Since last Sunday, the preseason has begun and the Calgary Flames have played four times. Three of those games were stinkers and as a result of some uninspired performances from players that we expected to challenge for NHL jobs, the roster situation is arguably even more murky.
We to try to make sense of the muddy waters of the preseason. Join us, won’t you?
Ryan Pike: Alright, after four preseason games are any of the Flames’ roster decisions any easier? Let’s start with the forwards.
ctibs (Christian Tiberi): Depends. Jankowski was a shoo in, but their winger issues don’t seem to be any closer to being resolved. Granted, we haven’t seen much of Poirier or Klimchuk.
karimkurji (Karim Kurji): Depends on if they want to make the right moves or if they want to make the easy moves. Lazar should be cut, not sure if that will end up happening though.
ctibs: Lazar belongs in the trash can. I figure they give him one more run out.
Ryan Pike: Lazar hasn’t been good, but who’s been good enough to take that spot on the right side?
karimkurji: I know Foo hasn’t been great, but I’d rather see him skate there at least for a little while.
ctibs: Jaromir Jagr, next question.
Ryan Pike: Not happening, so what do you do with Lazar?
Ryan Pike: I very much doubt they waive a guy they spent a second on and then signed to a one-way.
karimkurji: At this point, do you see any other teams claiming him?
ctibs: That shouldn’t be considered.
croatis (Christian Roatis): I’m very disappointed with Lazar.
ctibs: No one is fretting over Shinkaruk being sent down and he was traded for an NHL asset.
croatis: Thought he had a legit shot with Bennett/Versteeg. Granlund wouldn’t be what he was last year without the opportunity, which he wouldn’t have gotten here in my opinion.
ctibs: Lazar isn’t ready for the NHL and therefore the best way is to give him AHL time and to see if he can actually stick it.
billtran (Bill Tran): I think the way his story played out gave him much more heightened expectations, as if he should have been really good coming into training camp.
Ryan Pike: But that still leaves the question: who takes the three or four open NHL jobs?
karimkurji: We’re all high on Dube, what are the odds of him getting a 9-gamer?
Ryan Pike: Very low. I was a bit shocked he and Valimaki weren’t sent back on Saturday.
ctibs: Why not? The kid’s been one of the standouts of preseason, give him his nine games and then send him back.
billtran: Valimaki probably gets more out of an extended training camp with the Flames than he does going back to the Dub.
Ryan Pike: My big issue is this: does getting exposed in the regular season hurt his development? Wouldn’t it be easier to have Valimaki and Dube go back, get confident in junior and light the WHL up?
taylormckee (Taylor McKee): I do worry about Valimaki’s workload by the way, it seems like he’s played a ton and a 9 game audition could help pump the brakes a bit.
ctibs: Making the opening day roster as a dark horse 19 year old would only do great things to confidence, no?
Ryan Pike: I think the organization sees what happened with Baertschi and are gun-shy about rushing guys.
ctibs: I’d send back Valimaki but I’d keep Dube around for a little while longer. Let him play his way off the roster.
croatis: Dube getting a look with 10/93 would be tons of fun.
ctibs: Baertschi’s problem was more or less who was coaching him.
karimkurji: Sven had other issues too.
croatis: Ugh Hartley memories came screaming back.
Ryan Pike: But i think that experience colours a lot of their decision-making for better or worse.
karimkurji: What good is it to have Cramaross and Glass and Lazar on the team though? Seriously.
ctibs: I’m sure they recognize that every case is unique. Dube’s not going to have the ridiculous expectation Sven had. Give him some sheltered minutes, see what he can do for nine games at no cost, send him back.
Ryan Pike: My lines right now:
Stajan’s a scratch
I have no strong feelings about the 3rd line RW or 4th line LW.
billtran: I’d be surprised if they gave up on Lazar right away.
taylormckee: I like that dube idea Christian T had, provided no Glass, Cram, or Lazar.
Ryan Pike: I don’t hate the Dube idea, but man that’s avoiding make a lot of other decisions.
ctibs: I think those decisions aren’t going to be tough to make.
taylormckee: Is there any shot Lazar is claimed?
ctibs: What bubble guy has been close to dube?
Ryan Pike: Glass?
ctibs: I can’t see Lazar getting claimed unless Edmonton wants to do it out of spite. Guy is a big question mark.
karimkurji: Ugh Glass is so annoying because you know he’s gonna destroy kids in the preseason and then be the exact same player he’s been for years in the reg.
