Flames Get Lucky, Avoid Tough Decisions

Coming into this year’s training camp, the thought was that the Calgary Flames would have to make three tough decisions:

  • Which of their three waiver-eligible goalies would they part with?
  • Who would get to play with Mark Giordano?
  • Which waiver-eligible forwards would be sent away?

Well, we spent much of last season talking about how damn lucky this team was. It appears that luck has continued, because there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to put off all three of those tough decisions until a few weeks into the season at least.

T.J. Brodie’s hand injury eliminated the need to potentially break up the Mark Giordano/Dougie Hamilton pairing, at least for several weeks. As of now, it seems that Brett Kulak gets the sixth defensive spot for the time-being. Brodie’s injury, combined with Ladislav Smid’s gradual recovery from his neck surgery in the spring, means that instead of the Flames having seven veteran defenders (all requiring waivers), the team has five defenders who require waivers and Kulak, who doesn’t, which gives them a bit of flexibility.

Most importantly, the ability to swap Kulak with another waiver-exempt defender from Stockton gives the Flames the ability to carry six defensemen and three goalies, basically avoiding the “which goalie leaves?” question entirely. Now, when Brodie or Smid return, the question will rear its head again – either that or the Flames send Kulak to the AHL and roll with six defenders – but the Brodie injury bought the Flames a few weeks to make a decision (or a move).

And the forward log-jam got a bit of a break when Joe Colborne blocked a shot off his hand against Winnipeg. He’s week-to-week (which usually means two weeks or so), meaning that the Flames can avoid exposing any of their established NHLers (aside from Drew Shore, who’s not that established yet) by sending Markus Granlund down to the AHL. Again, though, this merely postpones the decision on what to do with the forward group by a few weeks, but if nothing else it gives Mason Raymond a few weeks to find his scoring touch and potentially lights a fire under the bottom-six group – where the AHL-bound body would most likely be coming from.

The NHL’s luckiest team had some luck left over from the 2014-15 season, and it’s seemingly bought them a few weeks to figure out their roster situation. Let’s hope that their injury luck doesn’t continue, though; a strong start will be absolutely necessary in the ultra-competitive Pacific Division.