the Scotiabank Saddledome, with the Calgary Flames assigning a slew of bodies to the American Hockey League – or to purgatory, depending on if one had a contract. Headed to Adirondack are Sena Acolatse (pending waivers), Brett Kulak, Corban Knight, Max Reinhart and Bill Arnold. Headed to an abyss of contractual uncertainty are try-out players Sheldon Brookbank and Nolan Yonkman.

The Adirondack Flames play pre-season games on Friday and Saturday against Utica, so the guys who got sent down will get into game action almost right away.

Now that the Flames are down to a lean 33-man camp roster, the big question remains: who is left?

GOALIES

Three remain: Joni Ortio, Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo.

There is zero controversy here. Ortio will go down shortly, and Hiller and Ramo will tandem things to kick off the regular season. They’ll probably flip a coin or leg wrestle or something to decide who plays here on October 8 and in Edmonton on October 9.

DEFENSE

Ten blueliners remain: Kris Russell, Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, Ladislav Smid, Tyler Wotherspoon, Corey Potter, Deryk Engelland, Raphael Diaz and Patrick Sieloff.

Smid, Wotherspoon, Potter and Engelland are all nursing injuries, though none of them are thought to be catastrophic. I think it’s rather obvious which seven guys stick around. I think they’re keeping Sieloff for extra evaluation and to have enough healthy bodies for pre-season games on the back end. Diaz is on the team, presuming he can agree to a contract.

Not skating with the main group on Wednesday morning were Wotherspoon and Potter while Smid and Engelland did take part in full practice, so my theory appears to be supported so far.

FORWARDS

The 20 remaining forwards in camp are: Joe Colborne, Mikael Backlund, Brian McGrattan, Lance Bouma, Matt Stajan, David Jones, Curtis Glencross, Mason Raymond, Devin Setoguchi, Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler, Brandon Bollig, Sven Baertschi, Paul Byron, Morgan Klimchuk, Johnny Gaudreau, Markus Granlund, Sam Bennett, Michael Ferland and Josh Jooris.

Nursing injuries and not skating with the main group on Wednesday: Backlund, Klimchuk, Jones, Granlund and Raymond. Presuming that Jones, Backlund and Raymond are good to go for October 8, that leaves three spots left-over for guys. And let’s presume Granlund and Klimchuk are cut due to inactivity, so that gets the group down to 18 bodies – or seven guys fighting for three spots.

So pick three of Baertschi, Byron, Setoguchi, Gaudreau, Bennett, Ferland and Jooris for your opening night roster. I would lean towards Byron, Baertschi and Gaudreau right now based on game action, but it depends what you want. If you want guys you want to play a lot and grow, I’d probably go with Baertschi, Bennett and Gaudreau. If you’re looking to fill your last actual playing spot and your extra bodies, I’d go with Gaudreau, Byron and Setoguchi, as they give you flexibility and nobody’s going to be too upset if Setoguchi or Byron sits for a game once in awhile.

This is the last actual battle left for this camp, and if any of the injured trio cannot go for October 8 and goes on the injured reserve when the season begins, then things will get slightly more delayed and slightly more complicated.

  • MattyFranchise

    I think this year will be a fun year to be a Flames fan. Last year was SO much more entertaining than previous years. As long as Hartley has this team working hard and not giving up it is going to be fun to watch. Not to mention the excellent work habits and expectations of being a pro that are being taught to the young players.

    Hartley is exactly the coach the Flames need right now. just my opinion

  • The Last Big Bear

    I’m in favor of giving Bennett his 9-game cup of coffee, but I’d actually be OK with them spreading it out a little bit.

    Have him play every 2 or 3 games. Practice with the team, learn from NHL coaches, and train with and against NHL players. Have him lift big in the gym with the strength and conditioning staff, and feed him properly.

    Work him like a dog on and off the ice all week, and then once a week let him off the chain for an NHL game.

    The Blues did this with Pietrangelo, and stretched his 9 games out until the WJC (he missed a few games to a pre-season injury as well IIRC). Seems to have worked out well.

    The only reason I want to see Bennett sent down is because I just dont think he has the strength and mass to play his aggressive physical game safely and effectively at the NHL level. He’s only going back the CHL to develop physically.

    I think he’ll develop better physically, and probably as a player, by working, training, and playing in an NHL environment for two months, than he will by getting a few extra CHL games in that span.

    Just my take.

  • aloudoun

    Oh and one more thing. EA Sports predicted the bottom 5 teams are…
    Florida 78
    New Jersey 78
    Buffalo 77
    Ottawa 71
    Calgary 64
    So there is that… Take it with a grain of salt. oh and LA wins the the cup beating Boston.