Ryan Pike: The challenge I see for the Flames is I’m just not seeing the desperation or push from the bubble guys.
ctibs: Yeah let’s not pretend Glass is anything new.
karimkurji: If I had to pick two guys to fill those roles right now, it would be Foo and Poirier.
ctibs: I think we need to see one more game from Foo. Edmonton, he was great. Vancouver, bad. Not willing to completely throw in the towel on him just yet.
Ryan Pike: I think Jankowski and maybe Dube are the only guys whose performances merit a promotion or a longer look.
ctibs: The preseason is too short to make any solid projection on anyone.
billtran: The Flames could lay out a plan for Dube similar to what they did with Tkachuk too. Make it clear to him what they expect from him and what schedule he’d be on, and re-evaluate after nine games.
ctibs: Seems fair to me. But what do they do after? Still no wingers in the org right now.
taylormckee: Dube-bennett-vertseeg would be choice. Yeah, the forward group in general isn’t looking promising at the moment.
croatis: That could be real good. But do you want to already be converting Dube to a winger?
ctibs: Maybe you can follow the Bennett trajectory. Keep him at winger for season one, maybe move him to centre season two.
croatis: Or have him play 9 games as a winger and have him sent back to junior to play centre?
ctibs: The Flames have four centres next year anyways so there’s really no space for him.
croatis: Stajan-Jankowski-Brouwer is also the weirdest looking fourth line.
ctibs: Plus you can look at what Ruzicka is doing and see how his development at centre is doing and reevaluate from there. That fourth line is going to get crushed.
croatis: Better than Glass/Gazdic-Janko-Brouwer but woof.
taylormckee: I pray it doesn’t matter.
Ryan Pike: It might matter in the playoffs.
ctibs: Not to piss on his great preseason so far, but Janko’s being crushed in possession so far. We’ll see come October 4.
Ryan Pike: What about the blueline? Is six and seven any clearer?
ctibs: Kulak and Stone haven’t been great. Neither has Valimaki, but he’s 18 and has an excuse. Andersson and Wotherspoon are interestingly enough doing some solid work?
billtran: Kulak has been more disappointing than I would have thought.
karimkurji: Wotherspoon might have the inside track just because of how awful Kulak and co have been. I’d personally love to see Andersson there though.
ctibs: Wotherspoon has an NHL number too now.
croatis: Andersson has little value as a 7 here.
Ryan Pike: Wotherspoon and Andersson were pretty good on Friday night.
taylormckee: Re: Kulak, maybe he’s earned more rope? I still think it’s his to lose.
croatis: Kulak and Wotherspoon rotating as 6D isn’t a bad idea.
ctibs: Bartkowski, stay away.
croatis: Bart needs to go though.
karimkurji: He was only here for expansion purposes, he should volunteer to leave the team. Be the bigger man.
billtran: I think he looked worse in the preseason than he did last year.
croatis: What was the play Bartkowski kept doing last year where he’d keep the puck behind the net for like 20 seconds then slap it off the boards?
Ryan Pike: He was good when they needed him to be down the stretch last year.
croatis: That couldn’t have been set. And it was almost always a giveaway.
Ryan Pike: Does management keep him out of loyalty?
croatis: Loyalty to what?
ctibs: I wouldn’t.
taylormckee: Lordy, I hope not. That portends poorly.
ctibs: He makes $400,000 in the minors this year. I’m not sure he’d have any qualms about not being on the NHL roster.
billtran: I think it was the game against Vancouver where i kept seeing him give the puck away trying to skate it out.
ctibs: He was very bad against Vancouver.
billtran: He literally does better standing behind the net and slapping the puck than he does skating with the puck.
croatis: This extra year was for the expansion draft anyways. It wasn’t a guaranteed spot.
Ryan Pike: I think they signed him just in case they moved Jokipakka.
billtran: Long story short, he should be gone before the end of September.
ctibs: I feel he at least had a foot in the door.
karimkurji: We have way too many intriguing defense prospects to waste a spot on a guy who shouldn’t be in the NHL. Play a kid there and see what happens.
croatis: Plus AHL team could use a vet. (Right?)
Ryan Pike: Who is everyone’s six and seven right now?
croatis: Kulak and Wotherspoon.
ctibs: Wotherspoon, Kulak. Order undecided.
billtran: Man you wouldn’t want to waste prospect development in Stockton for the sake of Bart having a spot.
croatis: Andersson is above both in my mind based on the preseason but he shoots right.
Ryan Pike: I have Wotherspoon and Bartkowski right now, Bartkowski sits.
billtran: Yeah I’d say Kulak and Wotherspoon.
