Calgary Flames left wing Micheal Ferland left Wednesday night’s game against the San Jose Sharks with a lower body injury. In the immediate aftermath of the game, it was unclear what Ferland’s status is going to be for the weekend back-to-back against New Jersey and Edmonton on Friday and Saturday nights.
Given that Troy Brouwer is roughly a week away from a return and that the Flames are carrying just one extra forward (Freddie Hamilton), any potential absence for Ferland over the weekend may lead the Flames to call up a forward from the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat.
If they call up somebody, who will it be?
Let’s presume they’ll bring up another left-shooting forward. Left shot forwards on NHL contracts in Stockton include: Hunter Shinkaruk (currently injured), Mark Jankowski, Morgan Klimchuk, Emile Poirier, Brandon Bollig and Andrew Mangiapane. Let’s exclude Poirier since he plays the right side despite being a left shot.
If he was healthy, Shinkaruk would probably be the guy to get the call-up. He’s fast but can play a credible middle-six game by chipping in some offense. If the idea would be to keep the other three forward lines intact, he could slot in on the left side of Sam Bennett and Kris Versteeg without much trouble and he doesn’t seem like he would be phased by being thrown into a game at relatively short notice.
He’s already been up with the club for a week, so he’s familiar with the team, its players and systems. He’s a left shot that can play the wing or center, so depending on the situation he could play with Bennett and Versteeg with minimal jockeying of the lines. (Heck, Glen Gulutzan could move Bennett to the wing for a game or two to mix things up, even.) The downside is that while Jankowski is big, he’s not overly physical and he’s got minimal NHL experience so there’s a chance he could get wide-eyed at a crucial time.
He’s arguably the guy most deserving of an NHL debut at this point given how good he’s been for Stockton since late last season. He’s a smooth-skating, defensively aware bottom six guy. The downside is that he’s not overly large or physical, and tends to rely on intelligent positioning and his speed to play his game. His inclusion would make the Bennett line a bit smaller, though if Lance Bouma was bumped up to the Bennett line then Klimchuk could be a fit on the fourth line with Matt Stajan and Garnet Hathaway (in the sense that it’d be easier to shelter him and ease him into the NHL game).
He’s been in the NHL and has experience playing a physical bottom six role. That said, calling him up might send the wrong message to the Stockton locker room.
He’s a rookie who’s really taken to the AHL game. He’s been very good for Stockton, but there may be a desire in the organization to shelter him a bit from the bright lights in his first pro season. He’s played 30 pro games, so trying him out for a game or two in the NHL right now may be a bit premature.
SUM IT UP
If I was a betting man, I’d wager Klimchuk (finally) gets a sniff at the NHL. That is, if they need to bring somebody up.