FlamesNation Mailbag: Hockey’s here (somewhat)

We had the rookie game yesterday and the first preseason game is on Saturday. It’s not the most exciting stuff, but it’s something!

Nill writes:

Would appreciate a brief comment on attached line-up. Of particular interest: Tkachuk-Jankowski-Bennett. Jankowski and Bennett are the only Flames, recently, to score 4 goals in a single game. They are waiting to explode. All they need is a detonator: Tkachuk.




a. Mangiapane-Ryan-Czarnik (mobile option)

b. Lazar-Ryan-Hathaway (heavy option)




*Brodie to be traded by Christmas, Valimaki up.

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For the forward lines, that is definitely something that Flames could run with this season. You have a pretty astute first line, a shutdown second line, a young, offensively-minded third line, and a few options on the fourth line. All around, pretty good.

Specific to that third line, you have wonder if Matthew Tkachuk could fix the other two players’ problems. Remember that Tkachuk-Bennett was the presumed option in Tkachuk’s rookie year and that pairing fell apart after about 10 games. I think a lot of people want that line because of the offensive potential, but it’s a pretty long bet to say that Tkachuk will fix all of the problems, offensively and defensively. The 2017-18 third line was chaos at both ends, so adding a better and more stable winger in Tkachuk seems like a good idea, but you also have to hope Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski take steps themselves.

The defence is a little bit more unconventional. I believe in Rasmus Andersson, but I don’t think he’ll be first pairing by this year (although I hope to be proven wrong). My faith that Brodano repeats their success isn’t strong, so I don’t doubt that parts will move around as the season goes on, but if Brodie is on the third pairing by Christmas, it’s a massive disaster. They would’ve traded their #1 RHD for slightly below market price in favour of a replacement that couldn’t last half the season. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

I think the team is going to be a bit more flexible with him this season. The Flames have been hoping that he finds that fourth overall potential the last two years to no avail, so they’ve finally built a roster that doesn’t rely on him breaking out.

That seems to indicate to me they’re probably at peace with the idea that he’s not the point-per-game guy many expected him to be. That’s fine. A regular 30-point guy in your bottom six isn’t the worst problem to have. I think the team will hope to see if he develops some sort of consistency to his game. The thing that likely keeps them wary about Bennett is that he’s a wildcard on most nights. He’ll either be dynamite or lost. If he can find some middle ground and reliably contribute, the team probably brings him back. If not, maybe they move on. It really depends on how players in the AHL perform.

The easy answer is Andersson. He’s travelling to China, has a real NHL number now (#4), and seems to already be much better than Michael Stone. Andrew Mangiapane is also an easy choice, as the Bryout opened up a spot for him, though Spencer Foo could also make a case.

I could definitely see Juuso Valimaki at least getting the nine games. There’s a lot of hype behind him and if he can come into camp and perform, it’s a win for everyone. However, his contract can still slide another year so keeping him in the AHL is very likely.

No, the three-headed monster is not going to happen, mostly because Jon Gillies is waiver-exempt. If there’s no clear distinction between Gillies and David Rittich, the Flames can safely stash Gillies in the AHL and reassess the situation as the season goes on.

However, Rittich is not waiver-exempt, but if he fails to win the job I think they will be able to sneak him by the waiver wire. It’s hard to imagine any team would be interested in guaranteeing a roster spot to a 26-year-old goalie with 23 games of NHL experience and so-so stats. Every team except Nashville (and their waiver-exempt goalie is Juuse Saros) has at least two waiver-eligible goalies already so they’d have to create space for Rittich should he not make the Flames. It’s unlikely Rittich is an upgrade on many of those goalies, so he will likely sneak on by.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot out there worth trading for, but the biggest name is definitely James Reimer. The Florida Panthers have three waiver-eligible goalies, and Reimer carries a decent cap hit, so he could be easy to pry out of Florida. The only caveat is that he has one extra year on his contract. Other than that, there’s not a lot out there that teams will likely trade away.

I don’t think Anthony Peluso is making the team. I hesitate because I spent most of last preseason saying that Tanner Glass would not make the team, but I’m going to go double or nothing and say that Peluso is not going to make the team. Glass had a lot less depth to battle against last year than Peluso has to battle against this year. He would have to unseat Austin Czarnik (unlikely) and Foo (more likely, but still unlikely) in that order to claim a spot on the Flames’ RW.

I think there’s a lot of undue hype because he’s on the China roster, but I don’t think it’s an audition as much as it is insurance. I think we can all agree that if you’re going to bring someone halfway around the world to sit in the press box, it’s much better to bring the 29-year-old vet than a prospect.

To answer this question and part two of the question above, the answer is likely one of Garnet Hathaway or Curtis Lazar.

