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.
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.
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.
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.