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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

Prospects who could fill out the Flames’ lineup

The Calgary Flames have three things: holes in the lineup, cap space, and prospects. They could use either cap space or prospects to fill said holes – but you have to think it’s in the team’s best interests, particularly for the long term, to use the latter.

Prospects cost less. Prospects may be just as good. And either way, you’re never going to find out if they never play in the big league.

So, who should we be watching out for to fill those spots?

Forward is the spot with the most holes, so forward is the spot that gets the most focus. Depending on how some players slot, there may be spots available at all three forward positions. Will Curtis Lazar play right wing or centre? Can Kris Versteeg or Micheal Ferland take either wing? The left wing looks to be the deepest spot, so it may be harder for lefty prospects to make it in compared to righties or centres, but if they earn it…

That said, there are three guys to watch: Mark Jankowski, Spencer Foo, and Hunter Shinkaruk.

Jankowski is now five years removed from his draft year. That’s not a problem; he played four seasons in college and was always going to be a long-term project. But he had a great first professional season by all accounts, the only real knock on him being that he’s a little old for a rookie pro – which, again, isn’t his fault. If Jankowski could be an offensive and defensive leader in Stockton, though, then it might just be his time to show off at the highest level. Not in a position of prominence, mind – the Flames are rather deep at centre already – but making the NHL is a very real possibility for him in a couple of months.

Foo was a highly sought after NCAA free agent. They don’t always make the jump immediately to the NHL, but Foo is a right-shooting right winger, and one of the reasons he chose the Flames was because there’s a spot open for him right now. It’s not as though it would come out of left field for him to make the jump: his college linemate, Mike Vecchione, is on a one-way deal with the Flyers and already has a couple of NHL games to his name, and there’s pretty good reason to believe Foo can at the very least match him in on-ice performance.

That said, it won’t be the end of the world to have him start in Stockton – jumping from the NCAA to professional hockey is an adjustment no matter what – but he knows what’s potentially available for him and if his breakout junior year is any indication, he could very well be in line to take a spot.

Shinkaruk, meanwhile, has put together solid offensive seasons throughout his professional years, and showed some potential at the NHL level after the Flames acquired him in 2015. If he can stay healthy and elevate his game just enough, he could be a winger to watch – especially as he’ll be susceptible to waivers starting in 2017-18.

There’s also a darkhorse pick here: Emile Poirier. This is in part because he plays the right side, and in part because, by all accounts from the Flames’ front office, he has done a complete 180 since working to overcome his personal issues. (Like Shinkaruk, he is also susceptible to waivers in order to be sent down.) That said, that’s a lot to rebound from all at once, but there’s certainly a great deal of justified hope surrounding him.

As for defence, the Flames have left one spot open (or two if Matt Bartkowski, expansion fodder, ends up in the AHL). Considering Glen Gulutzan’s affinity for handedness, these spots are probably only available to left-handed defencemen, so Rasmus Andersson may have to wait until there’s an injury in order to get serious consideration.

That leaves two players open: Brett Kulak, and Tyler Wotherspoon. Both have played 30 NHL games to date.

Kulak is probably the guy to beat. He’s a year younger than Wotherspoon and looks like he’s done a better job of easing into big league play, particularly as he’s played in the NHL more recently. He dressed for 21 games for the Flames in 2016-17; Wotherspoon’s career high was 14 games in 2013-14 before his season was prematurely ended due to injury. Wotherspoon seems to be more of an afterthought as of late thanks to Kulak’s rise.

Although perhaps both Kulak and Wotherspoon do make it and rotate in the sixth and seventh defender spots, keeping the competition alive while both are now eligible for waivers.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    What is the news on Poirier? Does management think he is past his personal issues. Should we have renewed hope for this kid? I always rooted for him he had an excellent first year

  • deantheraven

    Sure would like to see all those young fellas get a chance in October/November but unless Tre makes some more moves (out and not in), maybe 1 of the forwards and 1 D will get the chance to play. Like to see all the forwards mentioned get the chance to showcase, and like the idea of having both Kulak a Wotherspoon around, but them not playing a regular shift doesn’t help anyone. Wouldn’t be a stretch to see 1 or two of these prospects getting shipped out before the trade deadline.