The Flames replaced them in the offseason with Czarnik and Michael Frolik (demotion via acquisition of Elias Lindholm and James Neal), or at the very least put them on notice. It’s going to be up to the preseason to figure out whether one of those two actually got laid off, or if they get to stick around another day.

As for which one gets waived, I’d imagine Lazar goes first. He’s still young enough that you can at least try and see if getting him AHL time might actually get him going on the right track. Hathaway is a known asset at the AHL level and at 26, he’s likely not going to improve. He’s a fine enough 13th forward, so no harm keeping him in the press box.

I would set Tkachuk’s floor at 60 points. With improved depth, some actual powerplay time, and some good luck, he certainly looks to take a major step forward.

As for scoring lines, I’m excited to see what Bill Peters has planned for him, because he’s going to land in a favourable situation no matter how the top six is organized. Tkachuk’s certainly going to see first line RW time with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, which could be a line that is worth more than the sum of its parts. He could also stick with Mikael Backlund, but have Elias Lindholm on the right wing.

Besides the wonderful pun, it would be a very good line. Tkachuk (42 penalties drawn, +18 differential) and James Neal (30 drawn, +19 differential) can both agitate opponents and give the Flames a man advantage, which would make the MNM line one of the toughest to play against in the league. Neal is also a career clinical shooter who could provide a boost to a line that had its struggles shooting last year. Both Neal and Tkachuk can swap wings too, so there’s a lot of flexibility for Peters to work with.

Even if Tkachuk hits 70 points, the Flames are definitely going to keep him under the Mark Giordano cap. If they managed to hold Johnny Gaudreau at $6.75M AAV after he put up 0.89 PPG during his first contract, they can certainly keep Tkachuk under that. If Tkachuk hits 70 points in 82 games, that would put him at 0.74 PPG production for his entry-level deal. That would put him under Gaudreau’s cap hit.

Not to say that they can keep him under $6M though. Sean Monahan signed for $6.375M AAV after 0.67 PPG production on his entry-level deal and also jumped straight out of the CHL like Tkachuk, so that’s probably the floor for his extension. Of course, there are other factors involved that could keep Tkachuk’s AAV down, such as position (Monahan is the #1 C, Tkachuk is the #2 LW) and two-way play (Tkachuk is one of the league’s best in this department), but right now you can likely put his next contract somewhere between Monahan and Gaudreau/Giordano’s. Locking up a player like Tkachuk for somewhere between those prices is wonderful, regardless.

After that extremely meaningful rookie game, let’s say Andrew Mangiapane-Dillon Dube-Spencer Foo. They looked so good yesterday afternoon, that we’re going to say they’re ready (it will really be Mangiapane-Jankowski-Czarnik).

This tweet actually came before yesterday’s rookie game, so congrats to Mr. Gator here for having an astute hockey prospects mind. The Pollock-Gawdin-Phillips line was one of the Flames’ most effective behind the Mangiapane-Dube-Foo line, combining for three goals in the win.

Specific to Glenn Gawdin, he looked fine. He had a weird junior career (went from alright to the league’s best player in the span of one season) so it’s always been tough to make heads and tails of what he could be at the pro level, but if he continues his growth, Gawdin could be closer than imagined. His play yesterday was his classic calm and smart play, so that’s a good sign heading into 2018-19, although it’s just one rookie game.

For the PPG line, they should be fun for the Stockton Heat. Pollock had a pretty good breakout season at 21 despite spending the year before meddling in the ECHL. Phillips has also been a WHL standout, so he could easily gel with the rest of the line.

I don’t know if it will, only because we’ve been promised an extremely meaningful Battle of Alberta for so long and it’s never really materialized. There were two fights in the rookie game yesterday, so maybe the future of the rivalry is bright. Hockey definitely needs to bring back hot mics though.

  • Brian McGrattan's Salute

    Saw an interview with Bennett with our light of hair (forgot his name) reporter, and Sam was practically grinning from ear to ear when talking a out the coaching changes. I may be reading into it a bit, but I’m really hoping this is his season (says every flames fan, every off season). And either way, it’s just good to see him smile. Go for it bud!

    • Jessemadnote

      I’m excited for Bennett this year and I think Bennett and Janko’s issues last year are overblown.

      According to Natural Stat Trick in 924 minutes Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan had 54.4% of scoring chances. In 574 minutes Bennett and Janko had 55.7% of scoring chances.

      The biggest difference between the two pairs is that Gaudreau/Monahan had an on-ice sh% of 9.91 while Janko/Bennett had 6.67%.

      I don’t think there’s any type of major structural issue with the way they play they just need a bit more finish to their game.

    • everton fc

      Bennett needs to be allowed to play his game – his chippy, can skate, good forechecker… Good with the puck… He needs to be with the right players. I have high hopes for #93.

      • Mickey O'Reaves

        From what I saw of Carolina last year, they were relentless on the forecheck. That was their up-tempo style. It was their goaltending that let them down. Bennett figures to get 2nd PP time as well, and kill penalties. That alone should make for a happier camper.

