Prospect Check-In: The Forwards

It’s another practice day for your local sports team, so let’s take this brief recess to talk about prospects. Calgary has a lot of prospects, so I decided to split up this check-in into two parts: forwards today, and defensemen and goalies tomorrow.

I excluded Marcus Granlund – since he’s spent so much time in the NHL and outside of his face-offs, I’d wager they see him as an NHLer at this point – and anybody on an AHL contract. Also, since Devin Setoguchi and Brian McGrattan aren’t prospects, they are also not included.

KENNY AGOSTINO (LEFT WING, 22)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames
  • Contract Status: technically in the second year of his entry-level deal. He’ll be a restricted free agent on July 1.
  • Agostino may be a little bit lost in the shuffle in Adirondack this year. With so many players rotating in and out of the top nine, and the team’s injuries, he may be forgotten about a bit. He has 12 points in 32 games – a fairly respectable total for a depth player who’s a first-year pro.
  • Outlook: I’d wager Agostino gets retained, as good depth is hard to find and there’s likely some offensive upside there. I’m just not sure he’s an NHL player, particularly as an asset acquired by a prior regime in an organization that has quietly accumulated forward depth in the recent past.

BILL ARNOLD (CENTER, 22)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames; injured
  • Contract Status: technically in the second year of his entry-level deal. He’ll be a restricted free agent on July 1.
  • Bill Arnold, before his injury, had quietly carved out a pretty strong year. With Markus Granlund in the NHL, he was the Baby Flames’ number-one center and drew the plum assignment of centering Sven Baertschi and Emile Poirier. As he did with Boston College, Arnold’s two-way prowess, face-off wins and shot-blocking (and hitting) opened up the ice for his skilled teammates. Hopefully he’s not out for very long, because he was on the road to an NHL call-up.
  • Outlook: good. Arnold’s a right-handed center who is probably projected to be a third or fourth-line center at the NHL level. He could stand to continue to work on his skating and size, but he’s exceeded expectations for a first-year pro thus far. He’s a lock to be re-upped after this season.

SVEN BAERTSCHI (LEFT WING, 22)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames
  • Contract Status: in the final year of his entry-level deal. He’ll be a restricted free agent on July 1.
  • Baertschi is still super-young and has flashes of offensive brilliance. He seemed to struggle a bit with the defensive responsibilities of Bob Hartley’s system. He’s a very good skater and has the ability to be a top-six NHL player in the near-future, but right now there aren’t a lot of spots open for him outside of being a third-line winger, which might not be the right fit for him right now.
  • Outlook: I still think Baertschi has a future with this organization, though I also think they’d trade him if the situation allowed for it (e.g., they got an offer for a good defensive prospect). The Flames have a lot of skilled centers in their system, but outside of Gaudreau (and maybe Emile Poirier), Baertschi is arguably the best winger in the system and it’d be foolish to cut bait entirely with him, particularly when he’s so young.

SAM BENNETT (CENTER, 18)

  • Currently: non-roster injured list, Calgary Flames
  • Contract Status: unless he plays 10 NHL games this season, his three-year entry-level deal slides a year (until the end of 2017-18, when he’d become a restricted free agent)
  • Bennett was good enough to make the Calgary Flames roster with a shoulder that was in bad, bad shape. What is he right now? Well, he’s most likely still an elite-level major-junior player. What is he in the NHL? We’re not sure, but we might find out in a few weeks (or months).
  • Outlook: the highest-drafted Flames pick in history, Bennett has a lot of strong tools and now has a healthy shoulder. When he does end up turning pro, expectations will be sky-high.

AUSTIN CARROLL (RIGHT WING, 20)

  • Currently: Victoria Royals (over-age player)
  • Contract Status: unsigned. The Flames have until June 1 to sign him, I believe, or else he becomes a free agent.
  • Carroll is playing well for Dave Lowry’s Royals, leading the team in scoring. He’s 7th in the entire WHL in points. This is impressive and he’s using his size and tenacity well to get into the scoring areas. But he’s also older than most other players in the league, so while he’s doing well, you’d be worried if he wasn’t.
  • Outlook: I’d be shocked if the Flames didn’t sign him. He’s definitely got the size to be a capable AHLer, at least.

