Who will be the Flames 2nd Line LW?

Brad Treliving did a lot to plug roster holes this season, but the Flames still have at least one, big question mark remaining: who plays LW in the top 6? After Johnny Gaudreau there’s a lot of kids, hopefuls, checkers and unknowns. Of the preseason training camp battles (7th defender, starting/backup goalie), the top-6 LWer might be the toughest to handicap. 

Here are the current candidates to fill the gap. 

1.) Lance Bouma

Fresh of a big raise and career season, Bouma is a candidate if only because he played so well with Mikael Backlund and David Jones last year in a tough minutes role. Bouma is not an ideal top-6 winger and is not likely to score 18 again, but right now he’s a front runner to at least start the year as Calgary’s #2 guy on the left side. At least at even strength (I doubt he gets a lot of PP time).

2.) Michael Ferland

From AHLer to healthy scratch to top 6 forward in a single year? Ferland made a significant mark against the Canucks in the playoffs last year and his junior career numbers suggest he might have better hands than Bouma. 

That said, we still don’t really know what Ferland is at the NHL level. He’s very young and raw to be elevated into the top-6 rotation, though he has looked very comfortable at the start if the preseason. That said, I doubt he starts the year up top, though he’s the kind of guy who could work his way up the depth chart if he continues to develop and improve.

3.) Michael Frolik

He was signed to firm up the right side, but Frolik is actually a left hand shot and is the kind of guy who could switch sides without much issue. The club is a little deeper on the right side with Hudler, Jones, Byron, Jooris and Colborne all able to play that position. If Hartley can’t find a better solution, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Frolik shift left to balance things out a bit. 

4.) Sven Baertschi

Just kidding. 

5.) Mason Raymond

Technically this is where Raymond should naturally slot into the Flames roster. Unfortunately, after a mid-season injury last year, Raymond seemed to lose Bob Hartley’s confidence and he hasn’t been able to do anything to get it back. 

The ex-Canuck is fast and has hands enough to score 20 in the NHL, but he also seems to have Blake Comeau syndrome – a seeming lack of hockey sense which leads to rushes that go nowhere, long shots from 60 feet out and a kind of tunnel vision which limits his ability to find team mates. 

At $3.15M per year for two more seasons, Im sure the Flames would like to re-habilitate Raymond as an asset. That said, it will be up to him to convince the decision makers that he’s worthy of a top-6 position again. It’s going to be a long climb back up.

5.) Sam Bennett

The club has come out and stated that they want Bennett to play centre this year, but that may change if the kid struggles at the defensive side of things. 

Already through a few preseason games Bennett is cruising along with a face-off win % somewhere in the 30’s and there’s no question teens tend to have issues with the 200 foot game when they break into the league. In addition, Calgary has good depth at centre, so Bennett might be moved to the wing for similar reasons as Frolik above. 

Conclusion

There’s also guys like Brandon Bollig, Josh Jooris, Paul Byron and Joe Colborne, but none of them are natural LWers or legitimate top-6 talents. It’s much more likely Hartley goes with one of the options above rather than drilling that far down the depth chart to fill the role. 

My guess is Lance Bouma is the default option to start and then the Flames coaching staff will assess from there. 

  • FlamesRock

    It’ll be Bennett moved to LW on the 2nd line or Frolik shifted to the left side on the 2nd line.

    I think they are liking Ferland with Monahan & Gaudreau and Bouma should be playing on the shut down line with Backlund, he’s not a good fit as the 2nd line LW

    • beloch

      Haha someone clearly read Darren Haynes article from earlier this morning and copied his exact line combo’s I see…

      Haynes is correct though and the lines you’ve posted are how it will likely play out (barring any injuries, of course).

  • beloch

    Ferland was playing right wing when he assisted Monahan’s goal, and he was playing to the right of Bennett when he scored himself. It appears that Ferland as a right-winger is something that is being seriously tried, and not without success. This changes things a little bit.

  • beloch

    BTW Baertschi was -2 last night and soft on the puck as usual, some things never change.

    That 2nd round pick we used to select Fat Ras is looking pretty good right now.

  • mattyc

    First I assume that you are thinking that Bennett and not Backlund is our number two centre, I could be wrong though.

    I feel that Frolik and Hudler will play on the right side; with Hudler playing with either Monahan or Bennett and Frolik playing with any of the top three centres(Monahan/Bennett/Backlund).