Ryan Pike: I want the most low-event 10 minutes from my third pairing humanly possible. Wotherspoon is Mr. Low Event.
croatis: I’d like Wotherspoon to log more NHL games than Tim Erixon.
karimkurji: Andersson, Bart, with Bart playing zero games ever. If someone gets injured, call up another guy but never play Bart.
taylormckee: Kulak and wotherspoon would be ideal, but holy moly, I also hope this doesn’t really matter. I’m not sure Kulak is good enough to save stone if he turns out to not bounce back.
billtran: Would anyone be good enough?
taylormckee: It’s a sad thought. I just hope he shakes it off and turns out to be not horrawful.
billtran: If Stone doesn’t carry his weight, the player paired with him might end up getting a lot of bad press
Ryan Pike: What about the forwards? Do you carry 13 or 14? And who’s your third line wing, fourth line wing, and extras? I’d probably go Brouwer third, Lazar fourth and sign Cramarossa, Stajan and Freddie are my extra forwards
So my bottom six is:
billtran: That hurts to read
taylormckee: That makes me sad for Janko.
Ryan Pike: Bennett drives play more than Janko, so he gets the older guys.
Send lazar on the ice floe.
taylormckee: But, we already tried that Bennett Brouwer thing, it didn’t work at all.
Ryan Pike: But that was Beardless Bennett.
croatis: Why are you signing Cramarossa? Someone take Ryan’s pen.
ctibs: I thought that was the one thing we all agreed on: keep those two away. On another thought, based off last night’s beautiful performances, should we reconsider some lines?
ctibs I’m going bold with:
karimkurji: I love these lines.
croatis: Hrivik makes it?
ctibs: 45 is Klimchuk right?
ctibs: 45/46, I don’t really care which is which.
croatis: I didn’t know who 45 was.
ctibs: They have Ms in their names. Works for me.
taylormckee: Swap Dube for Klimchuk and I’m down. (For 9 at least.)
karimkurji: I definitely thought 45 was Dube.
ctibs: You could call it the MD line. Just what the doctor ordered.
Ryan Pike: He got Max Reinhart’s old number
taylormckee: Real talk though, is Stajan an extra? A winger? 4LC?
Ryan Pike: He’s their fifth-best center right now.
taylormckee: 4L-LW? With Janko and Brouwer/Lazar/kill me.
billtran: He could theoretically play the fourth line wing with Janko and Brouwer.
ctibs: The fourth line is going to be garbage no matter which way you cut it
karimkurji: It sucks but there really doesn’t seem to be a place where Jankowski will succeed. He’s going to get bad linemates regardless.
ctibs: Moving him to Bennett’s line is a possibility, but you’d have to decide who is the winger. And given what we’ve seen from Bennett so far, it’s hard to move him.
billtran: Burtch had an interesting tweet about dividing up the Leafs talent
taylormckee: And someone is defs getting hurt at some point so it’d be great to have C flex with Janko.
If you have ONE shut down line… What do your opponents do? Break up their top scorers and play them away from your checkers.
— Stephen Burtch (@SteveBurtch) September 23, 2017
croatis: Doesn’t that dilute your scoring power though?
And your offensive players are stuck defending more than they should be.. wasting time/energy that is best spent elsewhere.
— Stephen Burtch (@SteveBurtch) September 23, 2017
That’s what I was thinking but our fourth line would have an extremely bad time
ctibs: I think Glen is taking out the blender a lot more often this year.
Ryan Pike: And I think that’s the troubling thing here, because Bennett becoming a force could improve Brouwer (or Lazar), but what do you do about the fourth line?
ctibs: “because Bennett becoming a force could improve Brouwer (or Lazar),” i wouldn’t bet on that. “rising tide lifts all ships” isn’t necessarily true in hockey. we finally saw what Bennett can do with good teammates. why do you want to give him bad ones again?
Ryan Pike: Do you want to give Monahan bad linemates? Or Backlund?
ctibs: Look at my line ideas.
taylormckee: No, concentrate the suck I guess. 4L sewer.
billtran: Backlund can make a dog on skates look good.
croatis: Monahan and Gaudreau are really good together though. I would look into a Tkachuk-Bennett-Versteeg line. Since both 19 and 10 and can play both wings.
karimkurji: I think a Tkachuk Bennett pair would be really good.
billtran: And let Backlund and Frolik develop our next star.
ctibs: I mean people played with the entire “just put Backlund with Bouma” thing for two years and it turns out you can’t polish some turds. Load up heavy, keep the suck together and at a minimum.