2015 Calgary Flames Training Camp Primer

On March 28, 2013, the Calgary Flames traded away Jarome Iginla, the best player in franchise history. The transaction was basically a white flag, a sign from the team’s hockey operations department that the old direction was the wrong one and that the organization needed a full-scale rebuild.

Here we are, just two and a half years later, and suddenly the Flames are opening their 36th training camp in Calgary with a sense of expectation. Last season, the Flames returned to the post-season for the first time since 2009. Starting tomorrow, 64 players are vying to form the roster that not only takes the Flames back to the Stanley Cup playoffs, but maybe even go further than they did last season.

The Flames also have tons of potential wrinkles in camp:

  • Three goalies!
  • A bunch of veteran try-out defensemen!
  • More forward depth (of depth forwards) that you can shake a stick at!

Here’s what you need to know about one of the most interesting (and arguably most important) training camps in recent franchise history.

THE SCHEDULE

The Flames underwent medicals today, with on-ice work starting on Friday.

There will be scrimmages on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10am at Arena B (the Joan Snyder Arena) in Winsport. For the weekend, if you show up at 9am, 11am or noon, there are also on-ice sessions (practices) at those times with various groups. The groups then get tossed around, as pre-season games start and travel comes into play a bit.

The Flames will play eight pre-season games:

  • Monday, September 21: split squad games both in Calgary and Edmonton against the Oilers
  • Thursday, September 24: at Colorado
  • Friday, September 25: vs. Vancouver (on Sportsnet One)
  • Saturday, September 26: at Vancouver (on Sportsnet West)
  • Tuesday, September 29: vs. Colorado
  • Thursday, October 1: at Winnipeg (on TSN3)
  • Saturday, October 3: vs. Winnipeg (on TSN3)

For the curious, the Flames have to dress a minimum of eight “veterans” for each pre-season game, with veterans being (a) a skater that played 30+ NHL games last season, (b) a goalie that dressed for 50+ NHL games last season (or played in 30+), (c) a first round pick from the 2015 Draft, or (d) anybody with 100+ NHL career games.

    THE ROSTER

    ROSTER UPDATED AS OF SEPTEMBER 20TH.

    There are a lot of bodies in camp, at least to start. We’ll break it down for you in terms of contractual status.

    Goalies: 7 (for 2 NHL jobs)

    • Signed to NHL deals (4): Jon Gillies, Jonas Hiller, Joni Ortio, Karri Ramo
    • Signed to NHL deal (junior-aged) (1): Mason McDonald
    • Signed to AHL deal (1): Kent Simpson
    • Amateur Try-Out: Nick Schneider

    Defensemen: 20 (for 7 NHL jobs)

    • Signed to NHL deals (13): T.J. Brodie, Ryan Culkin, Deryk Engelland, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Brett Kulak, Kenney Morrison, Jakub Nakladal, Kris Russell, Patrick Sieloff, Ladislav Smid, Dennis Wideman, Tyler Wotherspoon
    • Signed to NHL deal (junior-aged) (1): Rasmus Andersson
    • Signed to NHL deal (can play anywhere due to CBA loophole) (1): Oliver Kylington
    • Signed to NHL deal (can play anywhere due to being 20) (1): Keegan Kanzig
    • Signed to AHL deal (1): Dustin Stevenson
    • Unsigned draft pick (0): Riley Bruce
    • Professional Try-Outs (3): Aaron Johnson, Douglas Murray, Ryan Wilson

    (The CBA loophole is that Kylington’s a European player who came to North America after being drafted, so he’s not subject to the NHL/CHL agreement or the AHL’s usual age limits.)

      Forwards: 32 (for 14 NHL jobs)

      • Signed to NHL deals (25): Kenny Agostino, Bill Arnold, Mikael Backlund, Brandon Bollig, Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, Austin Carroll, Joe Colborne, Turner Elson, Micheal Ferland, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Markus Granlund, Derek Grant, Garnet Hathaway, Jiri Hudler, David Jones, Josh Jooris, Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier, Mason Raymond, Drew Shore, Matt Stajan, Bryce van Brabant
      • Signed to NHL deal (but junior-aged) (1): Sam Bennett
      • Signed to NHL deal (can play anywhere due to being 20) (2): Morgan Klimchuk, Hunter Smith
      • Signed to AHL deals (4): Mitchell Heard, Ryan Lomberg, Louick Marcotte, Blair Riley
      • Unsigned draft picks (1): Pavel Karnaukhov, Andrew Mangiapane
      • Amateur Try-Outs (0): Tyson Baillie, Taylor, Burke, Mason Marchment

      INJURIES AND WHATNOT

      Per the Flames, D Ladislav Smid (neck, not yet cleared), D Ryan Culkin (shoulder) and F Paul Byron (wrist) are not scrimmaging, as of September 17.

