Kris Versteeg back to Calgary, Freddie Hamilton in versus Kings

The Calgary Flames hit the ice for an optional practice at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California earlier today. One major topic of conversation between Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan and the assembled media appears to be the status of winger Kris Versteeg, who left last night’s game in San Jose with a lower-body injury.

In short? He won’t be available for tomorrow’s game against his old team, the Los Angeles Kings.

The Flames aren’t immediately calling anybody up from their American Hockey League affiliate in nearby Stockton, so Freddie Hamilton will slot back into the lineup. But that doesn’t rule out further changes for Sunday’s game in Anaheim.

In other news:

First things first: the general logic behind Grossmann rotating back in is probably something like this: the Kings are a big, physical team and they want to fight fire with fire. Plus, the Flames are playing two tough opponents (the Kings and Ducks) on back-to-back nights, so it makes sense to rotate bodies in and try to keep as many fresh legs available for Sunday’s game as possible.

That said, Grossmann isn’t a great skater (or defender, if we’re being honest) and dressing him against a divisional rival is building a vulnerability into their lineup from the get-go. The logic behind the move is coherent, but it’s still not a great move. Calgary’s three pairings worked really nicely against San Jose, and putting Grossmann into the lineup makes at least one of them worse – at least one because adding him might change around all of the pairings as a consequence. He’s played almost exclusively with Dougie Hamilton so far this season, so if he slots in it would likely be Jyrki Jokipakka moving into the press box.

In terms of Elliott? Johnson played well on Thursday in what was termed a “scheduled start” by Gulutzan prior to the game. Elliott has played back-to-back games frequently in his career, and has done so earlier this season, and barring anything unforeseen I would expect him to play against both Los Angeles and Anaheim over the weekend.

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    Hamilton drawing in unless they make a roster move.
    Grossmann in? Sure, take something that worked and bring in a player that struggles with speed.

    Jokipakka played pretty darn good last night, and Kulak was pretty stable. The penalty was bad luck.

    Whatever. As long as the team’s worst players are sitting out against the Ducks. Getzlaf seems to be out, so if we have a chance to end the curse, this would be it.

    • McRib

      “Kulak was pretty stable”

      Brett Kulak was +3 and all three of the goals he was on the ice for started from quality zone exits or plays he created with smart head up passing after he activated his feet on the breakout (none of which would ever have happened with an Engelland and Grossman pairing as neither can make a breakout pass to save their life, even if Engelland got the assist it was from Kulak’s handiwork that started he play). So yeah he was “stable” or “really ridiculously good” depending on how you want to look at it. Hahah. Unfortunately or fortunately, I think it is rather obvious that the Flames are holding Kulak back at the 40 GP limit this season, as not to expose him to the expansion draft.

      Question for FN do playoff games count towards the 40 GP expansion draft eligibility? On a related note Oliver Kylington had 3A tonight and was +4, so how about this why don’t the Flames just play Kulak until the 39 Game mark and then switch him with Kylington for the rest of the season. Too progressive… I thought so. I agree about everything and I think Jokipakka finally looks like someone who is starting to gain chemistry with Dougie, which is a major positive.

      • everton fc

        In fairness to Engelland, he should get “kudos” for working with Kulak, on the ice. Kulak even says it’s helped him.

        Kylington and Kulak will be nice. If we don’t lose Jokipaaka (does he move at the deadline?) we’d have a nice “d” next season.

        • McRib

          Yeah. there are plenty of times in a game where I don’t mind Engelland, but he just always struggles immensely with the breakout and Kulak does a fantastic job in that aspect. Jokipaaka is looking like the most logical Las Vegas candidate (and frankly I don’t mind as I think Kulak’s upside is greater), though it will be interesting because if teams only have RFAs to offer I believe they also could forfeit a draft pick in an ageeement. Maybe it’s just best to sign him to a multi year deal and hope that moves Las Vegas in another direction, but I can’t see Jokipaaka being traded because teams aren’t going to be trading protected younger players for expansion draft eligible players when they know they will just lose them.

          One valuable point is I believe Las Vegas MUST take one player from all 30 teams so maybe Jokipaaka becomes the sacrificial lamb (to protect a bigger upside forward like Shinkaruk). I don’t think having to find a number 4 defender on July 1st is too tough of an ask, assuming Kylington, Kulak stick as the third pairing (frankly they both could be 4-5 defenders as early as next year..)

          Last nights defense pairings were by far the most rationale I have seen all year, now time for some forward work, most notably Ferland going up the depth chart and Chassion coming down, I think we could also experiment more with the other two to lines outside of the Tkachuk, Backlund, Frolik line, which is untouchable right now.

  • freethe flames

    I am losing my patience with GG; what on earth has Grossman done when he has played this to suggest he should play. He seems unwilling to see the truth.

  • cunning_linguist

    Teams like the Kings, Blues, Ducks etc… are big/physical AND skilled.

    In an idea world, you have big players who are just as skilled to take them on head to head. In a non-ideal world however (ie: our world), you have to make a choice, big OR skilled.

    For some reason, we consistently choose to counter big+skilled with BIG…not skilled, the logic apparently being that a tough guy who is bad at hockey, will be more effective against these teams than a weaker better player.

    If your conclusion as a coach is that size is the best counter to a Getzlaf or Kopitar style player, then you are an idiot…because you are, by association, framing yourself inside a logic that those players are good more because they are big, than because they are talented hockey players.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      He usually gets the line up changes right, and in this case that’s regrettable.

      I know the team will have roster challenges next year, but I’m looking forward to leaving this year’s behind, particularly on the backend.

      • McRib

        Switching in Kulak and Kylington for Wideman and Engelland full time next year is what I dream about most nights these days. As I can’t wait to have more “mobility” on the blueline next season.

  • Wheels

    What other coach changes players for a back-to-back, especially when they just had a game like the one they just played? GG doesn’t seem to get that you’re (usually) just supposed to change goalies.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Someone who knows more about the expansion draft than I will have to confirm or deny this, but I seem to remember something about a player needing a certain number of ‘games played’ to be counted as exposure content? Might this have something to do with that?

    …otherwise, please continue. Grossman for bag boy!

    • King Quong

      I think your right Games played Is a requirement but I also think that having a contract for the upcoming season is also a requirement so I doubt that’s what they’re doing with Grossman.

      • Schmenkley

        Actually, I think this is a valid point.

        Just because Grossman isn’t signed to a contract right now doesn’t mean he won’t be when the expansion draft happens, and a one year, low cost contract signed for next year with the express intent of exposing a defence man who fulfills the previous years games-played quota could very well be the end game here…..

        • supra steve

          Why?

          If the club can only protect 3 D-men, there is gonna be at least one available (Kevin) that is better than Grossmann, and thus more attractive in the expansion draft. So why would the Flames then want to saddle themselves with G-mann for another season?

          I don’t understand the logic, unless they intend to move Kevin for a pick or prospect?

  • Aadvarkian Abakeneezer

    The Kings are an offensive tire fire right now. If Gulutzan feels the need to rest some d-men then there are worse nights to put the pylon in.

    On that note, not sure where the Gulutzan hate is still coming from. The first 6 games? Terrible. Definitely. No argument. Since then though? 4-2. If his first 6 games were reason enough to demand he be fired into the sun, surely the following 6 should have elevated him to near godlike status around here.

    Or are negative knee jerk reactions just more fun?

    • supra steve

      Normally, I find these incidents a little disturbing, but for Kessler apparently, I have other thoughts. If anyone has this type of KO coming, it’s that turd. And Domi, that kid is a beauty.