Plan Stockton’s roster

It’s been a turbulent couple of weeks for Ryan Huska I would imagine. Most of last year’s Stockton Heat, though mediocre, was completely dismantled and will have a lot of new faces next season. Certainly, turnover at the AHL level is hardly news but what was surprising was that some of last year’s most consistent performers were allowed to walk, leaving some pretty significant questions heading into next year.

Let’s try and imagine what the Heat will look like after the jump!

 THE CULL

The Flames culled their system pretty drastically on RFA qualification day, not extending qualifying offers to Stockton mainstays Kenny Agostino, Drew Shore, Bryce Van Brabant, Turner Elson, Bill Arnold, and Kevin Poulin. The Flames also traded Pat Sieloff to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Alex Chiasson, a widely applauded depth move for the Flames’ beleaguered right side. This likely meant that Sieloff was not going to receive an offer as well. 

In another somewhat surprising move, the Flames did not re-sign Derek Grant who instead signed with the Buffalo Sabres on a one-year, two-way contract. This leaves a considerable hole in Stockton’s offense because Grant was an absolute monster last season and led the Heat in every conceivable offensive metric. Here’s a small slice of what Grant did last season:

stockton ppg4

Stockton will need to figure out a way to make up that production from somewhere, though I am not certain that any of their centremen have that kind of production in them presently. 

I, like many, was surprised at the number of exclusions, especially with Kenny Agostino who had progressed steadily over the past two seasons in the AHL. Instead, the Flames qualified Freddie Hamilton who spent a great deal of time in Stockton last season as well and is a good bet to return to full-time status there this season.

So let’s have a look at what’s left for Stockton and try to imagine how a lineup could be cobbled together at this early point in the summer. I understand that it is early and the Flames are likely going to be adding some players to fill minor league depth but in the meantime, let’s work with what we’ve got. 

WHO’S LEFT?

As has been alluded to in previous FN articles, there’s a large amount of uncertainty regarding opening day roster spots on the Flames and there are several candidates to fill those positions presently. As such, let’s assume that bubble guys like Hunter Shinkaruk, Tyler Wotherspoon, Brett Kulak, Linden Vey, and Freddie Hamilton are both starting the year in Stockton and adjust the plan from there. 

Also, it is unclear where and how certain players will be used in Stockton, including Mark Jankowski, Brett Pollock, and Andrew Mangiapane, who will all be playing their first professional seasons starting this fall. So, with that in mind, at the moment, Stockton’s roster looks something like this (lines are completely arbitrary):

  • Poirier – Hamilton – Shinkaruk
  • Klimchuk – Jankowski – Vey
  • Mangiapane – Pollock – Pribyl
  • Carroll – ? – Hathaway 
  • Smith
  • Kulak – Wotherspoon
  • Culkin – Andersson
  • Kylington – Morrison
  • Kanzig
  • Gilles/McDonald/Rittich

As I had mentioned earlier, it is entirely possible that some of these names will be on the Flames on opening night, but it’s also entirely possible that the Flames continue to supplement their NHL roster as well. I expect the Flames to be pretty active on the PTO front as well given that there will be contract spots available, but not much on the cap front. 

As far as the majority of the Heat’s roster is concerned, it’s going to be a pivotal year for Morgan Klimchuk and Emile Poirier. Following a promising rookie campaign, Poirier’s production fell into a manhole last season and will be counted on to regain his scoring touch this season. It is exceedingly likely that he will be getting top six minutes in Stockton, especially as he was frequently used in that role last season. 

Klimchuk’s season, as far as offensive production was concerned, was an absolute disaster. Burn the tapes. Start again. Last season saw Klimchuk play frequently on the left wing, with Bill Arnold centring when healthy and Poirier on the right side. I imagine the pair might be given a shot to perform again with a new pivot but given their results last season, I wouldn’t be surprised if something new is tried.

At centre, the Heat look to be a little thin and it is likely that they will supplement the roster above with an AHL veteran to address this need. Last season, Freddie Hamilton played a great deal of centre, along with Derek Grant and Bill Arnold. Next season, it is entirely possible that your friend and mine Mark Jankowski gets a long look at centre instead of the wing where he played the majority of his brief time in Stockton last season. 

On the back end, things are starting to look real good. Despite losing Nakladal (and possibly Wotherspoon), it looks as though Stockton might have a lot of talent on the back end. Last season, the defence’s ability to skate the puck through the netural zone was unquestionably one of Stockton’s greatest strengths. Adding Rasmus Andersson to this mix should help in that regard, as well as adding a right-handed shot to replace Nakladal on the power-play. 

All six of the defencemen penciled into Stockton’s top six are either good or very good skaters and at least two of them (Wotherspoon and Kulak) have demonstrated competency at the NHL level. It will be a matter of whether enough sunlight can reach the forest floor, given that the bottom pairing at the NHL level remains rather… dense. 

How do you see Stockton’s season shaping up next year? It’s July, let’s wildly speculate about AHL line combos!

  • Baalzamon
    1. Shinkaruk – Vey – Poirier
    2. Klimchuk – Hamilton – Pribyl
    3. Mangiapane – Jankowski – Hathaway
    4. Carroll – Pollock – Smith
    5. Marcotte/Lomberg (maybe?)

    I’m hoping Ollas Mattsson will cross the Atlantic this year.

    1. Wotherspoon – Kulak
    2. Kylington – Morrison
    3. Ollas Mattsson – Andersson
    4. Kanzig/Culkin

    Gillies and Rittich are the AHL goalies, McDonald plays in the ECHL.