  • Fan the Flames

    I am pulling for Emile Poirier he is a fast skater and has been a gifted scorer if he can play the game right in the 6″ space between the ears he could be a very valuable asset .

  • Ole YELLEr

    I’m glad you included Poirier. With his skating ability, shot and antagonistic play he could be a nice fit on any line if he lives up to his ability. I think Prybll (sp?) could also be a dark horse he had rotten luck health wise while adjusting to a new country, team and ice surface.

    I’m sure the Flames will make their final decisions at the end of preseason but I think 4c is Jankowski’s position to lose and the same goes for 6/7 d for Kulak and Wotherspoon.

  • Craig

    Lot’s of love here for Poirier, and I’m rooting for a solid come back from him, however I think he needs to show that he can dominate the AHL like he did in his rookie year before getting a chance at the NHL level.

    I do think that Shinkaruk may be given a chance, I really thought there was a good chance he would make the team last year but he didn’t show up during his call up. He could be interesting on the third line with Versteeg and Bennett.

      • McRib

        Poirier’s skating is a standout skill, Shinkaruk doesn’t have that kind of asset. Players with a standout skill definitely get a longer look at being NHLers, this increasing his odds of “sticking” long-term. Hope he has figured it out off the ice.

  • Just.Visiting

    I’d always thought Janko was pretty skinny until I saw his year end video from Stockton. If he works hard all summer, his all round game makes him a natural for this season on the MM line, with Tkachuk either moving to the first line (and Ferland moving with Bennett) or with Bennett. I would see the Flames looking hard at Lazar as the centre on the fourth line, with Stajan on the wing. In the absence of any moves involving Stajan or Brouwer, I don’t think there’s room for anyone else up front other than for perhaps Hathaway fighting for the Freddie position.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I am sure Tre will invite some PTO to muddy the waters just a bit. I think Lazar has been gifted a spot which is unfortunate since I believe other players are more deserving. The more I think of it the more I believe we don’t need to sign a RW. I think Tkachuk is the logical choice if his skating improves over the summer. He can do some of the things that Ferland can do a more. He is great a knocking pucks out of the air, gritty around the net, perhaps the biggest difference is his IQ.

    That leaves Ferland to drop down on a line with Bennett and Versteeg. Janko gets sheltered on the new 3M line. Fourth line is Lazar, Brouwer, and Stajan.

    • Just.Visiting

      My take as well. Shows how much the Brouwer signing and giving Stajan the extra year on his contract have cost in the context of what the Flames can’t do with the roster. We’re potentially going to have a log jam on defence in a year too. Just goes to show how much better they have done in stocking the cupboard than during the bleak years.

    • L.Kolkind

      You commented before me, but I completely agree Treliving will sign some PTO’s to fill in the forward and defensive holes instead of graduating prospects. He has done this before and if he does it again I won’t be surprised. You are right we don’t need any more RW’s as we now have 5 players in the NHL that can play that position. Foo has much less chance of making the team than he would have thought. He has Frolik, Versteeg, Lazar, potentially Chiasson, F. Hamilton, and last and least Brouwer, in front of him.

      I don’t fully understand why you have Tkachuk switching to RW when we have so many though? I know none of them except Frolik are that good, but with having so many we shouldn’t have to have one of our best players playing on his off side. I think the best solution would be to have Frolik on the top line and have one of Lazar, Versteeg, or Chiasson earns the spot with Backlund and Tkachuk. The 3M line won’t be as strong, but our top line will greatly improve in production and consistency.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I just think MT is equipped to switch wings. I like Frolik but he is not an offensive presence. Not many other players could do it. This line would be similiar to his London Knight line. Not many players can play on the same intellectual level as Johnny and Monny but MT has given every indication that he can. People can’t complain about Bennett’s linemates if he plays with Ferland and Versteeg. Janko is too valuable to bury him on the 4th line.