MATTHEW DEBLOUW (CENTER, 21)

  • Currently: Michigan State Spartans (junior year)
  • Contract Status: unsigned. The Flames have until August 15 of whenever he decides to leave school (likely following the 2015-16 season) to sign him.
  • Deblouw was bad last year, to the point where he barely got into Michigan State’s line-up. This season, he’s seemingly returned to the form he had in freshman year. He’s not a top-flight college player, but he’s a decent two-way option for the Spartans.
  • Outlook: I’d be shocked if he gets signed. Granted, he’s a seventh-round pick, so it’s not like the investment is all that high. He’s another Aaron Marvin or C.J. Severyn.

TURNER ELSON (LEFT WING, 22)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames
  • Contract Status: final year of his entry-level deal. He’ll be a restricted free agent on July 1.
  • Elson’s first year of his ELC was spent in the WHL. His second year was mostly spent in the ECHL. So he’s progressed to being an AHLer, albeit a role and depth player. That’s good. His offensive production isn’t anything to write home about, but at least he’s showing some progression and momentum.
  • Outlook: with all the guys becoming RFAs this season, I think Elson may be one of the guys that isn’t retained. He was signed under Feaster, at the behest of Brent Sutter, and outside of his hustle and speed, there’s not a heck of a lot to his game at the pro level. He works incredibly hard, but it’s difficult to see him progressing much further.

MICHAEL FERLAND (LEFT WING, 22)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames
  • Contract Status: final year of his entry-level deal. He’ll be a restricted free agent on July 1.
  • Like Elson, Ferland is near the end of his ELC. He split his first year between the AHL, ECHL and two WHL teams. He lost a gigantic portion of his second year due to a freak knee injury. However, he’s been very strong this year. He had a cup of coffee in the NHL and did everything but score a goal – and he came damn close – and he showed he can contribute on the team’s fourth line if given the opportunity.
  • Outlook: Ferland is a lock to be re-upped and I wouldn’t be shocked if he was in the NHL to open next season, if not earlier.

BEN HANOWSKI (RIGHT WING, 24)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames
  • Contract Status: final year of his entry-level deal. He’ll be a restricted free agent on July 1.
  • Hanowski had a brief NHL appearance last year, but he’s spent the entirety of the season to-date in the AHL. That’s more because players have leap-frogged him than him struggling. To the contrary, Hanowski’s offensive output has been improved from last season and he’s progressing a bit. That said, he’s got NHL size and a physical edge to his game, but one could argue that teammate Michael Ferland is better at both, and he’s definitely a better skater. It’s not that Hanowski’s not a good player, but rather that he’s redundant in the Flames system right now.
  • Outlook: I figure Hanowski gets a new deal, because he provides valuable depth for the Flames organization and is a rare natural right winger. That said, he’s also an asset brought in by the previous regime and there’s a lot of players who are ahead of him in the call-up pecking order, so I’m not sure how much of a future he has in the organization.

TIM HARRISON (RIGHT WING, 21)

  • Currently: Colgate Raiders (sophomore year)
  • Contract Status: unsigned. Presuming he does all four years in college, the Flames have until August 15, 2017 to sign him.
  • Harrison is a late-round pick and has limited offensive upside, but he’s physically big and he hustles. He’s an energy guy for the Raiders and if he goes pro, he’ll project as an energy guy as well.
  • Outlook: It’s a bit early to guess, but I’d imagine he gets signed as a depth player for the AHL club barring a massive regression in terms of his tempo of play.

MARK JANKOWSKI (CENTER, 20)

  • Currently: Providence College Friars (junior year)
  • Contract Status: unsigned. The Flames have until August 15 of whenever he decides to leave school (likely following the 2015-16 season) to sign him
  • Jankowski is tall and has filled out physically in recent seasons. I’ve been told he doesn’t play a physical game, instead relying on his size and wingspan to keep the puck protected – similar to Joe Colborne. He’s emerged as one of the most reliable face-off men in the NCAA, but still isn’t quite an elite offensive player in that league. He’s still got things to work on, so I’d expect him to head back for a senior year.
  • Outlook: iffy. I like Jankowski and figure he gets a contract, but at the same time, he hasn’t quite progressed (offensive production-wise) in a manner you’d hope a first round pick would. That’s not to say he’s not a decent prospect, he’s just a project that needs a lot of work right now.

