59Glen Gulutzan
Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn / USA Today Sports

Arena frenzy overshadows first day of training camp

In actual hockey news, the Calgary Flames opened the on-ice portion of their 2017-18 training camp earlier today. The 68 players in camp were split neatly into three groups and had roughly hour-long sessions where Glen Gulutzan and his staff put them through the paces.

Here are the main takeaways from the first day.

A mixture of lines

As a result of all the arena hubbub, we don’t have a complete picture of lines for all three groups right now. (Sorry.) But we do have a pretty decent idea regarding most of the big pieces in the Flames organization line-wise.

Partial forward lines (group in brackets)

Tkachuk – Backlund – Poirier [A]
Klimchuk – Hrivik – Frolik [A]
Monahan – Gaudreau – Ferland [B]
Mangiapane – Jankowski – Brouwer [B]
Versteeg – Bennett – Foo [C]

Partial defensive pairings (group in brackets)

Giordano – D. Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
Valimaki – Andersson

We’ll endeavour to have more complete lines featuring the minor-leaguers and depth players after Saturday’s on-ice sessions.

Injury updates

Daniel Pribyl appeared to injure his right knee during Group A’s practice and had to be helped off the ice. Joel Lowry also left Group A’s skate early – he was gone before I arrived midway through – but it’s unclear if his absence was injury-related.

In happier news, Tyler Parsons was a full participant in Group A’s practice after sitting out the last two games in Penticton with a minor back injury.

        • McRib

          Kind of funny, I have watched a couple of the Flames NHL/AHL vets current/former (Brouwer, Poirier, Shinkaruk, Mason Raymond, Kulak, etc) this summer practicing a few times when I have randomly been at Winsport myself and Brouwer does look much lighter. Hopefully it translates into him at the least, not being a boat anchor on the fourth line.

          • McRib

            I’ll even go as far to say this, as much as I want to see some of these young guys succeed and make the team (Poirier, Mangiapane, Jankowski, Klimchuk, etc), Brouwer was the best player on those ice times, period. He was honesty schooling everyone else, obviously this doesn’t mean anything as it’s just summer, but he is clearly motivated to prevent last year from happening.

          • OYYC

            I said after the season that the only chance Brouwer has is to cut 10lbs to try and get faster. No doubt he’s looked around this summer and said I’m in real danger of losing my job here, the kids are banging on the door.

          • OYYC

            @ Jumping Jack Flash. Yeah, and a response from a guy that figured he could mail it in and expect a 4.5M cheque for 4 years. It’s funny what a motivating factor money can be.

  • SydScout

    Poirier on a quality line! Make it happen! That is just outright exciting. If he can make it stick, it shores up the slight concern about a quality right edge. If if if he can, boy we’re looking hot this year! Exciting stuff. Mangi will make it. Klimchuk will be our next Backs. Trained by the master himself. And likely just as perennially underrated.

    The D Corp….well that’s just a thing of beauty.

  • Alberta Ice

    Lots of reasons to let the powers that be work through the arena challenges. Just bring on the drama of NHL hockey down to the ice level and let’s enjoy the script that will be written by all teams in pursuit of Lord Stanley’s mug over the next 10 months.

  • loudogYYC

    It’s still very early but it’s also the time to get excited. Hrivik is smallish but has some real skill, I can see him lighting up the A and called up as necessary.

    Now Klimchuk, damn. Mark my words, if Lazar is sent down or is the 13th forward this season it’ll be cause of Klimmer. He’s looking very sharp and his shot is unbelievable, you can tell he came to make the team. The last 2013 1st rounder to debut but he looks like he’ll contribute for sure.

    • everton fc

      Hrivik is 6’2″, 200lbs. Not huge, but certainly no “smallish”…

      Pribyl’s never played more than 46 games at the professional level, even in his home country. I wouldn’t be too high on him – durability seems to be an issue.

      Klimchuk is a LW. He may find his way here via call-up, but I think he’ll be a Flame at some point. Mangiapane/Jankowski/Brouwer – could this be our 4th line? What to do w/Lazar, though? If he’s the 3rd line RW, then you have Stajan and Hathaway as our extra forwards.

      I got a feeling Mangiapane and Jankowski end up in Stockton one more year. I still think Klimchuk’s game has a better chance at a 4th line LW slot, than anyone else. But we may be one year away from Jankowski, Mangiapane, Klimchuk… Others.. (Lomberg)…

      Lazar may have a lot of pressure on himself, come camp. Hope he shines.