      • Ole YELLEr

        I’m sure BT will bring in PTO’s in part to hit minimum veteran player quotas for split squad games, to be plan b’s if none of our prospects step up in preseason and on the off chance the pto’s play out of their minds and force their way into the line up. I actually think the Flames had an open spot for Tkachuk and another prospect last season. The problem was no forward prospect earned the spot in preseason and then Versteeg was available.

        • L.Kolkind

          He also let go of our top 2 AHL forwards last year in Agostino and Grant. Either of whom would have been fine as a cheap 4th liner. Grant played decently big and had a good shot. He can play RW or C, Agostino has a similar style to Poirier just as an LW and was the top player in the AHL last year. If Treliving had kept those two and given them a chance instead of Brouwer and ideally Bouma, we would have a much different team. The 4th line would have 2 players making less than $1 million and no player making $4.5 million. That money could have gone toward a top line RW which we are currently lacking.

          Yes, Versteeg was a good signing, but Treliving put himself in a situation where he had no prospects that could play their way onto the NHL team. Shinkaruk maybe, but the rest of our prospects needed more time to develop.

          • Ole YELLEr

            I think the Flames chose F. Hamilton over Grant, both can play C or RW and seem to have similar ceilings. I think Agostino was let go make room in the top 9 at lw for Mangiapanne. The Heat had Shinkaruk, Klimchuk, Mangiapanne and Lomberg at LW last year I’m fine with that group.

  • L.Kolkind

    Are there any open spots for these guys? Here is a mock lineup but as you can see the team is already full. The lines aren’t the important part, the important part here is the open spots

    Gaudreau – Monahan – Versteeg
    Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
    Ferland – Bennett – Lazar
    Stajan – F. Hamilton – Brouwer
    Open Spot and Chiasson?

    Gio – D. Hamilton
    Brodie – Hamonic
    Bartkowski – Stone
    open spot

    Chiasson, I’m not sure what is happening with, as the Flames very well might not resign him. If he does sign we have one open spot for a prospect to likely sit in the press box like Wotherspoon, Andersson, Baerstchi, and Ortio. If Treliving doesn’t sign some random extra bodies to fill out the spots prospects might earn I would be surprised. Treliving has shown a real knack for blocking prospects from having a chance in the NHL.

    • Just.Visiting

      Do not sign Chiasson. He did fine when he was eventually being used properly (last year’s Joe Colbourne). Not making more changes on the 4th line means there’s no room at the inn for him.

    • TheoForever

      You are such a downer. However, you are correct that the management and the coach are allergic to giving a chance to rookies. I think this could change, the way Tre was talking.
      Bartkowski will be #7, perhaps even in the AHL. Pencil in Kulak, perhaps Wotherspoon too.
      Tre said he expects Jankowski to make his case for a spot. They will give Foo a chance but he is going to AHL unless he stands on his head. I like Ferland on top line to protect Johnny and Versteeg with Bennett to give him a play maker. Lazar has to prove he can be on 3rd line to 4th we go. F.Hamilton really? I would put Tkachuk with Bennett too.

      • L.Kolkind

        It would be smart to have Kulak as our #6 with Bartkowski at #7. This would allow other prospects to develop and it doesn’t really matter if Bart is the guy sitting in the press box. I do hope they really give Janko a chance to make the team as either #4C or #4LW, I don’t want him watching games as a healthy scratch.

        Foo doesn’t have that big of a shot to make the team look how many right shooting RW’s we have. Lazar can play centre as well, but I do prefer him on the right that way hopefully our top 3 centres will be Monahan, Bennett and Janko.

        I just had F. Ham as he will likely be on the NHL team as either the #12 or #13 guy, as with Ferland the lineup I put in was more to illustrate that we don’t have many open spots for rookies. The majority of the spots are already locked in. We have 1-2 open forward spots and 1 open defence spot currently. Whether those spots stay open or are given to another trade/UFA signing remains to be seen. I hope Treliving is done making moves and does allow 2 rookies to make opening night lineup. Shinkaruk and Janko have the edge for forwards, and Kulak for defence.

        • TheoForever

          I agree with your analysis, just don’t forget Backlund. I have a feeling that Janko will become a good center in the NHL, either #3 or #2, the size will be attractive to the coach. I think Bennett will become a winger in the long run.

