Where did the Flames roster come from?

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.

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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
Dalton Prout
Mike Smith
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
Trade Trade
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:

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  • 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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  • TurkeyLips

    We need Backlund as third line centre if we’re getting anywhere deep in the playoffs. With the recent acquisitions, Lindholm is no longer needed on the R side and for $5million AAV I’d rather he develop as a centre than a playmaking winger.

    Monahan – Lindholm – Backlund – Ryan is how the middle should look right now. Don’t know if Jankowski should play fourth line, he can score goals and could do well to develop further alongside Backlund or Lindholm. Same for Bennett.

  • Burnward

    If we eschew “first-line” thoughts and BP will probably run three lines about equal time even strength…here’s a thought.

    Bennett-Backlund-Ryan (Dude scored 15 goals last year. He’s probably not playing fourth line)
    Frolik-Czarnik/Lazar- Brouwer/Czarnik/Lazar

  • Vernon30

    Somehow try to send Stone to OTT, for nothing. Include Kylington or maybe Pollock to get them to take him. See if you can lose Brouwer in an airport somewhere.

  • meat1

    If they were going to buy out Brouwer, obviously it would have been done by now. They won’t have been banking on one of the rfa’s to file for arbitration which now will give us another buyout chance. That said, I hope he becomes the 13th forward AND he doesn’t wear a letter. I see a strong group of guys that should have the “A” before him…personally I would like to see Hamonic and Byng wear the “A”. We need to start to hate losing, and I’m not convinced Monahan and Backlund portray those qualities as good as the other two. I also realize I’ve never met any of them and haven’t been invited into the dressing room to understand each person’s true make-up.

    • DoooieStevens

      Good name and could be a dynamite line. I like the looks of that alot. Using Bennett at center opens up the possibility of 3 scoring lines.

      Gaudreau Monahan Lindholm
      Tkchuck Bennett Neal
      Mango Backlund Ryan
      Czarik Lazar Brouwer
      Try to package Janko, Frolik for a goalie.

      • Raffydog

        I remember when a lot of people, myself included, thought Bennett could swipe the first line center spot away from Monahan. I don’t know if he’ll ever do that, but I have a feeling he could have a breakout season this year. But I also thought he would do that last year, and the year before that, and the year before that……..

          • SgtRoadBlock

            Sam on his 3rd Coach now, if he fails should we say maybe the 4th Coach can fix him. or is it time for him to get a fresh start in the EastCoast in a trade …

            The Janko trade talk is just odd we waited 4 years to get him up and now we r trying to add him in a trade to just move a old vet off this roster ?? lol come on Leave Janko alone he should get the same pass Sam been getting each year..

          • Speed Kills

            @ SgtRoadBlock, Well 13 playoff games with Hartly is Hardly a way to count as a first coach, although Sam did very well for his first ever NHL games considering they were the playoffs. and GG’s player usage and line combo’s & matching was a Disaster for Most players here, So? Lets not Exaggerate his actual chances of succeding before we ship our Highest Draft pick off for peanuts!

          • MDG1600

            I am hoping Peters can get Sam to be a mucker a grinder and a net front irritant and quit trying to be the end to end rush guy scoring the pretty goal. He has a great motor and to me is just the sort of player who can score the dirty goals a team needs in the playoffs. I am not giving up on Bennett yet .

  • SGRietzey


    Unless I’m imagining things on the D lineup here, Hamonic should be listed as “trade,” not “free agent signing.”

  • SgtRoadBlock

    Maybe the Top Top staff is seeing now that more Draft picks R good to have and doing more invites to rookie camps can do wonders …And Trust the Scouts over Sea

  • Just.Visiting

    I’ll get things started with a slightly edited version of something I posted last night after the traffic was dead on an earlier blog. The focus is on the forward ranks given the abundance of riches there relative to recent years.

    I think that the highest scoring first line would be Monahan, JG and Byng. I think that the highest scoring second line would be Backlund, Lindholm and Neal.

    That being said, I think that those combinations are less than optimum if we want to be a serious contender, as they leave a weaker third line than is required to be successful.

    My starting point in looking at the Flames as serious contenders is that we require greater than expected results from unexpected sources.

    In that context, I’d see what Lindholm could do with Monahan and JG. Playing with them positions Lindholm to elevate his offensive game to a completely different level. If it doesn’t work, he gets moved down.