      • TheoForever

        Tre said that he has high hopes for Jankowski to make the team this year. It was also nice to see that he said Foo was not promised a spot with the big club and will have to win it, which is consistent with the way Flames do business. Personally, it would be a huge disappointment if we don’t add 1 or 2 rookies upfront.

        • BringtheFire 2.0

          I agree, with the depth we have, most def. I honestly think Foo will be one of them. He’s surrounded by young players who’ve gone through what he has and know what it takes. Plus, the spot is there for him…

  • McRib

    “Tkachuk – Backlund – Poirier”

    I’m telling you Poirer is going to get a decent look at training camp.

    “Mangiapane – Jankowski – Brouwer”

    The Flames are thinking “lets put them with a veteran like Brouwer, to help ease them in”, while we’re all thinking “I hope they can carry Brouwer”.

      • McRib

        I watched Poirier a couple of times in the QMJHL and he was an absolute stud, one of the more dominant junior performers I have seen in years (at the time he reminded me of Corey Perry). Brad Treliving echoed this saying he was also a huge Poirier fan, when Poirier came out about becoming clean, so I don’t think they’ll let him go.

        Worse case Poirier becomes an elite forechecker like Paul Byron, but bigger and more physical. The Flames won’t blow this again, Treliving was fairly
        candid when they lost Byron about realizing it was a mistake. Poiriers speed is a tangible NHL asset, I don’t know if another prospect possess the same type of a standout tool at this moment (outside of Adam Fox’s PP quarterbacking abilities).

        • TheoForever

          Yeah, I was very happy when we picked Poirier over Shinkaruk, and the start to AHL was great too.
          His junior highlights were great, I remember watching and thinking, wow that’s impressive speed.
          I’m very concern with the waivers. Let’s hope Poirier forces his way into the lineup, but it will be tough for him to make the opening day roster.

          • The GREAT WW

            Don’t get your hopes up; the poor kid had to endure Huska AND a substance abuse issue for his most important development years.

            Unfortunately he’s a longdhot…

            WW

        • everton fc

          Poirier was indeed a very good playerin the “Q”. Unafraid to drop the gloves, as well. He’s got an edge to him – like a true power forward. Hoping the best for him, but w/all the news on him, good and bad, but mostly his getting help and the positive effects of all that… He might indeed get plucked off the waiver-wire.

          Tough decisions coming. Shinkaruk could be another. I think Poirier’s biggest challenge is his hands. (By the way, don’t overlook Lomberg’s speed. It’s very real, and an asset is they need a 4th line mucker on LW next season) His ability to score consistently. Ferland seems to have cleared this same obstacle. Poirier’s camp, especially w/those linemates, will be telling. Frolik w/Versteeg and Bennett wouldn’t be a bad line, either. And I do hope Jankowski’s the 4th line centre, come opening day (Mangiapane/Jankowski/Brouwer – extra forwards Lazar & Stajan?) Would Hathaway clear waivers?? I don’t think he would. Hathaway’s also had success w/Jankowski in the past. Would they waive Lazar??? Stajan???? We shall see…

      • OYYC

        There’s that 12 day rule before the season starts though. As much as I really like Poirier as well, he’ll be back in Stockton to start the year. Unfortunately due to the last couple of years with substance abuse being an issue, in the team’s eyes he’s almost a second year pro again. But good on him for recognizing there was an issue, and he’s looking for getting his life back on track. There is no way I’d count him out of being recalled later on though.

          • OYYC

            Unless I’m way mistaken, waivers don’t start until 12 days before the beginning of the teams regular season – October 4th in Edmonton this year. If a team chooses to keep anyone past that 12 day period, then they risk losing him. Unfortunately he’ll be on the farm and won’t get a long look at camp. I believe 2 pre-season games is the most he can play. Ryan wrote about this a while back.

            Can’t see any way that Montreal doesn’t claim him, he’s a Montreal kid and the Habs look to be a mess to me this year, everywhere but in net.

          • everton fc

            I think OYYC is correct. Guys who will make it late in this camp will be Hathaway, Wotherspoon… Freddie… And the guys who are waiver-exempt. So look for Shinkaruk, as well as Poirier, being on the farm sooner, than later. If they both play well, then you’d have a chance at losing one, or both. Can’t see them making another judgment error like they did w/Byron.

