2014-15 Flames Main Camp Begins

Last week was the precursor. The real thing starts today.

The Calgary Flames officially kick off their 2014-15 training camp today at Winsport. 65 players will report. By the time everything’s said and done on October 7, that number will be trimmed down by 42 – to the opening 23-man roster.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty look at the 65 men vying for roster spots over the next few weeks.

GOALIES

Seven goaltenders are in camp, at least to start. (Three.)

  • #1 Jonas Hiller
  • #31 Karri Ramo
  • #35 Brad Thiessen – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #37 Joni Ortio
  • #40 Doug Carr (AHL contract) – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #70 Matt Mancina (try-out) – released on 9/18
  • #72 Mason McDonald – assigned to Charlottetown (QMJHL) 9/22

No real battles here. Barring war or insurrection, Hiller and Ramo are your NHL goalies, Ortio and Thiessen probably start in the AHL and Doug Carr gets a trip to Colorado to play for the Eagles. The junior kids go back to junior.

DEFENSEMEN

There will be 22 different defenders in camp, three times as many as will actually be on the team. (20.)

  • #4 Kris Russell
  • #5 Mark Giordano
  • #6 Dennis Wideman
  • #7 T.J. Brodie
  • #15 Ladislav Smid
  • #26 Tyler Wotherspoon
  • #28 Corey Potter
  • #29 Deryk Engelland
  • #33 Sheldon Brookbank (try-out)
  • #36 Raphael Diaz (try-out)
  • #38 Nolan Yonkman (try-out)
  • #42 Mark Cundari
  • #43 Dustin Stevenson (try-out) – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #50 Pat Sieloff
  • #54 Sena Acolatse
  • #55 John Ramage
  • #61 Brett Kulak
  • #67 Ryan Culkin
  • #73 Keegan Kanzig – returned to Victoria (WHL) 9/27
  • #80 Curtis Gedig (try-out) – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #84 Eric Roy – returned to Brandon (WHL) 9/18
  • #85 Jason Fram (try-out) – released to Spokane (WHL) 9/22

Here’s where things get interesting. Presuming that Calgary doesn’t make any trades – which isn’t a guarantee – then the opening day defensive group likely includes Giordano, Brodie, Wideman, Russell, Smid, Engelland and likely one of Potter, Diaz, Brookbank or Wotherspoon. Wotherspoon’s my dark horse, as I imagine the Flames want him fully up to speed before throwing him into the NHL, so likely he starts in Adirondack. Maybe.

Yonkman has spent most of his time in the AHL over the past 8 seasons. My estimation is he was brought in as a mentor and leader for the AHL group, which includes a lot of youth and will need someone who’s been through the grind of a long pro season. Don’t be shocked if he signs and wears a letter in Adirondack. Stevenson’s an ECHLer who’s a big fella. Not sure if he offers much more than John Ramage, but I guess we’ll find out.

The Flames already have a lot of defensemen under pro contracts, so outside of adding one (or two) of these aforementioned try-out guys, I can’t see anybody else getting added to the pro ranks. The junior kids probably go back to junior.

FORWARDS

There are 36 forwards in camp fighting for 14 jobs. (33.)

  • #8 Joe Colborne
  • #10 Corban Knight
  • #11 Mikael Backlund
  • #16 Brian McGrattan
  • #17 Lance Bouma
  • #18 Matt Stajan
  • #19 David Jones
  • #20 Curtis Glencross
  • #21 Mason Raymond
  • #22 Devin Setoguchi
  • #23 Sean Monahan
  • #24 Jiri Hudler
  • #25 Brandon Bollig
  • #27 Sven Baertschi
  • #32 Paul Byron
  • #41 Trevor Gillies (try-out) – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #45 David Wolf – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #46 Bill Arnold
  • #47 Brandon Magee (try-out) – released to Victoria (WHL) 9/22
  • #48 Bryce van Brabant – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #51 Kenny Agostino – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #52 Morgan Klimchuk
  • #53 Johnny Gaudreau
  • #56 Mathieu Tousignant (AHL contract) – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #57 Emile Poirier
  • #58 Ben Hanowski – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #59 Max Reinhart
  • #60 Markus Granlund
  • #62 Austin Carroll – returned to Victoria (WHL) 9/26
  • #63 Sam Bennett
  • #64 Garnet Hathaway (AHL contract) – assigned to Adirondack (AHL) 9/27
  • #65 Turner Elson
  • #68 Pavel Padakin (try-out) – released 9/19
  • #71 Hunter Smith – assigned to Oshawa (OHL) 9/22
  • #79 Michael Ferland
  • #86 Josh Jooris

There are 12 forwards on one-way deals: Colborne, Backlund, McGrattan, Bouma, Stajan, Jones, Glencross, Raymond, Setoguchi, Hudler, Bollig and Byron. Then there’s Monahan, who’s all-but. That leaves a job up for grabs, presuming that the Flames don’t bury a one-way deal in the AHL – there’s four players making south of $925,000 and whose deals can be buried with no cap hit (Bouma, Byron, McGrattan and Setoguchi).

Contenders for that one available job include: Baertschi, Granlund, Reinhart and Gaudreau. If they’re looking more for grit and physicality, then add in Ferland and Wolf, too. I can’t see many of the try-out guys or junior kids getting a gig. Bennett could get a sniff at the NHL, but I figure he’s one of the last cuts. And keep an eye on Garnet Hathaway, who impressed in Penticton and could get his AHL deal upgraded if he keeps playing well. But a prospect tournament is one thing – now they’re playing with live ammo.

THE FORMAT

Last year’s fun format returns! Camp will be at Winsport. The 65 guys are split into three groups – Team McDonald, Team Nieuwendyk and Team Vernon – and play regular hour-long scrimmages. The groups will, obviously, be rotated, and the players on each group will probably change based on the day, as the coaches want to see different combinations of players.

So basically, between 10 and noon on most days, head on down to Winsport and check things out. I really like the scrimmage format, as you get to see players in simulated games and I think it prepares players reasonably well for the pre-season games, which seems is how they’re usually evaluated when it comes down to cut-down time.

You can find a full camp schedule on the Flames site. First pre-season games are on Sunday.