The 2015-16 National Hockey League season begins on Wednesday.
Like, the Wednesday coming up after the weekend. On Monday, everyone and their dog will be thrown on waivers, and every team has to declare injuries and starting rosters to the league by 5pm ET on Tuesday.
So the Calgary Flames really have trim their roster down in a hurry. With that in mind, here’s how we think things sit right now in terms of the Flames trying to cram their 34 current players into 23 spots by Tuesday afternoon.
The Flames have two spots for three goalies: Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio. All three have been good in the pre-season and all three require waivers.
- Hiller has given up 2 goals over about 120 minutes (for a GAA of around 1.00), but all three starts he’s had were at home with largely an NHL defense in front of him.
- Ortio has given up 4 goals over about 150 minutes (for a GAA of around 1.60), and outside of the first game in Calgary (against the Oilers) he’s played road games with AHL-level blueliners.
- Ramo has given up 4 goals over about 130 minutes (for a GAA of around 1.80), and he’s played two road games (with inexperienced defenses) and half of a home game (with good defenders).
I would say that Hiller and Ramo would clear waivers. I think Ortio would also clear, but I’m far less confident, and I know many smart people in hockey that swear up and down that he wouldn’t clear.
I WOULD KEEP: Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio
I THINK THEY’LL KEEP: Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio
I don’t think they risk losing Ortio, but I have no idea what they do after Ramo clears waivers.
The Flames have 13 defenders in camp and 7 spots. Here’s how they shake down.
The Locks are Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell and Deryk Engelland. They take up 5 roster spots.
Injured are Ladislav Smid and T.J. Brodie. Neither take up roster spots, at least to start.
The Bubble Guys are left-handed shots Brett Kulak, Ryan Wilson and Tyler Wotherspoon, and right-handed shot Jakub Nakladal. Wilson can be cut outright (but would require waivers to go to the AHL if he was signed to an NHL contract), while the other three require no waivers. Two of these guys probably start in the NHL.
The Filler Guys are left-handed shot Patrick Sieloff and right-handed shot Kenney Morrison. Both are on the roster so that the veterans can rest, and they don’t have a realistic chance at beginning the season on the main roster – though Morrison could be up eventually.
My gut says the Flames probably want some left/right balance on their team, so at least one of the lefties are getting a spot. Up until the last two games, I thought Wilson was going to be the #6 guy (and play with Engelland) with Jakub Nakladal as a swing body. Now? I’m thinking his spot is much less secure. If they want a puck-mover, the spot might go to Kulak. If they want a stay-at-home body, maybe it’s Wotherspoon. Either way, I think Nakladal starts in the NHL.
I WOULD KEEP: Jakub Nakladal and Brett Kulak
I THINK THEY KEEP: Jakub Nakladal and Ryan Wilson
Even with as bad as Wilson has looked at times (he’s mostly struggled with the pace of the games), I think they want a veteran body to (a) jump into the line-up or (b) sit in the press box. Kulak’s young and needs to play, while it doesn’t really matter that much if either Nakladal or Wilson have to sit out from time to time given their ages and levels of development.
In a month, pending more injuries, Brodie and Smid return and Wilson and Nakladal go down to the AHL (Wilson after clearing waivers).
The Flames have 18 forwards on their roster, and 14 roster spots.
The Locks are Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Lance Bouma, Micheal Ferland, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Jiri Hudler, David Jones, Josh Jooris, Sean Monahan and Matt Stajan. (That’s 11 bodies.)
The Almost-Locks are Paul Byron and Brandon Bollig. I think they’re very close to being on the team – for Byron’s versatility and Bollig’s physicality – but I don’t think they’re 100% on the team for-sure. Both would require waivers to go to the AHL.
That leaves potentially just one roster spot for The Bubble Guys: Joe Colborne, Markus Granlund, Garnet Hathaway, Mason Raymond and Drew Shore. Colborne, Raymond and Shore would require waivers to go to the AHL.
There are two right-handed shots in the entire locks/almost-locks group, which probably helps both Hathaway and Shore. Granlund’s struggled at face-offs but been pretty good otherwise. Colborne has played three road games and been decent, but he’s been largely out-shined by the younger players. Same with Mason Raymond, who was quite good against Winnipeg but was largely invisible in the other three games he’s played this pre-season. Hathaway’s been good, but he’s the easiest guy to cut because he doesn’t need waivers and can’t play center. Granlund’s also easy to cut because he doesn’t need waivers and his face-offs haven’t been good – on a team that desperately needs guys that are good at face-offs. Raymond definitely clears waivers if he’s put on, as does Colborne. Drew Shore probably gets claimed because he’s reasonably inexpensive and a pretty decent bottom-six option on most teams – and he’s right-handed and can win face-offs.
I WOULD KEEP: Drew Shore
I THINK THEY KEEP: Mason Raymond
I prefer to keep players that give my team options, so I keep Shore because he gives the team another center for right-side draws. But again, I don’t know what they can do with Colborne and Raymond, and burying Raymond’s cap hit in the minors may be tough for Treliving to do considering he’s the one that threw a three-year contract at him last summer.
Garnet Hathaway has done enough to be with the big club, but it’s his waiver status alone that sees him punted back to the AHL for now.
(Also, and you’re probably thinking about asking: Byron doesn’t clear waivers if he’s put on, but Bollig probably does.)
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Sound off in the comments! Who stays? Who goes? And what are the odds that there’s a trade in the works that will throw everything into disarray?