Jaromir Jagr is a Calgary Flame. The 45-year-old National Hockey League legend was officially signed earlier this week with much fanfare and ballyhoo. While the Flames were finalizing things with Jagr, 2012 first round selection Mark Jankowski surprisingly did not make the team.
Jankowski was probably the most consistent forward in training camp – and in a group with Dillon Dube and Tanner Glass as the most impressive Flames in camp – but was likely the victim of the numbers game; he’s waiver exempt this season and was simply the easiest forward to cut in order to get the roster down to 23 players earlier in the week. But given how much he was brought up by general manager Brad Treliving following the Jagr announcement, don’t think Jankowski is gone and forgotten.
Speaking on Sportsnet 960 The Fan following the press conference at the Saddledome, Treliving framed the signing of Jagr as a result of a few young players disappointing in camp. He seemingly went out of his way to emphasize that he wasn’t talking about Jankowski:
We went into camp with a couple of spots open, a couple of chairs open if you will, for people within the organization to grab. Mark Jankowski in my mind is ready to play in the league and he will be in the league soon. You get to the point, what he’s done is put himself in a position to get back to Calgary quickly.
Speaking to the media in Edmonton before the season-opener, Treliving elaborated on his thoughts about Jankowski’s NHL chances:
He’s ready to play. He’s now just got to wait for his opportunity. Usually early in the year you sometimes have more guys than you have spots for, but ultimately the guys who are supposed to be there end up there. I think you’ll see him back fairly soon.
If Jankowski’s ready, how come he’s not in the NHL right now? Well, he’s unfortunately slotted behind four more established centers in Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett, Mikael Backlund and Matt Stajan. Given he’s only in his second year as a pro, and that he’s still waiver exempt, there’s really no reason to bury him in the press box or use him on the fourth line when he could be a key player in Stockton.
Given all that, when’s Jankowski going to get to the NHL? Most likely when somebody gets hurt, somebody gets traded or when performances progress (or regress) to the point where Bennett or Stajan get bumped to the wing (or in Stajan’s case, the press box). Given the comments from Treliving, he’s probably the first player recalled to Calgary should they need some additional offense injected into the lineup.