MORGAN KLIMCHUK (LEFT WING, 19)

  • Currently: Brandon Wheat Kings
  • Contract Status: unless he plays 10 NHL games this season, his three-year entry-level deal slides a year (until the end of 2017-18)
  • Klimchuk nursed an injury through the back half of training camp and didn’t begin the WHL’s regular season until a few weeks in, but he’s continued to play a solid 200-foot game and chip in offensively. He’s middle of the pack in Wheat Kings team scoring (taking into account his Regina time), but near the top in points per game.
  • Outlook: I think of Klimchuk as a better version of Max Reinhart. He’s slightly bigger and slightly better in the offensive zone, and I think that combination bodes well for him. He may never be a huge offensive contributor because of his moderate size, but he’s got the mind and the mobility to be a solid penalty-killer and strategic asset going forward.

EMILE POIRIER (RIGHT WING, 20)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames
  • Contract Status: in the first year of a three-year entry-level deal
  • Poirier started late due to rehabbing his shoulder injury from late last season, but he’s arguably as impressive now as he was in his late-season AHL stint a year ago. He’s fast. He’s got a nose for the net and a surprising physical edge. He’s got good hands. You could argue that Poirier is a strong offensive player who is perhaps a slight notch below “elite”, but I’m still not convinced of what he isn’t until I see him have a stint in the NHL to get his feet wet. Right now, at least, he’s a very good AHLer – and an All-Star.
  • Outlook: very good. Poirier might be the organization’s best pure offensive talent, and he’s shown more success as a first-year pro than the majority of Calgary’s drafted players have in the past. It’s just a question of what he can do in the NHL. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t NHL-bound next season.

MAX REINHART (CENTER/WING, 22)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames
  • Contract Status: In the final year of his entry-level deal. He’ll be a restricted free agent on July 1.
  • I’m of two minds about Reinhart. He’s an incredibly smart player and good at reading coverage and knowing where to be. Unfortunately, his execution hasn’t been there yet at the NHL level, despite several call-ups. Reinhart is a useful player for many organizations, but what’s his niche? And how long will it take him to find it?
  • Outlook: unclear. If you had asked me prior to Corban Knight’s trade which prospect I thought would be traded first, I would’ve said Reinhart. I think he’s skilled, but the team has more players with more obvious slotting internally than Reinhart does, and moving him for an asset (particularly a defenseman) may become tempting. If he’s still in the organization after the trade deadline, I’d expect him to be re-upped.

DREW SHORE (CENTER, 23)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames
  • Contract Status: in the final year of his entry-level deal. He’ll be a restricted free agent on July 1.
  • Shore hasn’t played a game with the Baby Flames yet, but he’s already their leading scorer (and an All-Star). He adds a lot to the Baby Flames: size, speed and a nice touch around the net. Granted, he’s not reputed as an amazing face-off guy and his two-way game tilts a bit more towards the offensive than defensive zone, suggesting that he may end up as a winger ultimately – particularly given Calgary’s center depth at the NHL level. But considering the Flames flipped one of their surplus centers for him, he’s a very savvy pick-up.
  • Outlook: pretty strong. Treliving sought him out and he provides the team with a skilled young player that they can evaluate, develop and utilize going forward.

HUNTER SMITH (RIGHT WING, 19)

  • Currently: Oshawa Generals
  • Contract Status: unsigned. The Flames have until June 1, 2016 to sign him or else they lose his rights.
  • Smith has had a pretty solid season. He’s eighth in scoring for the Generals, behind a bunch of really good junior players. Right now, he’s merely “pretty good” at the junior level and lacks elite level offensive skill.
  • Outlook: Smith has a lot of attributes (notably size) that scouts like. His skating isn’t amazing, though. I’d wager he’s a sure thing to get an NHL deal nonetheless. He’ll be 20 when the 2015-16 season begins, so the real interesting thing will be to see if he goes back to the OHL as an over-ager or turns pro after this season. He’s definitely got pro size.

BRYCE VAN BRABANT (LEFT WING, 23)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames
  • Contract Status: in the first year of a two-year entry-level deal
  • Van Brabant’s production – 12 points in 35 games – hasn’t been fantastic, but by all accounts he’s fitting in fairly well with the Baby Flames’ system. He’s not an elite-level talent in any way, though he’s got good size, and his skating has a lot of room for improvement. Right now he’s a role guy in the AHL.
  • Outlook: Van Brabant is a first-year pro, so he gets the benefit of the doubt right now. None of what he’s done stats-wise suggests he’ll be an impact player at the NHL level, though.