  • Christian Roatis

    Looking at that projected roster, it makes it clear why they moved out as many bodies as they did (though the Agostino and Arnold ones are puzzling). A glut of young Top 6 forward prospects need Top 6 forward minutes to develop.

  • OKG

    It would satisfy me if it was:

  • Shinkaruk-Jankowski-Pribyl
  • Mangiapane-Vey-Poirier
  • Klimchuk-Pollock-Caroll
  • Bollig-GenericAHLer-Smith
  • With Hamilton and Hathaway in the NHL.

  • Kulak-Culkin
  • Kylington-Andersson
  • Smid-Morrison
  • With Wotherspoon in the NHL and Kanzig in the ECHL.

  • Gillies
  • Rittich
  • With McDonald in the ECHL

  • Deef

    Question for the group (cause I just don’t know)

    Is the ECHL (Third tier talent, but full grown adults) a better place to develop than in Junior (Better talent, but younger).

    Vote Props for ECHL being better
    Vote Trashes for Junior being better

        • Baalzamon

          ECHL would be better for McDonald. It isn’t unusual for goalies to stop in the ECHL before the AHL, and going back to the QMJHL wouldn’t help him any, anyway.

          Besides, it wouldn’t help Charlottetown either. A team can only have so many overagers (two I think) and Charlottetown would likely want to use their two slots to help the rest of their roster, given that they have a capable goalie already (Matt Walsh). If McDonald goes back to junior, he’ll be traded to another team (which might be worse for him).

          I think it would be better for McDonald to go where the Flames have direct control over his playing time etc. Who knows, he may even end up starting in the AHL at some point this year. There are always injuries, after all.

    • OKG

      ECHL was very positive for Turner Elson, Brett Kulak, and John Ramage in recent years. Ramage just led his team to the AHL Calder Cup, Elson has emerged as a top level AHLer, and Kulak has emerged as a strong NHL prospect. However if a prospect has graduated Junior it’s still preferable to have them in the AHL where team staff can monitor and influence progress.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    A quick Props to BB for being the second drunkest man in Calgary last night…..there is no shame in finishing second to the GREAT WW!!!

    WW

  • BlueMoonNigel

    If Nate’s worth 7 years and $44M, you know Sean is worth more. If his agent can’t get him at least $6.5M season, Sean should fire him on the spot and hire Carl Lindros.

    Hell,Moon could get Sean at least $6.5 M a year

      • Thunder1

        I’d wager a houndred red thousand dragon stones he is. You all are forgetting what Doug GIlmour said about Sean. Now, don’t get me wrong, Dougie had his share of foibles. But talent knows where talent grows. Sean Monahan wins a Cup for us. Book it!

        • supra steve

          This team could well be headed for glory. When you score top notch talent year after year you end up dealing from a position of strength. Picks like Brodie (114th overall in 2008), Erixon in 2010 (who they have turned into Shinkaruk and Wotherspoon), Sven (became Andersson) and Gaudreau (104th) in 2011, Janko (time will tell) and Gillies in 2012, Monahan and Poirier in 2013, Bennett and Hickey (64th) in 2014, Hamilton (via traded picks) Andersson (53rd) Kylington (60th)and Mangiapane (166th) in 2015, and Tkachuk in 2016.

          Flames now have multiple assets that other teams covet, that makes lesser assets (Agostino, Colbourn, etc.) expendable. I really like the direction the club is headed in.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        You have had three years to watch them, so if you could swap Monahan for Mackinnon one for one, would you? I wouldn’t. Sure there are those who continue to say Mac’s ceiling is higher than Monahan’s, but the way things have been playing out, Monahan has been the equal of or the better of the two.

    • Baalzamon

      He can, technically, but I doubt he will. Kylington had 50 games of SHL experience going into last season, and had been a high-level player in various junior leagues throughout Sweden for years. Also the youngest player ever to score a goal in the SHL.

      Tuulola has 10 games in the SM Liiga to his name. He also hasn’t proven that he’s moved beyond the junior level yet. If he’s brought to NA for next season, I imagine he’ll play in the WHL.

      • McRib

        Tuulola’s skating likely needs a year of refining before making jump to the AHL, but who knows I wouldn’t completely rule it out. However I also really wish Everett didn’t draft him, as their coach (Kevin Constantine) is an old school defensive minded coach that doesn’t usually get along with offensive minded players (with Seth Jones, Tyson Jost, Auston Matthews, Patrick Khodorenko, etc went other routes). For that reason I think it’s more likely Tuulola ends up in the AHL over WHL, but he likely ends up back in Finland over both of those routes. Who knows though maybe Kylington’s experience has taught the Flames that the AHL isn’t out of the question for NHL +1 Europeans. Kylington looked outstanding in development camp, it will only further drive home that point in the coming months. If Tuulola even would have half as good a season as fellow Finn Mikko Rantanen did last year in the AHL he would be worth bringing over.

  • McRib

    Mason McDonald was miles better than David Rittich in developmental camp, obviously it was a very limited viewing, but let’s not get our hopes up too much on Rittich. Daniel Pribyl on the other hand sounds like he has solid NHL upside, once he finds legs after coming back from surgery.

    Looking at this roster it makes me completely understand not signing Grant, Arnold, Agostino (although I wish we gave Agostino more of a looksee at the NHL level), as I listened to a ton of Stockton games last year on the radio and Poirier, Klimchuk, Carroll, etc weren’t getting nearly enough ice time for my liking. The AHL is for developing players firstly, wins are a bonus in my opinion, time to give big ice time to the future with Mangiapane, Jankowski coming on board as well it makes major sense.