Rasmus Andersson may make his NHL debut tonight.
That’s a pretty strong “may”, though. As an emergency call-up, the only way Andersson can get into the lineup is if both Dougie Hamilton and Michael Stone’s injuries from the 5-0 win over Montreal are bad enough that neither defenceman can dress. In which case, Andersson gives the Flames six healthy defencemen, and both he and Dennis Wideman draw into the lineup.
If just Hamilton (or Stone for that matter, though Hamilton sounds like the less-injured party) is able to play, then Wideman draws in and Andersson, who’s only present strictly in case of emergency, gets to take in the game from the pressbox. That is, unless the Flames decide to burn one of their four allowed post-deadline recalls on him, in which case he can draw in over Wideman.
… So ultimately, it does seem as though Wideman will probably be playing in his first game since Feb. 18, a 2-1 overtime loss to Vancouver.
Andersson’s fate isn’t yet decided – but he’s up with the big club right now, and in achieving this feat, he adds to the growing number of homegrown players that make up this team.
Before kicking off the rebuild by trading Jarome Iginla and drafting Sean Monahan, the Flames seemingly had no players they actually drafted and developed themselves on their roster. There was Mikael Backlund, T.J. Brodie, Lance Bouma, and… um… Sven Baertschi, I guess? But Baertschi turned into the 2015 53rd overall pick, and that pick turned into Andersson, and he’s never known another NHL franchise.
The list of current homegrown Flames consists of:
- Mikael Backlund (2007 NHL draft)
- Sam Bennett (2014 NHL draft)
- Lance Bouma (2008 NHL draft)
- Micheal Ferland (2010 NHL draft)
- Johnny Gaudreau (2011 NHL draft)
- Sean Monahan (2013 NHL draft)
- Matthew Tkachuk (2016 NHL draft)
- T.J. Brodie (2008 NHL draft)
- Mark Giordano (sans the drafting part)
- Rasmus Andersson (2015 NHL draft)
That’s seven forwards and three defencemen, including Andersson, who isn’t technically an NHLer just yet. Ten of a possible 24 players isn’t a lot, but it’s certainly more than it was before. Oh, and the kicker: most of these players are really, really notable.
In Gaudreau, Monahan, and Ferland you have an entire high-scoring line. In Backlund and Tkachuk you have two-thirds of arguably one of the best lines in the entire NHL, with a smart free agent signing rounding it out. In Bennett you still have potential. In Bouma you have… Bouma.
Meanwhile, in Brodie and Giordano, you have the Flames’ top pairing of yesteryears: incredible together, but their team dragged down in part by the questionable players that followed them down the depth chart. Hamilton was an amazing addition, but not a homegrown one; however, with a number of so-far impressive defence prospects – among whom Andersson is a headliner – there’s more hope yet for more Brodies and Giordanos on the Flames’ blueline in the near future.
The Flames have a handful of prospects they drafted (or just developed) themselves who have all played in the NHL. Garnet Hathaway and Brett Kulak have frequently been featured throughout this season, while Oliver Kylington is still brimming with potential. Emile Poirier and Tyler Wotherspoon have also suited up for the Flames, but it seems more as though the Flames organization is moving on from them, rather than giving them the same consideration Hathaway, Kulak, Kylington and now Andersson are receiving.