We’re eight games into the regular season and the Calgary Flames are .500. That’s good? We’ve convened our weekly chat to discuss Sam Bennett’s future, Jaromir Jagr’s possible injury and Brett Kulak’s performance thus far.
Ryan Pike: In a chat that’s sure to age well: let’s talk about what to do about Sam Bennett, Jagr’s (potential) injury and Brett Kulak doing Brett Kulak things.
ctibs (Christian Tiberi): I think we should still be patient with Bennett. Had a really good game last night.
karimkurji (Karim Kurji): I disagree. Bennett at center should die and he should become a winger full time. Enough is enough
ctibs: Big time overreaction.
karimkurji: But what if he’s an elite winger. Just send him to the side and see what happens. Maybe he’ll thrive.
Ryan Pike: Am I missing the forest for the trees? If he was a center, he’d be a good center.
ctibs: What if he’s an elite centre? Let him find his rhythm and watch him grow. You can be patient in hockey
karimkurji: How long?? What’s your cutoff for waiting this out?
ctibs: He turned 21 in June.
Ryan Pike: Broader question: what does success for Bennett look like this year?
ctibs: There’s room to grow and figure out what he is. A handful of struggles in the first eight games isn’t a good sample to base stuff off of.
karimkurji: It’s not really 8 games, it’s all of last season and 8 games
ctibs: The first season at his natural position saddled with Troy Brouwer?
karimkurji: Bennett’s success this season is solely with offensive production. He needs to put up 40+ points. So then at what point do you say okay, he’s not working here. The whole season? Another season?
ctibs: He could have a similar development curve to Alex Galchenyuk. I think we see just under 50 points this year. If it’s not working in December, talk to me. For now, let’s relax
Ryan Pike: I didn’t notice Bennett last night, which is…good?
karimkurji: It is good… And that’s a problem. If the only time you’re noticing him is when he does bad things then yikes. Can the Flames afford to wait until December to switch things up with Bennett?
Ryan Pike: That’s the $50,000 question
ctibs: Why is it a question of affording it? The season is not made or broken on Bennett. If he got going, it would be great. if not, he can survive on the third line.
karimkurji: Especially with a weak Pacific, I can agree with that I guess.
Ryan Pike: I think you just want to see progress and consistency.
ctibs: Given his contract and his place on this team, I feel that there’s still a lot of room to grow and find out. It’s going to be pretty bad if you send him packing (prematurely) and then he actually gets in gear.
karimkurji: Also the fact that this is his 3rd NHL season. We should expect to see some improvement. Oh yeah we shouldn’t trade him. But I’m fully on board with playing him at wing. And simultaneously opening up a spot for Jankowski is good.
Ryan Pike: Let’s switch gears: Who else lit a candle for Jagr’s lower body last night?
ctibs: I said it last night, but i feel he just had a “I’m getting too old for this shit” moment and took the night off. It didn’t look too serious, so perhaps he’s back?
karimkurji: Honestly what is up with that? It was originally reported to be an equipment issue [on Twitter] and then changed to LBI?
Ryan Pike: To be fair, the team was always saying LBI.
ctibs: Any ways, if he’s out for a week or so, who comes up?
karimkurji: Ah okay so we shouldn’t look at that as an indication of the severity.
ctibs: I think they’re going to wait for a full time spot to open up for Jankowski, so I’m going to take a guess and say Mangiapane comes up. Worst case scenario is Hathaway because that’s eh.
karimkurji: I agree. I’d bet on Mangiapane over Jankowski.
Ryan Pike: I’d imagine it’s Mangiapane if Bennett’s staying at center and Jankowski if Bennett’s gonna slide over.
karimkurji: Ugh if only it could be Dube. Is Mangiapane ready for NHL duty?
Ryan Pike: He’s earned a cup of coffee at least.
karimkurji: I’d be interested in seeing him. He’s got the skill.
Ryan Pike: The key to this team becoming a scary-good team is getting offense from the third line. Why not try him out?
ctibs: He’s on pace with Jankowski so far this AHL season. Last year he lagged behind despite being on the same line, but it appears he’s really taken a step forward. Besides, i feel they can easily push a winger off the team than a center so if Mangiapane sends Tanner Glass packing….
Ryan Pike: The coaches said he was really good in the second half of last season.
karimkurji: I’m all for Mangiapane over Glass. Let’s do it
Ryan Pike: The thing I like about the team’s composition is of the depth guys, Hamilton and Glass can be AHL-bound without a second thought. Inexpensive, experienced, and will clear waivers easily.
ctibs: Speaking of those things: what’s going to happen with Curtis Lazar? He’s mostly been an in-and-out guy and hasn’t really impressed consistently. What do the Flames do with him?
karimkurji: It looks like their committed to him so he probably does exactly that the whole year
Ryan Pike: 40-ish games, in and out all year?
ctibs: Like he’s subbing in for Tanner Glass which is uh
Ryan Pike: He’s an interesting kid; he’s super fast at times but needs to be with a finisher.
ctibs: I’d think they would have a Jankowski-like approach to him. until there’s a spot, it’s probably better he plays. There’s probably not any team that would claim him on waivers.
Ryan Pike: More established NHL players have cleared this season.
karimkurji: And then there’s Malcolm Subban.
Ryan Pike: Every rule has its exceptions. Finally, man, Kulak was solid last night. I barely noticed him, and that’s nice for a third-pairing guy who hasn’t played much.
ctibs: Not good by the fancy stats but it’s not a Bartkowski game where every shift is infuriating. If Kulak sticks in the lineup, what’s a realistic expectation?
Ryan Pike: More of the same? Gulutzan described his game as “clean,” which suggests he wants to see quiet, low-event games from that pair.
karimkurji: He should be invisible. He’ll make the occasional gaffe obviously but hopefully he won’t run around causing problems. He’s a good player, he should stay in the lineup. Fancy stats wise he might have been meh but Bart was also meh at best right
ctibs: To throw a wrench, Kulak was a pretty good fancy stats man the past two years with a worse player in Deryk Engelland. Like I feel that he could be much better than what he was last night
Ryan Pike: That’s probably fair.