    • thumz

      I totally agree here. Stoked for Bennett this year!
      Although, I think we all need to revise our definition of what success is for him: 1) he plays the majority of the year on the “3rd” line with limited PP time (likely), then 40-50 points would be a successful year, 2) he gets bumped up and plays the majority of the year on the top line and top PP (unlikely), then 60-70 points would be “successful”.
      I’ve heard many folks commenting about 70+ points is reasonable for a 4th overall pick, but how many 3rd line players get 70+ points besides Kessel in Pittsburgh?

      • LannyMac

        Unbelievable he is on the third line because he deserves to be there. If he was driving play rather than killing possession he would be on one of the top two lines. This guy has done virtually nothing in his career so far. He needs to figure it out this year or take a hike.

        • Jessemadnote

          He led the Flames in individual scoring chances per 60. 14th league wide just ahead of seguin, Kucherov, Monahan and more. He does drive play and generate good chances he just needs some finish.

  • buts

    Its been a long time since any group of flames players scored 7 goals in a game. I’m hoping that BP can exorcise the terrible coaching that’s taken place in the last 2 years and I’m sure he can. Just the simple change of a coach who can see who has chemistry with others is a 100% improvement over GG and the lines used in the rookie game yesterday showed that to me.

  • Off the wall

    I’ve gotta admit it was fun watching hockey again, even if it was a prospects game.

    Not having hockey to watch, I think we (myself) might have been carried away with our analysis of our prospects. It’s bound to happen, cuz we missed hockey so much. And we wanted something to talk about.
    Besides what the lineup should look like.

    I was definitely less than complimentary on Foo and Kylington, and it’s not fair to draw comparisons after ONE game. My bad.

    The excitement I feel this season is something I can’t describe. Perhaps with all the hype over the l-o-n-g wait to actually see hockey again, brought out the worst in me, but the intensity I felt was real.

    I’m so excited for our team. I want to see us make some noise this year. The acquisitions have made me drool with endless possibilities.

    I’ve got to dial it down a notch, but I hope our Flames crank it up to the highest setting!

      • Off the wall

        Haha, it was that damn Teriyaki sauce on STEAK that did it for you.

        I’d be unhappy if my steak was smothered in that too!
        Even free beer wouldn’t make me feel better…

    • mrroonie

      Foo definitely wasn’t the flashy one on his line but had good positioning and was driving to the net.

      When people were commenting after the game about Kylington not playing well, I started thinking about the 30-40 seconds in the third period where he had his stick broken and was so strong defensively pushing the Oilers players to the outside that I forgot he didn’t have a stick until when he had to kick the puck away. Lots of opportunities to get a holding penalty but he made sure that he didn’t. Took a while for one of the forwards to give him a stick and the one he got was the wrong hand but he still made a strong pass to get the puck out of the zone.

  • Skylardog

    Really hoping that Peters is looking at a wide range of ideas to create his 4 lines up front, not a narrow view that has already put guys into fairly defined slots, as this article suggests.

    In recent camps, we have been trying to find the roster in camp, not experiment with combinations that may add value to the group as a whole. By being in China, there appears to be a fairly set lineup already that should give the coaching staff a chance to play with the combinations.

    I would hope that the Flames are open to breaking up traditional forward pairs in the hopes of finding a chemistry that makes them greater than the sum of their parts. Case in point, Monahan and Gaudreau. They are great together. But what if apart we could still find a set of wingers that gets Mony 40 goals, while Gaudreau can kickstart a 20 goal scorer to produce 35 on another line.

    We simply cannot have a second line that only produces only 28 goals 5v5 as the Backlund line did last season. Sure adding say Neal to the wing in place of Frolik makes the 2nd now capable of 35 to 40, but what does that do to a third and fourth line. We also can’t have the production from the bottom six we saw last year either.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      I think with BP he is known to switch the lines up all the time anyways, which is nice to hear and a big improvement over GG in that regard.

      I get your philosophy. I think Rebar will be more apt to try it. Conventional wisdom sticks around a lot longer than it usually should in male dominated enterprises, but ideally he will go for it.

      Re Johnny and Mony, I think I would add that maybe it would be good not to pigeon hole those two with each other. The downside of course is there great chemistry/cogenial types of players.

      I would push for more youth, and taking more gambles on players (i.e. trying Janko out on the second line).

      • Brian McGrattan's Salute

        I did a big write up of 4 completely different lineups with justifications for each and a pro and cons list. I don’t have them anymore but I wish I kept them!

      • Brian McGrattan's Salute

        Also, I hope Rebar coaches a different style/system. I’m from the ole grind and cycle days, and have a soft spot for power forwards. Not saying this possession style play isn’t effective, but it would be sweet if he injected some extra something into the mix!

