Exploring First Call-Up Options

Ah,
the prestigious first call-up title. Sometimes it’s earned, sometimes it’s not.
Sometimes it’s about the coach’s trust, sometimes it’s about one’s position on
the organizational depth chart. Sometimes it’s about needs rather than wants.

All
of these are taken into consideration when injuries take place in the NHL. The
coaching staff and management have to sit down and often make quick decisions
based on a numbers of factors. This season, well, there are a lot of options.
There seems to be a Stockton player available for almost every scenario that
could take place.

So
let’s explore some of the scenarios and options at Brad Treliving and Bob
Hartley’s fingertips.

OH
NO! A SCORER’S INJURED!

God
forbid one of Gaudreau, Monahan or Hudler gets banged up. I don’t need to tell
you that’d be bad news. But what if it did? Who can be flown up from Stockton
to replace a scorer on the big club?

I’m
not convinced there is someone.

Instead,
I’m sure there will be a bit of a shuffle. Perhaps Ferland could join the top
line, or maybe Bennett and then call-up a player with a bit of skill to fill in
the middle of the rotation. Two names come to mind: Markus Granlund and Emile
Poirier
. Granlund was the last cut and more than likely the first call-up
to fill a top-9 role. He’s got the hands and speed, he just needs the
experience to keep developing. Poirier, on the other hand, had an underwhelming
camp, but will probably be called up on his name alone. I have little doubt he’ll
tear up the AHL again this season, but he’s going to have to start showing
something to be the go-to forward call-up this season.

Verdict: Markus
Granlund

OH
NO! NOT A BOTTOM-SIXER!

Here’s
where things could get a little tricky for management and the coaches.

Let’s
say one of the bottom-6 forwards is out for a while. Who can come up and slide
into the lineup seamlessly? The first name that comes to mind is Garnet Hathaway. He was one of the final
cuts for a reason. He’d fit in seamlessly alongside the likes of Stajan, Jooris
and Jones. He brings a combination of raw energy, feistiness and a touch of
skill that can’t be found anywhere else in Stockton.

Then
there’s Bill Arnold and Kenny Agostino. If you need a center,
Arnold’s your man. He’s a stud in the faceoff dot – maybe the organization’s
best, and doesn’t hurt you defensively. Plus, he didn’t have half a point per
game in the AHL last season for no reason. He’s a well-rounded offensive threat
at times as well.

Agostino,
on the other hand, was one of the more impressive prospects at camp this year.
He seemed to be able to create chances and grind it out in the corners with
ease. That bodes well for his chances at an early call-up if he’s needed. If a
winger goes down, he’s got to be your go-to bottom-6 replacement.

Verdict: Kenny
Agostino

OH
NO! A DEFENCEMAN! SAY IT AIN’T SO!

Outside
of one of the Flames’ top line forwards going down to injury, the team can
least afford to lose a blueliner for an extended period of time. Yes, Brett Kulak has been holding his own
and has looked good in a limited role, there’s no denying that. But what is
there outside of Kulak, right now?

I
think Ryan Culkin would have been an
early candidate for first call-up on defense, but with his injury, he’s going
to need a lot of time to catch back up. We know how Hartley love his two-way
defenseman. Heck, it’s probably why Kulak made the team in the first place. So
it’s too bad Culkin will need a bit of time before he makes the jump.

Then
there’s the much talked about Tyler
Wotherspoon
(who I will be dedicating an article to in the coming week). It
seems the trust has been diminished a bit between ‘Spoon and Hartley,
especially after comments last weeks by the Flames bench boss criticizing the
22-year-old’s ability to be “tougher on [himself]” and “more demanding.”
Wotherspoon won’t be the first call-up. I can guarantee that, but with a strong
month of October, he can earn a vouch from Ryan Huska.

Patrick Sieloff,
Jakub Nakladal
and Kenney Morrison are other options.
Morrison and Sieloff were recalled temporarily during training camp to get in more practice time. For the first
time since the Flames drafted Sieloff, things are looking up for the kid. He’s
being given a long leash from management to get back into his development curve
and it’s only fair given his injury
history
to this point. Morrison is another guy who started camp in
underwhelming fashion, but seemed to look better as September wore on. He’s not
likely ready for an NHL regular season game just yet, however.

