With Flames approaching healthy roster, who gets sent down?

The Flames are on the verge of something they haven’t done all season: being completely healthy. From pre-season onwards, the Flames have consistently dealt with injuries to their lineup, particularly in the forward group. As soon as somebody gets healthy, somebody else goes down, and so it goes.

Except not this time. Heading into the All-Star Break, the Flames suffered no new injuries, undisclosed ones to Joe Colborne and Josh Jooris aside (it’s hard to imagine they’ll warrant a trip to the injured reserve). And with Micheal Ferland, the one Flame still on I.R., set to return immediately after, it means that finally, at long last, somebody will have to be sent down (assuming no Dennis Wideman suspension incoming, which remains unclear at this time).

The Flames have a couple of forwards they’ve alternated as healthy scratches, as well as one waiver-exempt player in Markus Granlund. So… who goes? Because somebody has to.

Markus Granlund

A lot has changed since Granlund was recalled back in late November. Since then, he’s played 26 games for the Flames, never being healthy scratched and averaging about 12:55 a game in a third line centre position, with some special teams time. He scored a couple of goals early into his recall, but they were 20 games ago; since then, he’s only put up two assists, for a grand total of three goals and two assists.

So the offensive numbers are putrid, but there’s more to the game than scoring. How is he doing, possession-wise?

granlundwoi

Granlund started off rather well possession-wise before promptly falling off a cliff, apparently hitting his low point some time around early December. Since them he’s gradually climbed his way back up, but has been unable to get back in the graces of a positive possession game – 50% – until very recently.

Is that enough to send Granlund down? He’s consistently used, but he isn’t scoring, and despite consistent success at the AHL level, still seems to be struggling with the NHL game. 

He doesn’t need to be an NHL player right this second; he still has a few months left of waiver exemption. There’s also still roughly a month to go before the trade deadline, which should free up some bodies among the forward group. Would a month in the AHL really be the worst thing that could happen to Granlund?

Brandon Bollig

Of the non-injured forwards, Brandon Bollig is the most-often scratched. He’s been left out of the lineup for 23 games so far this season, which is more than he’s missed since becoming a regular NHLer (he played 82 games in his final season with the Blackhawks, and 62 with the Flames last season). Even if he isn’t sent down, he’s probably going to end up being a healthy scratch at least a few more times this season.

Bollig is the least-played Flame, his average ice time of 8:45 bottom amongst all players (even Derek Grant averaged 9:15 through his nine games up with the big club). At absolute best, he’s a 12th forward, and that’s on a team full of bottom six players. He would, in all likelihood, be the least-missed on the ice.

Bollig’s main value is his grit, truculence, what have you will. But is his particular brand necessary? The Flames have both Lance Bouma and Micheal Ferland who not only provide the same value, but are younger and have significantly more scoring potential. Bouma’s injuries have been a major reason why the Flames have carried a forward on the injured reserve throughout the year, but with him and Ferland back, where does Bollig even fit in?

Mason Raymond

After Bollig, Mason Raymond is the next most-often scratched forward, missing 19 games. Raymond has averaged 12:20 a game when he does draw in, and he’s scored four goals and one assist over that time: just a little more than Granlund.

There are a couple of key differences between Raymond and Granlund, though:

  • He’s 30 years old. Granlund is 22.
  • He has a cap hit of $3.15 million on the books until the end of the 2016-17 season. Granlund is an upcoming RFA.
  • He is not waiver exempt.

If a team were to pick Raymond up on waivers, they would be doing the Flames a huge favour, because that would be a significant chunk of cap hit gone not only for the rest of this season, but for the next as well: when the Flames are going to experience a cap crunch due to Mark Giordano’s extension kicking in, as well as Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan’s entry level deals expiring. No Raymond means a lot more levity for Calgary.

But why would somebody pick Raymond up? He’s a fairly-scratched forward who costs more than $3 million and has five points this season. How many teams are willing to spend $3 million on a 30-year-old reclamation project?

And in that case: do the Flames really want to spend that much money on an AHLer? Which hurts less: that much money in the pressbox, or that much in the minors?

Josh Jooris

I’m only including Jooris on this list for posterity, because he fits the bill of being one of the regular healthy scratches. Jooris has missed 16 games in that position, behind Bollig and Raymond. He averages 11:37 a game in ice time, more than just Bollig out of regular healthy players.