  • OYYC

    I would bet dollars to donuts that this is your opening day lineup:

    Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland
    Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
    Versteeg – Bennett – Lazar
    Stajan – Jankowski – Brouwer

    Giordano – Hamilton
    Brodie – Hamonic
    Kulak – Stone

    Smith
    Lack

      • OYYC

        In the above, Janko gets broken in slowly, and the 3M stays together. Janko looks way out of place on the 4th line though. Hopefully they throw the B-L-T 3rd line together later on in the year. Assuming everyone plays to expectations that is.

        Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland
        Jankowski – Backlund – Frolik
        Tkachuk – Bennett – Lazar
        Versteeg – Stajan – Brouwer

      • OYYC

        Not sure they will even go with a 14th forward to be honest. If the top 20 are healthy, GG has been shown to only carry 1 extra forward. The guys that are banging on the door like Foo, Mangiapane, Poirier, Klimchuk all figure to need some time in Stockton and gets lots of playing time. Freddie figures to be the 1C on the farm to give the top line a chance. If I had to guess, the team goes with Hathaway as the 13th guy.

        I’d go with Wotherspoon as your 7th D, to sub out Kulak every once in a while. You could make the case for Bart, who never really sees the ice, he’s just there in case of an injury in warm up basically before another D-man gets on the plane. It would be a bonus for Wotherspoon to get a big league paycheque though.

        The Flames will still want to showcase Gillies and Rittich, and both of them will see time this year not just at the end of the year either. That’s going to be a true juggling act, behind Smith and Lack. Figure that Rittich or Gillies will be on the roster at the end of the year, that’s one reason I think they only go with one extra forward. There will be injuries obviously, so the kids won’t lose hope of seeing the big club. The 2018-19 season will have more openings by the looks of it, and the guys that are real close now will get a real shot then.

        tl;dr Hathaway & Wotherspoon.

        • everton fc

          If they get bold and have a 4th line of Mangiapane/Jankowski/Brouwer, then one will be Lazar… And the other either Stajan or Hathaway. I could see them waiving Stajan if this is the preferred 4th line. I doubt it is, though.

          Stajan/Jankowski/Brouwer makes most sense, and like the commentary above, Poirier will be back in Stockton prior to the “Day 12 Rule”. So I still see Lazar on the 3rd line w/Bennett and Versteeg. He’s in the same group of forwards on Team Crisp….

          • OYYC

            Can’t see Stajan ever getting waived, the team has a lot of respect for the him and what he’s been to the club over the years. He might spend time in the press box, but he’ll see that as a probable scenario and won’t sulk at all. Like others have said on another thread, he’ll likely have a job with the Flames after his playing career is over.

            Love or hate the pickup, Lazar has a spot. They spent a second rounder on him, and then gave him a 2 year deal. I thinking part of why the team picked him up is that he’s a natural centre who can play wing. The team figures to have 5 centres on the team which is never a bad thing depth wise.

        • everton fc

          I like Hathaway and Freddie as the extras. And Wotherspoon. And I get this feeling Lack finds himself here, as Calgary seems a good fit for such an eclectic fellow! I can’t see Foo on this team out of campe. Of all the guys listed, if we’re talking two spots, of the kids, Kilmchuk, and maybe Lomberg, have the best “games” for a 4th line LW or, in Lomberg’s case, spare forward. Freddie’s another. Foo, Mangiapane, Poirier are one year away. By then, we’ll no longer have Stajan, Freddie’s shelf life will have expired, we’ll know what we have in Lazar… We’ll either hold onto Versteeg as a 3rd/4th line wing (if he duplicates last season, we should)… And I think Hathaway will prove to be a player we hold onto. So things looking up. If Andersson and Valimaki are ready next year, who do they move out on defence? That’ll be where we may be able to secure a very high-level wing, as someone’s gotta be moved. Probably Stone, maybe Kulak, who I still see as a very good NHL defender in the making… Or, if Brodie’s -10 on a good team…

          • OYYC

            Andersson will be 21 in October, and Valimaki is a real talent but won’t be rushed. The Flames are in a great spot D wise that they don’t have to bring someone up before they are ready.

            A great conversation to have is that Mangiapane is really close after only 1 year of pro, and he was a 6th round pick! The team also has the luxury of bringing back Versteeg on one year deals as long they see a role for him. He doesn’t want to play anywhere else.

  • Just.Visiting

    If I had to bet, I agree with the view that both Lazar and Janko play. If Lazar earns top nine time, that’s fair enough. If Janko is more top nine worthy than Lazar, I would not like Lazar being gifted a top nine spot. In that case, I would like to try Janko with the Mikes and Tkachuk with Bennett so that we could roll three strong lines, rather than two strong lines and a noticeably weaker third line.