    If Janko came into camp at 220-225, I’d try him with Byng and Neal as a 2A line in camp to see if that combination was viable. The intensity of Byng and Neal would see Janko bringing a higher and more consistent level of intensity than he showed last year. The experience from last year, greater physical maturity and the truculence he was showing near the end of the season would add a completely different dimension to the Flames’ offense. This is because opponents would have to defend the Flames differently than has been the case previously. If it doesn’t work, Janko drops down to the 2B/third line and Backlund moves up. (I know that there are those who see Janko dropping to the 4th line, but I think that putting him on the 4th line mitigates the team’s potential upside in the absence of there being performance issues with Janko.)

    A notional third line (2B) of Backlund, Bennett and Ryan or Frolik could potentially be one of the best 2B/3 lines in the league. Backlund would elevate Bennett, and Frolik either returns to prior form or he drops to the fourth line.

    The fourth line would see players who could play higher in the lineup as required. Possibly Ryan, with Czarnik and a spot open for Dube, Mange, etc.

    I think that Dube is the darkhorse to make the team and that he already has the energy, smarts and defensive game to hit the ground running in a bottom six role. Starting starting more slowly on the fourth line and then having the upward mobility to play up as the line with the inevitable injuries or possibly a flip with Frolik at some point during the season seems logical if we see the Flames as more serious contenders.

    As I noted before, the team is actually a serious contender if Frolik is on the fourth line because of changes to the overall talent base.

    This offers three potentially solid offensive lines and a fourth line that can chip in. All lines can skate, such that a more aggressive forechecking strategy could be used than has historically been the case.

    Brouwer would be bought out. It’s not the financial cost. It’s the opportunity cost of what you can’t do for the development of the team when he plays. Put simply, Brouwer is not part of the team’s core as we move to the window of contention, and the bandaid should be ripped off. That spot should go to someone who will be a larger part of the puzzle as things unfold.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Nailed it. I do find it interesting that everyone has Janko on the 4th line. It’s as if we all think he’s a bust already…if we place him on the forth line, that’s not a vote of confidence. Do we want Janko to be a 2C? Think he is? Then don’t put him on the 4th line. Better linemates, one good off season after a 17 goal rookie year, and some trust and responsibility will do him wonders.

      Unless we’ve already convinced ourselves he’s a bust.

      • Speed Kills

        Exactly… Ryan was brought in as the 4c to replace Stajan, lets not gift him a higher position because he is new & shiny … putting players in the wrong position to succeed is not a smart idea, Have we learned Nothing from the Brouwer~effect???

    • oilcanboyd

      Well, no matter how much we all want Brouwer gonzo, no chance the Flames will buy him out this season. If 12 players beat Brouwer out at camp then he would be a useful extra forward, substituting for 4th line players.

    • Kevin R

      I absolutely would love to see Lindholm line up with Gaudreau & Monahan. Just a real gut feeling that could be a line that just takes off. Then yes I would counter Tkachuk, believe it or not keep him with Backlund. Backlund can push 60 points if he has the right players & him & Tkachuk do have chemistry & put Neal on the RW of that line. Neal is such an upgrade over Frolik, not from a shutdown point of view but offensive. Then I would let Janko centre with Bennett & Frolik. With Frolik, I think we could reduce the amount of OS.
      4th line would be Ryans, & I do want to see Czarnik & let the scrap begin for the other wing. I dont want that to be grandfathered to Brouwer.

      I think we need to move Brouwer to a rebuilding team like montreal who has cap & looking for a rebuild piece. I would add Kylington to move Brouwer.

      I would also move Stone, not hung up on return & if we ate 1.0 mill per year to improve return, so be it.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Just because the organization lacks the foresight to put Janko in the top 6 doesn’t mean he has a bottom 6 ceiling. My concern is GG was clueless and BP has brought in his golden boy Ryan who could bump Janko down to 4C.
    Personally, I believe the cream will rise to the top and Janko will land where he should be. I am expecting Janko adds 10 lbs muscle and his a beast. The only question is can he keep the weight for the entire season.

    • LannyMac

      That is the problem with any coach amateur or pro. They have there favs and no matter how another player performs in the same position the coach has blinders on. Or even better they will pick a few players they like to rag on no matter how hard those players work. Sad really.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      I agree. Janko should start the season off as 2C. He will come back ready to play, especially since we now have like 7 centres.

      We have the depth to try things out now, and a coach who isn’t afraid to make changes. There is absolutely no reason in my mind they at least don’t try Janko on the second line. That boy has hands, size, and a great shot.