DAVID WOLF (LEFT WING, 25)

  • Currently: Adirondack Flames
  • Contract Status: in the first year of a two-year entry-level deal
  • Wolf is basically a German version of Michael Ferland. He’s got size and grit and plays a physical game. He had success in Europe and the hope is he can acclimate himself to North American ice and become an option for the big club. He’s reportedly progressed nicely after a shaky first few weeks, but he’ll likely need to show some consistency before the NHL comes a-callin’.
  • Outlook: So far, so good for Wolf. He’s a project, for sure, but he’s showing progress.
    • Colin.S

      Can’t wait to see Shore between Baertschi and Poirier in Adirondack. That’d be two Allstars and a guy who probably would have been if his start to the season didn’t suck so much.

    • seve927

      Hey, I was checking out Brett Kulak’s stats on the Colorado Eagles site. He seems to be doing just fine, but the guy that really jumps out is ECHL all-star Collin Bowman. Leading the team in +/- by a mile, good point totals, good size, right shot, and only 23! What are the chances he gets a shot at the next level to show he’s a prospect?

      • McRib

        I don’t think he is signed by the Flames, I believe he is just on an ECHL deal, hopefully the Flames have taken notice. I really liked him as a 20 year old for the Hitmen, surpised he didn’t get an AHL deal that season he was great.

    • McRib

      Sven Baertschi finally gets to play with a forward of his Offensive ilk in Emile Poirier and he has 14 Points in 15 Games since returning to the AHL, nice to see!

      In his first 14 Games with the Flames this season Baertschi had 11 Shots playing fourth line minutes with zero PP Time. Josh Jooris during his first 14 Games had 15 Shots playing with guys like Gaudreau… What most people didn’t notice at that time was Jooris had an insane shooting percentage as well.

      You switch Jooris with Baerschi in terms of opportunity and luck in those first 14 Games and who is still with the team and who is back in the AHL…. All I am saying is it would be a bad decision to trade Baertschi at this point in time, nothing against Jooris. I just hope someday Baerschi can end up in Heartleys good books, because we all know Jooris was this season.

      • seve927

        I couldn’t agree more, but this stint in the A has been good for Baerstchi getting his confidence back.
        I expect to see him as a full timer on the big club next season unless he’s moved for a top flight D prospect.

        • McRib

          This stint has also helped to strengthen his stock again if we do want to trade him for a top flight D prospect….

          Selfishly I hope we keep him because I just can’t ignore how good he looked in Portland, but if a Brandon Gormley type prospect comes the other way maybe it’s a win-win for both sides.

          The one thing that should be mentioned is how good it is for the Flames to finally have a competitive prospect environment, as player development goes up substantially when there is competition. Baerstchi clearly has realized he runs the risk of being past on the teams depth chart so he works even harder to get back with the big club and in turn sees the added benifits to development from that.

          People always crown Detroit as the “NHLs best drafting team”.. But to be honest following the draft as closely as I do, every year the day after the draft if I were to rank every teams performance they would rairly be in the Top. 5. Honestly for me they would usually be in the 8-12 range. What they do so well though is take players with some skill and character and give them time to develop and most importantly when they are ready they give them a chance to prove themselves. Instead of bringing in recycled replacement level players, by waiving Brian McGrattan and Devin Setoguchi I think the Flames have sent a bigger message than some realize…. They are going to give young players a chance and once scouting circles get wind of that, prospects want to be a part of your organization come draft day and work harder from day one to become better.

        • seve927

          Apparently BT was speaking quite highly of Sven on the Fan the other day. I guess he brought him up a couple of time. I think Sven’s recent performance down there has changed/opened some minds.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        Comparing Jooris to Sven based on this year’s play is a joke. Jooris has played in all situations including the power play, penalty kill, overtime 4 on 4 and just about every other situation. And he has excelled in each scenario. “Switch Jooris and Baerschi in terms of opportunity and luck in those first 14 games and who is still with the team and who is back in the AHL”. I may have never read such a stupid comment as this. Bottom line is Jooris has made the most of his opportunities and provided timely goals, solid defence and a responsible 200 foot game. Sven has not taken advantage of his opportunities, has not earned PP time, will never kill penalties in the pros and cannot be trusted to be on the ice duing key periods of the game. Don’t knock Jooris because you want to see Sven in Calgary. Players earn their time in the pros and to date, Sven hasn’t earned it.

        • mattyc

          you say “timely goals” and ‘responsible 200 ft game” and I say got some good bounces and fortunate linemates.

