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State of the roster races 2017: 5 cuts to go

The Calgary Flames trimmed down their roster yesterday, bringing their number of healthy bodies below 30 and kicking off the final stages of camp. Everybody on the active roster right now has a non-trivial chance of being an NHL player come puck drop on Oct. 4. Some of them have better chances than others, though.

Here’s a quick breakdown of who’s left and who will probably be here when rosters are finalized.

Goalies

Locks: Mike Smith, Eddie Lack

Spots Left: Zero

Jon Gillies is on the roster, for now, but he’s here to get practice reps against NHL shooters for the next week and as insurance in case somebody has the sniffles or stubs their toe.

Defense

Locks: Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Travis Hamonic, T.J. Brodie, Michael Stone

Spots Left: Two

Contenders: Matt Bartkowski, Brett Kulak, Rasmus Andersson

Bartkowski and Kulak are left shots and require waivers to head to the AHL, while Andersson is a right shot and waiver exempt. If the idea is you want the young guys playing, it seems like Kulak gets the job as the sixth man and Bartkowski is eating popcorn on Oct. 4 – especially given Glen Gulutzan’s obvious preference for lefty-righty pairings on the blueline.

Forwards

Locks: Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Micheal Ferland, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Matthew Tkachuk, Kris Versteeg, Sam Bennett, Troy Brouwer, Matt Stajan

Spots Left: Four, presuming a 23-man roster

Contenders: Joseph Cramarossa, Luke Gazdic, Tanner Glass, Freddie Hamilton, Garnet Hathaway, Mark Jankowski, Curtis Lazar

Let’s work from the top and figure out lines, since this will help make this a bit simpler.

Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Versteeg – Bennett – Brouwer

There’s your top nine. Jankowski (because he’s awesome) and Lazar (because he requires waivers to go down and there’s no way they’d risk losing him for nothing) are on this team, in some combination with Stajan on the fourth line.

Who are the designed scratches and occasional players as 13th and 14th forwards? I’m leaning towards Hamilton, who did that job well last year, and if they absolutely need a dancing bear Gazdic, who is a left shot, is already under contract, and makes just $650,000 in the NHL. He’s also at the point in his career that it doesn’t matter if he sits, and pairing him with Hamilton as the extras give them extra bodies that shoot each way, with one of them (Hamilton) being able to play center.

Why Gazdic and not one of the others?

  • Cramarossa and Glass would need contracts, which would take away the team’s ability to sign or acquire another player at another time. Plus, there’s absolutely no reason to sign a guy to an NHL contract just for the purpose of him sitting in the press box. Cramarossa has been wildly underwhelming while Glass has been okay, but is 33.
  • Hathaway is still relatively young and should be playing. Would it be better for his development to wear a letter in Stockton or to eat popcorn for much of this season in Calgary? With guys younger than 27, I usually lean towards playing them somewhere.

How’s the cap looking?

With the 23-man roster I’m leaning towards right now, the Flames would have a cap hit of around $72.01 million – including their buyouts and their bonus overage from last season – and $2.99 million in cap space. If they opted for a 22-man roster to horde some cap space (bye bye Gazdic!) then their cap space bumps up to $3.65 million.

They have tons of space.

  • Styxx

    Disappointed with the last couple forward spots. Can only hope Poirier, Klimchuk, Lomberg and possibly Foo (and Hathaway if they go with Gazdic..ugh) have opportunity to play this year and play very well.

    Believe the others bring more youth, speed, skill and tenacity. The over-valuation of Brouwer and Lazar is also baffling. Can only trust in GG and Tre are getting it right and not diminishing the team’s overall potential.

  • Sanintarious

    Its really too bad the team is stuck with Lazar. He has been very underwhelming and doesn’t really fit on the roster anywhere. 4th line at best? I don’t see him bumping anyone off the roster. Were they thinking he’d replace Versteeg before they were able to re-sign him?

    Poor Bennett….by default he has to play with Brouwer. What a way to ruin his confidence.

    I doubt anyone else takes that risk/reward with Lazar, but it would be nice to package him in a deal for a Winger who can play with Bennett…..Sigh.

  • I'm Ron Burgundy?

    Gazdic, Glass or Cramarossa taking up a roster spot is what I would have called a worst-case scenario when camp started. Stajan and Freddie sharing nachos in the presser.

    Put Lazar with Bennett and roll with Hath/Jank/Brouwer as a 4th.

