any good employer, there’s a mandate to look within the company to see which
employees have earned a promotion. It’s no different with the Calgary Flames.
in years past with the Abbotsford Heat, the Flames actually have some good, young
players on AHL deals to look at for fresh new contracts this offseason (no
offense to Brett Olson, he was awesome). Understandably, every organization
needs to fill vacant spots in their AHL line up with ancillary players to assist
in the development of their primary focus: legitimate prospects. So it sure has
been nice this year to get excited about guys on AHL deals who aren’t American
league lifers and may have a future with the Calgary Flames.
let’s take a look at the Adirondack Flames currently on AHL deals and see who
may have garnered enough attention to earn themselves a two-way deal this
though Nolan Yonkman, Mathieu Tousignant and Trevor Gillies are on AHL deals,
there’s a better chance the Edmonton Oilers will win a Stanley Cup than those
guys getting signed to an NHL deal, so I won’t discuss them in this article)
should probably be the last time I rhapsodize this guy for fear of having a
restraining order placed against me.
week I wrote this piece on why Garnet
Hathaway should be given a contract. The Coles Notes version is this: he and Lance
Bouma are the same player. They share an aura, a bond, a sick infatuation with
blocking shots. Hathaway plays the game with complete disregard for his body.
I’m convinced he’d sacrifice a lung if it meant his team would pick up two
a right-handed right-winger, Hathaway will be in the conversation for a two-way
contract this offseason, you can book it. The question isn’t whether he’s
earned it (because he has, and then some), the question now becomes, “does he
fill a need in the organization?” Yes, absolutely he does. In terms of
potential fourth-line, right-shooting, right-wingers, the Flames’ reservoir is
nearing empty. Only Hunter Smith (who’s expected to be more than a
fourth-liner), Austin Carroll and Tim Harrison fit the same bill. Slim
why the Brown University alumnus has emerged as the front runner at a position
where there is an organizational need and deserves a contract because of it.
is the time to get excited about Hathaway because he’s not your run-of-the-mill
AHL fourth-liner. Every game he plays, he becomes much more than that.
26 years old, age is no longer on Carr’s side. However, considering he played
four years of college at UMass-Lowell, I think we can forgive him that.
story is interesting. He was the River Hawks’ starter in his rookie and
sophomore seasons only to be dethroned in his junior and senior years by Jets
blue-chip prospect Connor Hellebuyck. It’s not that Carr sucked, it’s that
Hellebuyck is basically the Jets’ version of Jon Gillies.
season, former Heat goalie coach and current Flames goalie coach Jordan Sigalet
raved about Doug Carr, referring to him as boring, not flashy and unnoticeable.
Of course, in goalie-speak those are extremely desirable traits, I learned.
Former Heat head coach Troy Ward once commented on his amazement at his team’s
ability to play so calmly in front of a rookie net-minder and it being more of a
testament to Carr’s style than his team’s play. Moreover, he even got some
positive media attention from everyone’s favourite insider Elliotte Friedman in
one of his
popular 30 Thoughts articles back in
September (Thought #20). In it, Friedman said the Flames have an “interesting
prospect” in Carr.
can count the number of games Carr has played in the American league on one
hand if I had an extra finger. In six AHL games, he’s put up 1.75
goals-against-average and a 0.938 save percentage. Extremely small sample size
to be sure, but my goodness, the guy is good.
on now and the end of the season, he may have earned himself a two-way deal – if
not with the Flames, certainly with another NHL club. Here’s the thing:
everyone is expecting one of Hiller or Ramo to leave and Ortio to be a
permanent fixture in Calgary. Gillies is also likely to turn pro and is
probably good enough to be Stockton’s starter. Whether or not they sign Carr
hinges on one question: is Gillies good enough to go into his first season
without a veteran mentor by his side or will Carr will make the perfect backup?
couldn’t have asked for a better season out of the first-year AHL pro. As a
25-year-old ECHL veteran, Stevenson has made his transition to the American
league look seamless.
the season began, there were nine defensemen vying for six spots. In theory,
that’s an awfully crowded blue line. In practice, head coach Ryan Huska has done an
admirable job juggling his defenders. That means a lot of different healthy
bodies sitting in the press box on different nights, but every rear-guard on
the roster has had to do it on multiple occasions.
however, has seemed to be in the line-up more often than not. Huska has often
opted to keep the hulking defender in over the likes of Sieloff, Culkin, Kulak,
Ramage and Acolatse on most nights. Some might say the head coach is
mismanaging his young blueliners. I say it’s a testament to how steady
Stevenson has been.
6’5” 220 lbs, Stevenson is everything you’ve missed since Rhett Warrener retired.
No, I’m not comparing an ECHLer to Warrener, but their styles are similar. He’s
a nasty, mean, extremely physical player who has no problem dismembering your
legs if you want to try and screen his goalie. Most notably are the enormous
hits he dishes out at least a couple of times per game.
Treliving is looking for a stay-at-home defenseman who is relatively young, but
more than capable of playing top-4 minutes all while taking the heat off of
upcoming rookies, then he could do a lot worse than Dustin Stevenson. While
there’s an outside chance that Stevenson gets a two-way deal this offseason,
Flames fans shouldn’t look at it is a wasted contract if he does. Remember:
defensemen develop slowly.
Wizard of Vause has had a decent season with the Adirondack Flames and has
slotted in nicely as an ECHL call-up/utility man.
23 years old, he’s still young enough to develop a bit, but not likely into an
NHLer. In 23 games with the Flames this season, he’s picked up just four goals
and 10 points (three of his markers were game-winners). For such a small,
quick player (5’10”, 185 lbs) you’d expect him to have survived as long as he
has being a scorer. This hasn’t been the case. Think of Vause along the same
lines as Paul Byron: small, okay hands, but has the motor of a Honda Civic; he
never quits. All energy.
is why the former Swift Current Bronco has been the first to get the call whenever
Adirondack gets into injury trouble. He can be slotted onto the fourth line
with bruisers or onto the top lines as a centre (or right-winger if necessary) –
the ultimate utility man.
However, with just 50
contracts to play with and some promising college free agents coming available
within the next month or so, I think Vause could be retained with a standard
player contract (SPC) when the next training camp rolls around.