    • HOCKEY83

      There is no room for anyone on the team except to switch out the 6 D spot and Freddie Hamiltons spot as they did last season. This is the team people Jank may get a chance but no one else in the prospect system is making the team this season. This is the team The Flames just spent 4 years rebuilding. Why would they now start to get rid of players to bring up younger less skilled players. The Flames are trying to keep making the playoffs for the next while in a conference where parody will be so close they’ll easily be 5 teams fighting over 2 wild card spots. They’re not going to start trading away players they spent 4 years rebuilding just so prospects can be in the line up. Fans aren’t paying outrageous ticket prices in hopes to see Jankowski, Poirier, shinkaruk, mangiapane…etc. their time may or may not come but it won’t be now. Weird that as Flames fans none of you understand that.

  • freethe flames

    I have said for awhile now that I would love to see Janko to earn a spot playing with Backs/Frolik like they did with Bennett; half a season there would help him get up to NHL speed, develop his face off skills, his other skills set 200 ft game, offensive upside for me screams this line. This would then allow Tkachuk to play with Bennett creating another solid line; the key here is who would make the best RW; Brouwer had that spot last year in the preseason and the line looked good but then it flopped, or could Versteeg be the RW or if he is better on the LW let Tkachuk play RW, or even Lazar and make it the sandwich line(BLT). Lazar could either play center with Stajan on the LW or play RW with Stajan at center. Again this would allow Lazar to hopefully become an alternative at center down the road. Shinkaruk, Klimchuk and yes I hope Poirier all can push the pile and make it difficult for GG to play F Hamilton and Brouwer. Brouwer needs to step up or completely fade away.

    • OYYC

      “Flopped” might be the kindest way anyone has ever described Troy Brouwer’s last season. Well done! Goes to CapFriendly. Grabs bottle of Pepto. Sees the 3rd highest paid forward on the Flames with 3 years left on his deal still on the roster. Takes massive swig from Pepto bottle. Leaves CapFriendly. Puts renewal of subscription to Psychology Today high on to-do list.

      Totally agree that Jankowski should get the open spot on the roster and is the latest apprentice on the Backlund – Frolik line. The sandwich line (like that) of Tkachuk – Bennett – Lazar needs to be given a shot. If Lazar totally blows it, move him to 4C, and Versteeg moves up from 4LW to 3RW. It is cruel and unusual punishment for any youngster to play with Brouwer – so that ought to be enough motivation for Lazar to play his guts outs which I think he will.

        • OYYC

          The Pepto is for the heartburn and nausea I get whenever I see Brouwer’s name still on the team. He gets 5 out of 5 spits into the BT Spittoon, and is currently odds on favourite to sweep all the BT Spittoon player awards this year.

          The Psychology Today has some good articles and just helps me go to my happy place. Om Mani Padme…

  • Puckhead

    Klimchuk for the 4th line. He plays a 200′ game, can score, always works hard, and his style fits perfectly within GG’s system. A versatile player who could move up the lineup and play alongside more skilled players, as needed.

  • TheoForever

    When we drafted Poirier I was over the moon. He was excellent in his first years in AHL and the hope grew. Then he went off the cliff, now that we know the reasons I’m back on his wagon. I think he will get a few shifts in preseason with Johnny just to get the taste. I don’t know if he can step into the lineup day one, but I believe he will be with the big team before the year ends. Go Poirier.

  • prendrefeu

    OT: the Jaguar (Jagr) is still looking for a spot. While he is up there in his laps around the sun, he’s also still quite… Jagr. Would the Flames have any interest on a 1yr discount deal?

    • everton fc

      I see Jagr in Vegas, as they have little offencive production, “on paper”. It’s a perfect fit, for one year.

      That said, he’d be an interesting PTO here.

