As the Calgary Flames’ camp is starting to near its end – there are still a couple of cuts to make, but the lineup is starting to look much more NHL-y – the Stockton Heat’s camp is just getting underway.
In order to have that, they need bodies. Hence, the earlier flood of cuts, including some of the Flames’ most promising prospects – and now, a couple of signings.
Stepan Falkovsky, drafted in the seventh round by the Flames this past June, has been signed to an AHL/ECHL contract. Centre Mikkel Aagaard, training camp invite, has been signed to an AHL deal, as has defenceman Kayle Doetzel, a recent graduate of the Red Deer Rebels. The Heat have also brought back Luke Adam, Colby Robak, and Mikhail Grigoriev on training camp invites.
The only new name to the Heat we aren’t familiar with at this point is Doetzel, who actually most recently was one of the first cuts at the Edmonton Oilers’ training camp, and fought Hunter Smith in Penticton, so that should be fun.
Doetzel played five seasons for the Rebels; he turned 21 this past June, so he’s aged out of the WHL. He never scored much at junior – his career high is 18 points – but he’s 6’3 and 201 lbs. so that, along with the above fight, should give some kind of idea as to what kind of player he is.
In addition to the now-contracted Aagaard and the trying-to-earn-a-contract Adam, the Heat have Mike Angelidis, Matt Bailey, Andrew Cherniwchan, Jamie Devane, Matt Frattin, Curt Gogol, Dennis Kravchenko, and Phil Lane at camp.
Oh, and a bunch more familiar names: Austin Carroll, Mark Jankowski, Morgan Klimchuk, Ryan Lomberg, Andrew Mangiapane, Emile Poirier, Brett Pollock, and Hunter Smith.
That makes for 18 forwards, likely still with a couple more to come as the Flames finish whittling down their NHL roster. Jankowski, Klimchuk, Mangiapane, Poirier, and Pollock are probably the headliners of the current group, three of whom are rookies. The hope has to be for Poirier to take a major offensive role this season.
It’s mostly defencemen who have been added to the Heat’s training camp roster. Falkovsky hasn’t aged out of junior, but as an overager and import player, it was unlikely he would be back; now, we know he’ll be playing professional hockey in North America, whether it be Stockton or Adirondack.
In addition to him, Doetzel, Robak, and Grigoriev, the Heat also have Roman Dyukov, Keegan Kanzig, and Alex Wall.
Plus a few more names to get you more excited: Rasmus Andersson, Ryan Culkin, Kenney Morrison, and Oliver Kylington. And that’s not counting Brett Kulak or Tyler Wotherspoon, who are still fighting for NHL jobs – and, if they get cut, you can bet are likely to play big minutes for Stockton.
That’s 11 defencemen at present time, so there will definitely be some bodies cut as camp goes on. Andersson, Morrison, and Kylington already headline this group, as will hopefully Culkin, too; not to mention Kulak or Wotherspoon, should either of them be sent down.
The rest of the battles are more likely to fill out the lineup – and it is notable that Doetzel, Falkovsky, Kanzig, and Robak are all a bit on the bigger side, although Falkovsky and Robak likely have more offensive potential.
At Heat camp are Ryan Faragher, Jon Gillies, and Mason McDonald. Gillies should be slated to be the starter, while David Rittich – still up with the Flames – will likely be backing him up throughout the year.
Depending on how McDonald does, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him called up every now and then to get in some AHL action; in 2013, when the Flames had both Joni Ortio and Laurent Brossoit under contract, the two swapped spots in the AHL and ECHL to start a season before Brossoit was traded to Edmonton.