    • everton fc

      Peters was criticized a bit for not thinking “broad”, in Carolina. But… Hearing him speak, I don’t see him being “narrow”, here.

      I think he’ll also be more credible w/the players, in terms of his gruffness, the way he speaks about the game – he’s a total hockey guy, total hockey “speak” – and is old enough to not look or seem as “contemporary”, as GG may have tried to be at times, with these players. Some need a kick in the backside. Some need broader opportunities. Some need new linemates. But I have a good vibe so far.

      Note Ryan played w/Skinner. Let’s not get our hopes up too high, with Ryan. He may end up simply “average”. I see Jankowksi scoring 20 goals +. I predicted the same for Ferland (who I think will duplicate 20 goals, w/the Canes). I hope I go 2 for 2, w/my Jankowski prediction!

      • HOCKEY83

        Ferland was given a chance he never earned that he would never get on any other team…playing with Johnny and Monny. He won’t get that talent to play with in Carolina. Being traded to Carolina in my opinion spells the slow demise of his career. The same may be true of Ryan…who knows. Not even sure why the Flames picked up a 31 year old and paid so much for who only has 2 seasons in the NHL when we have prospects who could have easily filled whatever spot he may play for less money and do a similar job.

        • Greg

          Ryan was added because Stajan is gone and Janko hasn’t cemented himself yet. Take Ryan out of any projected lineup, and then imagine an injury to Monahan or Backlund… your depth down the middle starts looking very problematic very fast. Janko on 2nd line, Dube centering 3rd, and ??? centering 4th.

          You could solve that by shifting Lindholm to center but then you’re just robbing the winger depth we’ve finally added.

          I’m not overly sold on Ryan either, but I get the thinking. Adding him and Czarnak means you’ve got 4 or 5 kids fighting with Lazar and Hathaway for 1 spot. Take those 2 guys out, and you are basically crowning Mangiapane, Foo, and Dube as NHL-ready without them having to fight for it – not to mention giving Lazar a regular spot. Shudder…

          It’s all about depth and forces your prospects to earn a spot.

    • Thunder1

      No, I don’t think so, dog. I think we’re pretty okay with keeping one of the top ten pairs in the entire freakin’ league together again for another run. God you hate this horse… it’s sad that you keep beating it like you do.

      • Cheeky

        Thunder don’t be so negative mate. Yes Johnny and Monny are great together just as the 3M line is very good, what so are simply suggesting is trying, just trying out a few different line combos, Rebar may find more and/or better chemistry that produces 3 great lines and a very good 4th. Look at Pittsburgh as an example: Kessel plays on the 3rd line and it creates a better line up that is harder to match than a 1 line wonder. I’m all for lines written in pencil rather than in stone. If Johnny and Monny don’t work apart (or 3M line) then you reunite them. Same therory applies to the defense…

  • SgtRoadBlock

    Great win for the rookies last night , But man a lot people picking on Kylington… But Sam keep getting pass each year ?? and dam we hand Derek Ryan over $3million a year and he has not even play over 157 pro NHL games…
    we should be happy we don’t have the Oilers farm team and that so called Scouting staff 🙂

    • Off the wall

      Yup, we like to pick on 21-22 year olds.

      I need to be better, that’s for sure.

      Bennett doesn’t get a pass, he will earn it, just like the rest.
      We know what Bennett is capable of, even if GG didn’t.

      As far as Ryan is concerned, he’s making this team based on his 3 years of steady growth. It’s nice to have a centre (31) who can actually win draws and be defensively responsible. He’s no slouch in the offence either.
      That’s why he got $3.1M.

    • withachance

      3.1 M is the new 2.0M contract. The cap is increasing every year you cant expect player’s salaries to stay the same. Good 3rd liners are getting 4M so 3.1M for Ryan definitely appears to be good value.

  • TurkeyLips

    Found an interesting blurb on this here internet:

    “The forthcoming study to be published in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports also reveals that players performed close to their peak levels for a number of years before and after their optimal peak: 24 to 32 for forwards and 24 to 34 for defencemen.

    “While confirming conventional wisdom that players peak in their late 20s, the study proves it is wishful thinking for managers to expect a player in his mid-20s to continue improving significantly,” says Brander, an economist. “The vast majority of players are at 90 per cent of their best by age 24, although there are a few late bloomers.”

  • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

    Consistent comments from Mangiapane on the Athletic and on Flames TV that surprised me. It sounds like he struggles with his confidence and whether he belongs at the NHL level. He recognizes it now and knows it is what he needs to work on in order to be effective. Hearing that makes sense of what we saw from him over 10 games last year.

    • HOCKEY83

      What we saw of him over 10 games last season was very limited minutes playing with the 2 least talented players on the team. When he was on the ice the announcers were constantly saying his name…so he was trying to make stuff happen with the very limited talent he had to play with. Not hard to understand why he didn’t show that well.

