The state of the roster spot races

The axe fell yesterday, as the Calgary Flames cleared out a great deal of the training camp driftwood and got it down to the nitty gritty. Now there are 32 bodies in camp (and two of them are injured), so fundamentally speaking there are seven cuts left to go. (Eight, if you count Johnny Gaudreau, which we would like to.)

How are the roster spot races looking? Are we about to see a bunch of punk kids in the roster? Or are the Flames going to load up with PTO elders?


For the sake of argument, let’s proceed under the notion that Johnny Gaudreau will be unavailable for Oct. 12 (though many don’t really think that will actually be the caseand that the Flames carry 14 forwards.

Who’s definitely on the team?

  1. Sean Monahan
  2. Troy Brouwer
  3. Mikael Backlund
  4. Michael Frolik
  5. Sam Bennett
  6. Micheal Ferland
  7. Alex Chiasson
  8. Lance Bouma
  9. Matt Stajan

These guys are all really good, pretty good, or too expensive to bury in the minor leagues. Most are a combination of those things.

    Who’s on the bubble? Here’s a breakdown, in order of preseason performance. Presumably four or five of these guys start in Calgary.

    1. Matthew Tkachuk: 3 games, 77.2% CF, 1 assist, 3.700 combined game score; he turns 19 in December but has been pretty effective in top line duty with Brouwer and Bennett.
    2. Hunter Shinkaruk: 2 games, 60.4% CF, 1.215 combined game score; he’s been used primarily in second and third line duty, but he’s been pretty effective.
    3. Freddie Hamilton: 4 games, 40.8% CF, 2 goals, 1.210 combined game score; Dougie’s brother has been good in an energy role. And he’s a right shot (and can play center), which gives the Flames some versatility.
    4. Linden Vey: 2 games, 50.0% CF, 0.395 combined game score; Vey has been not quite as good as Hamilton, and he has some similar traits (right shot, can play center). I’m not sure if the team takes two guys with the same skill sets, though.
    5. Chris Higgins: 2 games, 48.9% CF, 0.110 combined game score; lauded as a strong penalty-killer, Higgins has looked fine… just fine, but not particularly great. He’s got some skill, but it’s still unclear if he’s got the speed to keep up with the NHL pace.
    6. Garnet Hathaway: 4 games, 51.4% CF, 0.085 combined game score; Hathaway’s been decent, but he hasn’t really done much on the scoresheet in the four games he’s been in.
    7. Brandon Bollig: 2 games, 35.5% CF, -0.825 combined game score; Bollig hasn’t had a great preseason. He hasn’t been particularly noticeable (besides a fight) and he’s bled scoring chances.
    8. Lauri Korpikoski: 3 games, 35.0% CF, -0.995 combined game score; Korpikoski has good speed, but not much else. He’s had a rough preseason.

    Who’s injured and only “technically” on the active roster?

    1. Daniel Pribyl


    This is a lot simpler than the forwards.

    Your locks are:

    1. Mark Giordano
    2. T.J. Brodie
    3. Dougie Hamilton
    4. Dennis Wideman
    5. Deryk Engelland
    6. Jyrki Jokipakka

    One of the following is getting an NHL job:

    1. Brett Kulak: 3 games, 44.2% CF, 2 goals, 1 assist, 2.450 combined game score; Kulak’s numbers are propped up by a three-point game in Winnipeg, but he’s generally been good with smart pinches and hasn’t looked out of place.
    2. Kenney Morrison: 2 games, 38.7% CF, 1 goal, 0.675 combined game score; Morrison’s been quietly effective. He got a goal in Edmonton and has otherwise been merely solid, but coming off a rough AHL season it’s good to see him take a step forward.
    3. Tyler Wotherspoon: 2 games, 40.7% CF, -0.600 combined game score; Wotherspoon has had a so-so preseason. He’s bled scoring chances and shot attempts, and he seems hesitant at times to jump into the play.
    4. Nicklas Grossmann: 3 games, 38.9% CF, -0.850 combined game score; Grossmann has basically been what I would have expected Smid to be in this camp: a little slow, a bit off the pace, and hemmed into his own zone more often than not.