      I still can’t see why we’d be willing to pull apart botbh Gaudreau/Monahan/Ferland, and Tkachuk/Backlund/Frolik? Why?? We need either a LW or RW to compliment Bennett/Versteeg (I see this being either Jankowski or Brouwer, unless we move Brouwer) and Stajan doesn’t hurt us too bad if he’s playing 4th line w/Lazar and somebody like Freddie, or Hathaway, or Shinkaruk. I can also imagine a 3rd line of Shinkaruk/Bennett/Versteeg, but that leaves Jankowski out. Something’s gotta give. (Third line will probably be Versteeg/Bennett/Brouwer. Unfortunately).

      Guy like Foo, Klimchuk… Maybe Freddie… Maybe Hathaway…. Maybe Shinkaruk… Maybe even Jankowski. All may have to learn one year more of “patience” until, at the very least, Stajan leaves…

      Still wonder if they’re chatting w/McPhee about Brouwer. He’s in the way, in terms of setting up our team! Moving Brouwer opens up a few interesting line combinations using some young guys who need a chance… Or need to be moved on down the road.

      I see Lazar obviously here. I see one of “Forgotten Freddie”/Jankowski/Hathaway/Shinkaruk having the best chance at staying around after camp, in one of the remaining forward spots, if Brouwer’s still here. A year in the “A” won’t hurt Foo . Another year in the “A” won’t hurt Klimchuk. Poirier’s nowhere near the NHL. Nor is Magiapane. Yet.

  • ALowry

    The thing is I just don’t see any prospects pushing out the likes of NHL players like F. Hamilton, Chiasson (if he comes back, which he should), or Lazar/Stajan. I would love seeing Jankowski, Shinkaruk, Poirier, or Klimchuk make the roster out of camp. Maybe as a 13th forward if one of them really really impresses. I think the team also has to become more willing to call up these guys before they bring up Hathaway. We already know Hathaway’s ceiling and it’s not that high.
    Injuries always happen, I see that being the quickest route for Jankowski to make it. I also thing Jankowski will be the first one to get called up.

    I really hope one of our D can beat out Bartkowski for the 7D spot as well.

    • OYYC

      Hathaway becomes pretty valuable to this team now, he should be the 13th man. Losing Bouma and Engelland leaves them without a true fighter, which is always going to be needed. Hamonic is a scrapper, and is now the toughest guy on the blueline.

      • everton fc

        Ferland is the best scrapper on this team by a mile. Hathaway will scrap, but he’s not a fighter by trade.

        Lomberg’s the only other guy in the system like this. Ferland/Hathaway/Lomberg. The others may be tough when “need-be”, but there is no replacement (yet) for what Engelland brought here.

        Ferland will help greatly to keep the peace… Bouma was never a scrapper.

  • Fan the Flames

    Speed,Speed,Speed I can see Brouwer and Stajen spending some time as good soldiers in the press box, If Lazar gets beat out by Jankowski ,Shinkaruk or Poirier he may end up on waivers and sent down but I expect he is working very hard this summer.
    On defense I expect Kulak will be ready to play but if Kyshilington , or Wotherspoon has a good camp that should change.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Lazar does not seem to have the offensive upside of Janko,Shink or Foo. I like the guy but he seems to be blocking some prospects that have a higher ceiling. I don’t think many of our prospects could have the season in AHL that Janko did. Jankocomes from a family of athletes, I would not be surprised if he packs 10 lbs of muscle in the summer.

  • JumpJet

    The way I see it the Flames have two opens spots in the bottom six, presuming 3M and 2.5 Men stay together. Versteeg’s ability to play either wing and Stajan potentially moving to LW allows a lot of flexibility in the bottom six forwards too. They’ve got Lazar, F. Hamilton, Jankowski, Hathaway, Foo, Shinkaruk, and hopefully Poirier and Klimchuk competing for those two spots. You got to think two of those eight guys can solidify themselves as NHLers this year.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Tre and Gully have to sit Brouwer down on the first day of training camp and lay it on the line: he is expected to anchor the first or second line. He will be given every opportunity in pre-season and in October to show he belongs in that role. If he can’t cut it, he is bought out ASAP. Brouwer was not brought here to be a bottom sixer. Give him every chance to succeed, but if he doesn’t he hanged himself with his own rope. Moon pitching tough love on Canada 150.