  • Squishin

    Off-topic, but what do you all think of the Pacioretty trade? I think Vegas got an absolute steal and they’ll be harder to play against now, but what do you all think?

    • Atomic Clown

      I feel like Montreal won that trade. They got a decent player in Tatar, an excellent prospect in Suzuki, and a mid to late 2nd round. For a 17 goal scorer set to make $7ish million. Now all they need is to shed either Price or Weber

      • Greg

        I don’t know if Montreal won that trade, but Vegas sure lost it. They already gave up a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for Tatar, so this swap makes it 2 firsts, 2 seconds, and a third for Pacioretty. That’s a pretty big overpay.

        I still think McPhee caught lightning in a bottle last year. No Neal, no Perron, not likely guys like Fleury, Engelland, Karlson, etc are ALL going to match or exceed last year’s performances again… lost some defensive depth with no Sibsa and Schmidt suspended for 20 games. Top that all off, and all the future assets they accumulated in side-deals during the expansion draft have now been pretty much spent on Pacioretty… he better hope Max rebounds to 40 goal form or Tallon finds another way to gift him a top line player.

        There’s been a pattern of coaches winning the Jack and then getting fired the next year – it wouldn’t surprise me at all if McPhee pulls a GM version of that this year.

    • Jessemadnote

      You think Vegas got an absolute steal? Think about this: Vegas got a year of patches and 2 months of Tatar for a 1st, two 2nds, a 3rd and Nick Suzuki (a 13th overall pick last year). I think Montreal did really well.

      • cjc

        I wouldn’t say it is an absolute steal, but you need to leave the previous trade for Tatar out of the equation. Vegas definitely lost that one.

        Pacioretty gives Vegas arguably the best top six in the Pacific Division (I’d say the argument is between San Jose, Vegas and Calgary).

        Montreal turned down a better offer from LA at the trade deadline last year, reportedly. Suzuki, although promising, is not guaranteed to turn into an impact NHLer (and it’s debatable whether he can play C, where they hope to use him). Tatar may or may not hit 20 goals/40 pts. next year, and the second is a crapshoot. Sure, the trade has upside, but Bergevin could have done a lot better here had he made a move earlier.

        While I think Vegas won the trade, it was not great asset management. Vegas is going all-in right now, rather than looking at last year as the goaltending-driven miracle it was. If they want to retain Pacioretty longer term, they will need to pay big money to a guy aging out of his prime. If they want to make a move for Karlsson, they may not have the pieces to do it.

        • Jessemadnote

          Paccioretty is 29 and has 295 points since 2013/14, Tatar is 27 and has 220 points since 2013/14, Add to that a 13th overall pick and a 2nd rounder. Looks like good value to me.

        • HOCKEY83

          If Vegas lost the first trade for Tatar then with what they got back for tatar and suzuki and a draft pick they certainly lost the second trade as well…it just makes sense. The thing that matters most for Vegas is they replaced Neal’s goal output by acquiring Pac.

      • HOCKEY83

        6 points in 20 games is not putting up points and 14:48 average ice time is certainly not big TOI. They also sat him for a handful of games in the playoffs. He’s been a drain on their organization since they acquired him. Pac and Stastny will fill the goal gap no problem in vegas.

    • Kevin R

      It was a fair trade between the two but horrible asset management by McPhee. They traded a 2018 1st, 2019 2nd & 2020 3rd for Tatar at the last Trade Deadline. He didnt do a lot in the games to the end of the season & was healthy scratched for a bunch of playoff games. He then traded Tatar before they even gave him a chance to fit in + Suzuki (2017 1st rounder) + another 2nd rounder. So for a 1 year rental in Pacs Mcphee gave up 2 1sts, 2 2nd rounders & a 3rd, for a guy that will be 29 years old when he wants a healthy extension during his regression years or he walks. Horrible asset management in my opinion.

    • BendingCorners

      Depends on the contract extension. His best days are probably behind him even if he has a bounceback season this year. Montreal picked up a center prospect and if he ends up a top six C in 2 or 3 years then the deal will turn out well for the Habs.

    • CalgaryBornandRaised

      Bergevin should start doing up his resume……would be surprised if he lasts the year there. It Ottawa wasn’t a complete tire fire, this would be the biggest story about a crappy team

      I am wondering how long Price lasts there now

    • The Beej

      If Patches was 5 years younger Vegas is ok on this one… but Montreal totally wins it. In a couple years if Patches declines…. Tatar Suzuki and the 2nd rnd pick could all be better than Patches.

      Super risky… especially if Vegas takes a step back this year.

  • freethe flames

    I just want to comment on a couple of things. First if either Hathaway or Lazar are sent to the AHL or even to 13 and 14th forwards then that is a serious upgrade on this team as both played on a regular basis and even as high as the 3rd line last year.