  • Fan the Flames

    Versteeg can play either side so I would play Versteeg on the right side with Bennett and try Freddie Hamilton at left . Freddie can skate and has never played up the lineup . Then Jankowski at centre between Stajen and Brouwer . Lazar in the press box to start the season.

  • That's My Point

    Too bad we’re stuck with Smith and a Lack of goalies this year. Team defence is currently 2nd worst in pre-season and I can’t see it improving in the regular season with that tandem in net.

    • Carl the tooth

      Most of the players that played in pre season are gone what preseason stats are going to pour over into regular season .most of our regulars only played 1 or 2 games

    • oilcanboyd

      what is your point? Tallbutt of the oilers let in 6 easy goals against Carolina the other night….terrible GAA wouldn’t you say! C’mon man, preseason is preseason and nothing more.

      • That's My Point

        Oilers had 8th best GAA in the NHL last season and we were 13th; now we donwgraded the goalies situation and got the “problem player” Hamonic; how are we the best in the NHL? Not even close.

  • class1div1

    Giving a “A” to Bartkowsky is laughable .The same ol smoke and mirror gesture that Brouwer got.We are supposed to believe that attribute is hard to find and these two have it.

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    I would counter that with the following:
    Tkachuk-Bennett-Versteeg; playmakers and guys that can drive the net.
    Frolik-Backlund-Brouwer; only use for Brouwer that doesn’t sink the entire line.
    Stajan-Janko-Lazar; this will be able to handle a lot of D-zone responsibility, also 2nd unit PK.

    • I'm Ron Burgundy?

      That would mean Brouwer is on the ice against opponents top lines and for a lot of d-zone starts every game….I’d rather have him sheltered on the 4th line. At the end of the day, he is going to be terrible no matter where he is in the line up so we may as well limit the amount of time we have to endure the pain

    • cornhusk55

      This is just about right. Their going to give Lazar a good shot at being part of the core of the team and give him some time with Backs and Fro to build him up a little. Probably move Brouwer down with Janko and Stajan after a few weeks of him doing nothing with third line ice time.

    • Sanintarious

      Saving it for trade deadline when that cap space will be even higher. It makes trades a lot easier when you don’t need to shed cap space to make them work. Never know who might become available in season as well. Unless they look at Jagr, they’d be better off just keeping the cap space IMO.

  • Cheeky

    I like the rotation of Ras, Stone and Kulak. Bart and Brouwer can hand towels out to players and give pep talks in locker room (great locker room guys – then we have a job for you)…

  • Raffydog

    Gotta feel for Bennett, he’s shown that can play a top 6 role, yet he’s being stapled to the third line with Brouwer. That’s a good way to make sure he never makes more then 3 mill a year I guess.

  • Alberta Ice

    Hey, Flamesnation, looks like the Oilers got the prize draft pick this June. Nice problem to have when their latest number one draft pick is fighting for a spot on the top line. So, yes, please put Jankowski in this Flames team’s starting lineup.

    • oilcanboyd

      Quasimoto will be sent back to junior where he belongs! Oil have too many scorers as it is….they need to get top pariring d-men. Vallimaki will not be rushed like the oil did with their future Norris winner – Jultz! But Vallimaki will be el primo defender next season!

      • Alberta Ice

        Hope you are right about our First Round pick Val! (Just as long as the Flames don’t keep bringing in PTO’s or overpaid vets that keep him in development for the next 5 years.)

    • Sven

      Unless I’m mistaken –

      whether you’re referring to Hischier , Patrick or Heiskanen..

      none of the “prize draft picks” are toiling in ‘ North Red Deer’

        • ThisBigMouthIsRight

          Why does Anyone have to have “come back” to your childish posts? you have done Nothing to garner your soap box chest thumping about your cities hockey players on the team… After a decade of embarrassing and often very poor drafting the Oiler’s have a much better team than the past 10 years, yippy for your city. If this is what it take to make you feel a little bit more of a whole person or “Man” then you truly are a sad case for a person as your attention seeking drivel makes you out to be. you must be the pride of Edmonton, I bet the Oiler’s players are so proud to have spawned such a class act among men.

          • Alberta Ice

            “Why does Anyone have to ‘come back’ to your childish posts?” So why did you? (And I’m not even an Oilers fan or from Edmonton or consider myself a troll, just someone enjoying the love of the sport. But, wow, talk about personal attacks and jumping to conclusions. But, hey, even for all this, gotta love the emotions for the BOA.)