          I also don’t want to knock on Jooris because I think he’s a function NHLer at this point, but he isn’t miles ahead of Sven in terms of current ability.

          • piscera.infada

            I can hardly wait for Sven to be traded so we don’t constantly hear this drivel of “if he only got a break” or “if Sven was lucky he’d score 25 in the NHL.” Lot of dilusional fans on this site.

            • ChinookArchYYC

              Baertschi has put up some very good recently and is beginning to earn another shot with the big team. If he makes the team, then you should be happy, but I expect you’d rather be right.

            • piscera.infada

              I completely agree that Sven is a player that would greatly help, and I completely disagree with @MontanaMan that all hope is lost for him. That said, how often have we seen Baertschi put up points over what could otherwise be considered a reasonably “small sample size”? Quite often. I’m not saying this time isn’t any different, but the major knock over the past couple years is consistency over prolonged periods (in all aspects, not solely scoring). That’s what we need to see for him to get another shot, not just “put[ting] up very good numbers recently”.

    • seve927

      Nobody wants to trade Hudler or Glencross, but where exactly do Baertschi, Poirier, Bennett and potentiall Ferland slot in next season if the vets aren’t moved?

      • SmellOfVictory

        I’m personally all for trading Glencross. He’ll be worth a decent amount at the deadline. Hudler, however, seems to be a valuable veteran presence and he’s on the wing with weaker depth. The Flames should trade Glencross and Colborne (yup). Also Jones, if anyone thinks they want the guy.

        • piscera.infada

          Agree with trading Glencross. I would retain Colborne and trade Byron…he is small, can’t finish and is a streaky player. Colborne is getting bigger and stronger. Eventually I see him as a full time centre.

          You couldn’t give Jones away for a pack of pucks given his contract and lack of production.

    • Koolmoedee

      Brad Treliving was on the radio and made a few points about some of these players:

      With Baertschi, he preached patience. Baertschi is still young. BT believes a long development in the AHL is beneficial for most players. Very few players can step in quickly like Monahan.

      BT named Carroll as one of the junior players who has impressed him. There was some debate as to whether he should have turned pro, but they chose to let him play as a leader on a junior team.

      BT also liked the play of Hunter Smith, who got hurt recently (not necessarily a long-term injury).

      Jankowski was a long-term project and remains so. The Flames development people are working with him, but he needs to fill into his frame and learn how to use it.

      BT plans to trade Bennett, Brodie, and the Flames’ first round pick for the Oilers’ first and Yakupov.

      I am completely bullshitting about one of these things.

    • Burnward

      A lot of depth at Center with Arnold, Shore and Reinhart.

      I would think Reinhart would be the odd man out with his drop in play this year.

      It’s too bad, he looked really promising last year.

    • Byron Bader

      Sven, Poirier, Ferland and Granlund will get looks to go full-time NHL next year. Bennett is also a lock to make the team. I too am confused with where they’re going to get 5 empty forward spots from. Glencross is gone. Easy. Jones will be gone or in the press box 3 out of every 5 games. Bollig will also get the box frequently. Stajan’s here for another 2-3 years unless traded. Hudler isn’t and shouldn’t be going anywhere IMO.

      Monahan, Backlund, Gaudreau, Colborne, Raymond, Bouma, Jooris would all be locks.

      I wonder if the Flames part ways with one of their better possession players in Byron to make room for some of these guys? Probably not a good move.

      I hope they don’t trade Sven before he ripens. Backlund, Gaudreau, Sven, Bennett, Monahan, Hudler as a majority top 6 next year with the ability to slot Byron or Poirier in there from time to time looks pretty good to me.

      • Parallex

        What kind of speed would a third line of Jooris, Byron and Poirier have? They’d be turnstiling most defence pairs.

        You are bang on with the comment about Sven needing to ripen. Look at Backlund. He took some time but he is now a very valuable piece of the team up front.

      • Parallex

        Those guys won’t all be top 6 players next year (can’t have three centers in your top 6 without converting one to wing and short of winning the draft lotto I don’t think the Flames will want to do that). If I were a betting man I’d bet that Monahan and Backlund are your top 6 centers and Bennett/Baertschi (and maybe Shore if the Flames are willing to have a line with such limited NHL experience) are given the “sheltered line” assignment like Monahan had last year as the “3rd” line (third in terms of ice-time and quality of competition).