    Second if Bennett can take the steps forward that his supporters are suggesting then this team will improve by leaps and bounds. It would also give BP lots of options for building lines. IMO Bennett seems to be a better fit after 3 season on the LW than at center; but I have not given up on him.

    For those wanting to trade Stone I have one big question; if Andersson earns the job who is our depth RHD? Take a good look at the organization depth chart. I would rather have Stone than have to trade for someone else.

    • Baalzamon

      Prout does everything Stone does, just as well as he does. The only difference between them is that everyone knows Prout is a replacement-level defenseman, whereas everyone clings to the idea that Stone is more than that for some reason.

      • freethe flames

        We will have to disagree about this at this time. Let’s see what they both show in the preseason. My point remains the same in that we don’t have enough depth on the RHD side of things and that includes if we can move Hanifin to the RHS then the LHD side might suffer.

      • HOCKEY83

        Because he is more than that. He gets between 4 and 5 less minutes of ice time per game than he got in Arizona. He can make the transition to the top 4 better than any of our prospects could right now which is why they paid him a little extra to stay and play less.

    • everton fc

      Hathaway will not be sent to the AHL. Nor will Lazar. As for Stone, they’ll hold onto him until the can determine if Andersson is ready. Not saying I approve… (I do approve of Hathaway staying in Calgary)

      And Bennett will be fine…

      • HOCKEY83

        Hathaway is a throw away. There’s far better talent in the prospect pool than him. I had hope for Lazar but it seems there will never be a place for him to get a chance to play with some skill on this team so I would guess both will be gone at some point during the season for very little or nothing at all.

    • The Doctor

      If either Hathaway or Lazar has a starting spot on the roster I will be extremely disappointed. No reason to have them this season, with the upgrades we have made.

      • Flaming moe

        Yes but Tre has already admitted the Brouwer contract was a failure. I doubt he goes out and admits the same thing with Lazar. He traded a 2nd for him and after a season of accomplishing nothing he gave Lazar a raise and extension!!! Tre maybe to embarrassed to admit again he has made some inept moves the last couple years. He may want to save it for the Stone contract.

        • FlamesFanOtherCity

          In fairness to BT, he was re-signed after scoring 3 points in 4 games. Last year was a good indication of what he can do. The only thing embarrassing is having players outclassed by rookies stay on the roster. What is the point in keeping him on the roster? Hathaway I can see because he offers something the 4th line doesn’t really have. Lazar doesn;t really do anything well enough to bring him in.
          Not that I want Peluso, but at least he’s a guy that can come in for a game and not miss a beat. Here’s an interesting fact; Prout was 3rd in fitness testing, behind Folik and Gio.

  • Derzie

    Quick comment here: Bennett is our new Backlund. Early pick. Unrealistic expectations. Defensively focused. Takes time to simmer defense players. We need to look at Sam from a goal differential perspective, with anything positive being good.

    • freethe flames

      Last year I compared Bennett’s progress with that of Backlund and if he becomes as good a Backs as a LW then I would be okay with that; the problem of course is many(myself included expect more out of a 4th overall pick).

      • everton fc

        If Bennett is a 15-20 goal/25 assist/40-50 point guy, who can play a great two-way game and great special teams contributor… Be a real chippy pain, w/the right linemates…

        This may be all he ever becomes… But that’s not horrific – it’s an unfortunate situation for our highest pick ever, but I’d take that and hold onto Bennett, if that’s what he becomes…

        • Avalain

          To be completely fair, there were a lot more misses than hits immediately after drafting Bennett. They could have picked Ehlers or Nylander. They could have picked Larkin or Pastrnak if they reached a bit. But they also could have had Michael Dal Colle, Jake Virtanen, Haydn Fleury, Nick Ritchie, or Kevin Fiala.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Bennett never got sent to the AHL, nor has he played on the 4th line. His ice time may fluctuate a bit, but he’s never been given the Backlund treatment. As a center, Bennett takes lazy penalties when he loses the draw or positioning. As a winger, he’s been just okay. One good season, part of which was spent with Frolik and Backlund. He’s had to carry excess baggage over some players, but his errors are readily apparent. Not giving up on him, but he has to show something this season. He had worse PP production than Brouwer, yet played more minutes.

    • The Doctor

      There are other parallels to Backlund: shoulder injury and surgery, stuck with bad linemates with no scoring ability early in career. You’re so right, I had Backlund written off as a total draft bust, and then suddenly I started to notice how well he was playing.

  • Alberta Ice

    Getting closer to seeing the new look Flames play. Got to like a lot of the refreshingly new changes and line combinations upcoming. Can the new coach instill some of the missing fire back into the Flames? Bring on the new season and GFG.