    That leaves Bouma, Ferland, Colborne, Raymond, Byron or possibly shifting Jooris/Jones to the left.

    I don’t see any reason to move Jooris or Jones. Ryamond my get a short look but I don’t like it or see it. So if Bennett is the guy you are trying to pair someone with it will come down to, in my opinion, which of Bouma, Ferland, Byron or Colborne best mesh with Bennett and either Hudler, Frolik, Jones or Jooris.

    Oh and who knows someone else could steal the show yet.

  • AF

    I’m thinkin’ Frolik. He’s had a solid pre-season. I’m also intrigued by the Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland combination. Although Hudler on that line was deadly last year, so it’s kinda hard to break that up. On the other hand it’ll give us a more balanced attack if Hudler is on the second line so to speak. Bouma’s not a top six forward.

  • KACaribou

    I don’t know why people are so freaked when a LH shot goes RW? It puts them in a better position for cherry picking forehands in front. Very important.

    Will never figure out why the writers here, Kent Wilson included, continue saying guys in their early 20s had career years. How the hell do you know? Their career just started.

    Regression? Think Progression sometimes. It happens. It’s just that you can’t have advanced stats for the future so you make wild assumptions based on a small sample size.

    To answer the question here, I think Hartley realized in the playoffs vs Anaheim that the top line needs a Ferland. They were greatly pushed around vs. Anaheim. That likely means Frolik or Jari move to LW on line 2.

  • Brent G.

    I hope Ferland ends up in a top 6 role. Realistically I don’t see him scoring a huge amount though; his contribution will be felt well beyond the counting stats.

    We are at least 1 top 6 player away from really becoming a contender.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      I gotta disagree with you on him not scoring much. Ferland is so interesting because of his hard hitting and the fact that he’s a proven scorer at every level he’s played at. Being at, or above, a PPG every year in junior except his draft year. He followed that by being roughly a half PPG player in the AHL in 13/14 and 14/15 combined.

      Tl;dr this kid brings an intriguing mixture of offensive talent and hitting similar to a young Milan Lucic.

      • beloch

        Ferland’s career has had it’s ups and downs actually. The year before he was drafted, he produced just 32 points in 76 games, good for a pretty unimpressive NHLE of 10.4. That’s probably why he went in the fifth round. He took big steps forward over the next two seasons. In 2010/2011 his NHLE more than doubled to 24.6, and improved to 33.0 in 2011/2012, which is in the same territory as a lot of late first-round picks in their 20-year-old seasons.

        Unfortunately, alcohol abuse derailed Ferland for a season. First there was that bar-fight in July of 2012, and then 2012/2013 was a disastrous season all-around for Ferland. He bounced between junior, the AHL and the ECHL, played only 40 games combined, and his NHLE sank to 22.4 in the WHL.

        In 2013/2014 he got back on track, with a NHLE of 26.0 all in the AHL. That wasn’t stellar, but it was certainly a successful transition to pro, even for a kid not struggling with court appearances and sobriety.

        Last season didn’t start out particularly well for Ferland either. He played 32 AHL games with a NHLE of 16.9. He made it to the NHL on the merit of truculence, and over 26 regular season games he scored at pace that would produce just 18 points over a full season. That made him a very marginal fourth liner.

        Then the playoffs happened.

        Ferland’s production has not been consistently good. There’s a huge dip in 2012/2013 when his drinking got the better of him, and he struggled for most of last season too. Even if he stays sober, it’s not a certain thing that he’ll become a reliable point producer. He was unimpressive in the regular season and the playoffs were a very small sample size. However, he did show significant offensive upside in junior and has one good AHL season behind him. Ferland is still a risky player to bet on, but there’s no denying the upside is there. He certainly played an impressive game last night.

        Here’s hoping Ferland does well enough to give Treliving cap-space nightmares!

    • mattyc

      I believe he will be top6 and will likely score about 25G/50Pts this year. With him in the top6, the top6 is set until we have to decide what to do with Hudler.

  • CofRed4Life

    I’m still hoping BT can work some more magic and trade one of our 2 veteran goalies for a top 6 winger, possibly in a package. Don’t see it happening, but it would solve a lot of these roster problems we keep talking about. Finding a trade partner for a trade like that would be difficult, no doubt.

  • mattyc

    Heh “Blake comeau syndrome”. I always thought comeau had “shean Donovan syndrome”.

    Fwiw, I see Bennett with frolik and backlund when all the experimentin stops.