Stockton Heat sign three, bring back Flames camp invitees

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.

Forwards

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.

Defencemen

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.

Goalies

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.

  • McRib

    I have a feeling Stepan Falkovsky is going to be a real steal someday, great to see he is staying in NA. Mikkel Aagaard also earned this contract and I think his speed will play well in pro.

    Kayle Doetzel however is a wasted contract especially with Brayden Burke going unsigned. I’ve watched Doetzel about sixty plus times live in Red Deer and he is a mediocre defender, which is saying something because he is a basic old fashioned stay-at-home defender. He has a good plus/minus because he was always played in beyond favourable minutes and played even strength with Fleury (Sutter had a strange man crash for some reason). Not to mention whenever he was paired with Haydn Fleury, Fleury’s offensive numbers plummeted. Colton Bobyk on his same team would have been a much better signing with more upside, not to mention a handful of other defenders in the WHL. Doetzel is not even a great fighter and is the type of stat-at-home defender who actually hampers the offensive attack because he pulls off offensive blueline far too early preventing sustained pressure all to pad plus-minus totals, refusing to take any risk for betterment of team. Keegan Kanzig has more upside than Doetzel, can’t win them all.

    • Greatsave

      Kayle Doetzel however is a wasted contract especially with Brayden Burke going unsigned.

      My understanding is that Doetzel has an AHL deal, which doesn’t count against the Flames’ 50 contracts, so there’s no need to fret over that. If I understand correctly, an AHL deal wouldn’t even mean the Flames own his NHL rights, meaning other NHL teams are free to nab him?

      So this really has no bearing on Burke. The Flames are absolutely free to sign him up if they so choose.

      • Baalzamon

        So this really has no bearing on Burke. The Flames are absolutely free to sign him up if they so choose.

        Actually they are not. The WHL season has started and he does not have a contract, which means he’s re-entering the draft. The Flames had a window to offer him a contract and chose not to (as did every other team in the league).

        • Greatsave

          You’re right, the window to sign him this off-season has indeed closed. So they’re not free to sign him *now*. But my main point still stands: that Doetzel’s AHL contract has no bearing on the Flames’ ability to sign Burke.

    • Greatsave

      On a practical level, I’m not so optimistic about a 25-year-old Russian being willing to start at the ECHL rung of the North American pro hockey ladder. If Grigoriev doesn’t make Stockton, what are the chances of him staying vs. going home?

  • Greatsave

    I’m personally more intrigued by Aagaard, who has improved steadily year-over-year. He played against men in Denmark as an 18-year-old three seasons ago, and scored a respectable half a point-per-game. He then came over to the OHL, and while he didn’t exactly dominate, he did end up leading the Sudbury Wolves in scoring last season.

    Kravchenko also caught my eyes in the training camp sessions, although his development seems to have been more stop-start over the years, according to his stats anyway.

  • freethe flames

    I wonder who will play with whom. I am a firm believer in trying to give the prospects a chance to play in a situation similar to what they might be asked to do in the NHL.

    I would love to see the Heat try a line with Mangiapane/Janko/Poirier. After that much depends on who the C are. Aagaard is a c I thnk but after that i ma not sure. It would have been great if the positions and handedness been listed.