Nakladal,
however, may win the first call-up title because there are very few other
options at this point. Wotherspoon’s trust levels are low, Morrison’s not
ready, Sieloff’s getting there, and Culkin’s going to take a while to rehab. That
leaves the 27-year-old Czech, and let’s faces it, he probably wouldn’t do so
bad with under 10 minutes of ice time a night as a temporary placeholder.

Verdict: Jakub Nakladal

      • everton fc

        A trade moving one of Hiller or Ramo puts us in a interesting situation if the other left behind (Hiller/Ramo) were to go down. Then you have Ortio and Gillies, or you end up picking up a spare from someone else…

        Remember, too, Ramo had a similar scenario last season to Lehrer’s last evening. Could be similar time off the shelf…

        Do the Sabres need Hiller, or a guy like Ramo? I say the latter – “filler”, until Lehrer returns. Who knows, a guy like Ramo, on a run, may give Lehrer a push…

        As for call ups:

        Forwards:
        Granlund’s first call up, as you can move Bennett to the wing. But a lot also depends on which side goes down – LW vs. RW. RW is Hathaway. LW I think you either recall Granlund and move Bennett over, or give Agostino a run. As much as I liked Byron at the end, I think Agostino will turn out to be a much more versatile pro, in a few years time. Maybe sooner.

        Defence:
        Nakladal. Plain and simple. But don’t be surprised if Sieloff gets a look. They seem to like him. He’s handled his situation with class, I think. If he can pull himself together, and keep the brasses eyes on his play, vs. his injuries… Could see the locker room in Calgary over some other guys, outside Culkin.

        Would love to see Kulak and Culkin as a 5/6 pairing up here. Perhaps someday…

        • Yeah, it’s a real weird situation Flames will find themselves in. We trade Ramo or Hiller & then suffer an injury, it’s quite the bunge drop when you look toward California. I guess there are plugs like Scrivens lurking out there. One could almost argue if Buffalo are willing to cough up a conditional 1st for Ortio +, running with Hiller & Ramo could be an option.

          Agreed Nakladal is the 1st choice. I would lean toward Arnold on the forward side of it.

          • RedMan

            I know what you mean with Arnold – great all around skill set plus great on the dot, but I also have to agree with the write up – Agostino surprised me this camp, looked like a guy ready for for a try at NHL duty.

          • RedMan

            I don’t know why, but Agostino just seems to fly under my radar. He deserves a chance too. We kind of have 3 young guys that seem to be getting up there in age & the time is now to get NHL games, Agostino, Arnold & Granlund. There just isn’t the room to accommodate the opportunity. All 3 could be very good fixtures on our team. I hope all of them get decent chances this year. Then again, that would mean we have injuries, which would suck.

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            Injuries yes, or… trading of Jones at the deadline (bank on it); To the minors for Raymond at the deadline (or sooner) if no takers on a trade (likely); Trading of Stajan to a contender with centre depth concerns/injury (could happen); waiving to the minors of bollig (less likely); trading or waiving of Joe Colborne at some point (even less likely).

            That’s five bodies. Methinks 3 of those will be moved out this year in one way or another to get a good look at these 3 young guys.

          • everton fc

            Hathaway… Agostino… These Ivy League boys come w/some serious smarts, and solid character. I like them both. They play a hard, balanced, honest game. Both will make the big club, at some point. And I think both have the potential to score in the Bouma/Jooris/Backlund range. Or better.

            Both flew under the radar for many. There time is soon approaching, and may be why the organization felt Byron was expendable. At least with Agostino and Klimchuk in the pipeline, from the left-side.

  • CofRed4Life

    Boy, we sure have a lot of bodies on the farm who are almost NHL ready. It’ll be nice when some of our dead weight contracts (Bollig, Engelland, etc.) are off the books and we can give our more of our younger guys a legitimate chance to make it in the NHL.