    If the Flames want somebody to be on the roster to sit in the press box, it’ll be Grossmann or Wotherspoon. If they want the person to actually play, it’ll probably be Kulak.

      Headed to LTIR for the year:

      1. Ladislav Smid


      And this is even simpler than the defensemen!


      1. Brian Elliott
      2. Chad Johnson

      Headed to Stockton on October 11:

      1. David Rittich
      • redwhiteblack

        We will by dragged down by Wideman, Engelland, Stajan, Bouma, Bollig and potentially a few others (Chiasson, Vey). When the org clears the bad contracts next year the team will look very different and that is exciting to look forward to.

        I will be watching the younger class in Stockton and Junior hoping a few can develop and make the jump next year.

        Even if we finish down the table this year I won’t be to upset. This time next year opportunity for prospects and better established talent abounds.

        • jupiter

          Also hard to imagine that group having success with Gulatzans possession system. They were much more suited to Hartley’s system of “just shoot it out” blindly and we’ll take our chances.

          You’re only as strong as the weakest link in a possession system.

      • First Name Unidentified

        If this Gaudreau episode ends up going south it will be the darkest day in the Flames management history! You pick your best player to nurse your bloated ego? He will sell jerseys in excess of $2 million per year!!

        Why not bully some of the bad contracts on the books instead of bullying a young superstar and your best player?

        I’m appalled at the lack of progress and how long it’s taken to get here.

        • everton fc

          While I agree, in principle, we have no clue what’s going on behind the scenes. No one has signed Nakladal, so one wonders what (if anything) the Flames are doping to possibly secure the services of both (though I’m okay w/Kulak over Nakladal).

          We’ll find out where things stand later next week. For better, or worse. But if Johnny holds out past camp, I’d say the Flames are in for a very uncertain start to the season. We are not strong on the left side. We lack a bonafide 1st line RW. We have aging vets and also rans in Engelland, Wideman, Stajan, Chiasson, perhaps Bouma, perhaps Vey (though I think he’ll do well here), Bollig… Even Freddie H has been a “tweener” his whole career. Good to see kids like Shinkaruk, Kulak, Freddie H (not exactly a kid anymore), maybe Tkachuk, and maybe Vey and Hathaway getting a chance, though.

        • Craig

          I think this is a bit of an overreaction based on speculation. We don’t know the details of the negotiation and there really hasn’t been any sign that the negotiations have been malicious in any way.

          It makes us as fans anxious and thinking the worse case scenario, but even if he misses a week of regular season, it doesn’t mean he necessarily wants to leave.

          • Derzie

            Please define how Johnny’s contract could be bad (unless he up and dies). Long term impacts for marquee players have recent examples: Subban being an obvious one. Squabbling over money with 95% of the roster is fine and expected. Juyst don’t do it with your marquee player. Look at Ekblad’s contract. The team stepped up and said, we are paying you. Doesnt mean they will have cap trouble as a result. GMs need to pick their battles. Johnny is not the hill to die on. Save that for the non-core guys. There are lots of them.

      • everton fc

        I think Tkachuk makes the team out of camp and stays in the NHL like Monahan and Bennett before him. Hathaway’s #s look decent. Take away Freddie’s two goals, and his #s wouldn’t look so good.

        Bollig and Korpikoski are going to get cut. If we keep 14 forwards, I see Tkachuk, Shinkaruk, Freddie H, as locks, and one or two of Vey, Hathaway, Higgins as 13/14.

        As for the d-men, once again Kulak’s earned a spot. Wotherspoon will clear waivers. So will Morrison, if he’s waiver-eligible. Grossman gets cut, and sad to say he’s probably had a better camp than Wotherspoon, which isn’t saying anything positive for either.

