Weekend Open Thread: Who Makes the Jump?

It’s no secret the Flames suddenly have a lot of kids knocking on the door. In addition to established guys like Max Reinhart, Markus Granlund, Sven Baertschi, Corban Knight, Ben Hanowski, Michael Ferland and Tyler Wotherspoon, the organization is going to add Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, David Wolf, Emile Poirier, Brett Kulak, Ryan Culkin, Pat Sieloff and Kenny Agostino to the mix full time this year. Sam Bennett is a possibility as well, but for now we’ll assume the team is going to send him back to junior.

The competition is beneficial because it means whoever is able to poke his head above the fray is going to have to be pretty damn good. Nobody is making the Flames by default simply because there aren’t a lot of options.

The challenge for the org is potentially accommodating more than one or two stand-outs should that come to pass. Although Calgary has one of the cheapest rosters in the league, there is nevertheless only a couple of potential roster spots available for the hopefuls (absent trade or injury). 

Pick your Prospects

Here’s who I think will make the cut to one degree or another next season:

  • John Gaudreau (75 games)
  • Sven Baertschi (60 games)
  • Markus Granlund (30 games)
  • Max Reinhart (15 games)
  • Corban Knight (10 games)
  • David Wolf (10 games)
  • Tyler Wotherspoon (40 games)
  • Sean Acolatse (15 games)
  • Mark Cundari (10 games)
  • Brett Kulak (5 games)
  • Pat Sieloff (5 games)

Up front, Gaudreau more or less makes the team out of camp while Baertschi is a call-up who sticks. All the other guys get cups of coffee as veterans get injured or traded.  Of course, part of these predictions are role dependent – for instance, if Brand Bollig or Brian McGrattan get hurt long-term, you can assume
David Wolf is going to get the call before Reinhart or Granlund.

On the back-end, Tyler Wotherspoon is the first call-up and in-and-out of the big club lineup all year. If he takes a step forward, he could start challenging one of the bottom rotation vets for full time work. Sena Acolatse and Mark Cundari get some time because they’re AHL vets and the org will be curious to see if they have any kind of ceiling above that. It wouldn’t surprise me if Brett Kulak and Pat Sieloff get spotted a game or two out of curiosity as well.

So…who do you think makes the team?

  • BurningSensation

    I’m going to bet that;

    Gaudreau makes the team out of camp (and then leads the team in scoring all year, and wins the Calder)

    Bennett is returned to junior for the full year.

    Granlund converts to RW and gets a legit shot in the top 9 – which he then runs with to the tune of 40 points

    Arnold beats out both Knight (returned to AHL) and Reinhart (will be traded – to Buf or NYI), and keeps he #4 C job all season, getting benched now and then for face-punchers.

    Sven makes the team, but gets bounced around the lineup in crazy fashion before finally settling in on a line with Monahan. 2/3rds the way through the year, after which, both will catch fire.

    Poirier is a surprise at camp and gives the Flames brass a serious headache about keeping him up.

    • T&A4Flames

      Poirier will not be in camp or even ready for the start of the season. He had surgery and needs recovery time. He’ll get called up later in the season I suspect.

        • Skuehler

          If he’s healthy I don’t see much getting in his way. He’s one determined, hard working and talented dude. From my eyes there wasn’t a lot differentiating him and Monohan at camp last year. And he used his season to prove a point. If he hits camp this year the other guys may have to beat him to make the team. The only guys I see doing that are Gaudreau, Granlund, Reinhart. His only disadvantage is that the team needs to make decisions about Reinhart and Baertschi. They can buy time with Poirier. But that’s a political thing.

  • Bring Back Brathwaite

    Sven is just simply too good to let a bad, political and injury plagued season bring him down. This time last year he was a lot of people’s picks to be the 2013-2014 point leader. He plays 75 and nets 50 points.

    Bill Arnold’s ability to win draws (one NHL game sample size) on a team that is so bad on the draw is why I see him getting the nod over Knight.

