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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Slack Sundays: talking Sam Bennett, Jaromir Jagr and Brett Kulak

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.

  • OKG

    Kulak’s fancy stats were a surprise as all I saw him do was make a positive difference (his eleven whole shifts). To me it looked like Brodie being doubt shifted cost him some easy corsi pad shifts. Gulutzan doesn’t trust the kid (surprise surprise… remember Grossman over Kulak?) and it seemingly affected the results beyond their natural equilibrium

    • Kevin R

      Why not try Bennett on wing with Jankowski & Tkachuk & slide Lazar on the wing with Backlund & Frolik. We need to keep Jagr with Monahan & Gaudreau for longer.

    • I am Batman

      While we are at it, give him Ovechkin, Crosby, McDavid, Matthews, Hall, Kane or bring Kovalchuk out of the KHL so Sammy’s potential can be unlocked, because it’s ALL about him.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        I gotta ask, Batman, when does Bennett start giving us stuff?

        I got the Signal all a’flare in the night sky, buddy!! Come save me from the inter-rage that happens when I speak the truth about Sam!! Why do they think he’s good, Batman?!

        * claws face *

        Why why oh whhhhyyyyyyyy!!!!!

  • With one stroke of the pen make large pronouncements about waiting out Bennett not rushing to judgements over an 8 game sample size. Then with the next stroke rush to judge Kulak over one game…. Makes sense. Micro trivializing much?

    On Bennett: I think context is everything in judging young players. Last year was Bennett’s first full year. Under a team that struggled to find it’s identity all year, learning new systems with new coaches, new goalies, and weak depth across the board. The line shuffle continues to be the only thing consistent for Bennett and perhaps expectations have been heaped on him by both fans, management and coaches alike. I think it’s unfair to assess Bennett in centre or on the wing period based on the fact that he hasn’t had any consistency with line mates or position since he broke into the Flames lineup. I honestly don’t believe Bennett knows what his place is here and that hampers him.
    t has skewed the perception of who they really are and lead to Brad making stupid decisions like Brouwer and Stone only further impeding the path of the good work they’re actually doing in the drafting department. This is the most infuriating part of this team for me.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        I believe that the reasons why we ended up here with Sam and his situation are ultimately irrelevant.

        He’s not going to succed here, is what I believe. And in my own perfect world, when the trade deadline has passed-somehow-one of Duchene or Taveras will be in a Flames jersey and Brouwer and Bennett won’t be.

        I believe that BT cn somehow make this happen with minimal collateral damage.

  • Rockmorton65

    Can we please just try Bennett on the top line RW? Give it five games.

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Bennett
    3M
    Ferland-Jankowski-Jagr
    Versteeg-Lazar-Brouwer

    Bennett has chemistry with Johnny &, obviously, has top end talent. Bumps Ferland & Versteeg down the lineup. And lets Janko learn from one of the all time greats.

    If it doesn’t work after five games, theyre no worse off than they are now.

    • Southboy

      Alexandre Daigle ‘obviously’ had top end talent 🤔🤔

      JH-Monohan-Tkachuk
      Duchene-2M’s
      Versteeg-Jankowski-Ferland
      Fill in the blanks with young speed.

      But all that is too late and a few million dollars short😢

      • Rockmorton65

        Daigle never showed the hands and skills that Bennett has at the NHL level. Ever.

        You distracted me from the Bennett conversation with seeing Duchesne in the Flames lineup. In your world, how do we acquire him? Bennett straight up doesn’t get you Duchesne. Why not just slide Sam over there & save the assets?

        • Southboy

          I believe in the summer Bennett, Kulak, and a pick would have gotten duchene. As for sliding Bennett over, currently i would be on board with this. But man Duchene would have been a game changer for this line-up.

          I actually never watched Daigle, I was just throwing a name out there of a guy that was over hyped, but never lived up to his potential, which i feel is what is happening with Bennett.

          • Rockmorton65

            Just think of a more hyped Yakupov with lower production. Ottawa was a new franchise (think Las Vegas this past draft) & was gifted 1st OA. They passed on Pronger & Kariya for a guy who only scored 327 points in 10 seasons (6 different teams).

        • Southboy

          As for the hands and skill part… i am not sure Bennett has shown that either? He had a nice 4 goal game once, but really he is better suited where he is at. 3LW. Just think we could have gotten a really good player in return for the ‘potential’ one that is ‘proven’.

        • BringtheFire 2.0

          Well, Sakic’s asking price is a current roster player, a good prospect and a decent draft pick. This is to high of an ask. If, however, we lost Bennett and Kulak for Duchene, to me that’s acceptable.

          As for Taveras, I think Brad could fleece Snow because he’s a better GM. But since I don’t know the asking price for Taveras or how happy he is etc., I don’t know what a deal would look like there. But I can hear Snow asking; “I wonder if Bennett and Eberle can get some chemistry going?”

  • fumanchu1968

    Dude this is a really weird website. Why do I always have to login and half the time I have to refresh my browser so that it remembers that I’ve signed in? 🤔 It’s as weird as Gully’s lineup decisions.

  • fumanchu1968

    We shouldn’t forget how Bennett played for us in the playoffs. Regular season he’s in learning mode. Come playoff time we’ll be glad that we didn’t trade him or send him to the Gulags.

  • Derzie

    Bennett is on the same path as Backlund. Slow starter. Defensive forward. Will never be a top scorer. He deserves the same patience Backlund received as there were several times when he should have been given up on.