    • C Watson

      He was already given a full season to succeed and failed. He has proven to be an anchor on any line from 1 – 4 and I don’t mean that in a good way. Old and slow, it doesn’t get any better.

      • OYYC

        Exactly…now you minimize Brouwer’s damage by leaving him on the 4th line. He needs to go sooner than later, and if that means giving up a highly ranked prospect for someone to take his contract then so be it.

        His roster spot (even though currently the 4th line) is far too valuable right now with what players are in the system. It is only management’s denial, and bruised ego that they signed such a complete dud that is stopping him getting shipped out the door for a draft pick.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Giving a guy 30+ a 4 year contract, you know that at least one of those years will be a total loss. Normally, it will be toward the end of the contract, but that is deemed an acceptable cost of doing business. Chucking Brouwer after a disastrous first season makes zero sense if you look at the long term and accept at least one of the four years was going to be a dud. How many dud seasons is the great Carey Price going to give the Canadiens in the life of his extension?

        I say give Brouwer an ultimatum and demand the best from him, and if he can’t cut it…

        Your wanting to send him packing after one season of a four-year deal reminds me of all the dimwits here who were calling for Gully’s scalp after a horrendous October. Learn not to surrender so easily to your impulses, weak man.

      • cberg

        I don’t disagree that he had an off season relative to his averages, and relative to his great playoff performance with St Louis his last season there, which is what people were probably judging him on. From previous reports he was instrumental in the turning the dressing room around and getting the youngsters to finally buy into GG’s systems. In addition, he did fairly well in front of the net, screening the goalie and generally creating havoc there which many of our other players refuse/are reluctant to do.

        I wouldn’t mind trading him because I believe we have several prospects that need an extended opportunity but overall I can’t say he was as bad as many here seem to think.

    • everton fc

      He won’t anchor the first or second line. What’s not broken need not be tampered with. He’ll get another chance to play w/Versteeg and Bennett. He best be ready, for Lazar, and perhaps Jankowski, are waiting in the wings…

  • freethe flames

    Will the prospects be given a fair chance to push the pile? Now that Bouma is gone will GG have the gumption to let guys earn jobs at training camp and preseason or will contracts and experience dictate who makes the team? Are the Flames prepared to move past the old traditional line system or embrace the idea of being able to play 4 lines that can play. The old 2 offensive lines, 1 checking line and an energy line should be abandoned. The question is do the Flames have enough talent to do so and does the coaching staff have the courage to do so.

    • Puckhead

      There are only 2 guys that come to mind who will get playing time in case they can be flipped at the trade deadline. With most of the dead weight gone you would think that young guys should get a fair shot at some of the positions.

      • C Watson

        You would think, but remember, this is Calgary Flames we are talking about here. GG doesn’t like to go out on a limb and prefers to play the mistakes that management makes.

        • OYYC

          Wouldn’t be the first time management has forced a coach to play a guy in order to save face. At least Brouwer eventually ended up with a thud where he belongs on the 4th line. Then he was given PP time again in the playoffs just in case the “great-playoff-performer” mantra was true. It wasn’t. Time to move on from him.

      • OYYC

        Last year the Flames needed to fill out a couple of roster spots and brought in Versteeg and Chiasson. Versteeg showed his versatility and worth in spades. Chiasson showed he tops out as a 3rd line winger, although he was pretty effective with Bennett and Versteeg at the end of the year. Lazar was essentially brought in as a flip for Chiasson at the deadline, and they got lucky getting Foo.

        Fast forward a year, and it is completely opposite. There is only one spot open up front and Jankowski figures to get it. Sure it would be great to give the young guys a shot, but they realistically have nowhere to play what with Brouwer plugging up a spot. The Flames were lucky with injuries last year, there will be opportunities for the kids before year’s end.

  • Albertabeef

    What about Mangiapane? I’d expect him to be on Bennett’s left with Versteeg on the right. That’s my top prospect behind Janks. He had a great rookie pro season and I’d put him ahead of shinkaruk.

