There are a lot of ways to turn a team into a Stanley Cup contender. The draft is a particularly important one, while adding through trades and free agency has both helped and hurt teams, depending on how smart they are with their acquisitions.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at just where the potential 2018-19 Flames have come from.
This is just a mock lineup – don’t take the line combinations too seriously.
|Johnny Gaudreau||Sean Monahan||James Neal|
|Matthew Tkachuk||Mikael Backlund||Elias Lindholm|
|Sam Bennett||Derek Ryan||Michael Frolik|
|Troy Brouwer||Mark Jankowski||Austin Czarnik|
|Curtis Lazar||Garnet Hathaway|
|Mark Giordano||TJ Brodie|
|Noah Hanifin||Travis Hamonic|
|Brett Kulak||Michael Stone|
|David Rittich/Jon Gillies|
Or, to put it another way:
|Draft pick – no AHL time||Draft pick – no AHL time||Free agent signing|
|Draft pick – no AHL time||Draft pick – AHL time||Trade|
|Draft pick – no AHL time||Free agent signing||Free agent signing|
|Free agent signing||Draft pick – AHL time||Free agent signing|
|Trade||Undrafted free agent – AHL time|
|Undrafted free agent||Draft pick – AHL time|
|Draft pick – AHL time||Trade|
|Undrafted free agent/Draft pick – AHL time|
Eight or nine (depending on Rittich and Gillies’ statuses) members of the Flames’ potential lineup are draft picks, seven or eight came from free agency (two unproven, undrafted players; three if Rittich makes it over Gillies), and seven via trade. Only six of these players, however, actually played in the Flames’ farm system (seven if you count Giordano from well over a decade ago) – Backlund, Jankowski, Hathaway, Brodie, Kulak, and Rittich/Gillies – a pretty big counter to recent Stanley Cup finalists.
It does help that four of the Flames’ draft picks stepped immediately into the NHL, three of whom were high first round picks.
Who could still make the team?
All that said, this is a mock lineup that doesn’t take into account other players forcing their way onto the roster. Those could include:
- Dillon Dube (draft pick – no AHL time yet)
- Spencer Foo (undrafted free agent – AHL time)
- Andrew Mangiapane (draft pick – AHL time)
- Rasmus Andersson (draft pick – AHL time)
- Juuso Valimaki (draft pick – no AHL time yet)
That’s as many as another three players with AHL service time who could displace others, Hathaway being the only one who also played in the Flames’ farm system on the potential chopping block. That could bring the Flames’ total up from six to eight – though it’s unlikely all three make it – and still leaves them short of the makeup previously successful NHL teams have exhibited.
All of this to say: while the Flames have been trying for some time now to rebuild their team into a contender, they don’t seem to have gotten a lot out of their farm system along the way. Backlund and Brodie are their most prominent graduates, and that was some time ago. Recently, they’ve had Jankowski and Kulak – a bottom six centre and a bottom pairing defenceman – to show for their AHL efforts, and that’s about it.
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