  • aloudoun

    Why is Wideman our highest paid player? As far as I am concerned Jones and Wideman are expendable right now. I also think Glencross is probably going to be traded with the way things are going. (2nd rounder in 2015 at the deadline sounds good to me)

    Also I am extremely pleased with Hartley. I hope he is kept around fro awhile.

  • RexLibris

    I like Klimchuk as a prospect but there little to now way he plays any regular season games this year, one he is injured and two there are too many healthy lw currently ahead of him. He will be going back down as soon as he is healthy.Have we heard any news about whether or not Poirier has been cleared to practice with ADDY yet. His injury and inability to participate in main camp make him a real wild card this year.

    Bennett should get his 9 games regardless of the health at center ice but the injuries ti Backs and Granlund has made it much easier for the coaching staff to do so. Once they are both healthy I like the depth at center in the organization.

  • Derzie

    Am surprised no one has commented on the Swiss invasion.
    – Czechs & Slovaks…no need to apply here.
    – Swedes & Finns…tokenism sprinkling at best
    But watch out ‘case HERE COME THE SWISS!!

    Baertschi, Hiller and now Diaz!

    Guess getting played tough and occasionally beat up by the Swiss at World Championships et al has gained a lot of respect.

    Who would ever have thought we’d have 3 Swiss on the Flames even 2 years ago!

  • Lines from practice, which mean very little probably:

    Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler
    Byron – Bennett – Setoguchi
    Bollig – Bouma – Ferland
    Baertschi – Colborne – Jooris
    Glencross – Stajan – McGrattan

    Giordano – Brodie
    Smid – Wideman
    Engelland – Russell
    Sieloff – Diaz

    Hiller
    Ramo

    Injured group: Ortio (not injured), Raymond, Klimchuk, Wotherspoon, Potter

    Didn’t skate with either group: Backlund, Granlund, Jones

    • Some interesting nuggets to speculate on:

      Bollig-Bouma-Ferland…a good 4th line? Lots of functional toughness with more function than having McG on the line, depending on the opposition.

      Interesting pairings with interchangeable RWs:

      – Baertschi & Colborne (a 3rd line with some scoring punch and sheltered defensively)
      – Gaudreau & Monahan (give a chance to develop chemistry)
      – Glencross & Stajan (tried & trusted)
      – Bennett & Setoguchi (spare parts for now)

  • beloch

    It will be interesting to see what kind of contract Diaz wants. In 2012-2013 Montreal deployed him as their top shut-down defender. He had the hardest minutes of any defender on their team. He got his head bashed in though. Last season, he bounced around the league but mostly got second pairing deployment and did somewhat better. Even more interesting, if you look at his WoWOY zone-start adjusted CF% from last season, he made every single defenceman he was paired with better. Montreal traded him last season, not because he was crap, but because he was a pending UFA and it looked like he was going to walk. Vancouver probably didn’t sign him because they were up against the cap.

    Diaz could probably be a solid stay-at-home second pairing defender for the Flames, or a better-than-average third pairing option. Diaz will likely be a bigger addition to the team than Engelland. It will be a big win if Treliving can get him signed for less money than Engelland.

    • RKD

      Isn’t that the type of logic that put Sven where he is today? He scores 3 goals in 5 games and all of a sudden expectations are sky high and totally unrealistic.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      I think you send him down regardless. He may not look out of place after the 9th game but what about the 20th? The kid is young and has some filling out to do. There’s absolutely no shame in him going down to Kingston with a whole head of confidence having made the opening night roster but knowing he still has work to do to make the next step.

        • Burnward

          true story… I just see no scenario where I’d want Sam Bennett playing the entire season with Calgary. To me the comparable to RNH applies. I think you’re flirting with seriously stunting Bennett’s development if you force him into the lineup before you actually need him to make the jump. The Flames do not need Bennett to make the jump so he should play out his final year of junior hockey.

          • beloch

            Bennett’s body is getting banged up in pre-season. One more year in Junior won’t hurt his development and he will be stroinger next year…will be outplaying Nugent Hopkins and be top rookie NEXT year!

          • SavardianSpinorama

            Agree.

            For me a good comparable is Tampa Bay sending Drouin back down last year to the Q for another year of experience and maturing.

            If TB can be patient enough to send the #3 overall pick who is almost identical in size to Bennett (and less physical than Bennett) then the Flames should take note.

            No need to rush the kid…let Gaudreau compete for the Calder this year, Bennett next year, and next year’s top pick 2 years from now.

          • RexLibris

            They don’t really compare.

            Bennett would be coming in alongside Stajan, Colborne, Monahan and Backlund.

            Nugent-Hopkins came in alongside Belanger, Horcoff and Anton Lander.

            He would have killed a man in broad daylight in a crowded plaza to have that kind of backup.

            Bennett could come in and replace Colborne by way of Quality of Competition with elevated TOI leaving the tougher opponents and slightly reduced ice time to Stajan and Backlund.