      • Derzie

        We have 3 great pairs of forwards and a whole lot of low quality filler for the other 6 spots (with the exception of Tkachuk who is not quite ready). Who gets what spot really doesn’t matter. The quality is not good enough overall. Splitting hairs. Chiasson or Vey or Stajan? Who freakin cares. They are all marginal players that won’t help us win. The D is better for sure but still in need of depth upgrades.

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        After Johnson stunk out the joint the other night why don’t you run with Gillies and Elliot. Give him a few games and see what he can do. Granted he won’t get the playing time but he has showed way more than Johnson has so far.

        • FlamesFanOtherCity

          How did the number 1 goalie in EDM do against the Jets? Was it 5 goals against?

          If you didn’t watch the game, which is obvious, then it’s strange you say he stunk out the joint. Guy alone at the side for an easy tap in. Clearing attempt by a D-man that end up on the stick of a WPG forward in the crease. One bad goal being the riser that hit the top of the net from a streaking player with little coverage from Bollig.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            It will be interesting to see if the flames end up in a similar situation this season. who will shoulder the blame the defense or the goalies? Last season the goalies were vilified with basically the same team that they had the year before.

            For the last time quit bringing up the Oilers on the Flames nation.

            • Scary Gary

              Similar situation to their end of year points total? The flames were 30th of 30 in team save percentage (0.892%) last year compared to 16th (0.911%) in 2014; I’d say the vilification was justified.

        • OKG

          Johnson has a +0.39 Adj.FSV% over the last five year sample. This is a starter SV% number comparable to Crawford, Greiss, Luongo, Bishop, Dubnyk, and Rask over the same period.

          One meaningless preseason game with a bunch of missed assignments finding the back of the net is far less reliable than the 5400+ minutes of sample that show Chad Johnson is one of the best backups on the planet.

        • FireScorpion

          22-16-1 with a 2.36 gaa and a .920sv% for a Sabre team that was predicted to be a bottom feeder along with the Coilers. That’s impressive by any ones standards.
          I suppose you’d send him to the AHL far outdoing your current starting goaltender.

          Green isnt a good color for you now Go home, stop being such a Meat Shack

      • cjc

        Given how things shook out over the offseason, I can’t see this team competing for a playoff spot. Elliot and Johnson will get us close, but the upgrades elsewhere have been marginal at best. That’s not a slight against Treliving, he just didn’t have that much flexibility.

        After the Gaudreau saga, I think the biggest question is whether Tkachuk plays the full year in Calgary.

        On the yes side:
        -He’s been one of the best wingers in camp
        -We don’t have many other options
        -Gets pro experience
        -Learns Gulutzan’s systems

        On the no side:
        -Why blow a year of his ELC on what’s likely not a playoff year?
        -See how he performs without Marner and Dvorak
        -Learn to reign in undisciplined play

        The fan in me says yes, but the armchair GM in me says no.

        • Baalzamon

          You’re not wrong. The Flames are on the right track, and I think we’ll see some definite improvement this season in a lot of different areas, but they’re not there yet. The team is still very raw, and there’s still too much dead weight on the roster (more if they add Korpikoski off his PTO. Shudder).

          As for Tkachuk, I don’t think there’s any reason to send him back just yet. We’ll see how he handles the real games, but to this point he’s outperformed Shinkaruk (as well as all the other bubble guys). He’s earned his nine games, but we can’t make a judgement on the rest until we see him in action in the regular season.

        • piscera.infada

          -See how he performs without Marner and Dvorak

          I will point out that this isn’t really an argument one way or the other. If he doesn’t perform well without those two, you’ve already drafted him, so the question becomes moot. The decision needs to rest solely on where he will best develop to be the impact player you took at sixth overall.

          Honestly, I lean towards sending him back, but you don’t make that decision until you’ve seen him in regular season professional games.

          • Backburner

            I’m kind of 50/50 myself. From what I’ve seen so far he’s really close, but I think he still needs to work on his skating.

            He reminds me a lot of Ferland with his size/skating, so I’m sure he would be fine where ever they keep him.

      • The Sultan

        Yeah? How did Cam Talbot do last year? Such good numbers and then all of a sudden he comes to Edmonton and boom! Career suicide. Just like every other player either traded or drafted there. Gustavsson? Are you joking? He couldn’t even make the Laffs.

