After all the daring and excitement of the first two days of the NHL season – featuring two Calgary Flames contests – lost in the shuffle is the debut of the AHL’s Adirondack Flames this evening.
And that’s a shame, because in addition to having a truly amazing mascot, the Baby Flames are also pretty stacked and have a coach with a strong track record as a winner. Expectations are fairly high in Glens Falls this season.
And I don’t care what anybody else says – I think the mascot is goofy fun, aside from its wacky back-story.
Right now, Adirondack is carrying three goalies: Joni Ortio, Brad Thiessen and Doug Carr.
Carr is on an AHL deal and is likely destined for a demotion, but he looked good in NHL pre-season, so perhaps they keep him around for a bit to work with their goalie coach. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shared that a lot of teams think Calgary got a good prospect in Carr. Ortio (2009 6th rounder) is the undisputed #1 in Adirondack, particularly by virtue of his one-way deal for the NHL team next season. Brad Thiessen came over as a free agent and should be a strong back-up to spell off Ortio.
Adirondack’s defense is anchored by AHL veterans Sena Acolatse and Nolan Yonkman (who signed an AHL deal earlier this week and is basically this year’s version of Dean Arsene). Beyond these two: prospects.
Tyler Wotherspoon (2011 2nd rounder) is now medically cleared and hungry to return to the NHL. Behind him are WHL graduate Brett Kulak (2012 4th rounder), QMJHL graduate Ryan Culkin (2012 5th rounder) and AHL sophomores John Ramage (2010 4th rounder) and Patrick Sieloff (2012 2nd rounder). Both Ramage and Sieloff desperately want/need full seasons in the AHL – Ramage got punted to the ECHL and Sieloff had a nasty staph infection that took him out all year.
Fringe AHLer Dustin Stevenson and occasional NHLer Mark Cundari round out the Flames’ defense.
This may be their strength area, as good as their goaltending looks on paper.
There are four established AHL-level scorers on the Flames: Max Reinhart (2010 3rd rounder), Sven Baertschi (2011 1st rounder), Markus Granlund (2011 2nd rounder) and Corban Knight. These guys anchor their attack. And given the big club’s emphasis on physical, hard-working hockey, I’d expect to see a lot of Michael Ferland (2010 5th rounder) and Josh Jooris, as those guys were specifically mentioned by Flames GM Brad Treliving this week as guys who impressed him at camp.
Beyond these guys, the depth on the team is pretty good. Garnet Hathaway, Kenny Agostino, Bill Arnold (2010 4th rounder), Bryce van Brabant and David Wolf all have yet to play a season of North American pro, but all of these guys have assets that could turn them into capable AHLers. Hathaway and Van Brabant are strong checkers. Arnold and Agostino are good two-way forwards. Wolf has great size and previous pro experience.
Ferland and Wolf are probably the best examples of Kent’s “functional toughness” concept in the organization, so there’s a chance they get call-ups right away if a bottom-six role opens up. Ferland especially.
Underneath them, we have Ben Hanowski – who’s been to the NHL and not done much yet – and Turner Elson – who excelled in camp and was great in the ECHL. Face-punchers Trevor Gillies and Mathieu Tousignant round out the roster.
(Stick-tap to Drury18 at CalgaryPuck)
The Baby Flames play in Rochester against the Americans (Buffalo’s farm team) tonight, then head back to begin their home schedule at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday night against the Albany Devils. They’ll usually play three games per week, depending on travel schedules.
The ECHL Colorado Eagles don’t begin their season until the end of October, so expect Ryan Huska to rotate bodies in and out of the AHL line-up before potentially trimming down his roster a bit prior to Colorado’s season-opener against Utah on October 22.
NATIONDRAFTS IS BACK!
The NationDrafts charity pool is back! Once again, it’s time to flex your hockey brain, build a championship team, and take a run at some fantastic prizes. The cost to enter NationDrafts is $20, and a portion of all proceeds will be going to help the Inner City Children’s Program. To enter the pool, head over to nationdrafts.com and build your championship team from the boxes provided. Seems easy enough, right? Prove it! Internet infamy awaits you.