            He and Monahan could split the PP duties and get the choice wingers and d-pairings to play with.

            Depending on how he shows these last few games he might just be NHL-ready.

            There really aren’t that many issues on the Flames roster that would stunt his development this year, to be honest. He has veterans on the wing and depth down the middle and a defensive group who won’t lob hand grenades his way in traffic in front of a subpar goaltender.

            He’d be fine.

          • RexLibris

            Fair enough…

            I suppose my point speaks mainly to Bennett/RNH’s physical maturity coming into the league.

            We can already see the toll that playing against men has taken on Bennett and we’re just playing pre season games. If the flames were to keep him up with the big club I hope they’d take the approach that you suggest and shelter him like crazy but if there’s even a chance that they might cause him injury problems and generally stunt his development then they shouldn’t even bother.

            The guy looks like an absolute gem and could possibly be the best prospect the flames have had in a generation. That prospect and his development need to be protected at all costs.

            The flames aren’t competing for anything this year. He’ll be a year older next year and hopefully a hell of a lot more physically mature. We don’t need him to have a good season with the flames we need him to have a great career with the flames. Patience should be the mantra the organization keeps chanting to itself.

          • RexLibris

            No, those are good points.

            I think it needs to be noted for Flames fans concerned over Bennett and the NHL is that Nugent-Hopkins’ shoulder injury didn’t occur on account of any NHL hit.

            He tripped and went awkwardly into the boards which aggravated a pre-existing injury that he had incurred in his previous junior season with the Rebels, perhaps during their playoff run.

            I wouldn’t necessarily equate Bennett’s current size with being too fragile for the NHL. It is a factor, but ought not be used to summarily dismiss him from contention on the roster.

  • RKD

    I think Sam Bennett should get his 9 game tryout and then be sent down. He needs to mature physically and I’m not talking about the chin-up story. He had a groin issue then recently Bob Hartley said he had the vintage all over body injury. Sam can’t have maintenance days as a rookie, he’s only 18 let him go back to the AHL and dominate there. He can come back next year and make the team. I would like to see Gaudreau, Baertschi and Fenland on the opening day roster. There’s a possibility that Ferland could be a darkhorse and maybe more NHL ready than we think. From my observations Gaudreau seems to be itching and ready to go. I think Diaz appears to be a good fit and his contract will be sorted out shortly.

      • everton fc

        Agree. Johnny and Ferland are on this team now! They did exactly what had to be done in camp…they delivered!

        Ortio, Granlund (concussion), Sieloff and Sven…your going down but be ready for early call up based on injuries and player movement.

        • JMK

          To me, Sven has been one of the Flames best forwards at camp. He seems better in his own zone and looks like he has improved his 2 way game.

          Sieloff has been underwhelming by my eye, but that can probably be attributed to him having played virtually no hockey for a calendar year.

          Granlund was dominant in the Young Stars Tourney, if the Flames were willing to use their 4th line as speed/skill line, he’d probably be making this team out of camp (if healthy of course)

  • T&A4Flames

    Glencross-Bennett-Raymond

    Baertschi-Monahan-Hudler

    Gaudreau-Colborne-Setoguchi

    Bouma-Stajan-Bollig

    Byron/McGrattan

    Brodie-Gio

    Smid-Wideman

    Russell-Engelland

    Diaz

    Hiller

    Ramo

    Injured: Backlund, Jones

    Once Backlund is back you can send Bennett back to junior.

    Once Jones is back… well I don’t know what to do then!

  • aloudoun

    I agree Engelland has looked more competent than even I expected. However it is preseason, and I’m curious how he stacks up against an actual NHL lineup. We learned last year that we like Russell, but nobody is beating down the door saying he is a top 4 defenseman. As a 5-6 pairing with the right minutes, I think Russell-Engelland can be effective. HOWEVER, that leaves a combination of Wideman, Diaz, and Smid on the second pairing, ack.

    Acquire Leddy darnit, and maybe use that deal to ship a forward out of town (*ahem Glencross and half his cap hit *ahem) to make space for a young player. A couple of these kids have outplayed many veterans, and in the case of Gaudreau, pretty much EVERY veteran. He leads the team in shots doesn’t he? Treliving has been complaining about goal scoring….

  • JMK

    How many players will Adirondack carry? Is it also 23? By my count they have had 21 players assigned to Adirondack already with another 10 potentially (more than likely 8 with Klimchuk and Bennett going to Junior)

    • Koolmoedee

      AHL teams have no roster limits. However, are only allowed to dress 18 skaters and two goalies per game.

      So for practicality’s sake, teams need to decide how many players to keep. AHL teams are in their training camps now, and some players will probably end up in the ECHL or elsewhere.