      • SgtRoadBlock

        some people may get mad that we have $14million 3rd line and $9million 4th line…

        i still think we should put two diff threat lines out and mix it up.
        Jonny,Janko,Sam <— Lets see what Sam and Janko can do .
        Laz,Ryan,Brouwer 🙁

        This is just Fun talk don't take it for real and get mad 🙂

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Backlund or Janko centring the 2nd line. Give it to the guy who earns it. Janko does seem the guy who will eventually slot there based on his being a lot younger and his possibly greater offensive ability.

        If Janko is centring the 4th line when the season opens, he would have to be tagged as the biggest disappointment in training camp/ pre-season.

        Let’s not kid ourselves, Half-Pint from Carolina is a 4th line centre. Let’s not imagine him as being more than he really is. My hope is the Billy Peters will give him a couple of wingers who can play and not plugs like Brouwer, Hathaway or Lazar.

  • Raffydog

    I for one am pretty pumped with this roster. Probably the deepest forward group I’ve seen in many years. Still not sold on the defense, my knock on them for awhile now has been they are to soft and easy to play against, and nothing has really changed on that front. Just gotta hope that a better system will cut back on the high danger scoring chances and shots against.

  • Hockeysense9393

    So most of this shows what the majority of other teams do as well. Draft the best available player (not really putting team need to the forefront) and then letting them develop in various stages. Then trading some of the better developing players for actually team needs. Fill gaps with actual team needs from FA and undrafted invities. It’s a pretty cool breakdown, but I can’t see how this is special or any different then 98% of the rest of the league.

    • Hockeysense9393

      With that said, it looks like this took some good research and fun to put together. Thanks for the breakdown Ari. It also shows where some of your money is best spent as a staff, uncovering those gems.

  • Oil consuming Flames

    Breaking out of the First line, Second line, Third line mentality is going to advance the Flames immensely this season. The 4th line will almost always be the 4th line, but the other 3 lines can absolutely share time relatively evenly. Earning ice time and situational trust from the coach will be paramount.

  • Chucky

    Last year for a very short trial we saw a dominant line with three young guys. Tkachuk, Bennett and Jankowski. They dominated play SCORED and generally pushed around the opponent.
    If Peters can find a fit for Gaudreau and Monahan in Lindholm or Neal, they could have two scoring lines with a line that if it works would not have anyone over 25.
    Hopefully Peters will watch the tape.

    • herringchoker

      A tkuchuk Bennett Janko line is exactly how I hope this season plays out. A fresh start for Bennett with zero expectations, a 225lbs Janko and a year older for Tkuchuk. I could see that line as being scary good.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Love it! I wonder too if we could pull a Pittsburg/Phil Kessel kinda thing and have Neal on the third line in this case…kinda seems like it would be an unpopular move, but it would spread out the scoring.

      I love the idea of Bennett Janko Chucks, but either Lindholm or Neal gets a bit burnt. @b I would rather Lindholm on the first line, and try to get him up to a 60pt per season player.

      • b

        @salute, I get where you’re coming from with Lindholm, but my logic was if Lindholm is as good defensively as it appears, that’s a hell of a shutdown line! A right shot on the top line for both draws and different looks offensively would be great too though, I’m torn. So many options, exciting place to be!

        • Brian McGrattan's Salute

          @b no that makes a lot of sense! It’s banking a lot on Bennett and Janko to have second line worthy years, but if that happens we would have one of the best top 9 in the league…and that third line could still provide lots of offense if they get their chemistry going and Frolik bounces back!

          And yes, super exciting

  • oilcanboyd

    Although you put a disclaimer on your lineup, Ari, that was a pretty good stab at a potential lineup. Anyone’s guess as to Peters’ final lineup going into the season will be, but let us hope they are well prepared to start it, unlike it was under the GG regime which was pathetic.

    • JMK

      I don’t think I’ve been this excited to see the battle for spots in pre-season since I started following the flames (circa 2013). I just hope it’s a fair fight for the prospects.

  • Oil consuming Flames

    Damn, I got distracted within the discussion from the article. What I initially intended to mention was:

    It’s difficult to judge the make-up of the team based simply on “drafted, developed, traded for, free agent signing” due to what someone already mentioned about drafting the best available player and not always to need. That can be worked out as needed. What I do like is that the Flames roster will feature at least 8 first round picks, and maybe as many as 11. Likely 9 and maybe 10 if Valimaki cracks the lineup.

    Had Poirier been retained the Flames would have had six 2013 1st rounders in the organization. It is nice to see however, that the Flames actually have some of our own 1st round picks being developed or transitioning straight into the NHL and they’re not the duds they were for so long.