        That means that Poirier, Granlund, and Ferland all start in the AHL.

        • Byron Bader

          Yeah. That’s probably how it goes. I think they’ll convert 2 of Jooris, Granlund and Bennett to wingers. At least temporarily. Bennett will most certainly start out on the 3rd line. But based on how skilled he is and how he sounds like he plays a solid two-way game with tenacity, I see him snatching up top 6 minutes at some point during the season (similar to Gaudreau’s progression). He won’t be taking ice-time away from Backlund and Monahan so I could see him playing on the wing for significant spurts.

          • Parallex

            I only see him (Bennett) getting top six time in the event of an injury TBQH. I think you want to have Bennett develop as a Center unless given absolutely no other option and the only way I see the Flames having no other option is if they win the Draft Lotto (because… McDavid).

            I think next year is pivatal with regards to development. Next year is when we need guys to grow such that we can move Raymond/Jones and Hudler (preferably for upgrades on the blueline either directly or via asset substitution).

            • piscera.infada

              Not saying I whole-heartedly agree with it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bennett plays wing next year (a la MacKinnon). He’s still a relatively small/young player. If you have the centre depth, it seems entirely sensical to leave him from being beaten up down the middle for 82 games. Obviously, you’d have the flexibility to play him in the middle at times, but on the wing he’s still getting good NHL experience and probably more minutes in more situations. Just a thought though.

            • Parallex

              I suppose… personally I’d rather have him get more reps in at center. I think he’d get enough ice-time with standard 3rd line minutes plus 2nd unit special teams.

            • piscera.infada

              Agreed, I just assume with the log-jam at centre, you could still potentially get some of that figured out (Shore, Granlund, Jooris…) while allowing Bennett the time to learn the NHL game. Either way though, I have no real issue.

    • PrairieStew

      Next year –

      Centres Backlund, Monahan, Bennett and Stajan

      Right Wing: Hudler, Poirier, Colborne, Jones

      Left wing : Gaudreau, Raymond, Bouma, Ferland

      Flex forwards – Jooris and Granlund

      This leaves Byron, Glencross and Bollig out of the mix. Get something while you can for them. I agree with those that say Colborne and Jones are replaceable if we can get younger/ more defence in moving them. I’d put Raymond in that category too to make room for Sven. If all those things happen – that’s a very young group.

    • mk

      In no particular order (or pairings), the Flames could probably run this line-up next year:

      C: Monahan, Backlund, Stajan, Bennett/(1 of Byron/Colbourne/Jooris)
      RW: Hudler, Jones, Colbourne, Poirier
      LW: Gaudreau, Raymond, Byron, Jooris

      Extras: Bouma, Shore

      This assumes saying goodbye to Glencross, and that Ferland doesn’t make a big jump to push someone out. I want to take Byron out of the line-up to say there is space for other players, but he is decently effective in his role.

      Edit: I think the big question mark for the Flames going forward is not the forwards (there are many options and some exciting players), but rather the defense. Who replaces Gio in a few years? Where will we find 2 more players to fill in the top 4 D? IMO Russell & Wideman are not strong options there – they could both fit in the #4 spot comfortably with a strong partner. I’m looking forward to the prospect check-in about D & the ‘tenders.

    • mk

      Further to my previous post, looking long-term, the Flames have some pieces to build a team around, but have many ?s going forward. I feel like this is the structure of the team going forward:

      Gaudreau | Bennett/Monahan | ?

      Baertschi | Monahan/Bennett | ?

      ? | Backlund | ?

      Bouma | ? | Jooris

      Brodie | ?

      ? | Russell

      ? | Smid

      Ramo | Ortio/Gillies

      In short, as we’re looking long-term, I’ve taken out players who are 30 or over (not that they won’t be there, but they might take a step off the aging-cliff) and I tried not to project prospects as sure things (may I with Bennett & Baertschi?). I also axed a few players who I think will fall out of favour eventually. For forwards, there are options to fill those spots. Poirier, Ferland, Jankowski, etc. Even in net, there are some potential options.

      This is, at least, an average team.

      However, the big problem is filling up that D-core. Sieloff & Wotherspoon might work well. Gio could continue to be a cyborg hockey-machine. Kulak? Culkin? The Flames need to focus on finding some quality pieces back there – Brodie can’t carry the entire team by himself.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        Nice way to put what seems to be a difficult situation in perspective. This team is not a contender with the players we have right now, so we need to push the bar to make this club & there will no doubt be some unexpected casualties in the next 2 years as we strive to achieve contender status.

