With the season about to start, it’s crunch time for the Flames roster. They must be down to 23 players (two goalies, seven defencemen, 14 forwards) by 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 – aka tomorrow. And with certain recent signings, well, that’s just another cut that will have to be made.
To that end, Garnet Hathaway and Luke Gazdic have been placed on waivers, while Rasmus Andersson and Jon Gillies have been sent down to the AHL.
Gazdic, 28, was signed early in the offseason. Much more a bruiser than a scorer, he played just 11 NHL games for the New Jersey Devils in 2016-17 (and 37 for their AHL club). That he’s one of the final apparent cuts isn’t all that surprising.
Hathaway, 25, is an undrafted find for the Flames. He worked his way into the Flames’ lineup this past season as a regular injury re-call, suiting up 26 times for the NHL club (while dressing 31 times for the Stockton Heat). Hathaway scored one goal and five points while registering 44 penalty minutes; in other words, he trends a little more towards Gazdic’s ilk, but perhaps with a little more potential. He did, after all, score 20 points in 31 AHL games in 2016-17 – he just hasn’t translated that offence to the NHL level.
Meanwhile, Rasmus Andersson and Jon Gillies do not require waivers to be demoted. Both have been sent down to the Stockton Heat, where they will likely play in top roles, and be among the first call-ups should injuries arise for the NHL team.
Andersson, 20, is one of the Flames’ top defensive prospects, and looks to be close to making the NHL full time. He isn’t there quite yet, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise if he’s ready soon. The only problem here is he’s blocked by three other right-shooting defencemen ahead of him in the depth chart: Dougie Hamilton, Travis Hamonic, and Michael Stone. Hamonic and Stone have three years remaining on their deals each, so it may require a bit of maneuvering to one day get Andersson in the NHL lineup.
Gillies, 23, has played just one professional season to date. In 39 games for the Heat, he posted a .910 save percentage, and was pushed hard by free agent signing David Rittich, who had .924 over 31 games. This will be a big season for Gillies, who remains a top goaltending prospect for the Flames. He made his NHL debut at the end of the 2016-17 season, stopping 27 of 28 shots against the Kings.
Presuming both waived players are sent to the AHL, that would leave the Flames with 24 players in camp, and one cut to make in the forward ranks.
Mark Jankowski is the only remaining bubble player who does not require waivers, while Tanner Glass remains in camp on a PTO.
It’s really hard seeing the Flames deciding to send Jankowski down, even after signing Jaromir Jagr. Jankowski has been slated as the team’s fourth line centre for some time now, and adding a winger does nothing to change that. Meanwhile, keeping Freddie Hamilton and Curtis Lazar up seems to imply that they’ve made the team, so Glass may be that final cut.
This would give the Flames a lineup that looks like:
Those very well could be your 23 Flames, with Marek Hrivik and Daniel Pribyl remaining at camp as non-roster players due to injuries sustained during the preseason. We’ll know by tomorrow.