Who should the Flames call up from Stockton?

The Calgary Flames had a rough road trip in a couple ways. First, they lost three of the four games they played. Second, they lost both Kris Versteeg and Lance Bouma to injury. With the Flames only carrying 13 forwards to begin the season, that meant they had to recall Hunter Shinkaruk and throw him into the deep end right away. Due to their injuries they still only have a dozen forwards, giving them zero extras to work with.

Will the Flames call up a body from the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat to give themselves some flexibility or, better yet, a jolt of energy? If they do, who should come up?

Here are the contenders, and what their call ups would mean.

NOBODY

The Flames are at 12 forwards and are right against the salary cap. They don’t necessarily need to call anybody up. They’ve placed Ladislav Smid on the long-term injured reserve and thus got some cap relief, but they might not want to use it all right now. There are still 68 games remaining and other injuries will undoubtedly happen.

But these are their lines from last night (which scored just one goal):

Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Alex Chiasson
Hunter Shinkaruk – Sam Bennett – Troy Brouwer
Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
Micheal Ferland – Matt Stajan – Freddie Hamilton

It would probably be nice to have another forward around to spell off some players and give the coach the ability to sit guys to rest or motivate them. Which Heat player is summoned depends on what purpose they’re trying to serve with the recall.

A GRINDER

Bouma was playing in Calgary’s bottom six, so they could replace him with a player from Stockton to play that role. Presumably that person would play with Stajan and some combination of Ferland, Hamilton or perhaps Chiasson. The challenge here would be finding someone that can keep up with Ferland and Stajan, who have been among the Flames’ most consistent tandems this season.

GARNET HATHAWAY

A third year pro (in his second year in the NHL system), Hathaway was one of Calgary’s last cuts. He plays physical and with a lot of energy. A right shot winger, he has six points in eight games with Stockton. He was also up last year for a good chunk of the season, is familiar with the team and its systems (from last year and this year’s camp), and could be a good fit for an energy role.

LINDEN VEY

Previously in the Los Angeles and Vancouver systems, Vey has played in the NHL before and plays with energy. He’s also able to take faceoffs and play center or right wing, which adds some versatility to the team’s lineup. Not generally thought to be a sniper, Vey’s been quite effective for Stockton with nine points over eight games.

A TOP-NINE WINGER

The Flames have scored once in the last two games and have five goals on the entire road trip. So call up somebody that can help generate offense, effectively replacing Versteeg on the left side of the top nine. Adding one of these bodies would allow the coaching staff to drop someone from the current top nine onto the fourth line or into the press box for a spell.

MARK JANKOWSKI

One of the most controversial draft picks in franchise history (from 2012), Jankowski has emerged as a really good AHL player. He has 10 points over the first eight games of this season, tied for the team lead in scoring. He’s got size, he moves well, and he’s been able to consistently put up points this season (and dating back to his AHL debut last spring). He’s a left shot and played the wing in college, but he’s primarily been a center over the past two or three seasons so there may be a bit of an adjustment for him if he’s used on the left side.

MORGAN KLIMCHUK

Another past first round selection (from 2013), Klimchuk had a rough 2015-16 as he dealt with injuries and the growing pains of becoming a responsible 200-foot AHLer. Now a top six fixture in Stockton after spending last season in the bottom six and killing penalties, Klimchuk has already exceeded his points production from all of last season: he had nine points in 55 games last year and has 10 points in seven games so far this campaign. Klimchuk can play either wing and perhaps could emerge as a Frolik-esque utility player who can slot in anywhere.

(Imagine Klimchuk playing on the left side of Bennett/Brouwer, Backlund/Frolik or Stajan/Ferland. All of those sound like decent fits.)

HANDICAPPING

If it were up to me, I’d probably bring in Klimchuk. He’s performing really well and it would send a good message to the locker room in Stockton about performance and rewards. He’s versatile and seems like he could be a good fit basically anywhere but the top line, so his presence would provide Glen Gulutzan and the coaching staff with some flexibility when it comes to making their lineup.

Plus, several Flames veterans have described the energy that a brand new NHLer brings to the locker room – the veterans get excited that a kid is getting his first taste. After playing two fairly flat (and bad) games in Los Angeles and Anaheim over the past weekend, an injection of youthful exuberance could do them some good. Brett Kulak and Tkachuk are already bringing some energy, and a debuting call up from Stockton could help bring even more.

  • deantheraven

    Hey ryan, you said “If it were up to me, I’d probably bring in Klimchuk. He’s performing really well and it would send a good message to the locker room in Stockton about performance and rewards. He’s versatile and seems like he could be a good fit basically anywhere but the top line, so his presence would provide Glen Gulutzan and the coaching staff with some flexibility when it comes to making their lineup.”

    Didn’t he play in Anaheim?

    I don’t know if a call up is necessary, but what i do think might work is either more ice for the ‘bottom six’ as they are now, especially Ferland. I think he could bring some energy to the top six right away, and maybe even some scoring. He’s had more chances and been driving possession better than most. I bet he’d do well on the right side with Johnny and Bennett.
    Put Shinkaruk with Monahan & Brouwer, leave Tckachuk with Backlund & Frolik. There’s a top 9!

      • deantheraven

        Right! And I actually watched the game. D’oh! Sorry Ryan.
        I guess for me most of the forwards weren’t as noticeable as Ferland, Tkachuk, Frolik…

        Maybe Klimchuk would be a good call but also maybe somebody who plays a little bigger (Hathaway, Poirer). The Flames definitely got pushed around a bit too much in California.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I am surprised that Ferland has not been given a chance on the top line…he playing really well. I would even try Stagan since he has had really good jump this year. For some reason, he sees more in Chaisson and Engelland because of his history with the players.

