The Battle of Alberta has been waged for decades, which each team vying for provincial supremacy. Each side thinks their team and their players are superior. But in this era of expansion, what would happen if Gary Bettman decided that a pair of Alberta teams was too many and told the management teams from Calgary and Edmonton to contract their rosters into one squad?
How would we blend the two Alberta teams together to form a hockey club with four lines, three defensive pairings and three goalies, based upon who’s healthy for each side right now? (Sorry Flames fans, no Brodie…)
Here’s what I came up with. Your mileage may vary.
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Jiri Hudler
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett – Connor McDavid – Nail Yakupov
Micheal Ferland – Matt Stajan – David Jones
Mark Giordano – Dougie Hamilton
Kris Russell – Dennis Wideman
Oscar Klefbom – Justin Schultz
So here’s my logic: you want as balanced a top nine as you can throw together with the two teams being crunched together, and the forward group basically have two lines that would be considered top lines, along with a really strong third scoring line. I went back and forth between getting Lauri Korpikoski on Stajan’s left side, or with swapping out Stajan with Mikael Backlund or Mark Letestu, but I ended up keeping Calgary’s third line together as what it should be: a fourth line.
On defense, I’m glad that T.J. Brodie isn’t back yet, because that would make this infinitely tougher. As it stands, I basically kept pairings together – again, looking for balance – and I think this is as good as you’ll get with the defensive groups. (If Brodie was included, Hamilton drops to the second pairing and Wideman disappears.)
And in goal, I chose each team’s better goalie and theoretically they can operate in a 1A/1B scheme.
There you have it, a group that our own Christian Roatis has dubbed the Alberta Oil Flames. Who’s missing? Is there anybody who really doesn’t belong? Sound off in the comments!