        And what does Edmonton have for defense? Oliver-E… sorry, Adam Larsson, a #4 unproven defender who you guys gave up Taylor Hall for (another career Edmonton has claimed).

        If you’re going to keep coming on here and trolling this page despite your numerous, listed attempts at saying otherwise, at least face the facts and admit that the Flames are better than Edmonton in every aspect; we’ll finish higher than you in the standings, will have a better save percentage and goals against, and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is McDavid leaving you in two years and either Edmonton relocates to Seattle, or you become known as the AHL team with the best (albeit most expensive) arena.

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          You are priceless. Here trying to have a conversation about Calgary’s goaltending and defense and you still insist on crying about Edmonton. Moderators here have told me to stay on topic and that’s exactly what I intend to do .quit trying to derail the conversation.If you want to talk Oilers go to ON. This is FN or have you forgot what site you are on.
          Amazing that you still want to talk oilers on this site.i may not like the Flames but that is the team I choose to talk about on here, and because you don’t agree with me you whine about it??

          • The Sultan

            You’re PURPOSELY going around flaunting your ignorance. You’re not discussing the Flames, that would require you to actually read the news, watch the games and know the basic facts like:

            Despite having the worst goals against average last year, we still have one of the best defense tandems in Giordano, Brodie and Hamilton, not to mention anything of Kevin, Kulak, Wotherspoon, Nakladal, Andersson and Kylington. It’s a FACT that despite giving up the most goals, we finished higher than middle of the pack in shots against. Edmonton finished closer to the bottom.

            You post ignorant comments like “Johnson stunk out the joint” despite none of the goals being his fault, as well as ignoring the fact that he’d had a technical shutout in a previous preseason game, further ignoring the fact that he had an incredible season in Buffalo the year prior and put up sterling numbers on that wreck of a team.

            Why don’t you guys run with Elliot and Gillies? Did you completely miss the fact the the Calgary Flames went out and signed Chad Johnson as a backup goalie to share the crease with Elliot? You know this just happened a little while ago. Did you also know Jon Gillies spent most of all of last season recovering from surgery? You think the best place for him to continue his career would be as a backup to Brian Elliot? Do you even know how crazy that sounds with all the contracts being signed and how that would affect ANYTHING?

            You even go on to contradict/disprove your own point by saying he won’t get playing time. Maybe a full season in the AHL, like EVERY OTHER SINGLE FLAMES FAN ALREADY KNEW WAS GOING TO HAPPEN would be good? I don’t know, but I guess we could try him backing up Elliot and relegating newly signed Chad Johnson to the Heat.

            And don’t pretend to be all high and mighty and say you’re just here to talk about the Flames. No, you’re just here to troll. Every time you post your ignorance about this team and what’s going on in the NHL in general bleeds through your words to the point where IF I DIDN’T SEE YOU POSTING ABOUT HOW CRAPPY THE FLAMES ARE IN EVERY POST I’d think you were an honest to God 12 year old troll purposely saying this kind of stuff. That’s not contributing to the discussion, that’s taking away from it.

            Like I said, if you want to post here, do some research and maybe go back and watch some games from last season. The Flames are infinitely better and farther along in our rebuild than Edmonton will ever be, and you just can’t stand that so you have to come on here and trash this team at every chance you get. I won’t stand for it, not with that tire fire you have going on up North.

            And judging by the amount of trashes you get every single time you post, it’s clear a large majority of the community never wants to see the name Train again.

            • Baalzamon

              You post ignorant comments like “Johnson stunk out the joint” despite none of the goals being his fault

              Actually, that’s a pretty fair criticism for that one 30 minute sample. I don’t care what team you’re talking about, three goals on six shots over 30 minutes is a bad goaltending performance, full stop.