        What is really obvious is that we have lots of potential to fill in the blanks in the forward positions. Agree that Monahan & Bennett have to be targeted as our future top 2 centres & we have invested high enough 1st round picks to expect this from these two players.

        I think Backlund is a no brainer #3 centre with the ability to move up to the second line in case of injury. No one is even close to these 3 targeted for the future. The only thing that could monkey wrench this of course is if we get really really really really lucky & win the lottery & draft McDavid. Then what the heck do you do. A good problem indeed.

        Forwards I would say Sven & JG + I would even step out & say Poirier fit the future top 6 long term. I think your 3rd line wingers should be good enough to move up & down within that top 6 & we do have some young forwards trending to be those players developing within our systems now.
        Lots of casualties in the forward ranks but there are only 12 spots available.

        The huge weakness of this team that is going to hold us back from our transition to being a contender/playoff bound team is on that blue line. Knight for Shore was a good interesting deal but did nothing to address the teams need. This is where I want to see a bold move made to speed this thing up. Time to package youth & a few of our vets to get what is needed.

        • everton fc

          Poirier will be a #2 LW. Not Baertschi. Just my opinion. Poirier may already be better than Baertschi. People are so up and down about Baertschi. Frankly, until he proves himself in the NHL, he’s a prospect. I’ll leave it at that.

          Jooris may be an actual 3rd line player. He’s proven this already. It’s either he or Ferland on the 3rd/4th line, right-side. Arnold would be my 4th line centre. Or Shore. Maybe.

          Hudler will be on the 1st or 2nd line right wing for some time. He can there for another 4 years. And should be. So you need one established RW That’s how I see it. Perhaps Granlund? I hope so. A 3rd line of Baertschi/Backlund/Granlund doesn’t look too bad. Granlund may prove a 2nd liner. Leaves Byron on the outside. Ditto Colborne. Are we that far off with Bennett, Poirier, Baertschi (if he pans out) Ferland, and Arnold, if all pan out?

          On defence, we are thin. Gio could play 1-4 role until his mid 30’s. Russell’s a 5/6 d-man. We have no one on the farm who seems better than a #4 pairing. We need to trade for a #3 and #4 d-man. Culkin and Wotherspoon are not point-producers. One could compliment Russell, perhaps. Wideman moves on in this scenario, but he’s a 5/6 d-man on an elite team, which is what we should be striving to be.

          Ortio will be our #1 goalie by next season. And for some time. I hope. Gillies could back him up. Or Ramo, who seems a career #2. You move Hiller.

          Ousiders: Hathaway (yes, Hathaway). Wolf. Perhaps Hanowski and Agostino. And definitely Austin Carroll. He’ll play here, on the big team, sooner than later. A 4th line of Carroll/Bouma/Jooris doesn’t look too bad “on paper”.

          As for our draft, we need d-men. Pilon in Brandon’s one I’d look at.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        Agreed we need more D, but Culkin has had a heck of a season for first year pro. He could be that sleeper pick that pans out well like Brodie. If he turned into a solid 3/4 D man we are laughing all the way to the bank. I think Wotherspoon can get there too.

        I would hope that the best player available in the 1st round next year at our pick is a D man. I also hope we can bring more in via trade.

    • mk

      Off topic but I see Johnny has trademarked Johnny Hockey in Canada and the US. The amount of hate saying he has a big ego, or worse, in the comments on the tsn story is mind boggling. Haters gotta hate.

      • RexLibris

        I understand the marketing angle here, but I have to say that this is pretty bold after just 42 games. Screams of hubris, which isn’t something that I’ve ever associated with Gaudreau.

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          I can’t imagine this was pushed by Johnny. Likely his agent looking out for his interests. Which is what a good agent is supposed to do. I agree though that it doesn’t seem like something Johnny would do, not that I am disagreeing with it

        • McRib

          Oh give me a break… You think that was his idea? He’s a professional athlete, he’s surrounded by people trying to make money off of him. If anything the story is humorous. The kid seems extremely humble.

        • Greg

          I gotta admit, my first reaction was similar, it’s an unexpected thing.

          However, what’s the alternative? To have a bunch of guys silk screeing t-shirts and whatever else with Johnny Hockey on it and profiting off of a nickname he earned through talent and hard work? Or maybe that wouldn’t happen. I don’t know, does Gretz own the moniker of the “Great One?”

