In a move that isn’t all that surprising given the sheer amount of defensemen presently on their American League affiliate, reports are that the Calgary Flames have re-assigned defender Keegan Kanzig back to the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen.
The move has appeared on the AHL’s transactions page – a source that is usually very accurate – and comes as the Stockton Heat temporarily had 10 healthy defensemen with the return of Ryan Culkin to the land of the healthy (and able to play).
The big wrinkle is what happens to Kanzig next; the Hitmen already have three 1995-born players (“overagers”) on their active roster in goalie Brendan Burke, defender Colby Harmsworth and forward Jackson Houck. Once Kanzig is officially back with the Hitmen, the club has two weeks to move one of their fourth 20-year-olds, and can only dress three in any particular game. Considering the team just acquired Houck I’d be shocked if they moved him, but any of the other three players (Burke, Harmsworth or Kanzig) could be on the move. Considering Kanzig’s reputation as a tough customer and a valuable physical presence, the Hitmen could use him as a big bargaining chip to improve their team – especially now that they’re without Jake Virtanen.
Down on the farm, the Stockton Heat now sit with nine defenders on their roster: Brett Kulak, Ryan Culkin, Oliver Kylington, Tyler Wotherspoon, Dustin Stevenson, Kenney Morrison, Patrick Sieloff, Jakub Nakladal and Aaron Johnson. Kanzig had gotten into just one game in the AHL and given the numbers game, seemingly the decision was made to send him to junior rather than demote him to the streaking Adirondack Thunder in the ECHL. I’d rather have seen him stay in pro and go to the ECHL so he could play against men and work on building his foot-speed and positioning at the pro level, but seemingly the decision was made to let him go back to dominating boys in the Dub.
(Stick-tap to the Calgary Sun’s Randy Sportak for mentioning this transaction on Twitter.)