    • freethe flames

      Maggpie had a very good rookie AHL season and I suspect he has trained hard; he’s the kind of guy who wants to prove the naysayers wrong. I could see him being a recall later in the season and when called up proving almost impossible to send down. I agree don’t sleep on the Maggpie.

  • Puckhead

    We can guess all we want but the reality is that we have no idea which prospects will adjust to the NHL and when. I can’t wait to see which player(s) are ready to make the jump this season.

  • Skylardog

    The Flames seem to run pairs up front. For next season, I would like to see the pairs below, with their most expected 3rd member in brackets.
    JG-Mony-(Ferland)
    Tkachuk-Bennett-(Lazar)
    Backlund-Frolik-(Shink or whoever earns it)
    Versteeg-Janko-(Foo, or whoever earns it)
    Press box – Brouwer and Stajan

    The pairs are set, their wingers are movable. Tkachuk could, if absolutely necessary move to Monys line, but we need him and Bennett to make the difference on line 2. Versteeg plays with Janko to stabilize his play in year 1 in the big league.

    Stajan is first up, is flexible, and could play almost anywhere. He takes a spot if there is an injury, if one of the prospects needs a night off, or if a prospect can’t make the jump. Hathaway and F. Hamilton, while good enough to be on the roster, are not the future as they have limited upside. They go to the AHL until injuries (or one of the 3 prospects can’t cut it). They sit next to Brouwer when they come up. At some point I am sure one or both will get in the lineup.

    Anaheim exposed the weakness in only having 2 lines that are a threat. Backlunds line is third, but only because they may be the best in the NHL at shutting down the other teams top lines. They should be able to score more than their opponents almost every night, or at least draw even.

    The key line is Bennetts. I believe that this line, with Lazar, is the best line we have by the end of the season. They will be the difference makers by being able to score at a high rate. If they are shut down by the other teams best defensive line, then either Monys line or Backlunds line will run over their matchup.

    Lazar is the key. By the end of the season we will be talking about him as one of the most important core guys we have. Last season he played 4 games for us. He went plus 2 with 3 points. The opposition was LA twice, Washington, and San Jose, all very good teams. His SAT was not good, but when you consider that he played against the best SAT team in the NHL twice (LA), the 4th best, Washington, and the 8th best, SJ, it is not fair to judge him on his SAT. To add to it, he only started faceoffs in the opponents zone 4 times in those games, with 24 faceoffs in our own zone. He got 1:02 in PP time, and no points on the PP. Given the opponents, darn good 4 games. He averaged 11:46 of ice time. He got the message he has to play a two way game.

  • Rexx

    Not too sure if the 3M line should be looked at as the “Sheltering” line for prospects coming in. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Keep those three together, ALWAYS. It’s Bennett who will need the change of scenery for linemates. Whoever makes the jump, seeing them placed on a line with Bennett and Versteeg is about as good of an opportunity as you can get coming out of the AHL.

    Sure if it’s another natural C joining them it may complicate things, but if a winger makes the jump, they’ll slot in perfect.

    • Puckhead

      The 3M line is anything but a ‘sheltering’ line as they play against some of the NHLs best lines. I see it more as a developmental line where solid prospects can play with 2 of the better defensive and position-wise players in the league. It’s a great way for them to learn proper positioning while being forced to play a strong 200′ game. It’s a sink or swim line that cannot afford having a passenger aboard.

      • Rexx

        Right, which is why I said it shouldn’t be viewed as a sheltering line. I would prefer to not have prospects who are still green to the NHL on a line that is forced up against the leagues top competiton. Sink or swim would be followed by shuffling up and down the lineup, which isn’t something we can afford to do.

        • flames2015

          Every winger that has played on that line has had break out years and career high points. So even with the toughest matchups, that line with whoever gets paired will do well. Eg. Tkachuck, bennett, bouma, colborne etc.

  • Mullen7

    Does anyone have a link or a source regarding what the Flames management has said about Poirier recently? Would be interested in reading more about the situation.

    • freethe flames

      The Flames have never really given a reason for the personal leave.(FOIP) It really is up to Poirier to let us know. Here’s hoping whatever it is he has gotten the help he needs.