Just two more games. Then we get a well-earned six-month break. Just gotta get through these two games first.
The plight of the recall limit
Spencer Foo had the most ice time out of all Flames forwards with 17:26, including a team-leading (albeit tied with four other guys) 1:01 on the powerplay. He also led the way with seven shots on net, and though he didn’t pick up his first NHL point, there were moments in which he was pretty close. (Still thinking about that fake and pass to Sam Bennett late in the third. That was awesome.)
Foo is in a good position because he’s a right winger in an organization devoid of them: one of the reasons he chose to sign with Calgary in the first place. And though it’s the end of the season, and the games are meaningless, and injuries to players have opened up some primo spots, you’ve got to think he’s making a very convincing early audition to play in the NHL next year. There are a lot of things to like and no glaring problems in his game.
Which kind of got me thinking: poor Morgan Klimchuk, who was recalled earlier in the season, played 7:25 in one game alongside Curtis Lazar and Matt Stajan, and was never seen from again. He’s now the active leading scorer on the Heat, so it’s not as though he’s some plug who got lucky, but he only got the one game before he was shuffled off. Former first round pick, and here’s a kid a year older than him, one professional year, and he’s already played more NHL games than he has.
That isn’t to call out the Flames’ usage of Foo at all; this is absolutely what they should be doing with him now. It’s just, the recall limit has exhausted the Flames’ options. I’m sure they’d love to see Oliver Kylington back in NHL action, too, but they can’t. Maybe Klimchuk could have gotten a chance to play alongside NHL top six forwards if the limit wasn’t in place.
There’s good reason for that limit, though: the Stockton Heat are still a professional team with fans of their own trying to make the playoffs in their own league. It’s not fair to anybody there to call up everybody worth taking a last look at. Just luck of the draw for Foo in this instance, I suppose.
Though it does leave me wondering: does Foo look this good now because he’s one of a few players with something to play for, and because he automatically gets first line time alongside Johnny Gaudreau? If Foo had been called up back when Klimchuk was, or Andrew Mangiapane, and played in the bottom six, would he look just about ready for the show? Is this an over-enthusiastic, premature celebration of him that could have benefited another player had he been afforded the same opportunities?
I guess September will be a good time to find out. In the meantime, everything’s good with Foo; even if he’s getting all the good chances right now, he’s doing a lot with them, and that’s encouraging.
So how about that Antti Raanta
I feel for Jon Gillies, but he has had a real rough go of things in most of his NHL games this season.
The Flames’ goaltending will once again be a question mark for next season (kind of, Mike Smith is still signed for another year, but the part wherein he put up rather poor numbers for approximately half of his games does inspire concern), and Antti Raanta is the only free agent goaltender on the market who put up excellent numbers over the course of an entire season and is still under 30 years old, that is, is likely to have greater longevity to his game. A .930 save percentage over 46 games is nothing to scoff at; he’s just followed up a couple of solid seasons as a backup with a great year as a starter behind a not-great team.
The Coyotes have been winning a lot to close out the season and Raanta probably has a fair bit to do with that. He played eight of 17 games for them over the month of March and only lost once (with a .938 save percentage, at that). The Coyotes were only able to win two games without him in net, and one of them took a shootout to get the win.
Point being: there are probably other factors at play, as well, but I’d say Raanta had quite a fair bit to do with the Coyotes’ mini-resurgence here. And he might reach the open market.
Another 40+ shot game for the Flames, stymied by another goaltender. They had their fair share of scoring chances. Raanta was good. Do you go after him in July?
Obligatory “Yay Nick Shore!!”
Nick Shore got bumped off the top line to make way for Bennett, and played primarily with Micheal Ferland and Lazar. He followed up with the play and capitalized off of Lazar’s rebound, scoring his first goal as a Flame. He has continued to look like a solid addition to next season’s centre group. He’s great. I’m happy he got a goal.