  • T&A4Flames

    Out of those 7 forwards you mention as on the bubble I think I’d go with Gaudreau, Baertschi and Bennett out of camp.

    For me Gaudreau has made this team. He’s a magician with the puck and all he does is create offence. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he might be the highest offensive hockey IQ of any flames forward. I could easily see him QBing the 1st PP unit by Christmas with the speed, skill and intelligence he has.

    Baertschi has earned a spot on the opening roster. He hasn’t had the production you probably would want out of him this preseason but he’s be extremely noticeable for the right reasons in the games he’s played. I don’t know if he sticks but he deserves the chance to be there on Oct. 8th.

    My opinion hasn’t changed on Bennett. I think ultimately the best thing for his development is to head on down to Kingston and dominate. That said, I think giving him a taste of the show is something that could prove invaluable. I’d give him his 9 game try out and then send him down. I look forward to seeing him and McDavid own the WJC this year.

  • Derzie

    If life were fair, some new & veteran additions would not make the cut. Bollig, Setoguchi, Smid, Engellund although some are hurt, all are pretty bad. Then again, NHL 15 sim has us picking McDavid with this bunch. So I need to grit my teeth, bite my tongue and ignore the terrible brand of hockey these truculent ones bring to enable our journey to the promised land (i.e. lottery win).

    • SavardianSpinorama

      “Terrible brand of hockey.”

      Really?

      I was far less entertained when Iggy and Jaybo were firmly cemented in the Flames’ lineup.

      At least THIS team tries.

      • Derzie

        You’re missing the point. Last year was a GREAT brand of hockey but these plugs were not part of it. They lack the skill to be tough and good at actual hockey.

        • SavardianSpinorama

          What plugs?

          The Flames’ roster has not changed so dramatically that it would justify your comment.

          The Flames lost who?

          Cammalleri and Butler?

          Big deal.

          They brought in Raymond, Setoguchi and Engelland, and opened up a roster spot or two.

          Neither the defense nor the forwards have changed to the extent anyone should be comparing this team to a bunch of plugs.

    • Derzie

      I actually have to say Engelland has looked pretty solid the few pre season games I’ve caught. I’d like to see him and Russell get a chance of NHL action together.

  • Colorado Flames

    I think it will be Gaudreau,Setoguchi, and Byron. As much as Ive heard that Setoguchi has been outplayed it really seems like he will be around at least for the start of the season since the Flames did sign him to a contract. I would have preferred professional tryout.We are also lacking at RW.

    Byron will probably stick around too since they signed him to a one year deal as well. I think Byron brings more to the table and he showed us that last year. Both are one way deals if I’m not mistaken?

    Gaudreau stays for the obvious reasons that he is a special talent that seems to be living up to most of the hype so far. Glad to see he got a goal last night it was not from lack of trying. The offense he can generate for a team that will struggle to score many nights will be needed. Slim to zero chance he goes to the AHL.

    Baertchi is an outside chance of making it over Byron. From the sounds of things his overall game has improved. I’d give him a chance over Setoguchi and Byron but I’m being realistic when I say he will start the season in Adirondack. Might be the first call up though Ferland has made his case known and probably has close to the same shot at the Oct 8th roster as Sven.

    As stoked as I am about Sam Bennett and the future I think it’s best for his overall development to stay another year in Kingston. He has had two minor injuries already which shows he’s probably not quite ready physically for the day to day rigors of the NHL. Let him mature, don’t rush him. This guy is gonna be something else to watch when he is fully developed! Very excited for the future!

    • Jeff Lebowski

      Seto and Byron can be sent to AHL, providing they clear waivers..cap hit is minor for both of the together, considering the $$$$ the Flames are below the ceiling.

    • beloch

      No question, the Flames are in a youth movement.
      From the forwards perspective, I like Gaudreau & Bennet. Gaudreau is 21 and ready for a jump to the NHL. However he will probably need some time to mature and adjust to the heavy schedule of the NHL. I hope the Flames will be patient with him. Bennet is young. For maturity and future development, another year in the junior ranks will benefit him.
      There is some other good talent available (ex. Baertschi, Setoguchi,Byron, Ferland)….tough decisions for the Flames coaching staff.
      The one that few talk about is Klimchuk. Let us not forget that he was a very deserving first round pick for the Flames in 2013.This year,he has looked good in the Flames Development camp in July and very solid in the Main Camp. He does not have the scoring statistics yet ( which seems to be needed for the media to be impressed) but for those of us that have watched him, he has been a very steady and consistent performer. He has great work ethics. I like his solid 2 way play ( very good in his own zone , usually the first forward back ) and some smart offensive decisions. He is young and perhaps would also benefit with another year in junior. However, he is one of the Flames ‘futures’ and I would give him a couple of games in the regular season to continue with his development.