        • ThisBigMouthIsRight

          Oh Boo Whooo, Deal with it … You can “consider yourself” what ever you want but the truth lies in your per-pubescent comments non the less. If it walks like a duck…….

      • Alberta Ice

        Yep, this means Hischier, Patrick, and Heiskanen got drafted the wrong year. On another note, I sure hope Ferland fills out and is very successful with the SM JG line, because it seems like that line should produce far more goals than they did last year. Also glad to see Bennett lining up with JG and Ferland. That line should get more looks too.

        • ThisBigMouthIsRight

          Troll = Someone who intentionally makes negative, questionable or antagonistic comments to get a reaction from a certain group. Alberta Ice, If you don’t wish people to respond unkindly to your posts I would suggest Posting All your “banging the drum” Pro-Oilers comments on ON, you should get a much warmer reception and happy comments there, rather than on FN, you know, the page of the Coilers arch rivals. Also, at the same time maybe lay off the passive aggressive insults to Flames players, Prospects and Management. Does that not make more sense than coming here to stir the pot then proclaim to be all innocent and such. Have a good one!

          • Alberta Ice

            Thanks for the definition of troll. By your definition, I could see why you thought me such. My point was to not put down the Flames or management but to acknowledge it looks like the Oilers got an excellent first round pick. (And not even by lottery balls.) Also, I really would like to see Jankowski on the team this year. Have a good one too.

  • Toofun

    Call me crazy but I’d be icing my real NHL team and lines the next 2 pre-season games so they are ready to go when it matters on October 4th against Edmonton.

  • PrairieStew

    I think Jankowski has earned a meaningful spot on the team. I’d like to see him centreing the 3rd line with Versteeg and shift Bennett to the left wing. Stajan centres line 4 with Freddie, and Lazar and Brouwer rotate in and out on the right side.

  • Rockmorton65

    Something’s gotta give at centre. Does anybody feel it?

    Monahan, Bennett, Backlund & Jankowski. Centres all pushing for top six minutes. I wonder what the long term solution is. Somethings gotta give, doesn’t it?

    It’s not like the Stajan situation, where you bump him to the wing temporarily.

    • Greg

      It feels like Bennet might start pushing for top 6 minutes, but he hasn’t actually forced them yet. If/when he does, having 3 top 6 centres will be a nice problem to have.

      Jankowski? Way to early to say he’s pushing for top 6 minutes. He’s still just pushing for a spot at all. If he gets there… again, nice problem to have!

  • Greg

    Brouwer is a lock? πŸ™

    Next lock-out, I hope they go after guaranteed contracts. Give the players an option to renegotiate too if they are grossly underpaid, but they need a way to cut out bad deals in a cap system somehow.

    • Baalzamon

      I don’t agree. They shouldn’t be able to get out of jail free. There have to be consequences for signing long, expensive contracts with players who can’t live up to them.

  • Greatsave

    On paper it would make the most sense to cut Cramarossa and Glass (PTOs), send Gazdic down to Stockton, make a fourth line out of Stajan-Jankowski-Hathaway, put Lazar with Versteeg-Bennett, and sit Freddie and Brouwer.

    But that’s from someone who hasn’t observed games/practices too closely, and it could well be that performances so far dictate otherwise.

    I just feel they need to put Lazar in a position to succeed, if they’re serious about him as a reclamation project. Putting him on the fourth line does him no good. If he’s not good enough for third line duties, waive him and let him rebuild his game in Stockton or go to another organization with a real top-9 opportunity.

  • everton fc

    I disagree, on Gazdic. The final two forwards will bem and should be, Lazar and Hamilton. Hathaway will play 4th line RW. Stajan may eat popcorn, or play 4th line LW. One (or both) of Glass and Cramarossa will get a 2-way w/Stockton, and join Gazdic on the bench there. Cramarossa more likely, but Glass has played well in camp, his skating actually surprised me, in the positive.

  • Skylardog

    Hathaway so far in the preseason has proven he should be a top 12 forward and start on Oct 4. Having said that, preseason did not matter, as shown by some of the cuts and some of the players still on the roster. I would expect him to take a seat in the popcorn section, based on how things have been handled to date.

  • Flamesfan4life

    I like Bennett on the wing on the top line. Keep the skilled players together. Plus there seemed to be some chemistry between johnny and bennett. Janko with ferlamd and versteeg on the 3rd line would be a handful for opposing teams. Size, 2 heavy quick release shots and the creativity of versteeg to get them the puck in scoring positions.