        • Parallex

          I don’t see how it’s hubris… he didn’t give himself that name. But he’s got it so if he wants to market his brand (which the “Johnny Hockey” moniker is part of) he has to legally protect it.

          It ain’t show friends, it’s show business.

      • mk

        When I read this, I thought you meant he had been given the nickname & it was sticking. Nope! He ACTUALLY filed for the trademark on Johnny Hockey (allegedly). Wow!

        Watch out – he might come after Gaudreaubie Baker & the Gaudfather next…

    • Greg

      Boy that Iginla return is looking pretty paltry. I know it was a year or two too late, but for a guy who still on pace to pot 25 even this year, you’d think you’d do better than 1 decent prospect, a long shot, and a nope.

      • McRib

        Can’t blame Feaster for that. Khoklachev, Bartkowski (there’s one of the young defenceman we are clamoring for) and a 1st was the deal before Iggy showed his true colors at the very last minute and we were forced to take what Pitt would give us. Despicable on his part and the way he was marble mouthing it as the news broke you could tell he knew he screwed the team over. For everything he did that will always be a black mark against him in my books.

        Feaster tried and Iggy screwed him and us. He can keep chasing that cup for all I care. Not to mention we’ve been a better club since the day he left!

      • Byron Bader

        It also breaks the streak of Kent Nilsson traded for Joe Nieuwendyk, who was then traded for Jarome Iginla, who was then traded for peanuts (unless Klimchuk amounts to something).

        • Avalain

          It’s kind of cheating, but I like to think that we wouldn’t have taken the chance on Poirier if we didn’t have another pick to get Klimchuk. I guess I just don’t want to admit the streak is lost…

    • mattyc

      What a raft of quality..not bad considering my coiler tier 2 coworkers were laughing only 2.5 years ago how the Flames had no good young players coming up and the roster was sooo old.

      To quote Happy Gilmore though. .SOMEBODY’S CLOSERRR! !

      • Parallex

        Far to quick.

        We already have a spare forward so it’s not like there was a pressing need for a warm body. IMO should have kept him in Adirondack for at least a couple of weeks to get acclimated to the Flames system.

        Guess they really wanted to play with their shiny new toy.

      • piscera.infada

        He’s the most NHL ready centre on the team (already with 81 games of NHL experience), it allows Granlund (who has been struggling mightily for over a month) to be reassigned. I have no idea why anyone would be surprised about this.

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          That’s probably true, however I don’t think seeing him in Addy would have been a bad call either… see how he stocks up with our current crop down there.

          • piscera.infada

            No argument there, but I do honestly believe Granlund needs to go down. As much as I like him as a prospect, dude’s been getting absolutely slaughtered in the defensive zone all year.

          • everton fc

            Well now that Shore’s here, he can’t go back down w/o the very real possibility he’s scooped off the waiver-wire, which he would be, as he’s an AHL All-Star. So, something (or someone) may have to give.

            It seems to push Granlund aside, perhaps to the wing, perhaps as trade-bait. Maybe they’ve seen enough to get a sense of Granlund’s “ceiling” and feel they have a moveable asset to tempt a team for a 3/4 d-man. Again, if we had Wideman/Russell as our 5/6 pairing, a legitimate 3/4 pairing would make our backend pretty difficult to score on, particularly if Ortio’s for real. A fan simply thinking out loud here. Means little, I know…

            We are also getting backlog on the wings, though some – Byron, Raymond, Bollig, Jones, to me Colborne, who won’t score as perhaps Glencross… And perhaps Stajan may be on the move… I know we don’t know, but Shore up with the big team means he’s staying. Perhaps there will be some movement?

            • McRib

              ” Maybe they’ve seen enough to get a sense of Granlund’s “ceiling” and feel they have a moveable asset to tempt a team for a 3/4 d-man.”

              Wow! Granlund is 21! ..and he has reache his “ceiling”??? I agree that he needs more work in Addy but to move him at such a young age…

          • McRib

            As long as Shore does nt dress for a game, he can still be sent down to Addy without going through waivers. Maybe the thinking is that he practises with the team so Hart[ey and gang can evaluate him with the Flames. determine what he needs to work on if he is sent to Addy.

            And maybe I am all wet! …and Treleving wants him dressed for the road trip. I don’t think he actually went to Addy, just on paper.