At the same time, he leads everybody on this list in scoring, with three goals and four assists. Oh, and he’s 25 years old: young enough to prove he can, at minimum, be a competent depth player.

woiscratches

More competent than the other players on this list, evidently, as he’s the lone positive relative possession player, and that’s with the second worst zone starts. (Really, if anything, this damns Granlund further, as he’s being placed in the highest ground and yet struggling the most, potential recent turnaround aside.)

Jooris won’t be sent down. I can’t state that as a fact, but I can offer my opinion with a very, very high level of confidence in regards to it. Besides – when everyone is healthy, the Flames will still have two spare forwards; somebody will have to continue being a healthy scratch. It’s been Jooris for a lot of this season, and it might have to continue being him (though it probably shouldn’t be).

  • spx03

    Does a suspended player not count towards the 23 players? I thought it did.

    And my guess would be Granlund. I would prefer Bollig, but I doubt that will happen. At least they gave Granlund a good chunk of games this go round.

    • Ari Yanover

      A last-minute thought: if Wideman is suspended, do the Flames want to roll with 15 forwards and six defencemen? In which case sending down a forward would still apply.

    • Ari Yanover

      I would be in favor of waiving both Bollig and Raymond right now. Makes room for at least one deserving player from the Heat (Grant, Agostino, Hamilton or Poirier). If a guy is going to sit 50% of the time because he doesn’t make the team better, why not bring up a guy that is itching to play and prove himself. The cost of keeping Raymond eating popcorn is the same as having him play in the AHL.

  • Ari Yanover

    Ari, you gave away the ending with that picture of Granlund.

    As spx03 said, at least the Flames gave Granlund a good run of games this time. I will admit to being one of those who was annoyed at him always getting called up and then sent down after not playing (though he wasn’t treated as badly in that regard as Wotherspoon). But I find it odd that Granlund continues to play center on the third line when:

    1. Jooris is a frequent healthy scratch
    2. He gets more ice time than Stajan, who is better and (should be) more trusted
    3. Bennett has apparently been permanently shunted to the wing for no good reason
  • Kevin R

    No brainer- Granlund first because of waiver status. Based on performance, it’s not like this would be a travesty because he’s playing so good. The next in line is Raymond. If he’s picked off, I’ll send a bouquet of flowers & thank you card to the GM that took him.

  • everton fc

    At this point, with us pretty much out of the playoffs, why not put Raymond and Bollig on waivers? I think Grant should be called up, and Agostino, the latter gives us coverage on the left side. See what they can do.

    With Wideman on the shelf, does this save the move?

    • Kevin R

      Disagree, at this point you only put guys on 1 way contracts on waivers if the roster forces you to. The minute you put Bollig or Raymond on waivers, they have zero value. I would only consider that after the TDL & if you don’t mind losing the player for free.

  • everton fc

    Enough Enough Enough of these “what happens when so and so comes back from injury” articles.

    You guys have been writing them for months. Everytime you write one of these I post that it doesnt matter because by then someone else will be injured.

    A team at full health is a rarity. All of these pointless articles … the Granlund Conundrum…. oh the drama… who will be sent down? What will happen. Even if Granlund did get sent down he probably comes back in a couple games when someone is injured.
    Sending Raymond down is also an easy decision.

    Enough enough enough of these silly overblown pieces.

  • everton fc

    And further to that.

    These arent big questions. No one in the Flames org nor are any intelligent fans losing sleep over the fringes of the roster.

    Sending down Granlund or Raymond for a few games isnt a deal. Like at all… if that even happens… someone else is probably going down with an injury and they will get recalled right away.

  • everton fc

    This has been a whole series of articles where you FN writers repeat yourselves everytime and yet everytime you over dramatize…

    So I am repeatedly posting my same point so you realize how annoying it is.

  • everton fc

    Oh and since Wideman is going to get suspended … well… nobody needs to get sent down…
    Again… no one will need to be sent down…. no one will need to be sent down…. no one will need to be sent down

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Who are the most likely to be called up after the deadline?

    Seems like Grant, Hamilton and Nakladal are talked about a lot.

    What do these three have in common?… all three were Treliving’s off-season pickups. I don’t think people are talking enough about the depth moves Tre has made for the Heat this year. These guys have kept the team afloat. Aaron Johnson has also been great for the Heat by all accounts.

    I will gladly take more of that from BT in the future.