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    Maybe the best thing to do is move Tkachuk to the top line and see what he brings there. Replace Tkachuk on Backlund’s line with a callup (Klimchuk or Mangiapane), or move Shinkaruk to Backlund’s line and add one of those guys to Bennett’s line.

    I really can’t tell you what Chaisson has added to the top line. Move him back to Stajan’s line where he played well. Bump Freddie to the press box again, and swap him in and out depending on the game.

  • everton fc

    Vey’s a grinder w/some skill both ways, but he’s been up a few times in his career. I don’t see him as a liability here, nor would he be an “impact” guy.

    Hathaway might be that “impact” guy who can actually put some pucks on net. But he can’t play centre. Or left wing. Vey can play both forward positions. But Chiasson blocks both, on the right-side. So does Freddie, who, like Vey, can also play centre.

    And then there’s Jankoswki.

    Klimchuk is a LW. We could use a LW.

    I think Gaudreau should play w/Bennett and Brouwer. Play move Tkachuk to the RW w/Ferland and Monahan, let Shinkaruk learn from Backlund and Frolik…

    Gaudreau-Bennett-Brouwer

    Ferland-Monahan-Tkachuk

    Shinkaruk-Backlund-Frolik

    Stajan-Freddie/Jankowski-Chiasson

    Or

    Gaudreau-Bennett-Tkachuk

    Ferland-Monahan-Brouwer

    Shinkaruk-Backlund-Frolik

    Stajan-Jankowski/Freddie-Chiasson

    What do we truly have to lose, at this juncture?

    (I wouldn’t mind seeing Klimchuk on the left side of Stajan and Chiasson. Ferland is a LW. Keep him there. Tkachuk would be the one I’d try on the right side.)

  • ComeOn

    Ryan Huska, how many game does Gully have till he migrates back to Hartley’s game? I want to be optimistic but the patterns have worsened and the players are more lost than ever!

  • Newbietwo

    Call up no one right now! Let’s these guys see if they can come back and if mid way we have problems still we decide to use rest of season to give Stockton boys games in prep for future

  • nieminen.rocks

    No one should be brought up – none of them four mentioned here are going to change anything. The players are fine! The lines need to be reworked. The coach needs to inspire more confidence – obviously he is not at the moment. The question is, can the coach carry them through the season? Are then any possible trades? Burke is calling out the kids! Great! But Monahan and Gaudreau are not responding to the pressure. Demote them for now!

  • Juan Valdez

    As bad as the Flames have been this season, there’s some really nice pieces in the pipeline.

    Jankowski reminds me a lot of Paul Stastny. He reads the play well, makes smart decisions with the puck, and tends to put up points at key times in a hockey game.

    • Ogie Oglethorp

      Paul Stastny got drafted in 2005. He played 1 more year college where he got ~1.5 ppg.

      He left college early and as a rookie in the NHL he got 78pts

      Not sure what part of that reminds you of Janko. Maybe you meant Johnny?

      People have to give up on this crazy idea that Janko is gonna be anything more than a depth grinder in the NHL – AT BEST.

  • madjam

    Flames worst +- players by a lot are Gaudreau-11 , Monahan-10 and Brodie -10 . There is the bulk of Flames problem , and splitting up Sean and Johnny might be a good thing until they get their acts together . Brodie is struggling mightily . Your going to lose most games when your best players are being your worst producers/performers .

  • nieminen.rocks

    Things are really desperate when it is suggested that Ferland or Stajan should play on the top line. The Flames only have 2/3 of a top line, that is the problem. Wish Jiri Hudler was still around. The Backlund-Frolik-Tkachuk line is basically the number 1 line!

    • calgaryfan

      The Flames are not a good team. Fighting for a playoff spot is where they are. Monahan is not a 1st line center never will be, Gio is a 2 or 3 defenceman same as Brodie.
      Management over estimated the team they have iced. The rebuild continues.

  • RKD

    I would like to see Klimchuk or Jankowski, heck both would be nice! They are both playing well and consistent. Really, there’s been no issues with the other lines except the top one. Guys like Freddie Hamilton, Vey and Hathway and not in the long term picture. We need offense from the top line or someone who can spark it.

  • Jakethesnail

    Why did everyone think Trouba was asking for about 6 ml per year? I think that’s a good deal for Winnipeg and great for a trade to happen.
    Can’t keep a guy around who was asked to be traded. Same with Yakupov and he has been a scratch for 2 straight games.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      He signed a bridge deal to ensure his next deal is well over $6m per. The low dollar amount allows him to be traded this year for a very good return. Imagine Edmonton will offer the sun, moon and the stars for a player of his ilk.

  • madjam

    Re adjusting defence using +- futility . Wideman with Giordano , Engelland with Brodie , and Hamilton with Jokkipaka or Kulak . Power play obviously different. Got to get more stability/balance in defense . Split Sean and Johnny except on power play , should provide dividends in the interim .

  • Despo

    If the player ends up next to Wideman and Grossmann watching games from the press box they should call up Vey.

    If the call up gets a chance to play I would choose Porier. We’ve got a lot of LW on the roster so a new RW option would fit best.

  • Dan the flames fan

    If I were to bring up anyone right now, it should be Klimchuk, or Jankowski. BOTH should be tried on the right side of JH/SM line. My reasoning is this; they are both playing top line in the minors, so they know the expectations of a top line. THEY have both played that wing at one point in their careers, and both have a nose for the net, albeit in different ways. Morgan is more grind and drive, and Jankowski is smoother and more finesse. Jankoski’s experience at Centre also give the top line another high percentage face off man. If one gets thrown out the other has a good chance of retaining the possession and consequently setting up for stronger offence in the o zone.

    Personally, I would be curious to see a line of Gaudreau-Jankowski-Monahan. I think this might actually solve our top line wing issues.