              • The Sultan

                I’d beg to differ. Jonas Hiller showed us what a bad goaltender performance is. Karri Ramo demonstrate it at times after playing too many games. Misreading a play and sliding to the other side of the net is a bad goalie decision. Having your clearing attempt intercepted by an opposing player is a bad goaltender decision. Trying to dump the puck and throwing it over the glass is a bad goaltender decision. Not stopping the play, not collecting the puck from behind the net, not controlling your rebounds, all of that stuff can be placed on a goalie’s shoulders.

                Having the opposing team control the play entirely around your team and leaving the net open for an easy tap-in may as well be the goalie’s fault as well, but not entirely. It would be unfair to Chad Johnson and my intelligence if I were to say that that bad goaltending performance in that preseason game will entirely dictate where and how he should play for the rest of the season, as Train seemed to allude to.

            • deantheraven

              Give him a break. He is , after an Oilers fan. And probably a minor. And he doesn’t even realize this is no way to get laid, but he keeps it up anyway ’cause it makes him feel bigger, smarter, give him some acknowledgement.

              And lucky his parents don’t know what he’s doing with that laptop the bought him, instead of his homework.

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        What would be wrong with Gillies getting a little look? I’m not saying he is going to be the backup just that he probably deserves a game or two regardless of who was signed to be backup. He has earned that so far. Wouldn’t you agree?
        “Everything earned, nothing given.”

      • Toofun

        Wait what? Matthew Tkachuk: 3 games, 77.2% CF!

        I haven’t seen a game yet, has he really looked that good? Is this inflated by zone starts or something or has he passed the eye-test equally well?

        I was really happy that Calgary got the chance to draft him but I was a bit disappointed during the young stars games. I’d love to see him do well.

        • Baalzamon

          A lot of that is the Jets game, where Bennett led Tkachuk and Chiasson to an over 85% performance. Make no mistake, it’s Bennett driving the line, but Tkachuk and Brouwer (it’s usually Brouwer, as we all know) haven’t hurt him any.

          By my recollection, Tkachuk has looked better in each successive game (though I missed the Winnipeg one). He was decent against the Oilers (noticeably outperformed in the second and third periods by Shinkaruk) but against Vancouver I can confirm he looked very good.

          We’ll see how Tkachuk looks against real NHL competition, but the early returns have been surprisingly pleasant. He’s made the team at this point, as has Shinkaruk (IMO).

        • Craig

          I agree with a lot of what Baalzamon has said, Tkachuk has really benefited from Bennett being an absolute beast this preseason.

          I think Tkachuk has looked ok, I dont think hes ready for a full NHL season.

      • FireScorpion

        You think there’s a real comparison between Tkachuk and his glittering stats, MemCup and bloodlines and Ferland?

        2 totally different players. Lol and as a Coil fan you are in for a terrible surprise if you think he’s another Ferland

      • KiLLKiND

        My opinion, is that the Bennett and Brouwer line are playing so well with Tkachuck he makes the team. I personally don’t know if he is ready for the NHL at this point, but I do know he is too good for the OHL. I think it may be best for his development to be in the NHL this year. He reminds me of Bennett in how hard he works and his drive. I think with his size and determination to be the best player he can possibly be that a year learning the pro game will just accelerate his learning curve.

        He looks to be able to take, and certainly give his own hits, he has good enough hands and he will be in a similar situation to Monahan in the Flames aren’t exactly bursting with top 6 LW’s. If he does make the team his line with Bennett and Brouwer would be a very great line to wear down the other team with their down low play. This will also allow Ferland to most likely play with Monahan, I have a feeling Ferland and Monahan click and put up more points than expected.

      • KiLLKiND

        @97Train and his repliers

        Train some people are correct that you post here, yet don’t seem to pay attention to the Flames and your suggestions are usually not the greatest. Everyone else stop taking the bait, you usually do have no need to bring up the Oilers and generally only use it to insult him. He is a smart enough troll that he doesn’t insult just posts random comments there is no need to start insulting him when the very first reply could have been “Gilles would get more time in the AHL, which he needs after hip surgery, and he is already sent down. Johnson is signed to be the backup and we could lose him on waivers.”