  • RedMan

    Johnny Hockey will no doubt start and finish the season in the NHL. He is just too skilled to hold back. He may get sat out a few games against the Sharks (goon squad) and/or the Kings (defensive and big).

    Reinhart or Knight are better options on the 4th line at center than Bouma or Byron. McGrattan sits about 20 games this season to help the 4th line get more than 5 minutes per game.

    Sven’s spot is a bit more difficult, as he has to beat out Raymond, Hudler, GlenX and Johnny for a spot. Hudler can play RW, so that drops one player from the list. Sven might be better served by competing with Colborne for a spot on RW. Colborne could drop to the 4th line.

    Granlund starts on the baby Flames, but shows his game belongs on the big club. He is already adapted to the North American game, so this year he should become a goal scoring machine.

    T-Spoon starts on the baby Flames due to having Gill there to mentor the D. He will replace Smid or Engelland (if injured or traded). I expect that he gets called up in January to finish the year.

  • seve927

    I think Sven gets a chance this year. I’ve rewatched a couple of the games that I had recorded from the start of last year, and Sven really did look pretty good. I had kind of soured on him based on the AHL games I watched. He was definitely not good there. If he can start to get a few bounces, I think he gets over the hump and gets established.

    Wotherspoon I could see moving up to a full time spot some time this year. His numbers got markedly better in his last few games last year, after a very rough start. In his last 6 games, his Corsi was very good (except for the one against the Rangers – ouch 9 for, 23 against!), still 47.3% compared to the first 8 where he was about 33%. I really liked what I saw from Kulak at development camp; I think we could see him full time by next year as well. If both of these guys could prove to be top 4 D, backfilling the position won’t be quite as daunting a task as I thought. Still be nice to get a Hanifin next year though!

    Gaudreau, I have no idea. Treliving seems to be preaching the ‘everybody can use some time in the AHL’ gospel, so we’ll see if it applies to JH. After watching World Championships, there was no doubt in my mind he’s ready for the big leagues.

    Knight or Arnold have a better chance I think for the 4th line center role, if they can show an ability to win draws. A right handed center seems to be pretty common on good teams.

    • He’s a very good skater. Has a high compete level and plays a physical game. Good point shot. He can fire good breakout passes and has soft hands. He’s willing to do anything to win and battles. Biggest weakness is his play in his own end. Although he’s still okay there. We’ll most likely see a few games out of him.

      I’m gonna say Wotherspoon takes over as the 6th defenceman part way through the year and takes Engelland’s spot. Although at the start of the year Wotherspoon won’t be a 7th defenceman and like it or not Engelland will play everyday at the start. So Cundari or Acolatse will most likely be the 7th defencemen. The most important thing to remember is that it will be decided through camp. So I think on forward there is a battle for a top 6 role between Gaudreau, Baertschi and Granlund. Baertschi is on his last year on his ELC so he’ll probably be given more opportunity. I really believe that GranMa should be sent down for more development and he’ll be a lot better for it (Detroit strategy). I think Gaudreau will be too impressive to send down. And he has too much skill for Adirondack. He should sit a few games in the NHL IMO. He played 75 games in two years. And watching how it unfolds isn’t bad.

      Then I think there’s a 4th line role available. Reinhart, Knight and Arnold are the biggest contenders IMO. Knight played very well on his call-up last year and could easily get the spot. Arnold lost weight and is a lot faster. Really played well at D-camp. But Reinhart should get the spot. Nothing new he can learn from the AHL. We need to see if he can make the next step.

      of course this could all change when training camp starts

  • Johnny is on this team next year, no question.

    Sven – probable, the Flames don’t want to waste him and he is a great talent with very few chances thus far.

    Markus I really want to make the team but we have too many fighters in the lineup.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I think it’s decently likely that 2 of Gaudreau, Baertschi, and Reinhart make the team out of camp. Also 50/50 on Wotherspoon.

    From what we saw last season, Baertschi seemed on track to being a regular NHLer soon (although certainly with lots of room for growth). I think he and Gaudreau make the most sense, but management tends to disagree with me on Baertschi at every turn so I’m not holding my breath.