      THE BATTLES

      • Who is Calgary’s starting goalie? Who is Calgary’s back-up? And depending on what happens there, who is Stockton’s starter? (Is Jon Gillies ready for an AHL starting gig? Is Joni Ortio ready for an NHL full-time job?)
      • Calgary has seven defenders who require waivers and are established NHLers. Are all of their jobs safe? Or could one (or more) of Tyler Wotherspoon, Kenney Morrison, Jakub Nakadal or even try-out Ryan Wilson steal a spot?
      • How do the left wingers in the organization stack up behind Johnny Gaudreau? (Are we in store for Top Six Forward Lance Bouma, Year Two?) (Can Mason Raymond revamp his career?)
      • Who plays where in the gigantic mix of bottom-six wingers? And given that there are 14 forwards that require waivers (or are Sam Bennett and Gaudreau and are locks), which two guys don’t make the team? And can one (or more) of Bill Arnold, Emile Poirier or Markus Granlund make things interesting by forcing their way into that forward mix?
      • RedMan

        Man, you gotta feel for Culkin. Also, has to make Byron little nervous being on the sidelines. With so many bodies in town looking for his spot. So far though in recent history of the Flames have been pretty loyal the guys coming back from injury

          • RedMan

            I disagree. He’s not an18 year old and he’s not trying to beat out vezina calibre goalies. He’s played in high pressure situations as a number 1 goalie and at 21 may be ready.

            • Bean-counting cowboy

              there’s a difference between a college schedule playing on weekends and a pro schedule playing every other night. He needs at least a year to adjust to pro life before you throw him into NHL games. Look at how well Ortio has played the last two seasons in the A and how few NHL games that’s gotten him into.

            • KACaribou

              Goaltending is so fickle. It’s risky to put complete faith in a guy like Gillies, when you have two sure things and also Ortio who is ahead of him on the depth chart. But he is looking very good, and a year in the minors might mean he has a real shot next year. There are no sure things in net when it comes to young ‘tenders.

              • KACaribou

                He should have the same opportunity to earn his spot no matter what position. Again, he’s not 18. I’m not saying he will but he looked pretty good in penticton

      • Danomitee

        Man these boards are so hard on Colborne and boys you’re gonna hate my next point. Burrows when he was 26 put up 9 points in a full season, by the time hes 30 hes crossed over the 60 point range. I hate myself for making that comparison but get off your mouse pressing high horses guys, he has his good moments and his bad and I for one want him to get better not chase him out of town. This isn’t Toronto

      • Train#97

        I agree with Danomitee on Colborne. A couple dumb penalties aside he was a force in the playoffs. Ron McClean commented on his good physical play. Go watch Colborne’s effort on the Canucks game 1 winner, his goal against Anaheim, his cycle game with Bennett in both series and realize the potential.

        Now the one thing that worries me is that 14 pounds may not be muscle. If it is though, he could be primed to breakout. He’s increased his PPG each of the last few seasons.

        • Train#97

          I think you gotta like his size and how he matches up physicality against big guys in the western conference as well

          .He is also very good on the cycle and is a good skater.

        • Train#97

          The way this guys are trained and the support they have I doubt it is anything but muscle. I suspect he was told to be stronger this year. Also I can’t imagine a vet coming to Hartley’s camp out off shape.

        • mk

          The big problem with Colbourne is not that he doesn’t have great moment, its that those moments are uncommon and surrounded by a ton of meh. He’s not a terrible player by any means, just can’t seem to find consistency with his skills.

          My coworkers and I had a fairly intense debate about Colbourne after the playoffs, so we went and rewatched every shift of his we could from the end of the season. You’re right, he had some fantastic moments. But there was a heck of a lot more moments of frustration.

          He has the tools (I’ll echo Parallex here), but can’t seem to find the tool box to carry them around in. They’ll all come together for a shift or two, but he’ll never be an impact player unless he can do it more often.