  • mrroonie

    Rittich was underutilized during the first part of the season playing once every 9 or 10 days and had a 5-1-2 record with the one loss being an asterisk from the Oilers game on Dec 1 where he came in to start the third period with the team down 5-1 and the final score was 7-5. Suddenly, Mike Smith got hurt and Rittich had to play 5 games in 9 nights behind a team that was already faltering with 4 of the 5 games against teams that finished top-5 in league standings and he went 1-3-1. After that, GG only gave him 4 starts and he went 2-2-0 while Smith was 2-6-0 and Gillies was 3-5-1 over that time.

    Even with a few bad games, Rittich was 8-6-3 on the season and had a .904 Sv% and 2.92 GAA. Matt Murray had a slightly better Sv% at .907 and the identical 2.92 GAA. Holtby was .907 and 2.99 GAA. I’m not saying that Rittich is the same calibre as Murray or Holtby but saying that he had so-so stats may be a bit of a fetch considering the differences in what each of the three goalies had playing in front of them.

    If BP uses him on a more regular basis it should help him be more prepared should Smith go down and the additional rest might help Smith prevent getting a serious injury by giving him more time to recuperate from the minor bumps and bruises.

  • BendingCorners

    Am I the only one who is worried about Hamonic’s impact on Hanifin? Hamonic is not great at making quick decisions and closing gaps aggressively in the neutral zone so he needs a partner who is, or who can direct him so he doesn’t have to think as much. I’m not sure Hanifin is that guy. Last year Brodie and Hamonic were paired no matter what; I’m hoping that if Hamonic has similar problems this year that Peters tries something different, maybe even Giordano-Hamonic and Hanifin-Brodie. What do the rest of you think?

    • Zeb Zadock

      Good point. Also what if Gio Brodie don’t click like they are supposed to. I still think some are in denial about how much Dougies smooth skating, puck moving abilities will
      Be missed.

      • mrroonie

        Smooth skating: Too often in the wrong direction allowing the opposition to go around him for a quality scoring chance.

        Puck moving ability: Otherwise known as giveaways. Followed by more “smooth skating.”

    • JoelOttosJock

      Hamonic was fine last year. It was his partner that looked out of sorts. I have analyzed quite a few goals against on the BrodieHamonic pairing, and more times than not Hamonic was in position, and or made the right play. Brodie was lost, out of position or throwing a high risk pass with out looking. I’d be more concerned if Brodie and Gio are capable of being g a number 1 pairing. I hope so, but do not believe so. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some shuffling of partners and possibly a trade.

  • Flaming moe

    There is an article on SN right now. Talking about preparing for the China trip. Very disappointing to see that Mr James Neal when questioned about whether he had started the team Implemented curfew to get used to the time change admitted he had not. You would think he would lead by example and not exempt himself from it just cause he is a well paid veteran. I can’t imagine Gio is to happy about that.

    • Zeb Zadock

      Yeah I read that earlier and thought it was a bit odd. Especially that he is the new guy on the team. I guess when you are a Stanley cup champ you get away with those kinds of things. I never realized they go through 12 times zones to get to China. Going to be a challenge.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Are you suggesting a leadership schism?

      If you are Dube or Andersson or any other rookie on the team and there is a divergence of opinion between the distinguished vet Neal and Gio, whom do you align with? Alternatively, do you cast your lot with an upcoming leader, such as Chucky or Monahan?

      Let’s make no bones about it. This team absolutely quit late last season. That was perhaps the most spineless of the many invertebrate Flames teams over the years. The on-ice leadership has to shoulder some of the blame and in particular Gio as management , the media and Flames fans have long declared him the undisputed leader of this team.

      Gully has been turfed. The amazing Dougie is now Carolina on my Mind. Co-leaders from last season Stajan and Brouwer have been dispatched to points remote. Is it time for Flames’ players to hear the voice of a new captain? Has the proud Jimmy Neal fired a shot across the bow of the Giordano to let the old lion know that there is a new gunslinger in town who means to do things his way? Winds of change might not be a bad thing for a club that so desperately needs to make a much better showing than they did last year.

      • Off the wall

        I liked it, kinda reminded me of a ole gun slinger movie..
        I was whistling, Magnificent Seven as I was reading it.

        You keep up those entertaining dialogues Nigel…

      • LannyMac

        Although didn’t completely agree with all you said BMN you made some very good pts. This team had some very big leadership issues last year. When your captain gets waked by Lucic in the back of your leg and you skate away. When your goalie is the only person that will stand up to Lucic you have some HUGE leadership problems. Love Gio but that can’t happen. FN posters love to stick their heads in the sand. Be honest in your assessments people it’s not a bad thing it’s actually refreshing.

    • Mickey O'Reaves


      Much ado about nothing in my mind, it doesn’t sound like a team mandated curfew just a suggestion:

      EF: “Three weeks before the season opener, the Calgary Flames insist their players are not on a curfew. It’s merely a suggested sleep schedule. When asked about it, the smile on James Neal’s face suggested he had yet to get with the program.”

