In the aftermath of the trade deadline, there’s some housekeeping the Flames need to do. Things get a bit complex once the 23-man roster limit is lifted, but they’re only allowed four recalls between now and the rest of the season – recalls a team needs to use wisely.
Tyler Wotherspoon and Joni Ortio were both returned to the Stockton Heat via paper transactions, making them eligible to play in the AHL playoffs should the Heat make them. (They might – they’re near the bottom of their division, but there isn’t a lot of separation between the middling teams.) Wotherspoon and Ortio were also recalled – because without them, the Flames wouldn’t have had enough players to dress a full lineup against the Flyers.
They were up on emergency basis. Now that Jyrki Jokipakka has joined the Flames, there’s no emergency on defence; and so, the Flames can’t keep Wotherspoon up without burning another recall – so back down he goes.
This means a couple of things for the defence. First, they have just six available defencemen now, so there are no spares. (Dennis Wideman’s suspension will be over in six games, or two weeks.) Second, as mentioned earlier this morning, Jakub Nakladal was not a part of the paper transactions movement – and so, it doesn’t look like he’ll return to the AHL this season at all.
I can think of a couple of reasons as to why the Flames would take Nakladal over Wotherspoon for the time being. Nakladal is older, an impending unrestricted free agent, and probably more suited for the NHL right now. Wotherspoon, meanwhile, had a good showing when he was up: but as an upcoming restricted free agent, the team keeps control over him; besides, more time in the AHL will likely do him more good than it will Nakladal.
And by not sending Nakladal down, even via paper transaction, the Flames don’t burn one of their four recalls on him.
It’s also better to send Wotherspoon down now rather than burn a recall on him. The Flames will have seven defencemen – soon to be eight – meaning there will be one or two extras. Extras sit in the pressbox, and Wotherspoon was a pretty likely candidate. Why burn a limited resource just for the player to not play? In the AHL, he should get top minutes again.
As it stands, the Flames have burned just one recall: Garnet Hathaway, who made his NHL debut last night. The Flames would have 11 forwards without him, but he’s still a regular recall, because it’s the Flames’ own fault they were at 11 forwards. Losing a body to a trade isn’t the same as losing one to an injury, after all.
The Flames can still recall three players between now and the rest of the season, unless there’s another emergency, in which case they can bring up more.
What about Joni Ortio?
Ortio, who is projected to start tonight, is still with the Flames on emergency basis. I presume by now, new Flames goalie Niklas Backstrom has joined the rest of the team in Boston; if he hasn’t, then the Flames still need Ortio up on emergency basis. He also hasn’t played in over a year, so he may not be physically ready to play, in which case, the Flames would be left with just Jonas Hiller. That doesn’t work – so Ortio gets to stay up.
For now. Once Backstrom is good to go, the Flames will either have to send Ortio down, or use their second recall on him.
As for Ortio, he’ll have to go down when Backstrom is with the team and physically ready to play. My guess is tomorrow. #Flames
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) March 1, 2016
Which would you rather the Flames do: go with a tandem of Hiller and Backstrom for the rest of the season, average age 36 years old, or use one of their recalls on Ortio, a 24-year-old impending RFA, and a potentially promising prospect for a position the team really doesn’t have anybody else in?
Officially recalling Ortio would place the Flames in a three-goalie situation again, but it wouldn’t be as bad as the start of the season. Every team has something to play for at the start of the season – the Flames have basically nothing nowadays. (Besides, Backstrom is a veteran Finnish goalie; maybe he could take Ortio under his wing.)
Are there three other players on the Heat you feel should get a chance with the Flames before Ortio? Keeping in mind that somebody will have to sit as extra forwards and defencemen get brought up – not an ideal situation, particularly when you’re limited in just who you can bring up and when.
For now, it’s not an issue. But a decision could have to be made very, very fast.