Dennis Wideman’s suspension could have posed major complications. Suspended players typically count on a team’s roster, meaning the Flames would have been one player short for the duration of Wideman’s 20-game suspension (barring a successful appeal).
Fortunately for the Flames, that’s not the case. Wideman is currently a non-roster player, as it appears the NHL has given the Flames an exemption for his lengthy suspension.
Also, Micheal Ferland has been activated from the injured reserve, officially putting the Flames at 23 players with a fully healthy roster.
It looks like it’ll be business as usual for the Flames, just with Jakub Nakladal in place for Wideman. Calgary will still have two extra forwards – for tonight’s game, they look to be Brandon Bollig and Josh Jooris – and one extra defenceman – currently Nakladal, but that could change sooner rather than later. After all, Nakaldal was only just recalled; it does make sense to not play him immediately, but it would be a pretty bad look to not play him at all.
This was the best possible outcome Calgary could have gotten. Not only do they not suffer for roughly a quarter of the season with one of their roster spots taken up by dead weight, but they may have actually upgraded their defence. Wideman was hardly having a good season, and it’s about time we can see what Nakladal, who has been having a good season as one of the Stockton Heat’s top defencemen, can do at the NHL level.
There’s a bigger implication in all this, though: as far as the Flames are concerned, Markus Granlund is officially an NHLer. Mason Raymond was sent down to make way for Ferland, but really, the Flames have had an injured forward the entire season. This is the first time all year they have no players on the injured reserve, allowing them to put together their optimal group of forwards: and Granlund, one of 14 forwards up in total, is a part of their optimal situation.
It may not be warranted – Granlund has struggled as his recall has gone on, and hasn’t really been much better than Raymond – but the Flames are a team out of the playoff picture, and likely to be sellers at the trade deadline. The deadline is on Feb. 29, so there will probably be more roster shakeups to come this month.
Whether Granlund survives them as a Flame or not is to be seen. But for now: the team likes the 22-year-old as their third line centre, and that appears to be where he’ll stay unless – or until – something major changes.