      The interview with James Neal was interesting though. It sounds like he’s been playing with Gaudreau and Monahan.

      • oilcanboyd

        Peters will likely try 3 guys with J and M – Neal, Lindholm, Tkachuk. Read that they will each get a chance in either game one or two according to Peters.

  • 左翼二

    WRT Peluso in China “…if you’re going to bring someone halfway around the world to sit in the press box, it’s much better to bring the 29-year-old vet than a prospect.”
    That’s a very reasonable statement, and it makes me feel better.

  • Mickey O'Reaves

    Peters is supposedly notorious for putting lines in a blender. But he keeps pairings together, and mixes the 3rd guy on the line, he’s said as much himself.

    Gaudreau and Monhan. Peters has remarked that he sees no reason to split them up, and I believe him on that one.
    Tkachuk and Backlund. This is almost a pairing by default, but shutting down the opponent’s best is a tough gig.
    Bennett and Jankowski. It should be apparent this is a pairing that the team should keep together for at least another year. They just need a better RW.

    The rest of the puzzle at forward gets slotted around these three pairings. Lindholm, Neal, Ryan is the way I’d play it (to start anyway), on the right side…down the lines from the 1st through the 3rd.

    Jankowski is simply not ready to take on Backlund’s duties, but that should be the plan going forward. Having Janko on the 4th line makes no sense to me. Tkachuk can play with anyone, I’ll never be worried about him.

    Not entirely sure what the 4th line will look like, but Frolik looks to be the odd-man out and figures to end up there. The team will need to free up salary to pay M. Tkachuk so he could get moved. Other bigger salaries are tied up in Brodie and Stone, they figure to get moved as well.

    • oilcanboyd

      I believe the Backlund pairing is with Frolik and not with Tkachuk who could see time on RW on the first line (or LW if Johnny can move to RW). Just because Frolik had a broken jaw and was less than effective after that doesn’t mean he becomes expendable!
      As well, I think that Peters will want 4 effective lines he could roll out every game.

    • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

      I think we have to get away from thinking about lines as 1-4. We need to think about 4 functional lines and how we want to use them. There is some logic to thinking top 6/bottom 6 as most teams can’t roll 4 lines. So you have high ground and hard ground lines in both halves. If we do that the top 6 has JG/SM on the high ground. I’m putting Neal with them as you aren’t as fussed about two face off guys on the high ground. In the bottom 6 I want Ryan on the hard ground because of his face-offs and Bennett beside him for secondary draws. I want Janko with offensive weapons.

    • everton fc

      I see Frolik on the 3rd line, w/Bennett and Ryan (unfortunately).

      Should be Bennett-Jankowski-Frolik, with Ryan centering the 4th line. Alas…

      I agree w/oilcan below, though; Backlund/Frolik may be another pairing. We shall see.

  • Off the wall

    I hope the boys trained hard in the off- season. I know I didn’t.
    Now I’m back to hockey, without so much as a sit-up. I’m doomed.

    I shouldn’t have given my dog Johnny Sockey the summer off either.
    He’s not so good at hockey sockey right now. Stoopid dog, he’s attacking the stuffed sock, instead of trying to make a save.
    I shoot it, he’s supposed to save it. He knows how this works!

    Is it my new curved graphite plastic spoon (hockey stick) that’s throwing him off?
    I dunno, but now I have to retrain him.

    My wife’s dog, the dum dum (wait is it dum dum or dumb dumb?) who wears a Canucks dress is now joining in on sock hockey.
    But instead of playing according to the rules, she attacks Johnny Sockey while he’s attacking the sock. It’s freakin mayhem on here..
    I liked it better when my wife’s dum dum dog just laid there and watched.

    Johnny has been spending more time scrapping then playing. Has he become Johnny Reaves?

    My wife’s dog has 10lbs on Johnny, yet he does the ole chicken leg manoeuvre and has my wife’s dog pinned in under 8 seconds. He’s a beast -but he’s very small, like Phillips small.

    Perhaps I should give him the graphite spoon and I should be the goalie? He’s got the moves.
    I can’t catch the lil bugger.

    Johnny Phillips, should I rename him?

      • Puck Head

        ….and it sounds like your wife’s dog has turned into a lower mainland anarchist. Try dressing the dog in black and torch the Canucks tutu. Should solve the problem.

        • Off the wall

          Haha, good call Puck!
          It’s getting bad at home.
          Johnny is fixed, but now he’s trying to hump my wife’s dog after he wins the scrap..
          Only problem is, he hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing. He’s trying from the side.?

          Should I YouTube him on how dogs do it?
          It grosses my wife out. She thinks it’s inappropriate, although they are NOT related in any way..

          I think it’s funny as hell.

  • fumanchu1968

    Rivalries have to develop organically. They can’t be wished into existance, even if the Edmonton Calgary rival is the best I’ve known in my handful of decades.